The Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島, Izu Hantō) is a resort area popular for its hot springs, beautiful coastlines, beaches, mild climate and scenic mountainous interior. Located about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, its proximity to the city makes the peninsula a popular weekend getaway and the area is well connected to Tokyo by train. In addition, Mount Fuji lies only about 50 kilometers to the north and can be viewed from the peninsula’s western coast.
The more developed eastern coast of the Izu Peninsula is home to larger cities such as Atami, Ito and Shimoda, which are popular for their beaches and hot springs. The southern and western coasts, on the other hand, are less developed and better known for their rugged coastlines which are best exemplified by the views around Irozaki and Dogashima.
The Izu Peninsula, which is located in eastern Shizuoka Prefecture, is a peninsula that was formed by the shifting of submarine volcanoes that used to be on the south side of the Japanese islands. It is characterized by its unique terrain and scenery in a dynamic natural atmosphere.
Izu is blessed with both oceanic and mountainous nature as it is surrounded by ocean on three sides excluding the north and is dominated in the central area by mountains that stand over 800 m (2,600 ft) in height. It has a temperate climate all throughout the year due to the warm currents that flow from the south and there are many hot springs here. There are plenty of dishes made with ingredients from both the mountains and the sea, and the seafood here is particularly delicious. It is a resort area that you can take your time leisurely while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Atami, which is the gateway to the eastern area, is an old hot-spring town with many inns on the mountain slopes. In front of the station is a quaint shopping district that you can stroll through while eating sweet hot spring dumpling, which are a famous local treat. Atami Sun Beach, which is crowded with sea bathers in the summer, is also accessible by walk.
Atami has many hot spring inns overlooking the ocean. Feel free to take a bath here when stopping by as many inns have baths that are not restricted only to guests who stay overnight.
A roughly one-hour trip south from Atami by train takes you to the Izu Highlands area, which is famous for its scenic spots. The Jogasaki Coast, which is lined with sheer cliffs, is a must. The Kadowaki Suspension Bridge, which overlooks a steep cliff from 23 m(75 ft) above the ground, and the Kadowaki Lighthouse, which has an observation room, give you views of natural scenery that are simply dynamic. If you take a lift ride to the top of the nearby Mt. Omuro, you can enjoy sights of the townscape around you, Mt. Fuji, and the Izu Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Kawazu, which can be reached by train (Izu Kyuko Line) from the Izu Highlands in just 30 minutes, is famous for its early-blooming and deep pink cherry blossoms. The flowers that bloom here between early February and early March each year create colorful scenery.
The area around Shimoda (by Shimoda Station on the Izu Kyuko Line), which is at the southern tip of the Izu Peninsula, has the beauty of a tropical resort with its blue waters and white sandy beaches. The Shirahama Coast is particularly famous for its clear emerald green waters and is visited by many sea bathers in the summer. Kisami Ohama Beach, which is known for its impressive oddly-shaped rocks and beautiful shoreline, is a popular spot for marine sports such as surfing, and attracts many visitors from abroad.
The central/western area of the peninsula is a more quiet and relaxed place than the eastern area. You can start your trip at Mishima Station and enjoy visiting the elegant hot spring town named Shuzenji.
Katsura River flows through the center of the streets of Shuzenji, and along the river is a walking path that takes you to locations such as the bright red Katsura Bridge and through bamboo groves. It is dotted with popular spots such as Tokko-no-yu, or Tokko Hot Spring, which is said to be the origin of the Shuzenji Hot Springs, and Shuzenji Temple, which is the temple that the area is named after. A stroll through the area after enjoying a bath is a recommended activity as it can be enjoyed on foot.
A roughly 40-minute trip south from Shuzenji by bus takes you to Amagi, which has many beautiful waterfalls. The closest one from Shuzenji is the overwhelming Joren Falls, which is 25 m(82 ft) in height. The Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu, with their mystic appeal, can be found if you travel further south, and there is a walking path that takes you to all seven of them in a roughly one-hour journey (As of December, 2015, only the walking path that is leading to the Otaki, one of The Seven Waterfalls, is closed).
The west coast of the peninsula has ocean scenery that is different from that of the east coast. Dogashima, which is about 1.5 hours by bus from Shuzenji, is the most scenic spot on the west coast. The coast has caverns that can be found in its small islands and sea caves and is particularly famous for Sanshiro Island, which is connected with the shore by a pathway at low tides, as well as Tensodo and its ceiling that has a big round hole through it. The sightseeing cruise that passes through the oddly-shaped rocks is also a popular attraction that lets you look up at Tensodo from inside a cavern. And there are many popular sights that appear during sunset, including the view of the sunset in between the oddly-shaped rocks that is a striking sight all throughout the year.
A sightseeing cruise through the caves of Dogashima
The Izu Peninsula lets you enjoy the great outdoors through beautiful scenery, hot spring baths, and fresh seafood. Refresh both your body and soul in a resort trip that you can easily take part in.