For Tokyoites looking for a quickie beach getaway, Chiba beats Shimoda, hands down. It takes only 90 minutes to get there (by train, which is the only way we roll), so it's more convenient for a weekend (even just Sat-Sun) thing. And while the sand was a bit muckier ('white sand' it ain't) it didn't matter, because the water was beautiful and the hotel where we stayed --Sayan Terrace-- has a great big deck overlooking the seashore and the little stream/ditch area where our boys played for hours in plain sight. The rooms were nice and the rates are decent, and you can set up your own barbecue on the beach in front. The kitchen staff even grilled our leftover sausages for us for Sunday lunch, sparing us from having to set up the bbq again. (Thanks Lisa for conveying our request with your brilliant Japanese! My pathetic sukoshi-Nihongo plus sign language would never have cut it.)
Whoever's in charge of the hotel really should consider putting nice big gas grills out there for guests to rent. They should also sell platters of raw meat and other fixings out of their own kitchen. Who wouldn't pay a bit extra to avoid having to lug all that stuff out there? We didn't do any lugging as we had friends going by car, but if we went on our own, we'd be stuck ordering off the hotel restaurant menu (fine for adults, lacking for kids) or wandering into the town to find grub. As it turned out we had some very fine lamb chops (thanks to Kate) and some tasty steaks (U.S. prime sirloin from Cost-o-co Japan!) and some skewered chicken (thanks Clare and Louise) and lots of other stuff. When they weren't chowing down, the kids kept busy running around in the sand or in the drained pool (not as dangerous as it sounds).
This boutique hotel is located in Onjuku-machi, Isumi-gun, Chiba Prefecture, a 3 minute shuttle-van ride from the Onjuku JR train station (take the Wakashio Ltd. Exp. train from Tokyo station, then call the front desk and they come pick you up!). It's a surfing beach, so lots of day trippers who park on the little side streets, pull into their wetsuits and go.
Thanks to Clare for organizing, and thanks to the weather gods for clearing things up for us.
It was still drizzling when we arrived at Onjuku
Before long it had stopped raining, but I still found it too chilly to go in without a wetsuit that first day.
a pre-dinner game of (American) football
the flaming torches were one of Sayan Terrace's many nice touches
getting the fire started
6 kids play tag in the pool under Terry's watchful eye
Dylan and pal Charlie share a bag of Doritos on the deck
David, grillmaster, distributes the sausages
View from our hotel room late Sat nite
heading home on Sunday
OH and P.S., Onjuku has some sort of sister-city deal going with Acapulco, Mexico!
(sign posted by the Onjuku train station, facing the platform waiting area)