Shizuoka is one of Japan’s largest prefectures, often synonymous with Mount Fuji due to the many breathtaking views it offers of the famed mountain. It’s also known as the country’s tea capital, accounting for 40% of production. Its countryside is famed for its gentle green slopes, where many farms grow and harvest their tea.
For travelers looking for a deeper dive into the area, Shizuoka is a treasure trove of scenic spots and secret sights. It’s a place where you can both admire and relax in nature, making any visit refreshing and energizing. We’ve selected some of the best off-the-beaten-track places and unique activities to do when in the area.
1. Go Kayak Fishing in Suruga Bay with Betanagi
The postcard-perfect Suruga Bay is overlooked by Mount Fuji and surrounded by tea fields. Beyond its natural beauty, however, it’s an extremely fertile ground for fishing, contributing to the rich seafood culture.
One great way to enjoy the best of the area is to take a kayak fishing experience with Betanagi. This fun fishing method gives you high maneuverability on the water — driven only by paddle power, you can smoothly and silently approach fishing spots without startling the fish away, making you a ninja of the water.
Betanagi guide Tomoaki Nagasaki is familiar with the local topography, sea currents and the habits of the fish in the Nishi-Izu and Minami-Izu areas. He offers experiences for all levels — from beginners entirely new to kayak fishing to veterans looking for guidance on the best spots in which to try out their own fishing styles. He’ll design a course that’s right for your level and can accommodate everyone from solo kayak adventurers to groups of four people or more.
After wrapping up your fishing trip, head to Shunkan Takeuchi where the veteran chefs can prepare your catch to your liking. The restaurant also serves classic dishes using ingredients from Nishi-Izu and Dogashima.
2. Retreat in Nature Around Mishima
Only a 45-minute bullet train ride from central Tokyo, the abundance of greenery in Mishima City makes it feel like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.
A stone’s throw from Mishima Station is Rakujuen Park, surrounded by natural forest and designated as a national nature treasure and scenic spot. Visitors can enjoy the lush greenery and views over Kohama Pond, which is a natural spring fed by melting snow from Mount Fuji. There’s also an animal enclosure with a collection of cute creatures, including alpacas, ponies and capybaras. With lots of space for children to play, it makes a fun outing for families.
The park originally began as the garden for Rakujukan, a villa built for Imperial Prince Komatsunomiya Akihito in 1890 and a beautiful example of a traditional sukiya-style building. Travelers can visit and learn more about the site by taking one of the six daily guided tours, allowing you to fully appreciate its design and architecture.
Nearby the park, you can also enjoy strolling the Genbe River. Stretching for 1.5km through the city, the riverside walkway features stepping stones and boardwalks, passing through charming shrines and temples. The water temperature remains around 15–16°C all year round, and so it feels cool in summer and warm in winter. It is also very pure, which means in early summer you can watch many fireflies light up the evening gloom as if by magic.
3. Natural Beauty at Dogashima Onsen
The Nishi-Izu coastline is truly one of the most beautiful in Japan, dotted with tiny islands and offering spectacular views of Mount Fuji. It’s also home to Dogashima Onsen, a very unusual kind of hot spring. Located only a few meters from the sea, it’s remarkable for being colorless, tasteless and odorless, highly alkaline and with very little salt. It’s known as the “cosmetic hot spring” because it’s said to hydrate and smooth the skin.
Take time to revitalize yourself and book a stay at Dogashima Hotel Tenyu. It’s situated at the tip of a cape, offering spectacular views of the sunset over the bay at dinner. Breakfast is also a relaxing affair, with a line-up of delicious local vegetables to give you the best start to the day. All rooms have an ocean view, and there’s a large open-air bath with a view over the scenic Sanshiro Island below.
4. Sleep, Soak and Shop at Hotel Clad
Overlooking Mount Fuji, Hotel Clad is a relaxing resort hotel where the emphasis is on comfort. Beyond the stunning views, the rooms feature modern, simple designs, and come with flexible plans, so you can choose your dining experience or leave yourself free to eat and explore — and there’s plenty nearby to keep you entertained.
The hotel is located next to the Gotemba Premium Outlets, one of the largest shopping centers in Japan with around 290 stores and restaurants as well as a merry-go-round and other activities with a view of Mount Fuji. Hotel guests also have free access during their stay to the Konohana no Yu onsen, which offers two open-air and three indoor baths filled with privately sourced spring water. For an extra fee, visitors can enjoy 19 private baths — some with Fuji views — and the facility also has a spacious rest area, so you can recharge yourself before your next dip or next adventure.