Easily accessible from Tokyo.
If you stay in Tokyo, I would strongly recommend you to allocate a few days of your stay to the trip to 伊豆半島 (IZU Peninsula).
IZU Peninsula is located about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, and you can reach to 熱海 (ATAMI) which is a gateway city of IZU Peninsula located northeast of peninsula in about just 45 minutes by SHINKANSEN from Tokyo or 1.5 hours even if you take local trains. If you want to try 沼津 (NUMAZU), another gateway city of peninsula located northwest of peninsula, it takes a little over an hour by SHINKANSEN and local train, and 2 hours by only local trains.
Or if you drive there, you can reach there in less than 2 hours from Tokyo by using Tomei Expressway.
My recommendation is to go to ATAMI or NUMAZU by train first, then rent a car around ATAMI or NUMAZU station, and then drive around the peninsula. Although there are some toll roads in the peninsula and that would be faster to get to your destination, but I would recommend to drive on the local roads, especially drive around the road along the coastline of the peninsula. You may start from ATAMI and drive along the coastline in a clockwise direction toward NUMAZU, or you may start from NUMAZU and go counter-clockwise toward ATAMI. On the way, you can see a lot of great nature and breath taking scenery. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji over the sea from the west coast.
IZU Peninsula has full of attractiveness.
IZU Peninsula is mountainous island, thus if you drive around, you can encounter a lot of panoramic landscape. In addition, IZU Peninsula is well known for ONSEN as well. There are so many ONSEN places in this peninsula. ATAMI is one of the most famous and popular ONSEN places in Japan, and not just ATAMI, but also so many places such as 修善寺温泉 (SHUZEN JI ONSEN), 伊東温泉 (ITO ONSEN), 伊豆高原温泉 (IZU KOGEN ONSEN), and so on. Even if you have not decided your final destination, you can find good ONSEN and sightseeing spots on the way. It is nice to find your favorite ONSEN place on the way and stay one night there, and it is also nice to stop by at “日帰り温泉 (One day ONSEN)” so that you can enjoy multiple ONSEN places along the way in a day.
Talking about ONSEN places in IZU Peninsula, I will write details in separate posts later.
Related article: SHUZEN JI ONSEN – Beautiful ONSEN town with historical temples
Enjoying the local foods is another attractiveness you must be excited along the way. At NUMAZU, you should definitely visit 沼津漁港 (NUMAZU GYOKOU / NUMAZU Fishing Port). There is a big market of local seafoods, and you can taste fantastic local seafoods as well as buying some fresh fish for souvenir or gift.
If you stop by at 下田 (SHIMODA), you should definitely visit 道の駅 (MICHI NO EKI) (Roadside station) named “開国下田みなと (KAIKOKU SHIMODA MINATO)”, and there you can taste spectacle burger called “SHIMODA Burger”. Instead of beef, this burger uses fried 金目鯛 (red snapper / alfonsino) because SHIMODA and IZU Peninsula itself is famous for this fish. This red snapper (alfonsino) is generally regarded as a high-class fish in Japan and people usually eat it as 煮付け (NITSUKE / boiled with soy sauce and sugar) at high-class Sushi restaurants, and that’s why this SHIMODA Burger’s fried red snapper is quite rare and special which is worth trying.
SHIMODA is also well known as the city where 黒船 (KURO FUNE), foreign black ships arrived and Japan opened the country to the world from this city during Edo Period. Therefore, you can see a lot of historical places here in SHIMODA. Commodore Perry is very famous in Japan as the person who opened the doors of Japan to the West. After that, based on the treaty signed between the United States and Japan, Townsend HARRIS, the United States council general, opened the consulates here in SHIMODA. It is said that he stayed at a ZEN temple along the way from SHIMODA to EDO (Tokyo), and there is ONSEN named “ZEN NO YU” right next to this ZEN temple.
Related article: Walking around historical SHIMODA Port
Related article: “ZEN NO YU” – ONSEN at a temple
Another world at the southernmost point of IZU Peninsula.
I would recommend you to stop by at the southernmost point of this peninsula “石廊崎 (IROZAKI Cape)”. Since the southern coastline of the peninsula is large scale ria coast, the landscape you can see from this IROZAKI Cape is really amazing. There is a ferry and you can see this panoramic ria coast from the sea as well. Not just IROZAKI Cape, but also あいあい岬 (AIAI Cape) is also an amazing spot to see the landscape.
Famous waterfall which appears in the lyrics of the Japanese famous song.
Do you know the song titled “天城越え (AMAGI GOE)? It is an old and very famous Japanese song which all Japanese people know. AMAGI GOE generally means “to cross the AMAGI Pass” where used to be very difficult for people to cross due to its steep mountains. This AMAGI Pass is also located in this IZU Peninsula and “浄蓮の滝 (JOREN NO TAKI)” (JOREN Waterfall) which appears in the lyrics of this song is also worth visiting.
Have a peaceful coffee break at the local cafe.
Along the way, I have seen the same hand-made signboard saying “How about coffee?” again and again. Every 2 or 3 kilometers, the same signboard which has unique illustration appears, and I couldn’t stop feeling like I wanted to go to this place. Here is the place. The name of this cafe is “AZASEBORA” It’s actually a nice cozy cafe serving fresh coffee and cakes. On a clear day, Mt. Fuji is visible over the sea from this cafe. You can surely refresh from the fatigue of long-time drive here.
Driving around IZU Peninsula will be your unforgettable memory. Seeing panoramic landscape, feeling sunlight, and breathing fresh air, you will be fully relaxed. At the west coast, Mt. Fuji is visible in a sunny day. Also it is also quite interesting bathing in as many ONSEN as you can and tasting as many local foods as you can along the way.
Why don’t you allocate just a few days to visit IZU Peninsula?