Ellen van Lieshout

Experiencing Rural Chiba with Tabica

Dive into the life of the locals

Ellen van Lieshout
Ellen van Lieshout   - 4 min read

When visiting Japan, or Tokyo in particular, it might be difficult at the first site to connect with the local people. On a regular day during the week, you will mostly see Japanese businessmen, also known as salarymen, dominating the streetscapes and always being on the run. As everything around you in Tokyo is hi-tech, vibrant, and lit up in neon lights at night, let TABICA offer you an escape. Swap the hustle and bustle of the city for rural serenity, peacefulness and quality time with the locals.

TABICA’s activities are managed by a few young and ambitious Japanese entrepreneurs based in Gotanda. They have excellent work relationships with farmers, craftsmen and monks who are willing to share their lifestyle with interested travellers. Their aim is to both provide travellers an authentic experience and give local people in remote areas the opportunity to get involved in tourism. The experience allows participants from both sides to gain a mutual comprehension of each other’s culture and lifestyle. TABICA day trips often include several different activities: harvesting, making bamboo plates, fruit picking, or making plum juice are just a few examples.

During my trip out to rural Chiba, I was impressed by the warm, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere which I felt right away upon arriving at the farm. We immediately dived into the kitchen to help our host with the preparation for our first activity: pizza making. This was slightly unexpected as a non-traditional activity, but I soon discovered the wide variety of fresh vegetables being used and wood-fired oven in the backyard. All doubts were gone. Everyone offered a helping hand to make the most delicious, crunchy, thin crust pizzas which came out of the oven one by one. Food has the unique quality of connecting people, and this first activity was a perfect start to the day in getting to mingle with new people and share personal backgrounds and stories.

We then started making bamboo plates, chopsticks, and rice bowls – used to eat our dinner that evening! A local artisan introduced himself and his crafts and showed us how to saw the bamboo. It was not as easy as it seemed to handle the saw but in the end everyone managed to create his or her personal dinnerware set.

During the first two activities, we were overlooking a beautiful waterfall on the other side of the farming field. The enthusiastic replies were therefore not surprising when the host offered us the chance to take a closer look. Soon we had uncovered a beautiful piece of nature. The waterfall offered a refreshing plunge in the water (for those who were smart enough to bring a change of clothes).

Back at the farm we were surprised to hear there was a nearby onsen. The natural spring water calmed our exhausted bodies and the view from the window over the fields enhanced our moment of relaxation. Women and men went in turns and for those who were not in the onsen, there were marshmallows to roast over the barbecue.

In the evening, a local chef prepared a delicious meal with lots of fresh vegetables, many seasonal. There was lots of food and, after a long day, everyone took the chance to fill his or her bamboo plate a second time. After dinner we jumped into the car to drive to our final activity of the day: firefly watching! Although the weather and the position of the moon was said to be not in our favour, we were lucky to see and catch a few fireflies. It was a magical scene, with the moonlight reflecting in the water of the rice fields. What a beautiful ending of a lovely day!

If authenticity is a key concept in tourism, TABICA has it spot on organizing tours where travellers get the chance to dive into the life of local people. Authentic and off the beaten track tours appeal to the modern, savvy traveller who wants to go a step further in getting to know their holiday destination.

TABICA, as a frontrunner in this tourism niche, successfully offers an unparalleled behind-the-scenes glimpse into local lifestyles. For everyone who wants to experience authenticity, I highly recommend booking a tour with TABICA today!

Ellen van Lieshout

Ellen van Lieshout @ellen.lieshout