Whether you think of it as a detox retreat, or simply a peaceful getaway, spending a few nights at this macrobiotic farm will leave you feeling healthier and happier.
In the three years I’ve lived in Japan, no-one has ever said to me: “You must go to Chiba.” On the contrary, people usually say: “There’s nothing in Chiba.” While this may be true for those looking for city bustle, I have since realized that the kind of nothingness found in this rice farming region on the Boso peninsula is exactly why you must go. After recently spending two nights at Brown’s Field, a macrobiotic farm in the city of Isumi, and exploring the surrounding area, I could give you countless reasons why it should make your must-visit list. But, for now, here are my top four…
1. The Macrobiotic Food
Owned by US-born photographer Everett Kennedy Brown and his wife Deco Nakajima, a macrobiotic chef and cooking instructor, Brown’s Field is all about sustainable and organic farming. Whether you’re just visiting for lunch – entirely possible since it’s just a couple of hours from Tokyo – or staying overnight, you’ll be treated to traditional Japanese ingredients served up as tasty vegan dishes. What’s more, guests who book accommodation at the farm’s cozy on-site cottage get to eat in the main house with family and staff members, allowing you to really feel part of the culture. Foodies will also welcome the chance to glean new ideas for preparing foods such as fermented shoyu (soy sauce), and genmai (unpolished rice) topped with shavings of dried kale.
The cottage at Brown’s Field costs ¥10,000 per night per person, including breakfast and dinner. The bathroom is outside and shared with daytime visitors to the restaurant.
2. The Wild Beach
While most people heading to a beach in Chiba will be aiming for Onjuku’s long stretch, you can borrow bicycles from Brown’s Field and cycle down to Izumiura Bay in about 20 minutes. Perhaps not ideal for sunbathing, the beach is often windy, but this gives it a wild element with crashing waves not often seen near Tokyo. Cycle through narrow back roads and discover exquisitely kept traditional homes, many of which have their own private rice paddies. Keep going, with the ocean on your right-hand side, and look for signs leading you up a steep hill to Taito Saki lighthouse. From here, you can take in a bird’s-eye view of the coastline, with the 60 km-long Kujukuri beach – a surf hotspot – on your left.
3. The Luxury Ryokan
If you’d like your farm stay to be a little more chic yet still traditional, then turn your attention to Jiji no Ie. In 2013, Brown and Nakajima opened this six-bed-room guesthouse that’s just a short walk from the farm, and offers tatami flooring, sliding shoji doors, and a bathhouse in the garden that you use privately with your partner or family. Contrasting beautifully with the old-fashioned elements is a contemporary styled dining area featuring one large wooden table, where Nakajima serves up gourmet cuisine that’s mostly vegan but sometimes includes local fish and cheese. Enjoy a 10-course tasting menu accompanied by unfiltered sake and organic coffee.
Jiji no Ie costs ¥15,000 per night per person, including breakfast and dinner.
4. The Starry Sky
Surrounded by trees and rice paddies, Brown’s Field farm is two acres of glorious nothingness. You can spend ages just sitting on the wooden deck of the farm’s Rice Terrace Café (left) watching the two kid goats either basking in the sun or balancing precariously on top of various perches. Head across the green grass towards the woody area at the bottom of the garden and enjoy an outdoor foot massage or just an afternoon reading in a hammock. Find the path through the bamboo trees, out on to the road, and make your way past a variety of interesting scarecrows down to Isumi river for a waterside stroll. End your evening looking up towards the sky, because you’ll never see this many stars from your balcony in Tokyo.
For more information about Brown’s Field farm visit brownsfield-jp.com
Photographs by Teppei Takahashi and Annemarie Luck