At home with Hiromi: Chiba, Japan
Hiromi Matsubara shows us around her village in Chiba, Japan
BY MELISSA CONNELL
When Japan's residents were rocked by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 many people began examining their lifestyles. One Tokyo resident decided to trade her corporate daily grind for a home in the woods of Nakadaki Art Village, a lush eco-community less than 100km from Tokyo.
Former Surfrider Japan CEO Hiromi Matsubara was kind enough to give us a glimpse of life in the forest of Isumi, Chiba including her local recommendations for camping, food and accommodation. If you love music, surfing and nature, then you'll love Nakadaki Art Village!
How long have you resided in Chiba and how did you end up there?
I grew up in Chiba prefecture (a peninsula next to Tokyo) and lived on the outskirts of Tokyo before renting a house in the woods in the Nakadaki Art Village community (in Isumi) in 2009. I then moved there permanently after the Earthquake in 2011. The surf, the nature, the laid back lifestyle and simple living attracted me.
The community is a little hidden gem tucked away in the rice fields and has residential areas as well as an Asian restaurant, yoga stage, communal halls, tennis court, camping sites and bungalows for guest accommodation.
What do you love about your community?
Most people have intentionally moved here because the big cities were too much and they wanted to surf more, be closer to nature and live simply and slowly. Everyone has an interesting story to be share and people have time to listen to others over a potluck dinner party or casual gatherings - everyone knows everyone and that communal feeling is so nice.
Your community in 3 words
Lush. Creative. Connect
How is the lifestyle in isumi compared to Tokyo?
Very chilled, cruisy and slow and quiet. Healthy, as nothing is really open after 9pm and we go to bed early to wake up for a morning surf before work. My town has a good mix of old and new - the local farmers who are in their 60's, 70's and 80's are still out on the farm every day taking care of the land and there are also various nice historic cultural events where all the community gathers and participates. New settlers are surfers or young families who seek the importance and value of living in nature. It's good to see different dynamics in such a small town.
YOUR LOCAL RECOMMENDATIONS
Best spot to eat: Brown's Field Cafe- a macrobiotic cafe and organic farm
Best coffee: Atlantic Coffee Stand, Travel Coffee, Sotobo Stand UZU
Best way to spend an evening: Random live music gigs
Must do: Kiyomizu Temple and the hike up there in the forests ,
Best natural attraction: Surf or a stroll through the rice fields or the forest
Best place to camp: Nakadaki Art Village
Best accommodation: Jiji No Ie at Brown's Field (an authentic Japanese guest house serving macrobiotic meals!)
Best time to visit: Aug-Oct for the best surfing (typoon swells) and good food!