An Oceanfront Yurt in Isumi
I'm a bit reluctant to share this rental as it's already a tough reservation to score, so consider this my holiday gift to you (welcome to my first post of 2017, btw!). Once you've finished ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the cozy interior and stunning cliffside locale, move as fast as your fingers will take you to the Reef Break Resort and book this baby for yourself.
We visited the Reef Break Resort in mid-November, but the property was still uber lush - despite the chill that had begun to set in back home in Tokyo. Isumi is situated on the coast of Chiba, a prefecture I'd previously visited only by way of airport express train (it's home to Narita Airport). Had I known that Chiba's coastline looked like this, I'd have dragged David here every weekend last year.
Owned by a Canadian transplant, Markus, and his Japanese wife, Kyoko, the Reef Break Resort includes a comfortable yurt that sleeps up to eight people, a cabana with bar seating and kitchen facilities, an 8-seater rotenburo (outdoor Japanese bath), a brick outdoor BBQ and - last but not least - a fire pit overlooking the Pacific.
We arrived in Isumi - a 71-minute jaunt from Tokyo Station via express train - at mid-afternoon on a Friday. Markus had kindly offered to pick us up at the station and take us to the local grocery store for a food run before we settled in for the weekend. To my delight, he not only escorted us to the store, but made helpful ingredient suggestions and deciphered Japanese packaging that had long been a mystery to me. That night we BBQ'd our dinner under the stars - which are something you simply don't see in light-polluted Tokyo.
It ended up raining all day Saturday, but the pitter-patter of falling raindrops on the yurt's roof made it all the more relaxing: we prepared a bubbling hot pot (all the necessary equipment was provided) and made good use of the rental's board games and stereo equipment (rainy day dance party, anyone?). Markus and Kyoko popped in to see how we were faring in the stormy weather, bringing along a delicious bowl of Kyoko's homemade stew - true omotenashi (Japanese hospitality). Sunday dawned with bright blue skies, which called for a move to the yurt's outdoor kitchen for our morning eggs and bacon. We soaked in the rotenburo until it was time to check out, after which Markus dropped us back at the station with slices of freshly baked cake (again, courtesy of Chef Kyoko) and big, blissed-out smiles on our faces.
I discovered the yurt on Airbnb, but you can book directly through Markus' website (details below) to avoid Airbnb's service fees. Happy glamping, my friends!
Cost: Nightly rates start at 13,000 JPY (115 USD) on weekdays and 15,000 JPY (135 USD) on weekends. See the full rate breakdown and book online here.
Getting There: From Tokyo Station, take the Keiyo Line Wakashio to Ohara (71 minutes; 1,620 JPY + 900 JPY express fee for approx. 22 USD total). A Japan Rail Pass can be used here if you have one! Detailed train information as well as driving directions are available here.
Good to Know: Don't expect much cell reception in this area - pocket WIFI devices are unlikely to have service. WIFI is provided in the yurt, as well as a phone for local calls.