Although Kujukuri seems pretty inaka (rural), there are actually some pretty fun things to do there! Here are my favorite five. No, they aren’t ALL eating.
Kujukuri (九十九里町 kujūkuri-machi) is a town on the east coast of Chiba prefecture. It lies on Kujukuri beach, which is apparently the second longest beach in Japan (thanks, Wikipedia!).
1. THE FIRST SUNRISE OF THE YEAR
Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is a New Year’s custom, where you watch the first sunrise of the year. Chiba prefecture has two prime spots: Kujukuri and Choshi. Choshi is too far for me at 5am so I got to experience hatsuhinode at Kujukuri.
I was surprised to see a festival-like atmosphere at 6am. There were lots of food stalls selling warm drinks and soup. I had some insider info on free tonjiru (pork soup), so I warmed up with a bowl of that while huddling around a bonfire. The giant kagami mochi was really cool, there were some dragon dance and taiko drum performances, and I even met the town’s mascot Kukurin.
2. MAKE GLASS @ SUGAHARA
I wasn’t that interested in buying something here (everything is gorgeous but pretty expensive), but the chance to make something out of glass with the help of a professional was a ton of fun.
As an Chiba-kun ambassador, I did the rolling class option and made a glass dish in the shape of a fish. We got to choose the type (fish dish, mug, basket, bowl, etc.), color, and stamp if we wanted to.
It comes out looking like a giant ball of fire then you shape the fire pancake into whatever shape.
This glass fish almost leapt right out of my hands after I pulled out the rod used to create an indent for the eye. I would love to try glass blowing sometime, and Sugahara offers that option as well! Plus the lesson is a lot cheaper than I expected — ¥2,500-3,500 (only $25-35!).
3. CHECK OUT LOCAL FESTIVALS
The first one I went to was the umi biraki (海開き literally ‘sea opening’), a ceremony held to open the beaches and offer prayers for a safe season. This is held on April 29th (the Showa no hi holiday), so check it out! There are performances and my favorite part, a treasure hunt (like an Easter egg hunt but in the sand)!
The furusato matsuri (literally ‘hometown festival’) is the first Saturday of August and features all the fun of a Japanese matsuri festival with some small town charm. All of Kujukuri’s schools, associations, and groups are represented with their own festival float and you can see different eclectic groups parading around. There’s also some pretty great fireworks!
Other local festivals are listed on Kujukuri’s tourism site HERE.
There’s even an iwashi festival coming up on March 8th (details here).
5. COOL PAINTINGS @ MOCHIZUKI SADAKO MUSEUM
Funny story: The website is mochi-museum.com so I was under the impression that we were going to be learning about the history of mochi. I even asked one of the Chiba-kun ambassador people “Are we going to eat mochi?” at lunch. She was really confused. When we walk in the museum, I see all these paintings on the wall and as I walk around, it finally dawns on me. Turns out Mochizuki Sadako is a person. (No relation to mochi.)
Anyway so you can see some impressionist style art painted by Sadako Mochizuki who is from Kujukuri. You might also meet an adorable toy poodle named Cookie. Not to be confused with the delicious homemade cookies and tea in the cute cafe on the first floor. Do not eat the dog.
Getting to Kujukuri
Kujukuri doesn’t have a train station, so you’ll have to take the train to JR Tōgane (東金) station. Then take the bus bound for Katagai (片貝). To get to the beach, get off at Katagai station (the last stop).