A seaside gem reborn
The port town of Miura (三浦市), located at the southern tip of the homonymous peninsula, is little more than an hour away from Tokyo. In the past famous for its Tuna, it is known primarily as a weekend getaway for city folks in recent years – including me! Miura was actually my very first destination outside of Tokyo when I arrived in Japan back in 2019. Recently, I went to see (and photograph) it again.
In many ways, Miura is different than the other, more popular destination spots on the peninsula, such as Kamakura or Zushi Beach. It does not have the famous temples, nor the long sandy beaches, nor the countless souvenir shops. It is just a quaint little town at the sea. Just like Kamakura, though, Miura has a small island right in front of its door step: Jogashima makes for great walks in nature, is a popular spot for bird watching, and offers views of Mt. Fuji that can certainly live up to those on Enoshima. Besides that, it also features a stunning coast line that you can visit up close. While we were down there, we ran into a really kind retiree turned amateur photographer / tour guide, who could not wait to tell us all about it. Not only did he walk us around the rock formations explaining how they would change with the tides, he also showed us where to take the best photos. He even carried a little book with sample shots of previous folks he had given the tour. Since he seemed like a genuinely well-meaning guy, we agreed to get our photo taken in the end as well.
Back in Miura, the port and the adjacent fish market still form the heart of town, even though the fishing industry –and with it Miura itself– have declined over the years. When visiting three years ago, Miura admittedly had somewhat of a tragic feel to it. The place looked run down and many businesses had closed shop, as is the case so often in the Japanese countryside. This time, however, it felt a bit different. One thing that stood out during this recent trip is the city center being revived by a bunch of new businesses. There is a donut shop, a hip design store, second hand outlets doubling as photo galleries. There is life!
One place we found particular enjoyable was a café / hair dresser called 本と屯 (which translates to something like books and tongs). Situated in an unassuming wooden building along a side street leading to the port, the place was just exuding good vibes – walls filled with photo books, weird little doodads lying around, and fantastic coffee. The funky little map below is also how we discovered some of the other places worth seeing in the vicinity.
That is not to say that Miura is the new Shimokitazawa or Kichijoji, or whatever. There is still a... shall we say morbid chic to it. Dilapidated buildings and all. But what was so refreshing about the place this time is that its people were excited about being there. Folks were hanging out in each others' shops, chatting it up with the neighbors, jointly reviving this little sea side gem. More importantly, they are happy to share it with you. Walk past a restaurant and a stranger tells you: "Hey, this is the place you want to visit! I come here every time I'm in Miura." Leave a shop and the owner runs outside: "Yo, since you did not buy anything, maybe you want a little souvenir at least? Here, have a tattoo sticker or a collectible card of a cat."
In times of ubiquitous remote work, I can see why people would opt for a place like Miura over a crammed apartment in the city. Increasingly many people in Japan are looking for ways to spend more time in the countryside, be that by getting a weekend home or even by moving there permanently. Even Tokyo, for the first time in 26 years, saw more people leaving than joining during 2021. The fact that some of them choose Miura as a destination is at least to a certain extent the result of deliberate efforts by the city to attract young families and new businesses to move there to "start a new life in this town" (their words, not mine). The neatly designed magazine below will hook you up with local recommendations, stories of people reinventing themselves in Miura, and available property listings. Who wouldn't want to move here?!
"So how do I get to Miura?", you ask. As a tourist without access to a car, the best option is the aptly named Misaki Maguro Day Ticket, which comes with public transport passes and coupons for a tuna meal and other leisure activities. For details on what's included and where to get it, just follow this link. You can also use these coupons to get a rental bike at the fish market and go from Miura to Jogashima. If you do end up going and meet that friendly old guy at the coast, let me know if you spot my photo among his sample shots!