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All aboard Chiba Prefecture’s Lab Train

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

The easternmost point of the Kanto region in Chiba Prefecture offers panoramic views of the coastline with rugged towering cliffs that resemble those of Dover — one of England’s most recognizable landmarks. It’s a place that many visit to watch Japan’s first winter sunrise.

From this Friday through Sunday, children are invited to the city of Choshi to begin an educational rail adventure along the Chiba coast, during which they will learn about the region’s culture, history and food, while enjoying the magnificent view.

A three-day pass allows kids to board a special Lab Train to follow a quest involving 12 “missions” at different locations spread along the route of the Choshi Electric Railway Line. The line itself dates back to 1913, when it opened as a railway for sightseers. Those who clear any of the missions, involving quizzes and other kinds of games, will win gifts from the organizers.

Since the area is known for its 300-year-old soy-sauce industry, as well as Choshi being one of the major fishing ports of the Kanto region, children can join in workshops at which they will be able to taste local delicacies. As this is the Lab Train’s inaugural run, there will also be other special tours and workshops where participants can learn how to make a local specialties, such as nure-senbei (moist rice-crackers).

A Lab Train pass also includes tickets to travel to the famous 10-km-long Byobugaura cliffs and visit the observation deck, where they can enjoy the 360-degree view.

Parents and other family members accompanying kids can receive a pass for ¥1,000 a day, which allows them to participate in some of the attractions.

The Lab Train runs from March 21 to 23, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. A three-day ticket is ¥1,700 for elementary school students and younger, while junior high school students and older will be charged an adult fare of ¥2,000. To accompany (and not be involved in all events) costs ¥1,000 a day. Tickets are available at Choshi Electric Railway Line’s major stations: Choshi, Nakanocho, Kannon, Inuboh, Kasagami-Kurohae and Tokawa. For more information, visit www.gakken.jp/labtrain.