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Izu Peninsula, part of Shizuoka, is a perfect vacation destination with a little bit of everything for everyone. From several hot spring areas including hotspot Atami, sandy white beaches with beautiful sunsets, contemporary art museums, historical spots, and an aquarium as well, there’s nothing but fun to be held.
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Izu Peninsula makes up the southern part of Shizuoka Prefecture. Except for its north end that connects to Honshu, it is surrounded on all sides by the ocean, namely two bodies of water Suruga Bay and Sagami Gulf.
The history of Izu Peninsula can be traced back 20 million years ago when it was a sole island south of Japan. Due to constant seismic and volcanic activity, the island ended up colliding and combining with Japan’s Honshu Island to become the Izu Peninsula.
※ UNESCO, "Izu Peninsula UNESCO Global Geopark (Japan)"
Izu Peninsula's Shimoda Port was witness to one of Japan's most important moments in history where the Americans led by Commodore Matthew C. Perry opened Japan’s trade with Western countries, ending Japan’s isolation policy. When the Meiji Government took over, the Izu Peninsula became part of Shizuoka Prefecture.
※ Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., "Izu Peninsula"
Izu Peninsula’s location places it near several volcanoes including Mt. Fuji, Mt. Atami, and Mt. Daruma. What this means is plenty of tectonic activity that causes earthquakes (dangerous), but also contributes to a large number of hot spring sources. Therefore, Izu Peninsula is a popular hot spring getaway. Here are some of them:
Atami is a popular hot spring town that has retained the look and atmosphere from when it was at its peak popularity decades ago. Aside from its onsen, it is also famous for delicious seafood. There are several hot spring ryokans and modern hotels situated here so you can have your pick. It has extremely convenient access from Tokyo and Kanagawa which means plenty of visitors during the weekends and holidays. There are many facilities located within short walking distance from Atami Station.
Perhaps the oldest onsen in Izu Peninsula is Shuzenji Onsen. It is named after the Shuzenji Temple that was founded by Kobo Daishi more than a thousand years ago. Some of the hot spring facilities here include:
Tokko no Yu, a foot bath
Hakoyu, a public bathhouse
There are also onsen ryokans around the area you can visit for a daytrip. Another highlight of the area is the Komichi Bamboo Path. Compared to the other parts of Izu Peninsula, the atmosphere here is similar to that of Kyoto.
With a great view of the bay and Instagram-worthy sunset panorama shots, the small town of Toi in Western Izu markets itself as an onsen destination for couples. There are a lot of great onsen facilities in this town while also being home to the biggest flower clock in the world. Historically a gold mining town, you can still visit the old mine as a historical trip.
Unsurprisingly, Izu Peninsula’s beaches are also a big hit with tourists. Here are some popular ones to check out.
The Eastern area of Izu has two famous coastline areas: the Atami and Ito area. This beach is located near the Atami Station and it is a good spot to stroll around. Basic yet beautiful, this beach is frequented by people looking to swim or bask in the sun.
Near the southern tip of Izu Peninsula is the town of Shimoda. Shimoda has two especially beautiful beaches, the first being
Shirahama Ohama Beach and the other is Shirahama Chuo Beach. By the way, the Kanji for Shirahama is 白浜 which basically means white beach so you’ll know what to expect from these two. Ohama Beach is frequented by surfers looking to catch some waves whilst Chuo is great for snorkeling.
For more about Shimoda, check our dedicated article:
※ Shimoda Tourist Association, "Beach"
Aside from onsen beaches, Izu Peninsula is home to all sorts of entertainment, from museums, castles and significant historical sites:
Established by Mokichi Okada Association in memory of their founder Mokichi Okada and to house her vast collection of art pieces. The huge collection consists of several National Treasures, Asian relics, calligraphy, paintings, and more. It is a treasure trove that appeals not just to art lovers but history lovers as well. If you’re lucky, your visit may coincide with a special event or exhibition.
Access: 32-mins walk from the nearest station. Driving recommended (free parking available) or taxi (8-mins) from Atami Station
Entrance Fee: 1,600 yen (Adult)
※ MOA Museum of Art, "About Us"
Visit the historical Atami Castle. Enjoy the great view of Atami and the surrounding ocean from the observatory at the top of the castle keep. For an extra special visit, try going in spring when the rows of cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. For an additional 700 yen, you can get a combo ticket to visit the Atami Trick Art Museum for some wacky photoshoots.
Access: From Atami Station, walk 9-mins to Atami-eki Bus Stop then take the local bus to Atami Castle Bus Stop.
Entrance Fee: 1,000 yen (Adult)
※ Atami Castle, "Visit Information"
Shimoda is a historic town that served as the primary location for the start of modern Japan and the end of Japan’s isolation policy. Visit Perry Road and its traditional architecture, this historical road that leads to Ryosenji Temple where the Shimoda Treaty was signed. The temple also has a museum where you can relive the history of that day.
For more details, check this article.
The fastest and most convenient way to get to Izu Peninsula from Tokyo is via Tokaido Shinkansen to Atami Station. The trip costs around 4300 yen and takes around 50 minutes. Once you get to Atami Station, the rest of Izu Peninsula is easily accessible by train or bus. For example, Shimoda is an hour away from Atami on the limited express train.
※ JNTO, "Izu Peninsula"
If you’re planning to spend a few days visiting as much of the Izu Peninsula as you can, try getting the Izu Dream Pass. The pass offers 3 route options spanning 2 to 3 days. It offers unlimited access to buses, ferries, and trains along the route:
Koganeji Route: 3,700 yen (Adult) for 3 days
Wasabiji Route: 3,900 yen (Adult) for 3 days
Fujimiji Route: 2,800 yen (Adult) for 2 days
Izu Peninsula just an hour’s ride from Tokyo makes for an excellent vacation away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It has everything from onsen to beaches and castles to museums to offer. So what are you waiting for?
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