I hadn’t planned on writing about my weekend trip to Izu Peninsula 伊豆半島, but it left such an impression on me that I decided to share my experience!
Located south of Mt Fuji, Izu is renowned for its breathtaking coastlines and hot springs, surrounded by mountainous terrain that stretches for miles on end. While often overlooked by foreigners in favour of Hakone and the like, it’s rather popular among locals as a weekend destination, thanks to its abundance of hot spring resorts.
After spending the first leg of my trip navigating Tokyo’s dense neighbourhoods and complex subway systems, the serenity of Izu was a welcome change, albeit only for a couple of days.
It’s relatively accessible via train from Tokyo, although getting around will take considerably longer, especially if you’re thinking about visiting the coastal attractions.
Jogasaki Coast 城ヶ崎海岸
On the drive in to Izu, I was really captivated by how beautiful the sea looked from the car, so getting off and taking a leisurely hike around Jogasaki Coast城ヶ崎海岸 was a must. The short walk among the trees before approaching the coast line left me feeling very calm, as though the area had been left untouched by the hustle and bustle of city life.
My favourite part of the 10km walking trail has got to be at the coastline just before the Kadowakizaki Suspension Bridge.
The jagged cliffs, coupled with the sprawling azure waters, made for an incredible view, albeit a little intimidating whenever I inched my way to the edge for a better angle. Talk about risking your life for a few snapshots! We also spotted Izu Oshima 伊豆大島, thanks to the insanely bright and clear sky that afternoon.
At the end of Kadowakizaki Suspension Bridge is a lighthouse, where visitors can head up to the observation deck. Spotted many visitors posing for photos on the beautiful rock formations with the sea as the background – be careful not to lose your footing, though!
Lighthouse opening hours: 9am – 4pm daily
Directions: 20-30 min walk from Jogasaki Kaigan Station or 10 min bus ride from Izu Kogen Station (¥250 one way, 1 bus per hour; take the bus bound for Kaiyo Koen 海洋公園 and alight at Izu Kaiyo Koen 伊豆海洋公園)
Kawazu Nanadaru 河津七滝
Kawazu Nanadaru 河津七滝 consists of seven waterfalls ranging from 2 to 30m tall, with a 1km walking trail through the forest and waterfalls. Avid readers of Japanese literature may also recognise several statues depicting the short story, The Izu Dancer by Kawabata Yasunari, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1968.
Thanks to the cool air emanating from the waterfalls, it did not feel like we were trekking in summer at all. Even the smell of the forest was refreshing on the senses.
If you’re feeling lucky, you can put your luck (and aiming skills) to the test at one of the wishing rocks along the walking trail leading up to the first waterfall, by throwing at least one rock into the circular area marked by a rope tied around it. You get three tries for ¥100 – I got it in one my second attempt.
While the largest waterfall is closed to the public, you can access it if you are a guest at Kawazu Onsen. The sights, sounds and scents are worth escaping to for a couple of hours, but be prepared for a lengthy bus ride and walk, unless you’re driving.
Directions: 50 min bus ride from Shuzenji station to Mizutare bus stop (¥1,290 one way, 1 bus per hour), followed by 1 hour trail down to Nanadaru Visitors Center. On your return trip, take a 30 min bus ride to Kawazu station (¥600, 1 bus per hour) or 65 min bus ride to Shuzenji station (¥1,410, 1 bus per hour).
Our last stop for the trip was Tsumekizaki 爪木崎, an understated coastal area with a lone lighthouse overlooking the sea. I did a little research post trip and found out that it’s also home to some beautiful Narcissus blooming around early January.
At late afternoon, this was one of the most isolated spots visited in Izu, with only a handful of locals strolling along the coast. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore, coupled with birds chirping in the distance, was so peaceful that I genuinely didn’t want to leave.
If you’re a nature lover, you can’t miss out on Izu Peninsula. Unsurprisingly, it is also home to some of the best sushi and seafood I’ve ever had, what with its close proximity to the sea. I would definitely recommend taking a drive out if you have the chance!
(Accurate as of July 2017.)
Tokyo posts here:
- Luke’s Lobster @ Harajuku/Omotesando
- Eating Your Way Around Harajuku
- Ryu Sushi @ Tsukiji Fish Market
- Book and Bed Hostel @ Ikebukuro
- How to buy Ghibli Museum tickets outside Japan