Read about my experience on a Chiba City sightseeing promotion tour and learn about the new and fashionable seaside facilities we visited that have just opened and let visitors enjoy sports, gourmet food, and more, including the Zozopark Honda Football Area and The Surf Ocean Terrace! There are also many experiences that are perfect for a day out, such as sightseeing cruises that leave from the new passenger ship pier, a role-playing theme park for the whole family, beautiful views of Tokyo Bay from Port Tower, and a peek into the world of steel-making at the JFE Steel Corporation East Japan Works!
In 2012 I entered the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, and started working as a Coordinator for International Relations at the Chiba City International Relations Division. From 2013 to 2015 I worked with Chi-ba+kun as a Chi-ba+kun Ambassador to spread information about Chiba Prefecture’s attractions to other nations.
The Zozopark Honda Football Area is a large-scale sports facility that encompasses 26,000m2 and is equipped with 1 full soccer field and 6 futsal fields (including one covered court), all installed with artificial turf. The covered court can be used for not only futsal, but also for tennis. Additionally, the large-scale facilities include a golf practice area and fully-equipped meeting rooms that can be used for lectures or seminars, making it possible to accommodate a variety of sports-related activities. The Zozopark Honda Football Area strives to work with local residents to revitalize the community and become a place where many people can create smiles through sports and engage in communication across generations.
I was impressed at how spacious the facility is, considering how crowded Japan can feel sometimes. I was also surprised to learn that you can also play tennis, practice golf, or even take yoga lessons! The facilities are fully equipped with showers and locker rooms, and a bus stop right at the entrance makes them easy to access. Although currently everything is only available in Japanese, foreign language support is something to look forward to in the future. It’s been years since I played soccer, but seeing the fields makes me want to play again!
Kandu Japan is a role-playing theme park that three generations of a family can enjoy together while witnessing their children grow. There are over 30 unique role-playing activities available, where children can try being models, dentists, newspaper reports, architects, opticians, scientists, and monorail conductors. Since opening in December 2013, Kandu Japan has been visited by over 600 organizations such as children’s associations and educational institutions including preschools, elementary schools, and junior high schools.
This is a wonderful idea for a theme park – looking around, I wanted to participate in everything myself! I think it’s very meaningful that the sponsors of the park are real companies, which gives children a more authentic experience. It’s also great that they get paid for their work in park money, which they can then use to buy things inside the park. I was impressed to see that the reservation screens in the park have an English language option and to hear staff speaking English/English announcements for the shows. I think this would be a great place for a family outing on the weekend!
The Surf Ocean Terrace opened in March 2016 inside Inage Seaside Park, aiming to become a new symbol of the community. The facilities include a restaurant building, hall building for events and weddings, and a spacious banquet building for receptions or banquets. Each building is installed with large windows facing the seaside, allowing for magnificent views of the blue skies and ocean from inside and sights such as Tokyo Tower and the Tokyo Skytree visible from the terraces.
This is a very modern and fashionable facility, with the added glamour of beautiful views of the sea. The restaurant building offers a great view from both inside and from the outdoor seating on both the terrace of the restaurant and below. The restaurant on the second floor has English-speaking staff, while the bakery on the first floor has the original French names for its goods (other foreign language menus are currently being prepared). I was also very impressed with the two spacious floors of the hall building and the comfortable lounges of the banquet hall, which is fully-equipped with features such as projectors and karaoke, making all sorts of performances possible. I would love to host or attend an event here!
April 2016 marked the opening of the Chibaminato pier and K’S Harbor, the passenger ship terminal that serves as a waiting space for passengers on sightseeing cruises in Chiba Port. K’S Harbor is a captivating spot in the bay area, with a seafood restaurant where passengers can enjoy lunch or dinner while admiring a giant aquarium 8.5 meters tall, a caf?, relaxation salon, flower shop, diving shop, and more. Visitors can enjoy a relaxing time while gazing at the ocean.
This is a great place to relax by the port, even if you’re not waiting for a cruise ship! The gigantic aquarium inside the seafood restaurant is really impressive, while the food is both delicious and reasonably-priced. The menu is in Japanese only, but I was pleasantly surprised to notice that announcements are made in English when orders are ready. There are also a variety of other shops and restaurants in the facility to enjoy, including a fresh juice shop and a relaxation salon! I think I could come back several times and still discover new things.
Chibaminato sightseeing cruise ships offer a 40-minute trip around the Chiba Central Pier (Chiba City). While seeing Port Tower from both near and far, passengers will hear a detailed explanation of the history of Chiba Port, those who work at the port, sea rules, and the areas visible from the boat. The cruise takes passengers around container terminals, food processing complexes, Narita Airport’s base for jet fuel, JFE Steel East Japan Works Chiba District, and more.
Even though I live near Chiba Port, it’s very easy for me to forget that one of Japan’s busiest ports is very close, but this cruise was a great way to remind me! Though at first it might not sound very interesting to tour an industrial area, it was fascinating to see things like cargo ships, equipment, and Narita Airport’s jet fuel base. The explanations are in Japanese only, but being able to see things that aren’t normally accessible still makes the trip well worth it. Standing by the side of the boat and feeling the wind rush by was also both exhilarating and relaxing at the same time (there are also seats inside for those who prefer a quieter spot). A perfect activity for a nice day!
Chiba Port Tower is 125m tall and is covered by approximately 5,600 one-way mirrors, giving it a sleek and distinctive appearance. The observation room is 113m above the ground and offers a 360-degree view of sights such as the Tokyo Bay Aqualine, Tokyo Skytree, Mt. Fuji, and the sunset, which visitors can enjoy to their hearts’ content.
I’ve been to Port Tower multiple times, but I can never get enough of the view from the top! Recently they have replaced the prerecorded message in the elevators with live explanations from Port Tower staff, which gives it a nice touch. I love being able to see the green of Port Park, right below the tower, mixed with the blue of the ocean and the multicolored factory scenery. The view from the tower at night has also been recognized as a nighttime scenery heritage site, which combined with the lovers’ sanctuary on the 2nd floor must surely be a romantic date spot. There is also a new buffet restaurant at the top of the tower and a shop selling souvenirs on the ground floor, not to mention a place to take flyboard and hoverboard lessons nearby if you make a reservation in advance!
The JFE Steel Corporation East Japan Works is the first seaside integrated steel works to be built in Japan after WWI, with a large-scale area of 7.66 million square meters, the equivalent of 164 Tokyo Domes. The facilities produce high-quality steel products, always using the latest technology and equipment. By taking a tour of the factory, visitors can see an immense blast furnace, the symbol of steel manufacturing, and observe the dynamic process of creating steel.
This was a great insight into the manufacturing and steel industries, which I had never really thought about before. Seeing the giant blast furnace slowly move closer and then pour melted steel into the furnace below amidst a shower of sparks was a truly beautiful sight! It was also mesmerizing to see blocks of steel move along through the manufacturing process while feeling the heat emanating off them first-hand.