Off the Beaten Path Japan
At its best!
If you’re looking to explore Japan and take a break from the crowds in Tokyo and Kyoto, Izu may be just the place you’re looking for. This peninsula located in the eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture and is packed with natural beauty, history, and culture, making it a great option for tourists seeking an off the beaten path destination.
The lesser known part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Izu’s natural beauty earned it a designation as a UNESCO Geopark in 2014. Nature lovers will find plenty to enjoy in Izu, which is known for its rugged coastline, hot springs, and lush forests. The peninsula is home to a number of hiking trails that wind through scenic areas like Mount Amagi and the Jogasaki Coast, where visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The peninsula is also famous for its hot springs, or onsen, which are a great way to relax after a day of exploring. Some of the most popular onsens in the area include Ito Onsen and Shuzenji Onsen.
In addition to its natural beauty, Izu also boasts a rich history that includes being home to the first US diplomatic mission in Japan, the first Western style ship built by William Adams, an Englishman who was appointed samurai during Shakespeare’s era, and the place where Japan’s first shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo, was exiled as a teenager and plotted the revenge of his father. Some of Japan’s oldest and most famous spiritual places are the Izu-san Shrine and the Shuzenji Temple, which was founded in the 9th century. Other notable historical sights in Izu include the ruins of the Yamanaka Castle and the Ooka Echizen Festival Museum, which showcases the history of the annual festival that takes place in nearby Atami.
Foodies will find plenty to love in Izu, which is known for its fresh seafood and local delicacies like wasabi. The peninsula is particularly famous for its sakura shrimp, a tiny pink shrimp that is a popular ingredient in traditional Japanese dishes. Visitors can sample the local cuisine at one of the many restaurants and food stalls in the area, or even take part in a cooking class to learn how to make their own Japanese dishes.
But perhaps one of the biggest draws of Izu is its many festivals and cultural events. The peninsula is home to a number of annual festivals, including the Atami Baien Ume Matsuri, which celebrates the blooming of the plum trees, the Kawazu-zakura Matsuri that features Japan’s earliest blooming cherry trees, and the Izu Shishi Odori, a traditional lion dance that has been performed in the area for centuries. Visitors can also attend local markets and fairs, such as the Mishima Taisha Grand Festival and the Shimoda Black Ship Festival, which commemorate the arrival of American ships in Japan in the 19th century.
For those looking for more experiential activities, Izu has plenty to offer as well. Visitors can try their hand at traditional crafts like pottery or calligraphy, or take part in outdoor activities like surfing, kayaking, and snorkeling. Izu’s diving and rock climbing spots are renowned worldwide. The peninsula is also home to a number of theme parks and attractions, such as the Izu Teddy Bear Museum and the Izu Shaboten Zoo.
Easy to reach
One of the best things about Izu is how easy it is to make it a side trip between Tokyo to Kyoto. The peninsula is easily accessible by train, and can be reached in just a couple of hours from Tokyo. Visitors can also take a scenic drive along the coast, or even hire a private car or taxi for a more personalized experience.
Come to Izu!
All in all, Izu offers tourists a unique blend of natural beauty, history, culture, and cuisine that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for something different, Izu is definitely worth considering for your next trip to Japan.