+crowded world++japan++chiba prefecture++choshi++january 1/5 2011

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JUST about all of the action in Choshi happens down at the port. Strolling around here on a blustery winter's afternoon, it kind of reminded me of Reykjavik in Iceland... it reeks with the same sea shanty vibe. Lots of rust and emptiness. Dark clouds and gulls. I love these kind of places! In the Edo period Choshi was one of the principle trading hubs serving Tokyo, via the Tone River. This is part of the reason why some people call Sawara, a riverine town further down the Tone, a Little Edo (Little Tokyo). Sawara is famous for its Edo style architecture; if you look closely around Choshi, you can also see the Edo touches. These days Choshi has waned in importance as a port in the truly import/export sense of the word (Narita Airport is, after all, just down the beach), but functions as a fishing town. Just as Reykjavik used to be, before it was taken over by players of the financial markets. As well as catching fish, they make soy sauce. Put the two together (with a bit of vinegared rice) and what do you get: sushi! Anyway, it isn't hard to reach the port from the town center; if you are arriving at the train station, simply head straight up the road, past the McDonalds and dolphin-fronted building on your right, and across the gridpatterned streets upon which the aggressive local drivers will try to run you down, until you run out of road. The day I walked this stretch, New Years Day 2011, it started hailing out of nowhere. Small pellets of ice pelting the bitumen out of a cold blue sky. Down on the riverside, look left to gape at the bridge crossing the Tone River; look straight to see the banks of Ibaraki Ward; or look right to behold the fishing port and its many attendant craft. Did I mention there is plenty of rust here? I like rust; it is a signifier of character. ...



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