Izu Hanto (Izu Peninsula) boasts one of the most beautiful coastlines in Japan. It is fully packed with all the stuff you want to experience in Japan. There is the delicious fresh seafood, beautiful trekking areas, steep cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, mountains, onsen and what not. You will surely enjoy a great vacation here! Nobody will be left unsatisfied after a visit to Izu Hanto. No matter what season, Izu is ready to entertain you. Welcome to Izu Peninsula!
The gateway to the peninsula begins with onsen town Atami, which is only 100 km away from Tokyo. Atami is known for the beautiful beach, a great spot to spend long, lazy summer days. The Atami Castle and its trick art museum are other attractions that draw tourists to this small town. Late autumn and plum blossoms offer stunning views in the Atami Plum Garden. Seasonal fireworks during winter and summer also attract many visitors.
Along the eastern coastal line, the next spot to stop by is Ito. From Atami to Ito by train gives a good idea about the geography of the Izu peninsula. The coastal line offers beautiful cliffs and rugged rocks. Around 10 km away from Ito, the main attractions are the Jogasaki coast and Mount Omuro. Both are easily accessible from the Ito Kogen station by bus or car. The Jogasaki Suspension Bridge at a height of 48 meters gives us an awesome view of the area. Mount Omuro offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the Izu islands, and as a bonus you can also see Mount Fuji from here! A chair lift will take us to the top of the grass covered extinct volcano. If you are interested in archery, you can have a go on the top of the mountain near the crater. At the base of Mount Omuro, the Izu Shaboten Park is situated. More than a thousand of cactus species are growing here. In addition to botanical surprises, chimpanzee and dog shows are held here frequently. This park is like a mixture of zoological and botanical gardens.
After the beaches and coastal lines along the Izu peninsula, Kawazu is a town known for its cherry blossom view. Kawazu has the Amagi Mountains, forests with cedar trees and waterfalls. Never ending rows of cherry blossoms lining the banks of the Kawazu River make for a dazzling view. A night illumination show is set up in early February, during the Kawazu-zakura festival. The Kawazu Nanadaru (Seven Waterfalls) is a range of waterfalls that can all be seen if you follow the walking trail. The waterfalls in this forest make us feel refreshed and relaxed, away from the busy city life. Autumn foliage adds beauty to the waterfalls during late November. Nature here is so beautiful, that the writer of famous Japanese novel ‘Izu no odoriko’ has used Izu as the book’s backdrop.
Shimoda is situated at the southern side of the Izu coastal line. It is especially popular for beach sports and surfing. Shimoda is blessed with many big and small beaches that will suit everyone. Shirahama Beach is known for marine sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and surfing. The white sand and transparent blue ocean will definitely soothe your mind.
When you reach the southernmost tip of the peninsula, you will find many sharp rocks which make for a stunning view of the coastal lines. The three main coasts are Irozaki (pictured above), Tarai and Toji. Cape Irozaki is the most developed area and has a shrine and lighthouse at its top. Sightseeing cruises can take you on a trip to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the ocean.
The western side of the peninsula is blessed with Dogashima Island. A short tour on a small cruise ship shows you the magnificent beauty of the caves and cliffs that were formed due to the volcanic activity. When the tide is low, due to the tombolo phenomenon (which happens when an island that is usually separated from the mainland by water becomes connected again when land rises above the water when the tide is low) people can walk directly through the strip of land and reach the Sanshiro Islands, consisting of Denbei Island, Nakano Island, Okinose Island and Taka Island. Nearby Dogashima Island there is the Toi gold mine, which is the oldest gold producing mine from which gold was used for making coins back in the day.
The Shuzenji temple is known for its onsen and parks in Izu Hanto. This is a central place from where it is easy to connect to many other picnic spots at the Izu peninsula. An old Buddhist temple and a library of Buddhist sutras give everyone a look into authentic Buddhist culture. The famous oldest onsen is situated by the Katsura river nearby the Shuzenji. Other things in the area that you should definitely put on your to-see list are the bamboo tree garden in the temple grounds, the Shuzenji Nijino Sato (gardens) and the Cycle Sports Center where you can rent and ride bicycles for the day.
As you can see, there is enough to do on Izu Hanto to keep you going for more than just a few days! If you want many attractions at a short distance from each other, this part of Japan is a must-see!