Being a travel company that specializes in Japan, we at iLoveJapanTours get a lot of requests for popular destinations such as Kyoto, Tokyo, Nara, Mt. Fuji, Osaka, Kobe... the list goes on. But strangely, we rarely ever get requests for what I would say is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. I'm talking about Izu, the little peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture.
It's a shame that this little gem does not get more recognition overseas compared to the other more saturated destinations, especially since the variety of experience you can get in Izu allows you to spend an entire week just in this small offshoot of Honshu. While the classic destinations certainly deserve their acclaim, I believe the adventurer in many of us would appreciate exploring places of less renown.
Especially if they are really, really awesome for the following reasons:
1. The hot springs
Some of the best onsen in the country can be found in the Izu Peninsula. In both quality and variety, you can't beat the selection here! Seaside hot spring resorts? Yep! Ones with a view of mountains? Sure. In front of a crashing waterfall? Hell yeah! Amid a historic Buddhist temple town? Seriously, stop me. How can simply looking for hot water to throw oneself into be so exciting!?
2. The beaches
Izu boasts beautiful coastlines: surfing spots, beautiful cliffs, rocky beaches, all washed by the waves of the Pacific Ocean. As is the case with the hot springs, the variety is staggering, even though it is a relatively small peninsula. It should be noted that Izu is one of the few places in Japan where you can see the view of Mt. Fuji beyond the sea. This is one of those sceneries the sight of which makes you feel complete.
3. The early cherry blossoms
Quick, when does the famous sakura bloom around Tokyo? If your answer is late March, you are mostly correct. But what if I tell you that near Tokyo, there is a place where you can enjoy miles of cherry trees in full bloom in the cold month of February? Kawazu-zakura, a species of sakura originating from its namesake city of Kawazu, is one of the must-see attractions in Izu!
4. The historic spots
You will probably not be too surprised if I tell you there are many fancy ryokan in the peninsula with historic origins. But what if I tell you that you can find replicas of Perry's era-ending black ships here? Or a major gold mine that supplied precious metals during the Edo period? Or an iron smelting facility that played a crucial role during Japan's Industrial Revolution? Yeah, Izu is rich in history too!
The above are just the tip of the iceberg. In the Izu Peninsula, you also get to enjoy great waterfalls, natural preserves, great seafood, art museums, and much more! And this complete package of awesomeness happens to be very accessible from Tokyo! A mere two-hour drive away from the capital city, this unassuming treasure chest is the perfect destination that you shouldn't miss!
If you are interested - and you should be! - in Izu, book a tour with us for this February. It's the month when Izu is at its best (I have a strong bias toward cherry blossoms), although it is also very nice in summer!