Remote beaches and more – or:
Enjoy a peaceful summer retreat!
The small fishing village Ubara (鵜原 / うばら) is part of the city of Katsuura (勝浦 / かつうら) and is located at the shores of the Pacific Ocean on the southeastern coast of the Bōsō peninsula (房総半島 / ) in the Chiba prefecture (千葉県 / ちばけん), that has a joint border with Tōkyō about 80 km northwest from there.
Luckily, Ubara isn’t famous at all (despite the fact that it has all the elements needed for fame). And even though it can be conveniently reached by public transport, the trip from Tōkyō is rather time-consuming. Hence, it’s “lucky”, because that’s the place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the big cities even on a Sunday.
If nothing else, the beaches of Ubara are worth a trip.
At least once a year (usually on the last or second-last weekend in July), when the great Ubara festival (Yasaka Jinja Festival) is being held, the little town is awaking in raucous celebration.
The festival reminds on the old days of the Edo era (1603 – 1868), when the regional feudal lords (Daimyō) were bound to travel between the Edo (which we call Tōkyō in our days) and their territories on a regular basis (an “alternate attendance” system). Part of the festival represents such a Daimyō procession (大名行列 / だいみょうぎょうれつ), combined with the Shintō ceremony at the Yasaka shrine (八坂神社祭礼 / やさかじんじゃさいれい).
A spectacle that cannot be described in words and hardly documented in pictures – that’s why I took the little video below when I visited the festival last year.
This year’s festival was scheduled for 27th and 28th of July.
But Ubara is more than this solitary event in summer. The bay of Ubara offers – as seen above – not only one of the most beautiful beaches in this area, it is also surrounded by a breathtaking cliff landscape that is (maybe a slight exaggeration) called “Utopia” (鵜原理想郷 / うばらりそうきょう). This “Utopia” is connected to the eastern edge of the main beach of Ubara. It may very well be one of the most impressive coastal ares of the Bōsō peninsula.
These cliffs are crossed by quite a number of tunnels – some for car traffic, others for pedestrians only (and accordingly narrow and dark). But the most impressive paths lead over the tops of the cliffs – expect the most stunning views!
Furthermore, you will find a branch of the Museum for Natural History of the Chiba prefecture (千葉県立中央博物館分館海の博物館 / ちばけんりつちゅうおうはくぶつかんぶんかんかいのはくぶつかん) and right next to it – built in the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean – the Underwater Observatory of Katsuura (海中展望塔 / かいちゅうてんぼうとう). Here you can witness life in the ocean without getting you feet wet.
Opening hours of the Museum for Natural History:
Daily (except Monday): 9:00 am to 4:30 pm (if Monday is a national holiday, the museum will be closed on the following day instead).
Closed during the year-end and new year holidays.
Further information (English):
Admission fees for the Museum of Natural History:
Adults: 200 Yen
University students: 100 Yen
Free for children and adults of more than 64 years of age.
Opening hours of the Underwater Observatory:
Daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (last entry: 5:30 pm) (April – October) (from November to March the observatory closes half an hour earlier)
Depending on weather conditions the observatory may be closed.
Further information can be found at the following website in English:
Admission fees for the Underwater Observatory:
Adults: 1,030 Yen
High school & university Students: 820 Yen
Children of 4 years of age or older: 420 Yen
There are discounts for groups.
How to get there:
From Tōkyō take the trains of Japan Rail via Chiba (千葉 / ちば) and Katsuura (勝浦 / かつうら) – journey time 2 to 2 ½ hours.
It may be worthwhile considering the express train “Wakashio” / わかしお of the Keiyō line (京葉線 / けいようせん) that starts from the underground platforms of Tōkyō station (journey time 1 ½ to 2 hours).