People were running down the beach. Not for exercise but to get into position before the sun slipped below the horizon. I hurried along, swept up by the sense of urgency.
Mini tripods were lined up on the sand at the water’s edge, and selfie sticks were held aloft. Groups of friends, silhouetted against the pink sky, were trying to synchronise their star jumps, while women instructed their boyfriends on exactly how to photograph them as they stared into the sea.
One woman posed holding her pet dachshund. The entire beach was a mass Instagram shoot.
Chichibuga is a 1km-long, pancake-flat sandy strand overlooking the Seto sea on the north coast of Shikuko, the smallest, most rural of Japan’s four main islands.
Never heard of it? That’s hardly surprising.
Lying between the biggest island, Honshu, with its blockbuster cities (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima) – not to mention stunning alpine landscapes – and the southernmost island of Kyushu (often called the most beautiful), Shikuko is overlooked by international visitors.