The viewing of cherry blossoms may be the highlight of the social calendar in Japan, but there’s plenty of ways to enjoy spring after the last petal has fallen.
For unbelievable views of Mount Fuji, unlimited miles of beaches, beautiful coastlines, and hot springs, simply take a trip to the Izu Peninsula.
This part of Shizuoka Prefecture is just 100 kilometers south of Tokyo and is easily accessible thanks to an extensive network of trains and highway buses.Connect with nature and reap the benefits of eating fresh foods in one of the most popular vacation destinations in resort areas in the Chubu region of Japan.
Stop and smell the flowers
The onsen town of Kawazu is known throughout Japan for its Kawazu-zakura, cherry blossoms that bloom from late February to early March, alongside 350 kinds of carnations. However, the town’s designated flower, the iris, takes center stage in early May at Kawazu Iris Garden. In fact, irises are so abundant in Kawazu that the city is the largest producer of irises in eastern Japan.
You’ll find even more flowers at Kawazu Bagatelle Park, a chic garden with Parisian charm. More than 1,000 types of roses bloom here between May and June.
The Izu Peninsula is home to the iconic Mount Fuji, no doubt one of the most highly ranked bucket list destinations in Japan.
But if you want to beat the crowds, take a refreshing hike along Joren Falls, one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls. Access to Joren Falls involves an hourlong train and bus ride from Mishima Station, but you will be handsomely rewarded with the spectacular views of a 25-meter-high, 7-meter-wide waterfall that has been immortalized in Japanese pop culture.
The falls are also a staple of Japanese tradition. Legend has it that Jorogumo, a shape-shifting seductress spider-woman lives here.
Did you know that Shizuoka is the number one producer of tea in Japan? 40 percent of all tea farms can be found here! And while Shizuoka might be synonymous with tea, the region also produces another green foodstuff: wasabi. The wasabi root that is made into a condiment with a kick grows heartily here, and plenty of shops in the area specialize in dishes that feature wasabi.
Remember Joren Falls? Go there, and you’ll get a chance to see wasabi growing in its cool waters. It’s highly valued for its taste, which you can try at a food stall next to Joren Falls Tourist Center.
The roadside store Amagi Wasabi no Sato has everything you need to satisfy your wasabi cravings (or daredevil spirit). Impress your ‘gram followers with vanilla soft serve topped with a generous scoop of wasabi. If ice cream isn’t your thing, the shop also sells wasabi-flavored ginger ale and beer, as well as fresh squid with a heaping side of wasabi.
AddressYugashima, Izu-shi, Shizuoka 410-3206
Feast on the catch of the day
Forget about Tsukiji Fish Market. When you’re on the Izu Peninsula, there’s no shortage of seafood. The Izu Peninsula is flanked to the west by Suruga Bay, Japan’s deepest body of water and to the east by Sagami Bay.
This means that seafood lovers don’t have to go far to dine on fish, roe, shellfish, and prawns. Some, like sushi and sashimi, may be familiar, while others are an exercise in living life on the wild side.
In Shizuoka, omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) means serving up its specialty ikadon, a bowl of rice topped with freshly caught squid served with a golden raw egg. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, but you’ll never know unless you head down to Oka Agari Shokudo to find out!
AddressNishina, Nishiizu-cho, Shizuoka 410-3514