In the morning, Shige drove me around the old part of Urayasu. Most of the city is new, built on land reclaimed from the sea. Shige took me to the "old" town, where the streets were very narrow, and there was more evidence of the original industry of the area: fishing.
Urayasu is at sea level, and has a canal and watergate system used to control flooding. The gate opens and closes during high tide and low tide.
Urayasu has three shrines, and we visited one of them. This sculpted hill is on the side of the main building.
Shige said the proper way to pay respects is to clap your hands twice (with a large sweeping motion), pray, clap once more, and then toss some coins into the collection box. ;) Sometimes there is a bell to ring (attached to a rope). He demonstrated and then I did it.
While in Urayasu, we noticed these mats all over the place. What were they, and what was their purpose? They followed streets, forked at intersections, and switched patterns at obstacles like stairways. We took a few guesses but wound up asking our hosts.
They told us these mats were for blind people - the grooves helped guide their walking sticks. Very interesting!
After seeing the shrine, we drove over to the city museum, which had a nice display on the history and culture of Urayasu. It was also a popular spot for school kids as there were at least 3 or 4 classes of elementary school students in there as well! The museum had vintage pictures of the early industries (fishing and nori farming), some replica equipment such as boats and clamming gear, and a small model of what an original section of the city looked like.
For lunch, Shige took me to a nearby restaurant where we had some very delicious unagi.