Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2023/03/17
Have you ever wanted to stay in traditional Japanese lodging, but not have to worry about other people and staff? This is a perfect chance to rent out your own “Kominka” (classic Japanese residence) style house surrounded by lush bamboo forests, and have free reign over your stay. Use the kitchen or outdoor barbecue to prepare your meals, set up your futon in one of the many nooks in the tatami-floored sleeping area, or just relax in the living room. The common room as well is perfect for parties, with lots of board and video games you can play while your group chats the night away over some drinks.
The manager here, Yamazaki-san, wants this experience for visitors to be a relaxing one, with freedom to enjoy a traditional Japanese home as you please, but also one that puts you in touch with the rich environment that envelops the property. “Do what you want” is the theme here, and he hopes that the large natural spaces can inspire outdoor activities, much in the same way the wide open tatami flooring can inspire indoor activities.
Let loose with music outside while you barbecue, dance and sing under the glowing Chiba sunset, sinking behind the tall stalks of bamboo. The house is fully equipped, and you’ll be sure to find all the tools you need to throw the kind of party you want to have here. Alternatively, stay inside and light some incense while you lounge on the tatami floor with a good book, or pad of paper and pens. It’s really all up to you!
As for us, we balanced our time inside and out, first relaxing in the common room playing music, Jenga, and some video games while we casually prepared food for our evening barbecue, which was complete with tasty drinks, music, and lots of laughter. You may find that Japan sometimes tends to be a land of rules and regulations where certain things have to happen at certain times, but here you can enjoy everything at your own pace, prioritizing your spontaneous ideas for fun. It goes without saying, but here, too, we follow the golden rules in Japan of respecting property, cleaning up after yourself, and not causing problems or more work for others.
While every aspect of the stay is up to you, there happens to be a specific activity the manager Yamazaki-san likes to have his guests experience for lunch either the day you arrive or the following. “Nagashi-somen” (literally, “flowing rice noodles”) is a unique activity that blends craft and food to give everyone an excitingly communal food experience. In a constant stream of water, the noodles flow down a piece of cut bamboo as if in a water slide, and you snatch them up with chopsticks along the way.
First, a thick stalk of fresh bamboo is cut down. A Japanese style hatchet and hammer is used to bisect it vertically, making a half circle, open “chute” for the noodles to flow through. Each spine along the piece of bamboo is also partially or completely removed, to ensure the noodles don’t get bunched up along the way. You can make the chute for the noodles as long or short as you want; this time we aligned two long pieces for our nagashi-somen. It’s very much like a game, to see who can grab the most noodles before they reach the end of the chute, after which the missed noodles fall into a strainer to be taken back to the start for another round.
Lastly, there was one more treat awaiting us. One of Yamazaki-san’s friends brought an industrial grade “Kaki-gori” (shaved ice) machine, and treated us all to a deliciously soft dessert after we had gotten our fill of noodles. There were many flavors to use as toppings, like milk, pistachio, green tea, mango, cherry, and more. While play and stay is the main theme here, these bonus treats signify the communal mentality Yamazaki-san tries to create with this property.
It’s very “do it yourself”, but the forested location and freedom you have here makes this an authentic visit to the Japanese countryside, in a truly traditional and cozy Japanese home.
1579-2 Noro Town, Wakaba Ward, Chiba City
(10 minutes by car from JR Honda Station)