Why do we travel? To experience different foods, cultures, and adventures, or to witness natural beauty. Japan has all of this and a lot more to offer, that is memories and experiences for a lifetime. Japan is much more than just Tokyo, Kyoto, and Mt. Fuji. Let’s explore the lesser-known Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture, Chubu region.
Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka is famous for its natural landscape and is based in the South-west of Tokyo. It is easily reachable by a bullet train from Central Tokyo within an hour’s time. It is famous for its beaches, highland resorts, onsen surrounded by nature, marine sports activities, etc. Izu is also a popular day trip destination from Tokyo. The entire Izu Peninsula is surrounded by mountains, rock formations, and sea. It has beautiful scenery and wonderful activities for family vacations.
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Atami, North-east area
Shirahama Atami is a city in Shizuoka prefecture, northeast of the Izu Peninsula and conveniently located between Tokyo and Osaka. The JR Tokaido Shinkansen (Bullet train) from Tokyo Station takes less than 50 minutes to reach Atami Station, the gateway to the Izu peninsula. It is a popular resort destination, with many attractions, including the sea and mountains, numerous hot springs, and mountain passes that provide stunning views of Mount Fuji. Popular activities in this area include; MOA Art museum, Atami Castle, Atami Plum Garden, and Atami Sun Beach.
Shimoda, Southern area
A beach town famous for long stretches of beaches, Shimoda is located in the South of the Izu Peninsula, with its surrounding white sand beaches. Shimoda is also famous for its floating aquarium where you can snorkel with dolphins making it popular with both families and outdoor enthusiasts. It also has a natural Ryugu Sea cave and Cape Tsumekizaki. Shirahama is one of the popular beach destinations and is about four kilometers outside of Central Shimoda. It is ranked among the top three destinations by Izu travelers. The soft and delicate white sand is very comfortable to walk on, and the blue and clear waters are worth a refreshing family vacation time. All the beaches are surrounded by hotels, inns, restaurants, and a variety of water sports activities. Shirahama Jinja Shrine is located at the north end of the Beach and has a long history.
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Higashi Izu, Eastern area
Located on the East coast of Izu Peninsula, and nestled between the Amagii Mountains and Sagami bay area, Higashu Izu is a well-known spot for natural hot springs and scenic beauty. Izu Animal kingdom is one of the top attractions for families and kids. It is just 10 mins away by bus from Izu Inatori station. Izu Animal kingdom offers the unique activity of petting and a variety of animal feeding like White tiger feeding, Giraffe feeding, rhino petting, etc. Getting closer to the big face and bodies of these animals is a lifetime experience, and will leave you cold and excited at the same time.
Kids get even more elated when engaged in feeding and petting the small and cute animals and playing with them. Park has many experience zones like Play zone, Animal zone, Exciting Encounter Park, and sports zone with separate food and shopping area. For detailed information, visit: http://www.izu-kamori.jp/izu-biopark/en/index.html
Atagawa Banana Crocodile Garden is another top attraction of Higashi Izu. This crocodile park has top-class 16 species (including hybrids) and is the only park in Japan to have Red Panda from the west and an Amazon manatee. For detailed information, visit: http://bananawani.jp/
Nishi Izu, Western area
Nishi Izu, known as the town with the best sunset in Japan, is located on the west coast of the beautiful Izu Peninsula. There are 9 beaches open to visitors. The clear water from Suruga Bay makes Nishi Izu a perfect beach holiday spot full of fun-filled activities like Sea kayaking, Scuba diving, Snorkeling, visiting mysterious caves, fishing, UNESCO-designated Geosite tour (Dogashima Tensodo cave) and much more. The Sanshiro island is an island located just 200m away from the mainland. However, when the tide is low, the water retreats, revealing a bridge that was hidden beneath the waters. This rare land formation is known as a Tombolo. One can walk to cross the sea and reach Sanshiro Island.
Ito City, Eastern area
Ito city is located on the north-east coast of the Izu Peninsula and is just 90 minutes from Tokyo. Jogasaki Coast is one of the top tourist attractions of Ito City, Shimoda. It was formed by Lava that flowed out when Mt. Omuro erupted about 4000 years ago. It is famous for its nature trail and Kadowaki suspension bridge, which is 48m long and about 23m high. From the observatory of Kadowakizaki lighthouse, one can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of Izu islands and mountain ranges.
Mt. Omuro is another natural wonder, known for its silhouette shaped like an upside-down bowl. There is also the facility of a ropeway that will take you to the top of the mountain and one can enjoy a refreshing aerial walk and capture scenic beauty.
Izu Granpal Amusement Park is a popular spot among families and kids. This park has many activities including Water balloon, Battle King, and 9D Virtual Ride Magical to engage all age groups. It’s fun for everyone. At night, this park turns into an Illumination hub, where every zone is highlighted by special lighting effects for a mesmerizing experience, in the dark.