Chiba-fornia dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

In the city of Sodegaura in Chiba Prefecture there’s a stretch of road along that coast that’s lined with about 100 palm trees. It’s actually a rather barren area, running across the edge of a landfill which holds several warehouses and factories.

But with just the right lighting and camera filters, one can magically whisk themselves away to the sandy beaches of California. Because of this, the area has been dubbed Chiba-fornia and is a magnet particularly for vehicle owners looking for that one perfect shot of their ride.

However, this is still a road, and a rather industrial one at that, making it a less than ideal location to illegally park a vehicle along the side and go wandering around on foot for the perfect angle.

And yet, at times scores of illegally parked cars and motorcycles can be seen all along it and people often lie down on the median, or even the road itself to fit everything into their frame. As a result, there have been 15 reported accidents along Chiba-fornia and one fatality over the past three years.

▼ A news crew visited Chiba-fornia and were shocked by the reckless behavior they saw

This presents Sodegaura with the uncommon problem of an area being so picturesque that it’s endangering people’s lives. So officials have decided that the best course of action is to ugly the place up a bit.

From the end of March, large, bright yellow signs that read “NO PARKING” will be attached to the trunks of the palm trees. It is hoped that in this way, Chiba-fornia can retain some of its charm but be unphotogenic enough to deter people from lying in the middle of lanes.

▼ A simulation of what the signs might look like

It’s hard to say if that’s an ideal solution to this particular problem, but it was certainly something that needed addressing. Readers of the news agreed in the following comments:

“The illegal parking can be overlooked to some extent, but people so absorbed in taking photos that they wander into the road is a big problem.”
“Would these people get called out for this behavior when posting on social media? Seems like the problem would solve itself.”
“This kind of thing happens all over Japan, doesn’t it? You always have to mind your manners while having fun!”
“They could just move the palm trees somewhere safer, or on the contrary, they can make another road and turn this one into a parking lot.”
“If there’s illegally parked cars everywhere, it doesn’t look like such a scenic spot.”
“This is the first I’ve heard of Chiba-fornia, but I hope they find a better way than making it not look good.”

“This is just like those people taking pictures of trains.”

This does seem reminiscent of the behavior by a subset of train otaku known as toritetsu, some of whom have engaged in illegal activities and the occasional assault to get their photographs.  Perhaps Sodegaura City could take a page from Japan Rail’s book and start up a community of Chiba-fornia fans. They could also close parts of the roads on certain holidays and allow people to safely take pictures of their cars as a way to bring in tourism as well.

They could do all that, but I would much prefer if they instead established Hotel Chiba-fornia nearby on a dark desert highway with mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice. It’d be a lovely place where you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Source: FNN Online Prime, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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