For anyone that enjoys the great outdoors, good food and Japan’s rich history, it’s hard to go past Shizuoka’s picturesque Izu Peninsula. Located within easy reach of Tokyo via car or Shinkansen, Izu has become a popular destination for those in search of a break from the hustle and bustle, offering visitors a variety of ways to relax and recharge amongst nature.

Exploring some of the more popular attractions throughout this mountainous region, we dive into the best ways to enjoy Izu during the spring and summer months.

World-Class Cycling

Offering the perfect activity for the warmer weather while also catering to everyone from the casual cruiser to the seasoned professional, Izu has made a name across Japan as one of the country’s premier cycling hotspots. This reputation was further bolstered after the world-class Izu Velodrome and Izu MTB (Mountain Bike) Course hosted the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games track cycling and mountain bike events, respectively.

Today these renowned courses, along with other family-friendly circuits that offer incredible views of the surrounding countryside, can be enjoyed by visitors of all skill levels. The facility also includes the option to rent a bicycle for those that don’t have their own, so all are welcome. While the famous Izu Velodrome can’t be ridden on by the general public, the facility is open and free of charge for anyone who would like to set foot in the historic cycling arena.

Wine and Dine

For those looking to take things slow and soak up the serene atmosphere of Izu’s nature-bound landscapes, Nakaizu Winery Chateau T.S offers a relaxing combination of luxury atmosphere and fine wine complemented by a variety of carefully paired menus.

From the cultivation of their grapes through to the brewing and final product, visitors here have an inside look at the meticulous process through which the winery produces their own wine. Ensuring that visitors can appreciate their produce from start to finish, tastings of Chateau T.S original wines are offered starting at ¥100 per glass, while an in-house wine shop provides the chance to take home some of your favorites. Note that guided tours are also available, and for these, booking is required.

Rounding out the experience is a restaurant on the winery’s premises, giving visitors the chance to enjoy a range of dishes, all of which pair greatly with the wine that began its life only meters away.

Breweries and Beer Gardens

While beer has been a long-loved beverage across Japan, few locations brew with as much dedication and care as Baird Brewery. A family business that was inspired by a deep passion not only for beer but its history, Baird Brewery has created a variety of unique and locally inspired brews that today see them operate a sustainability-focused facility amidst the sprawling nature of Izu.

Offering visitors the chance to experience not only the finished product but how it gets there, brewery tours allow you to see the work that goes into these one-of-a-kind brews behind closed doors and includes a Baird Beer sampler to round out the journey.

For those keen to indulge themselves in great beer and great views, the Baird Brewery Gardens Shuzenji is a must-visit. Located on the third floor of the brewery, the tasting room, which has about 20 taps to sample, includes an observation area overlooking the brewery below, a gift shop and even an outdoor deck area perfect for soaking up the surrounding nature with a beer in hand.

Traditional Dresswear

Few aspects of Japanese culture are as immediately recognizable as the kimono and yukata. Having been worn throughout Japan for more than 1000 years, these traditional garments have remained popular to this day and are often worn during summer when attending seasonal events or while simply enjoying a day out with family and friends.

Giving visitors to Izu the chance to have their own kimono or yukata experience is Machi Navi Yururi. Located in the town of Shuzenji, the store is equipped with approximately 160 yukata and 90 kimonos available in a variety of patterns and styles to suit both men and women, as well as hair ornaments, sandals and other accessories to complete your look.

Ensuring you find the perfect style and fit, the staff at Machi Navi Yururi are also on hand to offer advice when making your selection and will even dress you in your chosen yukata or kimono — a service certain to have you looking your best while taking in the sights of Shuzenji.

Ancient Experiences

Keeping in theme with the rich tradition found throughout Izu is Shuzenji Kamiya Washi Studio. A workshop that has been responsible for the creation of specific washi (traditional Japanese paper) known as Shuzenji paper, its historic ties are centuries old.

Going back as far as the 1100s, it’s believed that a proclamation of war distributed across Japan by samurai leader Minamoto no Yoritomo was written on Shuzenji paper. The same paper is also used in a supplementary copy of the Azuma Kagami, a historical book today recognized as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. Shuzenji paper is made from 100 percent natural materials, including natural spring water, mitsumata trees grown by Shuzenji Kamiya themselves and aibika plants. The production process is almost entirely conducted by hand, making this traditional item a sustainable one. 

Allowing visitors to immerse themselves fully in this local craft, Shuzenji Kamiya Washi Studio offers a Japanese paper-making experience. This experience includes an explanation of the history behind Shuzenji paper and the process of making it, followed by a chance to make your very own paper from scratch, creating the perfect keepsake from your time in Izu.

Something for Everyone

With such a wealth of activities and experiences to choose from, it’s not hard to see why Izu has made a name for itself amongst both tourists and locals alike. A place to get active, relax and everything in between, this naturally picturesque area is brimming with locations just waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Qualities that likely mean one visit won’t be enough.

So if you’re ready to trade in the busy for the beautiful during the warmer months, be sure to add Izu to your list of spring and summer destinations.

For more travel inspiration, visit the Izu City sightseeing information special site.