- On the Way, First Stop, Kurihama (Page-2)
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Part of life in megacity Tokyo is the quest for periodic escape to the countryside. Typically, people run off to Nikko, Kyoto, Nara, and other overly well-known places, but there's also a lot to see in and around Tokyo, including across Tokyo Bay on the Boso Peninsula (Boso-hanto).
The Boso Peninsula (around 130km long and up to 106km wide) is an interesting mix of traditional Japan (historically protected from change by difficult access from Tokyo), pre-modern Japan (several lighthouses dating back to the Meiji era) and modern beachside leisure, with modern hotels, Japanese inns, Kamogawa Sea World marine park, beaches small and large (including 66km-long Kujukurihama) for swimming and surfing, etc.
Whether you go for a day, a week, or a month (can anyone actually do that?), first scrutinize a detailed map of the peninsula and (if you're lazy and have the money) discuss hotel options with a travel agent. Or... if you're looking for adventure - preferring to leave your itinerary to fate, instincts, and serendipity, just head down the coast in a car and see where you end up.
Visiting Boso-hanto from Tokyo, you have several options for getting past Tokyo Bay - you can go over it (via ferry from Kurihama on the Kanagawa side to Kanaya on the Chiba side), under it (via the new combination tunnel and bridge Aqualine from Kawasaki to Kisarazu), or around it (via train and/or car).
Aside from probably having seen "Kurihama" as a destination for some trains, it's not a place people tend to know or think much about, but it's historically interesting as the mouth to Tokyo Bay and as the place where Perry first landed. Since people tend to not know this, some efforts have been made to help them remember - note "Perry-dori" (Perry Street/Avenue - above), the Perry & Black Ships manhole cover (above), and finally there's the Perry Museum in Perry Park (below), commemorating where Commodore Perry first landed on July 14th, 1853. The first trade treaty that resulted from the Kurihama meetings stipulated Shimoda as the port for trade (1854-1860), followed by Kanagawa and Yokohama. And finally, just in case you didn't know, that nonsense about Perry "Sailing into Tokyo Bay" is bloody wrong. Whatever you want to make of the motivations of the time, the actions carried out by Perry were diplomatic.
From Kurihama, load your car, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle or just yourself onto one of the fleet of three ferries (above and below is the Kurihama-maru ship) that ply the waters between Kurihama and Kanaya. The 11.5 km ride across is a pleasant one and only takes about 35 minutes. (This is actually the entrance to Tokyo Bay, and the hills on both sides had batteries of heavy guns to protect the bay during WW-II.)
Top left, ferry terminal building. Middle picture below - the ship has a much larger feeling to it while on-board than it appears from a distance. (From this experience, I can hardly imagine how immense the old ocean liners must have seemed from on-board.) It's an enjoyable ride across the bay and you can buy food and drink inside. Every time I ride this ferry, I find myself wishing that the ride was longer - 35 minutes is over in a flash.
(Below) On the way across, you pass one of the other ferries (in this case, the Shirahama-maru) going in the other direction. The ferries plying the waters between the narrowest part of the bay, there is enough open water to feel almost as though you are on the open sea, and Tokyo being a busy port, there are always a number of ships to see, some quite close up, like this freighter.
There is much more to this journey - which was only the first one of several taken to the Boso Peninsula.
Copyright 2006 by Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo