Photo/IllutrationImmense palm trees line the straight road at the popular spot nicknamed "Chibafornia" in Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture. (Kyota Tsutsumi)

SODEGAURA, Chiba Prefecture--Palm trees sway in the sea breeze against the backdrop of a deep blue ocean. Such a blissful vista. Is it California or Hawaii? Nope. It's in a corner of an industrial district here. People jokingly call it "Chibafornia" or even "Sodefornia," the latter even coming up on Google Maps.

Visitors drive through paddy fields to the coast where this magnificent scenery comes into view.

The 98 Washington palms, each standing about 10 meters tall, are lined up on the 1-kilometer four-lane municipal road leading into Sodegaura seaside park in the Minamisode area.

If the air is clear, visitors can gaze across the ocean and see the high-rise buildings near Tokyo Bay rising up on the opposite bank, in addition to the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line bridge.

There are no utility poles or guardrails between the road and the sea, so the views are simply staggering.

Dudes and dudettes come down to chill out here to their heart's content.

Some take photographs of their cherished cars and motorcycles against the backdrop of this stunning vista. Others allow the sea breeze to gently massage them and blow the cobwebs away while sitting on a deck chair under the palm trees (bring the chairs yourself).

A couple in their 20s, from Kashiwa, also in Chiba Prefecture, said they learned of the spot from a blog featuring magnificent coastal vistas.

“I feel so great to be here,” said the guy as he kicked back. “It’s so nice that we can see not only palm trees but also high-rise buildings on the other side of the bank from here.”

The spot has been featured in TV commercials to promote cars produced by automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp.

Popular vocal and dance group E-Girls’ promotional music video clip was also taken here.

A remark from Japanese rock legend Eikichi Yazawa also boosted the popularity of the spot. During an annual music festival held in the park last year, Yazawa said that he felt as if he was in Hawaii.

The downside? OK.

The biggest drawback to the site is messy views of electric poles standing side by side on the right side of the road toward the park, meaning that those who fully enjoyed the vistas of Chibafornia on the way to the park get straight back into reality on their way back and realize this is Chibafornia and not California.

Then there's a big noisy shuddering bang. Oh no, another one of those large trucks that frequently run down the road.

The dudes and dudettes have to be careful of those trucks. Don't get so chilled out that you stagger back into the road and meet a nasty accident.