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Malibu Point | Surf, SUP, or Simply Savor the Japanese Seaside

Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2024/06/28

Travelers to Japan tend to spend most of their time in the major cities, but we’d argue you’re more likely to find the true character of Japan in its quieter coastal communities. The city of Katsuura has long been a popular seaside getaway for Tokyo’s inhabitants, accessible from the city center by train, car, or highway bus in about 90 minutes. Katsuura is also where you’ll find Malibu Point, your gateway to an authentic seaside Japan travel experience. With its ocean-view rooms, cafe, shop, local guides, and water-sport rentals and lessons, Malibu Point is ready to help you dive right into your Japan ocean adventure.

The view from above Malibu Point

About Katsuura and Malibu Point

The Chiba coast is a well-known location in the surfing world—having hosted the first ever Olympic surfing event in the 2020 Tokyo games, among other world-class events—with “Malibu” being one of its most-beloved surf points. The Malibu Point facility is more than just about surfing though; it’s a hub for lovers of the Katsuura coast. If your ocean activity of choice is surfing, SUP, kayaking, snorkeling, or bodyboarding, Malibu Point is your one-stop-shop for equipment rentals, board storage, or even brand-new custom and local goods. For those who would like a surfing, SUP, or yoga lesson, Malibu Point offers those as well. You’ll also be able to interact with locals here, like the friendly owner Michihiro “Mitch” Takanashi, his wife Tomoko, and the affable British-expat staff, Nick Richardson.

Roadside storefront
Inside the shop

Here at Visit Chiba, we’re always eager to introduce our favorite local businesses, so I took the trip down to Malibu Point to have the customer experience myself. Please keep in mind that I’m an ocean sport novice, so they tailored my stay accordingly to include a surf and SUP lesson. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced marine enthusiast, the staff are here to share their local knowledge to help you get in the water and make the most of your Katsuura trip.

My Two-Day One-Night Experience

My Malibu Point trip started by taking the Wakashio Limited-Express train from Chiba to Katsuura Station. This train starts at Tokyo Station, taking about 90 minutes from there to Katsuura. Nick picked me up at the station and took me over to Malibu Point, showed me around the shop and then to my room. There are two rooms here at Malibu: one western-style, which can sleep up to three people, and one Japanese-style room, which can sleep up to eight. I opted for the Japanese-style room (I like sleeping on a futon and tatami mats), but both rooms offer stunning ocean views, even from the bath! You’ll also find showers here outside, so even if you aren’t staying the night, you’ll be able to get cleaned up after your ocean session.

Western-style room
Japanese-style room

Once I got settled, it was time for my surf lesson with ex pro-surfer and local legend Yu Iwase. After getting wet-suited-up, Yu-sensei took me down to the beach for some warm-up exercises and coaching. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to catch any waves in my first lesson, and after my first few failed attempts I seemed justified in that notion. But the expert Yu-sensei had full confidence in me, and thanks to his advice and support, I finally caught my first ever wave! It was all smooth sailing from there, as I was able to catch about a dozen more waves after that, something I thought I’d never get to experience.

Beach-side instruction with Yu-sensei
Almost got it...
Surf's Up!

For day two at Malibu Point, I took a SUP lesson with Nick. I’d had some previous SUP experience, but Nick was kind enough to give me some beachside coaching before we headed out on the water. It certainly came in handy today, as the waves and current were stronger than during my previous SUP experiences. However, with Nick being an experienced guide of both individual and group lessons (including the 8-10 person “MEGA SUP”), he steered me in all the right directions, and we were able to cruise all around Katsuura Bay without issue. After doing some open-water paddling, we headed over to the reef to go a little board-side snorkeling. My favorite part though was paddling over to the steep sea cliffs around the bay, and getting an up-close view of where the stunning Katsuura landscape meets the beauty of the Pacific.

Nick explaining our route
Looking out toward the "Ocean Torii"
Paddling toward the cliffs
Group lessons also available

Meet the Malibu Crew

Sure, the ocean-sport experiences were thrilling, but getting a chance to interact with the tight-knit Malibu community was probably my most cherished memory from the trip. The manager here at Malibu, Takanami-san (appropriately enough his name literally means “tall wave”) and Yu-sensei made me feel right at home, easing my nerves before the surf lesson.

The friendly owner, Michihiro “Mitch” Takanashi

Throughout my time here, locals and customers stopped by to check the waves, some staying for a coffee or beer in the garden and a chill session with the resident tortoise Yu-chan, creating the feeling that Malibu was more of an open-door social club than a business. Much of the friendly atmosphere here is thanks to the vision of the owner, Mitch, who was kind enough to sit and talk with me about his ten-year run here at Malibu Point.

Mitch's wife, Tomoko, teaching a yoga lesson on the beach

Having grown up here in Katsuura, he said that in his youth “the sea is all I knew” and after visiting various surfing locations around the world, he decided he wanted to make a place in Katsuura where he can share the charms of his home with visitors. He hopes all travelers feel at home here in Katsuura, which has long welcomed foreign visitors, being a historic port area and home to an international martial arts university.

Resident tortoise, Yu-chan

He also echoed some of the reasons I often visit Katsuura in my private time, as it tends to be relatively cool here in the summer, and mild in the winter, making the area’s beauty accessible at all times of year. Even though the summer months tend to be the busiest, some of the best times to enjoy clear blue seas here are in the spring and autumn. He said one of the most rewarding parts of his job is hearing first-time customers comment when they realize “they don’t have to go all the way to far off places like Okinawa” to see stunning seaside scenery, because it can be found here just a quick trip from Tokyo. It’s even often said that Katsuura is like the Maldives of Japan.

Malibu Point BBQ plan

Another thing Mitch touted about Katsuura was its rich culinary culture, being a thriving fishing port, and home to one of Japan’s oldest morning markets and the specialty “Katsuura Tantanmen” ramen. Although some guests opt for the garden BBQ plan when they visit, Nick and I chose to go out for dinner on day-one and lunch on day-two. Malibu Point is happy to guide its guests to their favorite local restaurants, like Sawa, where Nick and I enjoyed delicious fresh seafood.

Photos of the old Malibu Point on display at the My Girl restaurant

The next day at lunch, Nick took me to the restaurant My Girl, which is actually run by Yu-sensei’s dad. Here they have a photo album on the wall from the old Malibu Point days, dating back to their original 1960’s beach house. It was around this time when the godfather of Japanese surfing, third-generation Japanese-American Tak Kawahara, came to Katsuura and dubbed this area after the Malibu of his home state California.

Nick and I pre-SUP lesson

As we enjoyed our meals, Nick shared about his life here in Katsuura. He first came here from Kyoto in 2022 to study at the International Martial Arts University. In those early days, he was unsure what to expect from this relatively quiet seaside town. He learned quickly that appearances can be deceiving, and that there’s plenty of “good stuff here and a lot of it is hidden. I’ve learned there is something to discover behind every corner.” And, once he became immersed in the supportive local community, he came to feel that this was the “real side of Japan.”

Equipment and board storage
Garden-side perch for checking the waves (left)

He says now that he can’t imagine living back in Kyoto and not waking up to the sound of the waves. But of course, it’s the people here that have made the most lasting impression. He said that as he’s gotten to know the staff and repeat customers “they have become like family” and now appreciates the chance to share Katsuura with first-timers, welcoming them into the Katsuura community.

Malibu Point Coffee
Nick's drink serving perch

He went on to share that nothing beats “going to the ocean on a beautiful day, teaching customers during a lesson, and then coming back to the shop and talking about our shared experience.” He also expressed his message to international tourists: “Don’t be put off by a small fishing village outside Tokyo,” and that “there’s people like me who can help English speakers navigate the area.” Here at Visit Chiba, we’d like nothing more for you to come and take him up on his offer, and as a Chiba local and frequent Katsuura visitor myself, I always learn a little bit more about the soul of Japan every moment I spend here.

Sightseeing Spots

Malibu Point

Surf, SUP, or simply savor the seaside; with its ocean-view rooms, cafe, shop, local guides and water-sport rentals and lessons, Malibu Point is ready to help you dive right into your Japan ocean adventure.

Japanese Instagram (below, left) English Instagram (below, right)

1227-2 Kushihama, Katsuura City

(Pick-up and drop-off from JR Katsuura Station // 12-minute walk)


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