Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2021/07/05
Tsurigasaki Beach in Ichinomiya, a town located at the southern end of Chiba’s Kujukuri coast, was selected as the surfing venue for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The locals know this surf spot as “Shidashita” (pronounced shee-dah-shee-tah), which according to legend is a play on words using the name of a family who operated a beach house which sat above the beach some sixty years ago. Approximately 600,000 people visit this town to surf its waves every year, and the faithful dub this beach their dojo ー or training grounds. This site was selected due to its high-quality waves, which have earned this spot hosting duties for many national and international competitions.
The Ichinomiya region has birthed many world-class surfers, including: Hiroto Ohhara, the first Japanese athlete to win the US Open; Reo Inaba, who is currently competing internationally; and Tenshi Iwami, the first Japanese national to win the U.S. surfing championships in the under-10 class.
In addition to being a famous surf spot, this beach town also has deep cultural and historical significance. The town of Ichinomiya gets its name from the local Kazusanokuni Ichinomiya Tamasaki Shrine.
Worshipers have been visiting this shrine for centuries in search of good fortune in marriage, safe child birth, and business. Today, visitors can buy amulets there which are said to provide good luck to women, those in search of marriage, and of course surfers. It has recently been determined that the shrine sits along a Ley Line―a straight line connecting several ancient sites, claimed to endow an area with paranormal energy－shared with Mt.Fuji, Samukawa Shrine (Kanagawa Prefecture), Moto Ise Kotai-jingu Shrine (Kyoto Prefecture) and Izumo Shrine (Shimane Prefecture).
Mr. Yoshioka works at Murasaki Sports (a surf shop, skate shop & café in the town of Ichinomiya) selling clothes and gear to surfers, skateboarders, snowboarders.
Originally from Tokyo, he moved to Ichinomiya twenty years ago – while still in his teens – when his love of surfing drove him to pursue the dream of going pro, like his two older brothers before him. Now retired from surfing professionally, he still loves the sport, and he continues to make his home in this town with his wife and eleven-year-old son; who also enjoy surfing. At first, he confesses, he used to commute back and forth from Tokyo by train, but he settled here due to the quality of the waves, and the endearing mellow atmosphere of the Ichinomiya region; where life moves at a much slower pace than it does in the nation’s capital. He expands, if he ever wants to go to Tokyo, it takes only about one hour by train, or about ninety minutes by car. When asked what he finds most charming about his city, he explains that there are various small but distinctive shops in Ichinomiya; unlike in Tokyo and its chain stores. He enjoys visiting all the surf shops which differ from each other, but adores Surf Garden Shop & Café, attached to Murasaki Sports. There, he expounds, you may even enjoy beers from different countries after surfing on a rented board.
Mr. Yoshioka believes Ichinomiya to be greatly comfortable, even for potential transplants; especially those craving a slower life of surfing, fishing, drinking & eating delicious things. He loves this city to such an extent that he sees no dissatisfying points. He does concede, however, that improvements in public transportation might make life easier for outsiders.
Mr. and Mrs. Inokuma moved to Ichinomiya with their three children, about two years ago. Having previously inhabited an apartment in Saitama’s city of Urawa, they realized that – having both been raised in houses in the countryside – they wanted a better environment in which to raise their children. After perusing many options in Tokyo and Kanagawa, they eventually settled in Ichinomiya. There, they enjoyed the proximity of the ocean – and an absence of tall buildings – in addition gorgeous scenery. Also, their first impressions of the locals were that they were excellent people. When reflecting on the before and after of their lifestyle transition, both husband and wife believe it’s a change in convenience, and of how they perceive light. Mrs. Inokuma explains that, “In Saitama, there are convenience stores everywhere, and shops are always open when you want something. Also, the roads are so brightly lit, even at night; due to too many streetlights.” “Here,” she continues, “of course there are the streetlights, but nowhere near as many. In this town, we can experience nighttime in a more natural setting, and the starry sky is so beautiful. In Saitama, we didn’t know there were so many stars in the sky.” She states, “My children tell me ‘Today’s moon is a crescent’ or ‘The stars are really beautiful (tonight)’. These conversations mark a big change from life in Saitama; we didn’t speak of such things”.
Having met in Okinawa, Mr. and Mrs. Inokuma are also both fans of the sea in this town. Additionally, Mrs. Inokuma was attracted to Tamasaki Shrine; Ichinomiya’s largest. Then, seeing the torii gate at Tsurigasaki surfing beach, she suddenly felt a spiritual feeling wash over her. Both husband and wife also love the lack of development in this town; compared to the bigger cities in Japan. They both also love the absence of fast-food shops and franchises. They prefer this slower, more natural life, which gives preference to more ancient and natural thrills; such as the “Omatsuri” (festivals) like Kazusa Junisha Matsuri; held only in Ichinomiya.
Mrs. Inokuma welcomes foreigners who’d visit her town or move here. “If you haven’t found accommodations when coming to Ichinomiya,” she offers, “please stay our house!” She believes that all people in her new home base are as welcoming and as kind, explaining that, “A neighbor gave us vegetables and yuzu (a citrus fruit) from a tree on their property!” Mrs. Inokuma then made a jam of the fruit that she had received, and gave some to her neighbor, as a gift of thanks. She feels that this illustrates how Ichinomiya treats newcomers, and how its denizens all care for each other.
6961-1 Torami, Ichinomiya
(10 minutes by car from JR Kazusa-Ichinomiya Station)