SHIZUOKA: CENTRAL REGION (ATT.JAPAN ISSUE 57)
Travelling in Shizuoka Prefecture is wonderfully accompanied by beautiful views of Mount Fuji. This time we guide you through the central region of Shizuoka Prefecture, which welcomes travelers with historical and cultural spots, local delicacies, famous green tea, and unique railway services.
Let’s start from JR Shizuoka Station. A walk of about 10 minutes from the station brings you to Sumpu Park, which contains the ruins of Sumpu Castle built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who established the Edo shogunate, in 1585. There is a beautiful Japanese Garden named “Momijiyama Teien” on the premises.
Shizuoka is famous for producing figure models, such as plastic models. The history of models production began with the advanced wood processing industry in the area, which was effectively applied to plastic models production. Shizuoka Hobby Square opened in front of Shizuoka Station in 2011. The permanent exhibition area displays various plastic models and figure models, including Gundam figures, car figures, and military-related figures. Some of the latest products of local manufacturers may be available exclusively at the official shop.
Nihondaira, at an altitude of 307 meters, is famous for the view of Shizuoka City, Mount Fuji, and Suruga Bay, as well as for the night view. Get on a ropeway car from the top of Nihondaira to Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, which enshrines Tokugawa Ieyasu. The premises contain many structures that have been designated national important cultural properties. The museum exhibits weapons, armor, and historical documents of successive Tokugawa shoguns.
Miho no Matsubara (literally meaning “Pine Groves of Miho”) on the Miho Peninsula in the Shimizu area is famous for the hagoromo (robe of feathers) legend, the legend of a swan maiden. Stand on the beach to enjoy the view of Hagoromo no Matsu, a pine tree looking out toward Mount Fuji, where it is said the beautiful celestial maiden hung her robe.
Yui used to be a post town of the old Tokaido Highway. Tokaido Hiroshige Museum houses works of Utagawa Hiroshige (aka Ando Hiroshige), one of the greatest Japanese ukiyo-e artists of the Edo Period (1603 to 1867). Satta Pass, which is depicted by Hiroshige in the famous series of drawings called the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, is a perfect place to enjoy the view of Mount Fuji. Suruga Bay is famous for being the only place in Japan to catch sakuraebi (small pink shrimp). The ocean surface in the Yui area is beautifully tinted with pink color in the sakuraebi season. Crispy kakiage tempura made with fresh sakuraebi is truly exquisite!
Don’t miss Shizuoka oden on your Shizuoka trip! This unique oden, which features a black soup and ingredients on skewers, is served with toppings, such as dried bonito shavings and ground seaweed. There are many oden shops on the famous oden street, Aoba Yokocho.
A bus ride of about 30 minutes from JR Shizuoka Station takes you to another post town of the old Tokaido Highway, called Mariko-juku. The long-established restaurant Chojiya serves its famous tororojiru, which is grated yam combined with flavorful soup. Sumpu Takumishuku in the same area is a try-it-yourself facility for making traditional crafts. There is also a famous store that first started to sell Shizuoka City’s local specialty, Abekawa mochi, a freshly-prepared rice cake covered with a mixture of dried soybean powder and sugar.
In the Edo Period, building a bridge or crossing by boat over the Oi River was strictly prohibited for political reasons. The first bridge built over this river was Horai Bridge, constructed in 1879 and still in use. The bridge is registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest wooden walking bridge, with a length of 897 meters. A toll of 100 yen for using the bridge is charged.
The area on the west side of the Oi River is one of the most famous Japanese tea production areas. Beautiful tea fields spread forth on the gentle slopes of the mountains. The Tea Museum called Ochanosato Museum in the Kanaya Area serves 90 kinds of tea from 30 countries all over the world, as well as the local fukamushi sencha, deep steamed green tea. Have a cup of tea and learn about the culture and history of tea. The Japanese garden and tearoom recreate the style of Kobori Enshu, who is known as a master of the Enshu school of the tea ceremony as well as an artist and lord during the 16th-17th century. Try-it-yourself lessons for making matcha (finely-milled green tea) and picking tea leaves are offered on the premises.
The Oigawa Railway Line, extending from JR Kanaya Station to Senzu Station, is famous for its steam locomotive trains. Enjoy the sound of the steam whistle echoing in the mountains on the SL train running among the spreading tea fields and the Oi River. Limited express trains, which used to run on private railways in the Kansai Area, are also running on this line in their original colors.
There are facilities where you can enjoy making matcha and experiencing a tea ceremony, as well as hot springs. Kawane Onsen Fureai no Izumi is a hot spring facility housing 11 baths for men and women into which fresh water is constantly supplied. This onsen is famous for having an open-air bath from which you can see SL trains running. At adjoining cottages, dining and lodging are available.
Kakegawa Castle is said to have been built in the middle of the 15th century. The current castle tower was reconstructed in 1994 using the original methods. The top floor is a perfect vantage point for views overlooking the entire city.
Kiwi Fruits Country Japan is Japan’s largest kiwi farm. The extensive site encompasses a number of kiwi trees and abundant nature. The farm produces various kiwi varieties all year round, along with seasonal fruit, including mikan (Japanese mandarin oranges), persimmons, and Kiyomi oranges, a hybrid of mikan and orange. Various nature programs are offered. You can learn lots about the local natural environment and people through the programs, and also about various local animals, including sheep, rabbits, and goats (Extra fees are required for fruit sampling and nature programs).
Kakegawa Kachoen is a theme park featuring various kinds of birds “playing” among beautiful flowers. You will be welcomed by charming owls at the entrance. Feeding lorikeets on your shoulders and arms will be one of the memorable events of your trip, and you will be dazzled by the beautiful water lilies (about 600 plants of 100 kinds) in the Water Lily Ponds Zone as tropical birds fly around and about.
If you are interested in cosmetics and arts, visit the Shiseido Corporate Museum and Shiseido Art House. The museum exhibits corporate cultural assets, such as the company’s famous products and promotional materials, while the Art House exhibits paintings and craft items that have been exhibited in the Shiseido Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo.
Tokyo (JR Tokyo Station) -> Shizuoka (JR Shizuoka Station): 60 minutes by Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari
Shizuoka (JR Shizuoka Station) -> Shimada (JR Kanaya Station): 33 minutes by local train on the JR Tokaido Line
Shimada (JR Kanaya Station) -> Kakegawa (JR Kakegawa Station): 15 minutes by local train on the JR Tokaido Line