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Cruising through Choshi

Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2022/01/28

Sticking to the primary travel routes of Japan, it’s easy to start thinking that all trains are operated by JR. But actually, if you journey deeper, you’ll find countless smaller, independently operated train lines that have their own style and characteristics, serving areas that would otherwise be difficult to visit without a car. The Choshi Electric Railway is one such train line, and allows you to explore the Choshi peninsula beyond where the JR line takes you. While you may not have all the modern luxuries of high-traffic areas, the best adventures are often had along these older lines.

Leaving from JR Chōshi Station, the Choshi Electric Railway spans just 10 stops, making a leisurely arc along the most eastern edge of the Kanto region. The line has been in operation since 1922, and while you can certainly see and feel the age of the train cars and the stations, there’s something special about a slow, bumpy ride through visibly older parts of Japan. Many indeed do ride the train for nostalgia’s sake, and the Choshi Electric Railway sells all-day passes so you can take it slow, and explore what awaits at each rural station.

Just two stops from Choshi is Kannon Station, getting its name from the Buddhist deity at the nearby Enpuku-ji Temple: Iinuma Kannon. This temple immediately captures your eyes with its prominent red exterior and inviting entrance. Number 27 on the “Bando 33 Kannon pilgrimage” route, it stands tall at the top of a broad staircase, and if the weather happens to be nice, the juxtaposition of the vivid red against a blue sky looks otherworldly.

Behind the temple, you’ll find a local favorite tucked away in an inconspicuous building. Sanoya is well-known for their ‘imagawa-yaki,’ which is a doughy treat that’s grilled on a cast-iron mold like a waffle, with a heaping mound of either black or white sweet bean paste inside. It’s a dense treat, and the steaming cake gives way to the soft, creamy center as you sink your teeth into it. Sanoya sells the treat either individually or in packs of six, with to-go boxes ready if you want to take some as a gift, or for yourself later.

Hopping back on the train, stop at somewhere that catches your eye, or continue down to the last stop of Tokawa Station. This is Choshi’s small, and southernmost district, situated on a hill that leads down to its rustic port. The town is very tight-knit, with people doing a lot of their shopping locally. Naturally, the residents will make their daily rounds to the fish mongers and produce vendors, but there’s another staple here, and one that is quite popular: the tofu shop.

Tofu is something you always need in your fridge for Japanese cooking, and the Sakakibara Tofu Shop not only provides standard blocks of tofu to its customers, but also appeals to newcomers with unique tofu-based sweets. We tried the “tofu pudding”, which many social media figures have recently come seeking photos of. Reasonably priced and delicious, it’s a great example of how a local shop attaches extra appeal to their product, making themselves a humble destination for food tourism.

On the note of food tourism, all along the Choshi Electric Railway, you’ll find ‘nuresenbei,’ which is a slightly different form of the senbei rice crackers eaten all over Japan. “Nure” literally means “wet”, and this refers to the sauce braised on the senbei as it finishes cooking. In addition to the extra burst of flavor, the sauce adds a touch of softness to the cracker’s satisfying crunch. Many come ride the Choshi Electric Railway looking for this snack at one of the many shops along the route, and it has actually been a helpful source of revenue for the train line as young people move to larger cities, and the Covid-19 pandemic has further decreased tourism.

While the Choshi Electric Railway line will feel a bit run-down, visiting older places to find gems in the local economy is a rewarding experience for both you and the people still making their livelihoods there. The sights and foods we introduced here are just a few examples, but this local line in Choshi, not to mention many others in Chiba, will provide an adventure that’s wholly unique to you and the people you’re sure to meet.

Sightseeing Spots

Choshi Electric Railway (Choshi Station)

The Choshi Electric Railway train line serves the far edge of the Choshi peninsula, giving access to the smaller communities in this famous fishing region. Known also for their signature treats like "nure-senbei", this retro rail experience can show you all the secrets Choshi has to offer.

1438 Nishishiba Town, Choshi City

(Transfer to the Choshi Electric Railway from the JR Sōbu Main Line at Choshi Station)

+81-479-22-0316