Blessed with a mild climate and beautiful natural scenery, Shizuoka also offers a variety of local delicacies such as green tea, mandarin orange and eel. Let’s take a tour of the prefecture going from west to east.
Lake Hamana is a popular resort destination with enjoyable marine sports. This area is dotted with hot springs such as Kanzanji Onsen, Bentenjima Onsen and Mikkabi Onsen. There are also an amusement park, a zoo and a flower park by the lake. Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments is a little town of musical instruments where you can find ancient instruments from around the world and enjoy their sounds. At Kakegawa Kachouen (bird and flower park), you can admire beautiful flowers blooming in the vast greenhouse and play with parrots and penguins. Shiseido Art House is the must-see place not only for its art collection but also for its modern style building. There still remain traditional merchants’ houses with wooden grilled windows and earthen storehouses with plaster walls in Morimachi.
Hamamatsu Festival takes place every year from May 3 to 5 with the events including a kite competition. Hamanako Flower Festival is held from March 21 to June 15, 2014 at Hamamatsu Flower Park.
Shizuoka is Japan’s largest producer of tea. Vast tea fields spread on the Makinohara tableland. You can experience tea picking and visit the tea factory, Grinpia Makinohara, to see the tea making process. In Omaezaki, you can enjoy the splendid scenery from the boardwalk in Omaezaki Cape Park, which is known for its lighthouse. The beach attracts marine sports lovers. Marine turtle can be seen laying their eggs, and seeing this in action is a rare opportunity in Japan. Turtle-shaped buns (kame manju) are a popular local confection.
The city of Shizuoka is the place where Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo government (1603-1687), spend the last years of his life. A model manufacturing industry has developed in the city, and a place called Shizuoka Hobby Square is located near Shizuoka Station. Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, the place where Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined, is a National Treasure and consists of luxurious constructions built with the state-of-the art technique of the time. Admire the view from the aerial tramway connected to Nihondaira, from the top of which you can see the panoramic scenery of the Southern Alps and Mount Fuji. Miho no Matsubara, famous for its legend of hagoromo (feathered robe), has 54,000 pine trees along the coastal line of about 7 km. Mount Fuji seen from this point is one of the Shimizu is known as a soccer town and the home of Shimizu S-Pulse. S-Pulse Dream Plaza at the Port of Shimizu houses sushi restaurants, Sushi Museum and Chibi Maruko-chan Land. Mount Fuji Melon Bread is the creation of the bakery Minato-pan. There are ferries crossing Suruga Bay between the Port of Shimizu and the Port of Toi on the Izu Peninsula. Why don’t you enjoy the 65-minute leisurely paced cruise while viewing Mount Fuji? In winter, ocean-fresh sakura shrimp are being sun-dried, spreading red color on the banks of the Fuji River.
Gotemba and Fuji area is the entrance to Mount Fuji climbing and Fuji Five Lakes tour. This highland is dotted with pastures, museums, camping locations and golf courses.
Mount Fuji is listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Climbing to the top of Mount Fuji takes 5 to 7 hours and descending down from the top 2 to 3 hours. The annual ceremony of opening Mount Fuji takes place on July 1 at Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine, which is the head shrine of all the Sengen Taisha shrines in Japan and the center of Mount Fuji worship. From Lake Tanuki, you can see the sunrise from the top of Mount Fuji around the 20th of April and August. With the reflection of the sun on the surface of Lake Tanuki, this magnificent sunrise is called Double Diamond Fuji. Shiraito no Taki warterfall is fed by Mount Fuji’s spring water and flows off the edge of the cliff in hundreds of large or small white streams that resemble hanging threads of silk – hence its name – shiraito.
You can visit Fuji Safari Park at night as the park is lit up on weekends, public holidays and during school summer vacation from April to October. Grinpa is a theme park designed for everyone to enjoy the great nature. There are about 210 popular shops, especially designer clothing shops, in GOTEMBA PREMIUM OUTLETS®, where you can also view Mount Fuji on fine days. Mishima has the Mishima Taisha Shrine. Sano Museum, featuring a circuit style garden, is a good place to visit. Walk around the fish market and enjoy ocean-fresh seafood at the port of Numazu.
The specialties of Lake Hamana are eel dishes and Unagi pie snacks. Hamamatsu gyoza is also popular. Mishima is famous for dishes with eel soaked in the melted snow water of Mount Fuji in order to get rid of the fishy and muddy smell. You can enjoy strawberry picking between January and May in Kunozan where strawberries are cultivated on stone walls. Fresh tuna and sakura shrimp are also Shizuoka’s specialties. Shizuoka oden has become a household name. There are many restaurants which are open only in the morning in Fujieda. Abekawa mochi, a Japanese sweet prepared with mochi (rice cake) and kinako (soybean powder), originated from a tea house near the Abe River. You should try the famous fried noodles in Fujinomiya. Amagi wasabi is excellent thanks to the clear sub-soil water. Enjoy the wasabi with soba noodles. Lobster and alfonsino are Minami-Izu’s local delicacies.
World Heritage Site Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2013. Nine of its component parts including Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine, Shiraito no Taki waterfall and Miho no Matsubara are located in Shizuoka Prefecture. The view of Mount Fuji is best in winter. You can get a great view of the beautiful snowcapped Mount Fuji on sunny winter days when the air is clear. After sightseeing, don’t forget shopping for souvenirs in the motif of Mount Fuji!
Take a Little Side Trip
Oigawa Railway’s steam locomotive trains run between Shinkanaya and Senzu. The vigorous SL trains go right through the tea fields. The area around the railroad is dotted with attractions such as Sumatakyo Onsen, Kawane Onsen and camping locations. Sumatakyo Valley is famous for its stunning view from Yume no Tsuribashi, a huge suspension bridge of 90 meters in length and 8 meters in height. Seeing the emerald green lake surface beneath your feet, experience the thrill when each step you take makes the bridge wobble. The first train ride of Thomas the Tank Engine in Asia will be coming to Oigawa Railway in summer 2014 (Day out with Thomas)!
Atami is a famous hot spring district. Atami plum garden
has the plum trees which blossom earliest in Japan. The ferries
make 9 trips a day between the Port of Atami and Hatsushima. Ito is a historical onsen town. Stroll around the town where you will find the three-storey wooden building, Tokaikan, and dried seafood shops. You can also try a Geisha experience! The Jogasaki coast is a picturesque place with an indented coast line, the blue ocean and white waves. There are unique museums as well as chic auberges or restaurants in Izu Kogen Highland.
Shuzenji Temple in Shuzenji has a 1,200 years of history. Amagi Yugashima is known as a the place the novelist Kawabata Yasunari chose for the setting of his masterpiece The Dancing Girl of Izu. Walk down the Amagi Pass just like the dancing girl’s family did and visit the spots such as Joren no Taki waterfall and Kawazu Nanadaru (seven waterfalls). Hinano Tsurushi-kazari Matsuri (hanging hina dolls) Festival is held between January 20 and March 31 in Inatori, Higashi-Izu cho.
The spring comes a little earlier on the south edge of the Izu peninsula. In Kawazu, cherry trees bloom in February. Cherry blossoms and field mustard flowers are at their best in Minami Izu cho between mid-January and late March. Daffodils in Tsumekisaki (Shimoda) start blooming at the end of December. Shimoda has a historical significance as the starting point of the opening of Japan in the mid 19th century, which adds a quaint atmosphere in to the town. There are galleries and cafes using renovated old folk houses on stone-paved Perry Road. Izu has many choices for hot springs, such as Atagawa, Inatori, and Shimoda. The open-air bath with the ocean view will also be a wonderful experience.
Nishi-Izu has plenty of splendid scenery with Mount Fuji and the sunset. From Toi, you will admire the beautiful Mount Fuji over the ocean. In Dogashima, cruising and cave exploring are offered to experience the fantastic landscape. Enjoy strolling around the pleasant old town of Matsuzaki and its traditional buildings with unique namako tiling walls.
Ito onsen has one of the largest amount quantity of hot spring water in Japan. Located between the Amagi Mountain Range and Sagami Bay, this hot spring resort area is blessed with outstanding natural beauty and an abundance of ocean delicacies. You can visit classical public baths (Shichifukujin no Yu) and drop in at foot bath or hand bath facilities during your walk around the city. Try Ito’s fresh seafood as well as dried seafood with an intense flavor boosted by the sunlight.
City of Ito
On the riverside of the Matsukawa River, Tokaikan is an onsen ryokan of wooden three-story building in the early 20th-century architectural style with retro onsen atmosphere (it became a tourism facility in 2001). Take your time strolling along the Matsukawa promenade, visiting literary monuments and browsing shops on the streets. Orange Beach is on the east side of the hot spring district where you can enjoy swimming in summer.
Shiofuki coast is known for its Shiofuki iwa or spouting rock which spouts the tide from its cave. Mount Komuro is covered by a huge red carpet of a hundred thousand of azalea trees blooming from end April to early May. Lake Ippekiko is a gourd-shaped lake with 4 kilometers of circumference. Surrounded by wild birds’ chirping, you can enjoy taking a walk around the quiet lake where the nature is conserved.
Izu Kogen Highland
You can admire the panoramic view that includes Mount Fuji from the top of Mount Omuro, an entirely grassy mountain. At Izu Shaboten Park, you can see the popular capybaras taking a bath and about 1,500 varieties of cactus. Izu Kogen Highland area has plenty of tourism facilities, museums and art centers such as Izu Granpal Park and Izu Marine Park. The Jogasaki coast is a more than ten-kilometer long cliff formed by lava. The view of waves hitting the cliff is splendid. You can enjoy walking on the trail and the suspension bridge while watching the lighthouse and exploring the nature of Izu.
Izu Kogen Sakura Namiki Street, lined with someiyoshino cherry trees stretching for 3 km, features picturesque pink tunnels during the peak of the cherry blossom season. Sakura no Sato is also a famous cherry blossom viewing place. Walk around while looking at the beautiful cherry blossoms, and visit the surrounding restaurants, cafes and museums!