Day trips from Tokyo – Stumbling through history in Kurihama

Today was another accidental destination on a day off. I was going to give Mitakesan another try, but the day got off to a slow start and with the early sunset this time of year it did not feel worth the time or expense to get out there. I had heard that I was underestimating the closer destinations, so I decided to follow that thought and set off on an exploratory trip on the Keihin-Tohoku line to see where it took me.

Despite some tempting scenery, I ended up opting to keep going to the end of the line and then decided to carry on with a connecting line. I eventually found myself getting off at the station in Kurihama on the Miura Peninsula when the tracks ran out, which essentially is the mouth of Tokyo Bay. From the station, however, it isn’t obvious that that is the case as it is located out of sight of the water. The area map at the station did show the waterfront, though, so there was at least a rough guideline to follow.

The day had two main objectives: first to get out and see something new, second to keep playing with the new camera. To that end, I headed a few blocks off of the main road so I could walk down the side of the river that flows into the bay, set the camera to auto and had a go at mindless snapshots as I meandered my way around to see how it handled in “data collection” mode… but more on that later, suffice it to say that bright sunlight and lots of reflective surfaces gave it a workout, and it did well.

Once at the river, I noticed it was lined with boats tied up to the side – some looking like they had just come back from a night of fishing, others looking like it had been quite some time since anyone had been aboard. The closer I got to the bay, the larger and more active looking the boats. Once at the waterfront, I was able to see an active ferry port and quit a bit of industrial usage behind it, as well as a moderately sized beach and what appeared to be some seasonal businesses that were in their off period. It would be interesting to go back in the summer and see the difference. I turned away from that and headed along what I thought was a road that would follow the shore around the ridge in front of me, but a variety of government buildings grew between me and the water and when a road did lead back off toward the water the signs were not overly inviting.

I carried on along the main road and soon found myself going through a tunnel under the ridge and emerging on the other side to a view of a much larger town and a much more active waterfront. It turns out that I was actually seeing several smaller towns, but the impression was certainly a single larger one. I decided to go down a side road for a little bit to get a picture of the area and on the way found that that road led to a lighthouse, which seemed much more interesting than walking into another town having just come through one. While there is a modern lighthouse / navigational aid out in the bay, the (probably) reconstructed older one on the point is an interesting focal point on a very nice place to watch the water and the passing ships.

I returned the way I came, and as I got ready to turn back on the road I noticed a sign for “Perry Park” which seemed a little out of place and accordingly begged to be followed. While the name certainly struck a bell the place didn’t, so I was curious to see what the relationship was…. and it turns out that Kurihama was where Commodore Perry first landed when he came to Japan in 1853. It felt a bit ironic to have stumbled across the place where the effort by the US to drag Japan from its isolationist policies into the world economy essentially began on the 70’th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.


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