Izu Peninsula Travel Guide – The Izu Peninsula is the perfect blend of mountains and oceans. Located around 100 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, the area is famous for its wealth of hot springs. It is a welcome contrast to the bustle, noise and crowds of the city. Visitors can choose to relax in the region’s many onsens or explore the natural beauty of its unique volcanic landscape. A charming destination with plenty to explore, it is hardly surprising that so many come here for weekend breaks or summer getaways.
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How to Get There
The Izu Peninsula is easy to reach from Tokyo. Start from Tokyo Station and take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Atami Station, located at the north of the Izu Peninsula. This will give you a starting point to explore the whole area.
Tokyo Station to Atami Station
Time: 45 minutes
Once inside the peninsula, you access most attractions using one of the two railway lines or the bus network. To travel further south by train, you can continue from Atami Station along the JR Ito line. The bus network is handy if you want to travel from east to west or vice versa.
There are a huge range of places to stay in the Izu Peninsula with options to suit all budgets. Below are a few suggestions which not only offer clean and comfortable accommodation, but also good value for money.
K’s House Ito Onsen – Historical Ryokan Hostel
Why guests love it: This 100 year old property is a hugely popular place to stay. This is perhaps due to the beauty of the building, the excellent hospitality and the use of free hot springs baths to its guests. Inside the property, there are Japanese style rooms with tatami flooring and views of the Matsukawa River. It is also in an ideal location as it is close to both the local train station and the beach.
Price: Starting at ¥2,568 for one person in a double bed in a shared dormitory
Why guests love it: The Oli Oli Guesthouse is run by Momo and Ikko who are exceptionally warm hosts. The guesthouse is situated close to the beach and the breakfast baskets on offer are deemed to be excellent. Inside is clean and cosy and perfect for those looking for a quiet and comfortable stay.
Price: Starting from ¥8,060 for one person for one night.
Why guests love it: Hostel Knot is a popular choice to stay due to the excellent value for money it offers in terms of location and hospitality. This is a small guest house with a big heart set in the charming spa town of Shuzenji. It’s clean, comfortable and traditional and offers free wifi too. Everything you could ask for in a hostel!
You will be spoilt for choice when deciding how to spend your time in the Izu Peninsula as the area really does offer something for everyone. For budding historians, there are important landmarks and museums showcasing parts of Japanese history. For nature lovers, there are plenty of stunning hiking trails and serene waterfalls.
For those that just want to relax, there are beautiful white sand beaches and calming and rejuvenating onsens. It was incredibly difficult to narrow down a list of attractions however below are just 10 suggestions of things to do in the Izu Peninsula.
1. Ocean Spa Fuua
As the Izu Peninsula is home to submarine, land and simple volcanoes, the region is covered with natural hot springs. Recognised as a spa destination for centuries, the town of Atami is an excellent place to experience the bathing traditions. Ocean Spa Fuua provides an experience certain to heal the mind and body. Its facilities include an open-air standing bath which is set amongst extraordinary scenery. A trip here leaves you feeling replenished and revitalised.
A visit to the Museum of Art needs to be on your agenda whilst in Atami. Spend the afternoon here enjoying the museum’s inspiring collection of art. After that, take a moment to enjoy the equally impressive grounds and scenery. With many different exhibitions throughout the year, the museum encourages you to visit in any season.
The Jogasaki Hiking trail is a perfect way to explore the Izu Peninsula’s eastern coastline. Beginners can cover a route that passes the lighthouse and famous Kadowaki suspension bridge. An impressive 48 metres above sea level, the bridge always attracts the curiosity and adventurous spirit of tourists. More experienced hikers can complete the full 9km route. This offers stunning coastal views of jagged rocks and crystal blue waters.
Mount Omuro is an absolute must see for any traveller as it truly is a wonder to behold. The dormant volcano is distinct for it’s upside down rice bowl shape and lush green appearance. There is a chairlift which can take you up the mountain to experience the 360 degree views at the top. On a clear day, you can even spot Mount Fuji!
Shimoda is steeped in history as it was here that US Commodore M.C.Perry signed the Amity Treaty in 1854 after sailing into Edo Bay in his huge black ships, so called because of the billows of black smoke that they omitted. This treaty ended Japan’s era of trading isolation with foreigners.
Take a walk along ‘Perry Road’ where Perry walked with 300 of his men after signing the treaty. The area used to be a red light district but is now home to some quirky cafes and eateries. Close by, there is also The Museum of Black Ships which is worth a visit for those wanting to explore the history a little further.
Shimoda is an excellent surfing spot. With its picturesque white sand and epic surrounding mountains, it is hard to resist taking up a board and hitting the waves. Real surf offers lessons that are suitable for beginner surfers of any age. The coaches are all ISA (International Surfing Association) accredited and promise to deliver safe, fun and exciting lessons. For those who fancy something a little more tranquil, they also offer stand up paddleboard rental too.
West Izu has a highly scenic coastline. To view it in all its glory, the best way to explore it is by boat. Dogishima Cave Tours offer several different excursions around the coast. The most popular one takes you between steep cliffs into a magical space known as the ‘blue cave’ in which you are bathed in light from the above. Other cruises include the Geo-site Cruise and the Senkanmon Cruise.
This onsen is a tourist attraction as it is the oldest hot spring in Shizuoka. Legend goes that the Buddhist priest Kukai visited the Shuzenji Temple in 807 and was impressed by a local boy washing his sick father with the cold water from the river.
Consequently, he struck a river rock and created the hot springs we see today. It is worth noting that this is more of a viewing experience and you cannot bathe in this water.
The crystal waters from the Amagi Mountain Range cascade down the mountain side creating not one, but seven magical waterfalls all of which can be viewed along a pleasant hiking trail. The area is breathtaking in all seasons and visitors love it because of it’s a peaceful setting and surrounded by stunning natural beauty.
The waterfalls are also notable as they feature in Nobel Prize winners Yasunari Kawabata’s short story ‘The Dancing Girl of Izu’. As an added bonus, if you keep walking south after the last fall you will come across a field of wasabi, a staple on the Japanese condiment scene.
The final suggestion on the list is to check out the Izu islands. A tropical archipelago, these islands offer deep forests and exotic sea life. You can choose to visit the larger islands such as Oshima or lesser populated islands like Aogashima (less than 170 residents).
Visitors can partake in adventurous water sports or indulge the delightful dining offerings such as the fresh sushi. Access to the islands is by ferry, plane, or helicopter depending on the island.
Where: Izu Islands
Conclusion – Izu peninsula travel guide
The Izu Peninsula is an exceptional destination that allows you to experience the fascinating and unique landscapes of Japan. Its reputation as a relaxing but intriguing holiday destination does not disappoint and should be on every traveller’s list of places to visit.
Originally from England, Lizzy has finally made her dreams of moving to Japan a reality. For as long as she can remember, Lizzy has been dazzled by the bright lights of Tokyo and enchanted by the historic streets of Kyoto. She loves dining out, hates people who talk too much in meetings and enjoys a good ten hour sleeping marathon at the weekend.
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