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One Japan ~ 47 Neighborhoods

Kimitsu, Chiba

Each region in Japan has its own appeal and originality, and through prefectural cross-fertilization, each has nurtured a unique culture. 47Neighborhoods is a story of BESS and PAPERSKY’S quest to uncover creative and fulfilling lifestyles available across the Japanese archipelago. The fourth in this series is a visit to the town of Kimitsu in Chiba Prefecture.


Chiba – a land of oceans and wetlands. And by association, a land of fishing. That is why we decided to meet a young transplant who loves fishing down in Kimitsu, Chiba. PAPERSKY’s Editor Lucas who himself lives a two-location life in Shibuya and Yaizu, Shizuoka, is also crazy about fishing right now. Lucas drove to Kimitsu with an old friend and creator to get the skinny on life in Kimitsu, fishing, and living the dream.

Host / Lancia Kitabatake  (Tokyo & Chiba Resident / Owner of BESS home)
Guest / Daisuke Endo (Freelance Graphic Designer raized in Chiba) 
Traveler /Lucas B.B.(PAPERSKY Editor)

1. Putting hobbies first led me to a BESS house”

Kitabatake-san worked in design – mainly web design – in Tokyo. Upon entering the house, we are struck by the beautiful and comfortable space created, as if it were a showroom. Going upstairs, we are similarly amazed at the feel of the house, which looks like a fishing tackle shop, and by the sheer amount of goods.

Lucas: “So much fishing tackle! Looks like someone who makes a living out of fishing.”  

Kitabatake: “I started fishing when I was a kid, and had been away from it for quite a while before starting up again ten years ago. My day job is web design, but I’ve been doing this job for about 20 years now, and I’m getting a little bored with some elements of it. Meanwhile I had been doing some package design for fishing, marrying my hobby with my skill, and I just ended up accruing all of these rods and lures for my own use which is how this display came to be!“

Lucas: “How did you come to live in this house?”  

Kitabatake: “Before I had this house built, I was so into fishing that I would be traipsing down to the Bōsō Peninsula from Tokyo 2 or 3 times a week. To fish at the dams. But the transportation was costing me, and I realized that if I was coming several times a month then I might as well have a base out here. So I looked for a place to rent but couldn’t find anything. And around that time I was staying at the house of a fishing buddy, and I really liked the feel of the house – which was in fact a BESS house.”

Lucas: “So you decided to have one built yourself?” 

Kitabatake: “It was just when the pandemic was starting, and it was increasingly difficult to travel out to other prefectures. That made it harder to enjoy fishing trips like before. But it didn’t dampen my resolve to have a BESS house built.”   

Lucas: “So you are dividing your time between the two?”

Kitabatake: “That’s right. I’ve been here a lot over the summer, but this is my first winter here so I don’t know how that will work out. I can do almost all my work as long as I have an internet connection, so I’ll just pop over to Chiba when I feel like going fishing.”

Lucas: “So it’s like you’ve made a base for yourself here?” 

Kitabatake: “This is the first house I’ve had built, and I had no idea at all about how it all fits together. I didn’t know what an exterior structure was, or that you can have a house built but the outside is something completely separate, ha ! I had to think about where to have the lawn, and where I would stow all my fishing tackle. I wanted to make a really nice desk for working on, and things began to come to me one after another in terms of how I wanted it. It’s not easy but shaping your interior environment by yourself is a lot of fun. Then there’s the fishing, of course. There are about four dams within 20 minutes from here where you can fish for bass, and if you go south for 20-30 minutes, there are many spots where you can fish in the open ocean. Whenever I stay here, I am happy just to be able to fish where I want.”

2. The joy of fishing, the joy of surfing

As Kitabatake-san waxes lyrical about his pied-a-terre lifestyle, our special Papersky guest Endo-san seems to sit upright in his chair. Apparently, he’s on the cusp of deciding to build a house himself.

Kitabatake: “You’re in design yourself right Endo-san?”  

Endo: “That’s right. I did a stint working on graphic design and sales promotions for an apparel brand, and then moved on to directing and designing for “GORDON MILLER”, a brand that develops products for garages. I went independent in 2022 and am designing for all sorts of clients from pro sports teams to farmers and fashion brands.  I’m based out of Meguro in Tokyo.“

Lucas: “And you’re thinking of having a house built, right?”  

Endo: “I got married recently, so the house is next on the list. The house we’re in right now is temporary, and I’m constantly thinking of what kind of house we’d like to have built.”  

Endo: “I think I’m over the confines of Tokyo. My other half commutes into Tokyo to work at a company but I can  work wherever I like. So I started to really consider the option of being outside the city. Lucas you have two bases right?” 

Lucas: “Indeed I do. I have a place in Yaizu which I am in the process of renovating to make it a space that is both livable as well as workable. So I divide my time between Yaizu and Shibuya almost equally. I couldn’t say which one I prefer – I think it’s more about moving to the place that you need to be in for work or play or your mood at any given time.” 

Kitabatake: “Before the pandemic I honestly felt a bit envious of people who have an office in Shibuya or Aoyama. I guess I felt bound by that idea. But once you give it a try, you realize that web-design is a job that can be done anywhere. Then the pandemic was what got me thinking that I could really go anywhere. Then I started thinking about fishing, and that it would be nice to be near Lake Biwa where I could fish for bass, or how fun it would be to go fishing in Fukuoka. But ultimately a place with easy access to Tokyo was an advantage for my work. So then I realized that Kimitsu was the winning location. If I had a base here, I could fish to my heart’s content…” 

Lucas: “I get it. Since I put down roots in Yaizu I started to think about getting properly into fishing. It’s nice to go here and there to have fun, but there is a beach called Tajiri nearby, and if you fish there, you can take the fish home and eat it. You don’t need to make trips to the supermarket (laughter). Do you fish, Endo-san?”

Endo: “I’ve never been in my life. But I’m always in the ocean. Recently I’ve gotten into surf photography in a big way. I put fins on and swim out so I can snap pictures of my friends riding waves. I’m just doing it as a hobby but I can’t get enough of it.“ 

Lucas: “So fishing doesn’t get you excited at all?” 

Endo: “Yeah, I guess so. I think there are definitely some crossovers with surfing. The bliss of riding a wave is really momentary. In the end, surfing and fishing are all about the waiting.  And you need to be prepared for when that ‘moment’ come. When waiting like that, you begin to cogitate, or just drift off. I’m concentrating while I wait.”

Kitabatake: “I totally get it! It’s not at all uncommon in the winter to be sitting there all day and catch nothing. Then there’s questions like which lure is best? And how deep do I need to go to find the fish? I try all kinds of things, but I cannot seem to find the answer. But that trial and error is all part of the fun.”

Endo: “I agree. Even if you can’t get any waves it’s just nice to be in the water.” 

3.  What does it mean to live healthily?

At this point Endo breaks out some sweets. We’re in Chiba so it’s peanuts of course! “Peanuts Sable” to be precise. 
Peanut Sable Honpo “Tomii” has been in business for nearly 50 years and is a handmade product of the highest quality. The crispy snacks get chins wagging even more. 

Lucas: “When you cast a fishing line, you are certain you’ll catch something, right? You’re convinced one will bite. So you have to be mentally positive, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. To love, and to dream big, ha ha.“

Kitabatake: “Yes indeed. Me, I’m actually a pessimist. I cast off not expecting to catch a single thing. I suppose that kind of lowers the barrier somewhat.”  

Endo: “Same for me. When I go surfing, I’m thinking that all this getting up early and driving off somewhere could all be in vain, ha ha. But then I start thinking how much I’d regret it if I didn’t go to the beach!”  

Kitabatake: “You’ve nailed it! So it’s like, why even bother going fishing!? But having said that, I do feel that keeping up the fishing has been a really good thing for me. I always had a tendency to do things half-heartedly and  often got frustrated at work, but fishing has made me more open-minded. I’ve learned to take the rough with the smooth.“

Lucas: “Looking around your house though, it’s spick and span and you’ve done a lot of the work yourself.”

Kitabatake: “I like to organize, but in truth I’m pretty lax (laughs). I’ve been exposed to computers since elementary school and grew up only in the digital world, so I’m not very good at drawing pictures or creating things. DIY was difficult for me because my analog skills are weak. With digital technology, anyone can draw a horizontal line. However, it is another story to draw a horizontal line when installing a single shelf board.”

Lucas: (between mouthfuls of Chiba peanut cookies) “I can imagine!”  

Kitabatake: (cheeks also full of cookies) “That’s the thing, and I’m not advertising here, but that’s where a BESS house comes into play.”

Lucas: “How so? “

Kitabatake: “When I hammered up a board on the wall, I found that it was bent. Sometimes you make a mistake and end up scratching the wall. But even these things are endearing with a BESS house.

Endo: ”mmm… tasty, munching down a peanut cookie”

Kitabatake: For me, the interesting thing about a BESS house is its sense of balance between how much convenience you demand from a modern house and how much inconvenience you are willing to put up with. Digitalization has made the world a very convenient place, but it does not mean that everything should be digital in a quest for convenience and efficiency.“

Lucas: “Whatever you do, that analog sense is indispensable isn’t it?”

Kitabatake: “It totally is, and while I used to be a digital person, since living in this house I feel like I’m always searching for an equilibrium between analog and digital, both in my professional and personal life.”

Endo: “That’s music to my ears right now. There are so many elements I want to incorporate into my future dream house.”

Kitabatake: “Another good thing about BESS houses is that the ambience and mood of the interior is very much a blank slate. You get to enjoy the process of creating it by yourself.” 

Lucas: “And you can go fishing, so it’s all good right!” 

Kitabatake: “Exactly. Right now, there is only hope (laughs). “

Endo: “Yeah, but don’t you find yourself overwhelmed with work and designing your surroundings and fishing?“

Kitabatake: “Kind of. The whole point was to go fishing and sometimes I realize I haven’t been for ages.. ha ha. It’s too much fun getting all sorts of things done inside the house, I might end up spending even less time fishing from now on!“ 

Lucas: “Nothing wrong with that is there?” 

Kitabatake: “No, and I haven’t got some grand design for my lifestyle or the path I take from now on, and I’m not planning on making one. I’m of the persuasion that you should just go with the flow.”

Endo: “I think so. My motto is to live a healthy life mentally. Home, family, hobbies, work, and so on. I think it is the healthiest thing if all of these things are in harmony, and I aspire to pursue that kind of lifestyle and stay chilled out.“ 

Kitabatake: “Couldn’t agree more.“ (with a mouthful of peanut sable)

Lucas: ”mmm, peanuts sable!”

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