Over and Under the Bay
Last Monday I took a day trip by motorcycle from Tokyo to Chiba. Chiba is located on the east side of the Tokyo Bay. Tokyo is on the west side. Chiba and Tokyo share a border to the north of the bay. In that area, Chiba is heavily populated, but to the south and east, urban sprawl fades away. My destination was Kisarazu (木更津), which achieved some notoriety with the TV drama Kisarazu Cat's Eye back in 2002. There are nice rolling hills. The breeze is crisp and clean.
On the way there, I took the Tokyo-han Aqualine, which is a tunnel and bridge that heads SE from Kawasaki (southern Tokyo) to Kisarazu (central Chiba). The first half of the Aqualine is a tunnel, and the second half is a bridge. In the middle, where the tunnel exits onto the bridge, there's a rest area: Umihotaru (海ほたる). The rest area is quite popular. Dozens of cars were lined up waiting for parking spots. Motorcycles don't have to wait, though. I parked near the front entrance, went inside, and got a can of coffee.
Not far southwest of Kisarazu is the city of Futtsu. I had an eel lunch at some little restaurant and later took an hour break at Futtsu Park. The park has a beach. Nobody was swimming when I was there, because it was too cold. The park also has several camp sites. If you live in Tokyo and have a car, this place is probably a nice weekend getaway destination. Bring a tent, some friends, barbecue materials, and fire it up.
The bike I rented was a 2013 Suzuki GSR250. This is a 250cc motorcycle. It's easy to ride: hard to stall, easy to maneuver, and not heavy. On the expressway, traffic often goes 100-100 km/h. The bike handles those speeds with no problem, but care should be taken, because those speeds are also above the legal limit.
The ride took just about eight hours. The biggest time sink was my first ninety minutes in Tokyo. Rather than take the expressway as soon as possible, I took local roads from Kichijoji to Kawasaki. It made for good practice, but it also turned a 30 minute jaunt into a 90 minute venture. In Chiba, traffic was very light. On the return, traffic was crawling in a few places in Tokyo. But by Japanese law, motorcycles can ride between lanes, so it was OK for me.