Chiba Days #24 - Chiba City

Hello everyone and welcome back to another chapter of Chiba Days here on Tiro Finale! Despite having a diary segment entitled "Chiba Days", I have never actually visited the main city of Chiba in the Chiba Prefecture ever since I landed in Japan some 2 months ago. 

Partly, I never had any real reason to go and, partly, because Chiba itself is infamous for being thin on any form of attractions. Living on the border between Tokyo and Chiba, the commute to Chiba city itself would take me a little over an hour and something I ordinarily would not have the time to commit for. 

Often my weekends and day offs were spent in the city center of Tokyo but, for one fine day, Takuya and I decided to break the mold and pay a visit to the quiet city of Chiba. Waking up as early as we could, we were partly motivated by the sole reason of visiting a particular ramen store in Chiba. 

The cold weather, long commute and lack of sleep were quickly washed away while strolling through Chiba's central park. With it being the tail-end of autumn during our visit, many of the trees had already shed most of their leaves. Fortunately, there will still a few spotting lovely red and orange leaves. 

While strolling through the park, there is an immediate sensation that Chiba has not changed much over the past many years nor has it seen an influx of foreigners like Tokyo has. Everything about Chiba still feels quintessentially Japan especially with its Japanese-only signboards, something that is quickly becoming a thing of the past in Tokyo. 
Despite being a public holiday, there were hardly anybody in the park. A stark contrast from the atmosphere in Ueno Park which would be filled to the brim with families, couples and friends going out. Little by little, I was beginning to gain a better understanding of the fast-paced living that Tokyo citizens are used to in their day-to-day lives. Neighboring cities they may be but, the livelihood in Chiba could not be any more different when compared to Tokyo's.

As quickly as we entered the park, we were soon reaching the end of it. One final tree stood in all of its crimson glory marking the end for both the park and autumn as the seasons go by. Yet, somehow it felt like time moved a little slower here in Chiba. 

And it was not just the traffic on the road or the pedestrians on the sidewalk which differed in pace, even the public transport in Chiba was unique. For the first few times that I spotted it, I could not believe my sight seeing the train carriages being suspended from the lines rather than riding atop it. All throughout my day, I wandered and wondered why only the city of Chiba would use such a peculiar form of rail transport?

Follow the tracks and eventually you will be lead to the main Chiba station. A large grey building and major transportation hub of the city, the building was sterile and unexciting, built to serve its sole purpose of dolling out public transportation. From here, it was another stroll to the art and science museum, the one place where families congregated with children running freely. Yet, throughout all this time, I could not get my mind of the floating trains.

As slow as time passed, eventually sundown came around with the skies turning many shades darker and the sun wishing us goodbye for yet another day. The day had been long, almost longer than any other I have had before in the city yet, there was more to be seen. One place we have yet to visit, the Chiba Port Tower. 

Located at the coastal line of Chiba city, my intuition was right when the Christmas illuminations lit up marking both the end of the year and the jolly festive seasons. Winter illuminations had always been a celebrated spectacle in Japan and the Chiba Tower was not going to be any different in an effort to make itself the brightest, cheeriest landmark in the whole city. 
Atop the tower are two floors, one an observatory and another a restaurant and souvenir shop. Since the sun had long set, seeing the full extent of Chiba city was certainly out of the picture. All this time, the lights from the buildings far below shone brightly illuminating the cityscape of Chiba. As if stating the obvious, Chiba at night was also notably darker than the blinding lights that followed the glitz and glamour of Tokyo.
Just like the calm and tranquility in the daytime, there was a notable silence in Chiba's night sky. Atop the tower in the observatory deck sat a lone scale merchant ship reminding Chiba of its past history as a port town.

As the old digital clock ticked ever so slowly reminding us what little time left we had, we made our way down the tower and back to the train station. We left as we came, on train, with the hour long ride back giving me plenty of time to think. Much of my time in Japan, I have spent in Tokyo acclimatizing towards the rapid pace of life. Until now, Chiba had only been a prefecture I lived in, a place I called home to escape the overpriced rental of Tokyo city. But now, I am slowly beginning to understand what it means to live in Chiba and, in that way, putting a whole new meaning to the name "Chiba Days".

Perhaps this entry is not so much about the weird and crazy things about Japan but, then again, that is how it has always been. Looking from outside, it is not hard to see why many associated Japan as such. From the inside though, things really are not that different at all. Everywhere around the world, people are just doing their best taking each day as it comes. Maybe we are all not so different after all?

With that, we come to an end of this oddly reflective piece for today. Until the next time, thank you so much for reading and have yourself a wonderful day ahead.


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