Though it’s just a short, two-hour train ride from central Tokyo, Higashi Izu feels like a far-flung fantasy realm. Getting out at Atagawa Station, travelers are welcomed by the warm steam billowing from the town’s many historic drilling towers; venture a little further and you’ll find a dramatic coastline, with cliffs plunging into the cerulean sea. 

Higashi Izu is serene and inviting, known for its healing springs, beach access and vast ocean views, with ashiyu foot baths spread across town. It’s a place that holds onto tradition, taking pride in local festivals and crafts, while also embracing modernity. And thanks to a newly developed digital map service, which you can access online, exploring the magical onsen town has never been more hands-on or approachable. Here are some of the best things to do and see in the area. 

things to do in higashi izu

A Sea of Lanterns

At night, Higashi Izu transforms into a scene straight out of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Over 800 red lanterns across the onsen area of Atagawa light up to cast a warm, ethereal glow. The lights were just set up this April, and will be available year-round; they’ve yet to go viral online, so you can still enjoy the mystical spectacle without a crowd. Surrounded by the sounds and scent of sea spray and steam, you can watch the city transform under a fiery glow each evening at twilight.

higashi izu moon road

The Moon Road

Once a month, an otherworldly pathway opens up between the earth and the heavens in Higashi Izu: The Moon Road. The onsen area of Hokkawa has a panoramic view of the ocean, undisrupted by land or light. When the full moon waxes over its coastline, the light is reflected on the waters, creating what appears to be a silvery path across the sea. It’s considered one of Japan’s top 100 places for moon viewing; perhaps you can catch a glimpse of Princess Kaguya descending from her lunar home.

Hina no Tsurushikazari Hanging Dolls

Higashi Izu has a long history of craftsmanship, and the onsen resort of Inatori is one of the birthplaces of hina no tsurushi-kazari, or hanging doll decorations. Many girls in Japanese households grow up with hina no tsurushi-kazari hung in their home during the springtime, symbolism imbued in each embroidered ornament. For example, the rabbit’s red eye repels evil spirits, and the persimmon prays for the health and longevity of their daughters. The Hina no Yakata museum has an impressive display of hina dolls year-round, and you can try making your own hina no tsurushi-kazari doll at one of the workshops around Inatori.

Fruits of the Land

Higashi Izu is also famous for its fruits, particularly its oranges and strawberries. You can enjoy a variety of delicious oranges, depending on the month — citrus fragrance wafting through the city. The locally crafted mikan wine makes for a unique and tart souvenir. There are also several family-owned strawberry farms, where you can enjoy all-you-can-eat ichigo hunting in the winter.

More Info

Higashi Izu is accessible from Tokyo via the express Odoriko Line.

Access the Higashi Izu digital map here.