A Metropolis Wrapped Around the Heart of a Village
Name: Tori Proctor
City/Country: Dallas Texas, USA
Occupation: Coordinator for International Relations
Length of Stay in Japan: 2 years
Current City: Chiba
“Do you need to get on?” the conductor asked me. I flushed red and shook my head. They had waited for me all this time! The train quickly left the station, a few minutes behind schedule.
The Chiba Urban Monorail is one of Chiba City’s proudest accomplishments: it holds the Guinness World Record for longest suspended monorail. In fact, Chiba City has a lot to boast about, as we have just under 1 million residents and 900 years of history, but something about this place will always feel a little “small town”. It’s precisely what makes Chiba special.
I think the monorail is a perfect representation of quintessential Chiba charm, because on the one hand it’s recognized as the best and biggest of its kind in the entire world, and on the other hand its main role is to help citizens go about their daily lives. So while it connects people to art, history, cuisine, entertainment, and more; it also connects us to our schools, hospitals, and jobs. All while maintaining that Guinness World Record.
The character of the city as a whole is similar. There’s not so much of that typical, almost-cliché kind of Japanese tourism, because Chiba City shines too brightly as its own distinct destination, with experiences you can’t have anywhere else. In my two years here I have yet to spend a single day twiddling my thumbs, because there’s always something new to explore.
Chiba is a ceaselessly fascinating place to live because all of these treasures aren’t pre-packaged for consumption, but part of the very fabric of the town. They’re also shared with guests in such a way that the incredible becomes acutely personal to each and every visitor.
Like the record-breaking monorail and that generously patient conductor, Chiba has all the novelty of a metropolis wrapped around the heart of a village.