A couple hours drive southwest from Tokyo lays the Izu Peninsula, which is shaped rather like India, having a south-pointing tip. Popular amongst locals and ocean lovers, the Seven Islands of Izu are home to some famous snorkeling and scuba diving spots. Being in the vicinity of Mt Fuji, it offers stellar views of Japan’s highest point throughout the year. During the winter, a snow-capped Mt Fuji against the sunset is a beautiful sight to behold.
Kumomi 雲見, a town on the west coast of the Izu Peninsula otherwise known as Nishi-Izu, is known for the local fresh produce of fruit and vegetables. Wasabi grown in spring streams that flow from the mountains, and crisp breezes that carry the clouds in swirls, are all right next to the majestic ocean.
The Matsubarasou (松原荘) minshuku, tucked in a labyrinth of alleyways a short walk from the shore, provided some insight into the traditions and roots of the region. Situated right next to the ocean, the people of Kumomi naturally depended on the ocean for their livelihood. Fish, squid, and other sea life were on the menu of every restaurant. The black and white photos on the walls of the inn depicted the people’s close relations with the ocean. They took from it, but also celebrated it.
The rooms in the minshuku were tatami style with futons. There was a tea set, as well as an album of the region’s history. Divers, which seemed to be mostly women, harvested a type of seaweed from the ocean that was used to make an agar known as tengusa 天草 or kanten 寒天. It comes in a rectangular block and is pushed through a grid mould to make noodles, and is eaten with a vinaigrette sauce. The dinner course provided with the stay was phenomenal. The squid was caught locally! Along with the meticulously prepared seafood kaiseki course, it was a perfect setup for a good night’s sleep after some time in the salt onsen.
There are plenty of minshuku in the area that provide good food and onsen and are perfect for a beach getaway during the summer or some quiet time in the countryside any time of the year. The landscape is a picture of calmness and serenity. It is also dotted with old Edo period buildings that are sometimes used in films. This place is truly a gem whose beauty has been and will continue to be preserved.