Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2023/01/18
Many people associate Chiba Prefecture with being Tokyo’s neighbor, absorbing so much metropolitan sprawl that the nation’s largest airport, Narita International Airport, calls Chiba home. However, there’s another, more traditional and rural side to Chiba, down south on the Boso Peninsula. As you travel deeper into Boso, you will emerge from the dense cityscapes and find yourself passing through charming seaside towns, countryside villages, and green forested mountains. By the time you find yourself at the southernmost end of Boso in Minamiboso City, you will realize that you have arrived in a completely different world, even if the trip from Tokyo took as little as ninety minutes.
It is here in Minamiboso that Kenji Setogawa founded the Heguri Hub in hopes of sharing this slice of the Japanese satoyama countryside with the world. The hub occupies a re-purposed school building, with a front lawn that sits atop a hill looking over a landscape of rice paddies dotted with traditional Japanese country homes. A look from the lawn back toward the Heguri Hub provides a view of the rocky peak of the “Boso Matterhorn” Mt. Iyogatake looming overhead.
Originally, Mr. Setogawa decided to permanently settle in Minamiboso after retiring from a career in finance. When he took a position as part of an organization promoting regional tourism, he fully began to realize how much the area had to offer. The deep countryside not only features mountains, valleys, and quiet communities, its location at the end of a peninsula also means it is surrounded by the sea. The blend of bountiful nature, local people, fresh food, and proximity to Tokyo makes the area an ideal location to experience the best of rural Japanese life.
When Mr. Setogawa first opened the Heguri Hub, then known as the Heguri Clubhouse, it was mainly a place for local cycling club members to meet. A couple years later, he established Boso Adventure Tours, a tour service which offers English language tours of the area. To learn more about the types of tours on offer, visit: bosoadventure.com
In an effort to create a place where people of all different kinds can get together, the experience at Heguri Hub now includes more than just cycling. In the summer of 2021, Mr. Setogawa opened the Heguri Hub Deli and Café, Guesthouse, Solo-Camp Space, and Co-Working Space. We recently went down to Heguri Hub to participate in one of their bicycle tours, enjoy a meal at the deli and café, and check out the new spaces. The deli showcase was stocked with food that was prepared by the chef Mr. Kimura, made fresh using choice locally grown seasonal ingredients. Locally sourced food is also used to fill their bento boxes, like the grilled pork or the vegetables for their curry. Visitors can also enjoy the scrumptious desserts and 100% fruit juices on offer. Single origin specialty coffee is also served at the cafe, in addition to alcoholic beverages－including local craft beer.
As we sat and enjoyed our exceptionally delicious meals, it was not hard to see Mr. Setogawa’s vision coming into form. In that short time, we watched as a family was lounging out on the lawn with their pet dog, a group was finalizing plans for an upcoming hike, and visitors were dropping by to sample the food. Things may have been difficult when the new spaces were opened during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Mr. Setogawa explained to us that he is beginning to see the hub “activated with all kinds of people coming together.” Along with the newly opened co-working space, he hopes the meshing of people here creates business and enriches the local community and culture. Our trip was just a quick visit from northern Chiba, but the time at the Heguri Hub helped us connect with the wonders in our own backyard, an experience we welcome visitors from around the world to come and discover for themselves too.
224-3 Hegurinaka, Minamiboso City
(Ten minutes from the Kyonan-Tomiyama Interchange on the Tateyama Expressway, ten minutes by car from the “Highway Oasis Furari” highway bus stop, or fifteen minutes by car from JR Iwai Station.)