A couple of months having gone by with my motorbike sitting unused I was feeling guilty, and with the weekend a little cooler after the humidity of August I was tempted out. I decided to aim for Mount Nokogiri in Chiba, but I also wanted to see the Meiji Centennial Observation Tower (明治百年記念展望塔). I can’t quite remember how I came to know about this viewing platform on the tip of Futtsu Park in Chiba. I think I must have been clicking around on Google Maps in a moment of boredom when its unusual design caught my eye.
The observation tower is not a famous tourist attraction, per se. It was built in 1971 and has only recently reopened after undergoing refurbishment following years of being battered by the elements (you wouldn’t necessarily know this today as streaks of rust can still be seen here and there). It stands 21.8 meters tall and is designed as a set of interlinked platforms that look like complex weighing scales from a distance. But the fact that it juts out into Tokyo Bay with only woodlands and beaches behind means that you have an unobstructed view in all directions. In fact, the observation tower was chosen as one of “Kanto’s 100 Views of Mount Fuji” because on a clear winter’s day the slopes of the mountain can be seen almost 100 kilometers in the distance.
Most visitors seemed to have come here for the beaches and the surfing rather than the platform itself, but it was another good example of Japan’s many lesser known sightseeing spots. This especially rang true for me since just before as I was winding my way along the coastal roads and through the farming land of Chiba to get there I saw Tokyo Wan Kannon towering down from the top of a hill in the distance—another landmark of which I had not been aware.
Meiji Centennial Observation Tower is not possible to reach unless you have your own transportation (and a pain to get to even if you do), but while the viewing tower alone might not be worth the journey, the surrounding beaches must be among the best near Tokyo, and poor access by public transport meant that they were far quieter than the likes of Yuigahama in Kamakura (perhaps something to remember for another summer’s day!).