Located in the north-central part of the peninsula with which it shares its name, Izu city is one of Shizuoka Prefecture’s prime hot spring destinations. Particularly known for being home to the beautiful onsen resort town of Shuzenji, it’s only a couple of hours from Tokyo, making it ideal for weekend getaways from the city.
Whether you prefer to explore the culture and history of its inner city area or want to head out to enjoy rolling mountains and majestic waterfalls, Izu will deliver all you desire and more.
Shuzenji Onsen: A City Retreat
If you’re coming from Tokyo – or any large city – then Izu and its surrounding small towns will immediately feel like an escape, even if you stay within the more populated areas. We recommend spending some time soaking in the baths of Shuzenji Onsen, a popular hot spring resort town in the area, which was founded 1,200 years ago.
You may not get the ocean views for which Izu is famed, but there’s a whole other kind of soul soothing that takes place here (if you’re not sure where to start, Tokko-no-Yu is the oldest onsen in the area and an important landmark).
The onsen town is named after Shuzenji Temple, which is a short walk away and worth a visit, not only for its storied history and meditation classes, but also for the awe-inspiring bamboo forest. Best way to stroll the forest path? In a kimono, complete with accessories, rented from Machinavi Yururi.
Be sure to stop for lunch at one of the restaurants. Wasabi fans will be pleased to know that this ingredient is key to the area. No dish attempts to show the simple wonders of the fragrant root more than the wasabi bowl: steamed rice with freshly grated wasabi, bonito flakes, spices and sauces.
Where to bed down for the night? There are plenty of traditional ryokan in the area. We suggest either Arai Ryokan (pictured top) or Sora Togetsusou Kinryu.
Machinavi Yururi: machinavi-yururi.com
Arai Ryokan: arairyokan.net
Sora Togetsusou Kinryu: www.kinryu.net
Izu: A Nature Escape
Craving more fresh air? Set off on a 10km hike up Mt Daruma (about 20 minutes by car from Shuzenji). The three-hour trek will take you through holy grounds and bamboo groves, ending with a splendid view of Mt Fuji. Suitable for intermediary level hikers, this trail needs hiking boots and snacks for the journey.
For a more relaxing nature walk, plan an excursion to the 25m-high Joren waterfall, which is situated in the Namesawa Valley of the Amagi Yugashima area (about 35 minutes on the bus from Shuzenji Station).
Between the thick trees and the cooling winds created by the falls, this is a fantastic hideaway for contemplation – and cooling off during hot Japanese summers. And if you happen to be here in autumn, note that the valley has been named one of the 100 best places to view fall foliage in Japan.
For more info, go to kanko.city.izu.shizuoka.jp
How to Get to Shuzenji Station from Tokyo
From Tokyo Station catch the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen to Mishima Station and then change to the Izuhakone Tetsudo-Sunzu line to Shuzenji Station (about one hour and 50 minutes, ¥5,000). Alternatively, catch the Tokaido line to Atami Station, change to the Tokaido line to Mishima Station, then change to the Izuhakone Tetsudo-Sunzu line to Shuzenji Station (about three hours, ¥2,900).