Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2023/04/04
Chiba Prefecture can be found next to Tokyo on a massive peninsula just across Tokyo Bay. Seafood, wide open nature, and semi-tropical getaways are major draws for weekend vacationers from Tokyo, but one thing you can’t pass up here is the variety of marine sports! Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) on the rivers or mellow ocean inlets is fun, and Kujukuri on the Pacific side of Chiba was the location of the 2020 Summer Olympics Surfing events. Today though, we’d like to introduce you to something a bit rarer as far as marine sports go, but one that is surprisingly easy to learn, and very rewarding even for a first-timer.
Windsurfing! It’s that sport everyone’s heard of, but is definitely the underdog ocean sport compared with surfing, bodyboarding, and also stand up paddleboarding. We were a bit unsure, as it sounds fairly difficult using the wind and all, but our instructors at the “85 Club” windsurfing school were very reassuring, and were prepared with a literal truckload of gear. Life jackets on and ready, we got familiar with the board setup at the Kemigawa Beach.
The windsurfing board is a thick board with a fin. There are many designs for different skill levels and riding styles, but being our first time, this board was thick and stable, thus easy to balance on. The main component however is of course the sail that you’ll need to harness the wind. The sail itself has two main parts: the boom and the mast. The mast is on a kind of swivel which is attached to the board, which you can then move in all directions according to the wind. You’ll want to be very aware of the wind direction having your back to the wind, and have the sail pulling against it, or at a slight angle. The boom is horizontal along the sail, and once you have wind in your sail and begin moving, you can hold onto the boom and lean back for that picturesque cool windsurfing stance.
The wind during our lesson was “offshore”, meaning the wind was coming from inland, blowing out toward the sea. The way the sail is on a swivel lets you adjust to harness the wind from any angle, so we didn’t have to worry about getting blown out to sea! We were lucky as the wind was light, but just strong enough to get us moving at a manageable speed.
So how does it feel riding? It’s a smooth pull, and unlike surfing where you have to generate momentum with your hips and legs, windsurfing lets the wind do the work while you enjoy the smooth ride and seaside views. Turning around is a bit tricky, but in the shallow waters of the Inage coastline, we could jump off the board, and our instructor was ready to turn the board and sail around for us to head back into shore. I eventually learned to turn around without getting off. It involves rotating the sail on its swivel against the wind, forcing the board to rotate in place on the water. Once you’ve turned around, you’ll be riding with the opposite foot forward, and your back again to the wind.
All in all, with a little instruction, confidence and practice, it is easily possible to be up and riding on your first windsurfing lesson. Surfing depends on there being good waves to practice, and the learning curve is also higher, requiring at least three or four sessions to be comfortable. Windsurfing on the other hand is a great option because you just need a little wind to be skating along the water! Close to both Narita and Haneda airports, you could be windsurfing the same day you land!
1-3-7 Masago, Mihama Ward, Chiba City
(Kemigawa Hama Beach can be reached in 10 minutes by car from JR Inage Station)