Perfect for a Sunday stroll.
Because of its proximity to Tokyo, Chiba Prefecture is often unfairly relegated to a “bed town” area. But the prefecture has more to offer than just a place to start and finish your work day. Abiko happens to be one of those cities worth visiting, with its most scenic attraction: Lake Teganuma.
The waterfront area, that also spills into the nearby big city of Kashiwa, is popular for bird watching, jogging, cycling and for those who like to enjoy a bit of local serenity and a contemplative lakeside coffee without having to travel more than an hour from central Tokyo.
The lake (also described as a swamp or marsh), covers some 6.5 KM and has been undergoing a clean-up since the mid-80s. Enjoy a trip out on the lake and water sports or discover nearby attractions like the museum of birds and planetarium.
Relax in nature
About a 15 minute walk from Abiko station, is the lakeside Teganuma Park, and about a 20-minute walk east along the lakefront are other main attractions.
Head to the small wooden pier (map) in the park, and you can rent a 2-or 4-seater paddle boat for a tranquil 30 minutes or more on the water. The park also has a mini train line for the kids at weekends and during spring and summer holidays. Rental bicycles are available for weekends. You can return them at four locations around the lake.
Teganuma is home to numerous species of birds including waterfowl, kingfishers, great reed warblers, barn swallows and golden plovers, some of whom are migratory. Because of this, it also has the annual Japan Bird Festival in November. During which, painting, handicraft and carving classes are available for younger visitors.
On a more permanent scale, the Abiko City Museum of Birds (map), Japan’s first bird museum, displays not only local varieties and other mounted avians, but also long-extinct specimens and fossils.
From there, check out the lakeside Teganuma Shinsui Plaza & Mizu no Yakata (map) is the place for great sunset views and an affordable meal at the small restaurant on the first floor. The domed building is also home to a planetarium which seats 50 people and won’t break the bank. The show lasts around 20 minutes and is a relaxing but informative way to digest your food and celestial facts. It’s in Japanese, but even if your language skills are lacking, it’s easy enough to follow along with the visuals.
In the building you’ll also find a small display of indigenous flora and fauna and a shop selling all manner of locally sourced fresh produce. If the kids balk at the fruit and vegetables, there’s the water features outside to splash about with, instead, but best left for the summer heat!
For all year-round water warmth, there’s the popular community hot spring bath – the Manten no Yu (map). You’ll find it on the south side of the lake.