Nishi-Izu and Yugashima Onsen 西伊豆と湯ヶ島温泉

Given its proximity to Tokyo and its wealth of natural and historical attractions, it’s a bit surprising that the Izu Peninsula isn’t more developed than it is. It’s not completely immune to kitschification — one look at “The Black Ship Train” that runs down the peninsula’s east coast, or the monstrous Kawazu Nanadaru Loop Bridge crowding out the sky in an otherwise pretty river valley, will convince you of that — but much of Izu remains unspoiled, rugged, and beautiful. In the west and center of the peninsula in particular, public transportation is expensive and inconvenient, so the crowds stay away. All the more reason for you to go, and go soon.

On Izu’s western shore, battering waves have hammered and chiseled the ancient lava flows into a stunningly crinkled coastline with caves, coves, and countless islets. The most famous and dramatic rock formations can be found at the town of Dogashima, where sightseeing boats depart from a tiny harbor for brief jaunts along the coast. The boat trips are overpriced but offer up great views, including the shadow (if you’re lucky) of Mt. Fuji looming to the north. Walking trails hug the coast north and south of Dogashima and you could easily idle away an afternoon and early evening looking out to sea. Especially recommended is the Koganezaki Yuhodo Promenade; the sunsets here are incredible. Scuba divers will be keen to try the waters off of Kumomi village, to the south of Dogashima and Matsuzaki.

Yugashima Onsen, located in the cedar- and cypress-laden center of the peninsula, is home to a collection of remarkable hot spring inns. Immerse yourself in the funky carved stone and tree baths at Shirakabeso, or (if you’ve got especially deep pockets or want to spoil your significant other) splurge for riverside luxury at Asebino.

Yugashima is located at the junction of the Kano and Nekko rivers, and a host of other, smaller streams feed countless waterfalls that cascade through the forested hillsides. The 25m-tall, 7m-wide Joren-no-taki is especially worth a look. Hikers can make like the title character of Yasunari Kawabata’s “Izu no Odoriko” and take a long wander through the Amagi-toge Pass; from the top on a clear day you can enjoy expansive views of the sea.

Seafood in Izu is understandably delicious — visit during September to try the lobsters in season — and it’s also famous for wasabi. Boar meat often finds its way onto the menus of the peninsula’s Japanese hotels and ryokans. On your way out of Izu, make a stop in Numazu, at the northwest end of the peninsula, and check out the Baird Beer Taproom, which pours some of the best craft beer in Japan (and serves good food to boot — try the fiery chili!).


By far the best way to explore the region is by car. But for those relying on public transport, Amagi Yugashima Onsen is a 30-minute bus ride from Shuzenji Station. Dogashima is 90 minutes by bus from Shuzenji and the ride there costs a whopping ¥1970.








by Daniel Simmons

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