Have a blast in the tidal flats! Roadside Station Kashima – Home of the Gatalympics
Among the various roadside stations found across the country, Roadside Station Kashima is known as the only roadside station where you can enjoy the tidal flats experience. The tidal flats offer a wide-open space with a stunning 180-degree panoramic view of the Ariake Sea. Roadside Station Kashima offers different options to enjoy delicious local foods, such as Senjaichi, a direct sales shop where you can get excellent seafood from the Ariake Sea and local agricultural products, Mutsugoro Kobo which sells various side dishes and bento boxes and many other local sweets shops. This time, though, we would like to introduce the tidal flats experience, said to be the main attraction of Roadside Station Kashima.
A tidal flat is a flat area of mud that appears when the tide is low. The main feature of the Ariake Sea, spanning the scenery behind Road Station Kashima, is that because the tides are so large the tidal flats left behind are very vast. The area is about 188㎡ at low tide! This makes it one of the largest tidal flats in Japan. Roadside Station Kashima has many active learning programs that can be enjoyed on this tidal flat, not only by locals but also by children from the city who don’t often get a chance to play out in nature.
First is the “Get Muddy in the Ariake Tidal Flats Course” where anyone can easily enjoy the tidal flats. You can participate during the period from April to October when the tide is low. “Gataski”, a 30 cm x 3 m board which you can use to slide across the mud (using the word “gata” meaning a flatland), is also popular. You may not be used to the muddy feel at first, but after you dive in, you will soon be captivated by the tidal flats! You can wear swimsuits, T-shirts, shorts, or other clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. In order to fully enjoy the tidal flats of the Ariake Sea, the course includes Gataski mud-boarding, a hot shower fee, and your choice of rubber split-toe shoes (13.5 cm and up) or socks, so you can immerse yourself in the experience as long as you have a change of clothes!
You can also experience a rare fishing experience on the tidal flats. This is the “Mutsukake experience”. Mutsukake is a fishing method for catching mudskippers, which is one of the traditional local methods to catch mudskippers on the tidal flats with only needles and no bait. Nowadays, there are only a few fishermen who can do this kind of fishing, but in this course, they will carefully teach you this secret technique through demonstrations and real-life practice, so even beginners can learn to catch mudskippers. Can you do it?
Fee: One person – 4,500 yen, Two or more people – 3,500 yen *Reservation required
Period: July to October
Size of groups: 1 to 5 people
Age: 18 years and up
Time: About 3 to 4 hours
Sea Alien,” contrary to its appearance it is also a delicacy used for sashimi, miso soup, dried fish, and other various dishes. These eel goby are caught using a tool called a “subogaki.” Imagine sliding along on a mud board, using this tube-like tool to burrow fish out of the mud. This hands-on course is taught by master fishers, so you can enjoy with confidence.
Fee: One person – 3,000 yen, Two or more people – 2,500 yen *Reservation required
Period: Mid-April to early May (peak fishing season), September to October (depending on the number of reservations for other courses)
Size of groups: Up to 3 people a day
Age: 18 years and up
Time: Approximately 2 and a half hours (includes changing clothes)
Speaking of Roadside Station Kashima, one must not forget the Gatalympics. The Gatalympics (combining the word “gata” meaning flatland with the term Olympics) is a sports festival held on the tidal flats of the Ariake Sea, sponsored by the Kashima City Tourism Association. At the Gatalympics, held in early summer every year, a large number of men and women of all ages get covered in mud as they participate in unique competitions like racing on the tidal flats, riding across thin rattling board bridges by bicycle, and human mudskipper races where competitors lie on mud boards. You can take part in your own competition in the Mini-Gatalympics Experience at Road Station Kashima.
In this experience, you will take on the challenge of the 3 major events held at the real Gatalympics. These are the Human Mudskipper Competition, where you ride along the surface lying on a mud board; the Tug of War, where you are pitted against another team in the mud; and the Mudflat Swimming Competition, where you swim in a race completely covered in mud. People enjoy these unique and interesting competitions.
The Gatalympics is where you can immerse yourself in a competitive experience out of the ordinary. It was first held in 1984, and was originally planned to be a one-time event but, because of its immense impact and popularity, is now held every year (Cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19). It is now an event known nation-wide, with many participants coming from all over the country, not to mention Kashima City itself.
Usually, this course has many reservations with large groups of 100 or more people, though we can also arrange to handle small groups of 10 people so please contact us.
Roadside Station Kashima is where you can fully enjoy the wonders of the Ariake Sea, from its fresh local products to seafood and hands-on courses. In the future, we are also looking into events that you can enjoy from the comfort of your camper or mobile home. Please come to Roadside Station Kashima, where you can fully enjoy everything Kashima has to offer!
Like if you like this article