Explore the Izu Peninsula - Perfect Getaway for Scenic Sea Views and Hot Springs
Blessed with pristine natural scenery abundant with sea panoramas, idyllic hot-spring towns, and even Mt. Fuji views, the Izu Peninsula represents the perfect getaway from Tokyo. But where exactly is this treasure trove of natural wonders? And how to get there? In this article, we are going to introduce everything you need to know about the Izu Peninsula, including what it is best known for and the top attractions you shouldn't miss when you are visiting the area.
Jul 27 2021
Where Is the Izu Peninsula Located?
The Izu Peninsula is located in Shizuoka Prefecture, about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. This vast peninsula extends on the Pacific coast of Honshu -the largest and most populous island of Japan. The Izu Peninsula is characterized by an interesting geological history, and for this reason, its landscapes are largely mountainous with the Amagi Mountain Range expanding in the center of the peninsula, numerous volcanoes, and a rugged coastline.
The East Coast of the Izu Peninsula is the most developed one and boasts marvelous cities such as Atami, Ito, and Shimoda. Meanwhile the West Coast is best known for its majestic wilderness that visitors can admire in places like Irozaki and Dogashima, as well as for unforgettable views of Mt. Fuji which is only 50 kilometers to the north.
What Is the Izu Peninsula Known For?
Easily reachable in a few hours by train or car from Tokyo, the Izu Peninsula has long been a beloved getaway spot for Tokyoites. Thanks to its luxuriant nature and peaceful seaside views, the peninsula allows visitors to escape the modern metropolis for some profound relaxation.
The Izu Peninsula is particularly appreciated for its outstanding beaches which offer turquoise waters and white sand on par with Okinawa, as well as rich marine life which make them suitable for a plethora of activities such as snorkeling. Outdoor activities play a big role in the peninsula's popularity. From hiking up volcanoes and unpolluted mountains to venturing on dynamic coastlines crossed by suspension bridges or refreshing along pristine waterfalls and rivers, people visiting the Izu Peninsula get the chance to explore a great variety of landscapes!
The peninsula is also renowned for its fascinating history. It houses centuries-old "ryokan" (traditional Japanese inns) and traditional cityscapes dating to the Edo Period (1603 - 1868), and it was the theater of relevant historical events like the landing of Commodore Perry's ships when he sailed to Japan the second time.
Lastly, Shizuoka Prefecture has the third most hot springs of all prefectures in Japan, of which the Izu Peninsula has many including Ito Onsen, which produces 33,000 liters of fresh hot-spring water per minute —one of the highest volumes in the country.
Finally, Atami's MOA (Museum of Art) is a must-visit for all art buffs, as the impressive complex exhibits an impressive collection of Japanese and East Asian art.
Best Time to Visit the Izu Peninsula
In the Izu Peninsula, there is always something to discover and seasonal events and activities to enjoy, no matter the season. The peninsula offers great spots for "hanami" (cherry-blossom viewing) in spring, energizing beaches in summer to escape the scorching heat of the city, autumnal wonderlands tinted in the hues of the bright foliage, and cozy onsen to warm you up during the colder months.
How Many Days Do You Need in the Izu Peninsula?
We recommend spending at least three or four days in the Izu Peninsula to get to know the area and its wonders. It might be worth focusing on one of the areas we are going to introduce later in the article to maximize your time there.
How to Get to the Izu Peninsula
Visitors can easily travel between Tokyo and the Izu Peninsula by car or train.
A rental car can be a very enjoyable and efficient way to explore the Izu Peninsula, as it takes around two hours from Tokyo to Atami and another 2 hours to reach the southern coast. Some of the toll roads in the peninsula like the Izu Skyline and the Nishi-Izu Skyline also grant spectacular views of the surroundings. However, one wants to be aware of traffic jams that often congest the roads of the Izu Peninsula during weekends and holidays.
Another great option is visiting the Izu Peninsula by train. The majority of the train lines in the peninsula provide incredible panoramic views as they are built along the coastline, often just a few meters from the sea. Visitors are spoiled with choices, as they can pick from a journey by:
◾ Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Atami (45 minutes 4,270 yen) or Mishima (50 minutes 4,600 yen)
◾ Limited Express Odoriko from Tokyo to Atami (80 minutes 3,560 yen) Ito (105 minutes 3,890 yen) Izukyu-Shimoda (160 minutes 6,055 yen) and from Atami to Shuzenji (45 minutes 1,810 yen)
◾ Limited Express Saphir Odoriko (a luxurious version of the Limited Express Odoriko with impressive windows to fully enjoy Izu's beauty) from Tokyo Station to Atami (80 minutes 5,940) Ito (105 minutes 6,270 yen) Izukyu-Shimoda (160 minutes 9,105 yen)
◾ Local Train along the JR Tokaido Line from Tokyo Station or Shinbashi Station to Atami (110 minutes 1,910 yen)
Getting around the Izu Peninsula is also quite easy, as it is served by two train lines and a relatively wide network of local buses. The JR Ito Line connects Atami and Ito (30 minutes 330 yen) leading to Izukyu-Shimoda through the Izukyu Line (65 minutes 1,645 yen). The Izuhakone Line serves the route between Mishima and Shuzenji (35 minutes 520 yen).
Top Attractions to Visit in the Izu Peninsula
East Coast of the Izu Peninsula
Atami is a hot-spring town with a retro vibe located at thevery top of the Izu Peninsula. Visited by Japanese people since ancient times for its healing waters, it continues to have unwavering popularity in modern-day Japan thanks to its convenient location. For people visiting the Izu Peninsula, Atami offers plenty of onsen, ryokan, vintage "shotengai" (shopping streets) with abundant street food and restaurants, cultural and outdoor activities, as well as a lovely beach —Atami Sun Beach.
Among Atami's many sightseeing spots, visitors shouldn't miss the beautiful Kiunkaku Former Ryokan. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, this traditional Japanese villa was used as a ryokan until 1999, serving many prestigious guests over the years. Visitors can now admire the sumptuous interiors and splendid traditional garden, and have a cup of coffee in its elegant coffee salon.
Searching for the perfect panoramic view of Atami? Even though it was built as a tourist attraction at the end of the 1950s, Atami Castle offers the best panorama in town and some fun exhibitions dedicated to Japanese castles.
If you are visiting Atami around February, it might be a good chance to pay a visit to the Atami Baien, a plum garden that houses 472 blooming plum trees and a lively plum festival. It's also a great occasion to have a walk along the promenade of the Itogawa River where visitors can view the early-blooming Atami Zakura, among the earliest cherry blossoms to bloom in Japan.
Ito is a quaint onsen town in the Izu Peninsula with beautifully preserved traditional buildings, lush forested hills ideal for hiking, and a charming seaside that liven up during summer.
Among Ito's historical buildings, the Tokaikan Former Ryokan stands out for its beauty and historic value. Established in 1928, the Tokaikan boasts an outstanding wooden structure with refined finishings, a tea room, and an onsen that is open to visitors for bathing for an additional fee. Part of the Tokaikan was converted into a budget-friendly and tattoo-friendly hostel called K's House Ito Onsen where guests can enjoy the traditional architecture, the relaxing view of the river, and rejuvenating hot springs.
The Yokikan is an excellent alternative for your stay in Ito. This Japanese-style hotel was founded in 1910 on Ito's hilltop and its "rotenburo" (open-air hot-spring bath) overlooks the town and the ocean beyond for some awe-inspiring moments while soaking in the warm water.
Mt Omuro is one of the Izu Peninsula's most iconic volcanoes thanks to its unique round shape and the emerald-green grasslands that coat its silhouette. This volcano was created 4,000 years ago as a result of the Izu Peninsula's geological activity but is now dormant. Visitors must board a chair lift to reach the top of the 580-meter-high mount and walk around its crater. The summit of Mt. Omuro allows beautiful panoramic views of the surroundings including Mt. Fuji on clear days and access to the small Sengen Shrine with its picturesque "torii" gate.
The base of Mt. Omuro also houses the Izu Shaboten Zoo, so the two visits are often combined. Izu Shaboten is a botanical and zoological garden that is home to over a thousand cactus varieties coming from different areas of the world and several animal species such as parrots, capybaras, and monkeys. At the Izu Shaboten Zoo, the fun continues with your meal, as there is a forest-animal-themed restaurant where you can enjoy capybara-shaped hamburgers while giant stuffed-animal capybaras keep you company.
Izu Peninsula's Jogasaki Coast is one of the most scenic coastlines in Japan. This rugged coast with 10-meter-tall cliffs was formed 4,000 years ago as a result of a volcanic eruption. The lava flowed to the ocean where it was cooled by the water and eroded by the waves to shape a unique panorama and unusual stone formations.
The Jogasaki Coast is covered by a 9-kilometer coastal hiking trail full of natural beauty and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The trail can be walked in total but some sections might be steep, abandoned, or not suitable for beginners. Many prefer to visit just its most popular segment, a section of trail that includes the 48-meter-high Kadowaki Suspension Bridge. This portion of the Jogasaki Coastal Trail is highlighted on one end by a lighthouse with a free observation deck and on the other end by the traditional restaurant Boranaya. Originally a fishermen's hut built in the Edo Period, the thatched-roof Boranaya now allows hikers to enjoy quaint traditional interiors and a local Izu delicacy, "kinmedai" (splendid alfonsino).
Izu Kogen offers striking panoramas of the Izu Peninsula, great ryokan with hot springs retreats, and fun adventures for the whole family! Izu Kogen is also served by some easy hiking trails surrounded by nature that lead to the 18-meter-high Hashidate Suspension Bridge. Crossing another portion of the Jogasaki Coast, the pleasant promenade of the Jogasaki Nature Study Course stretches along the Tajima River, which flows into the sea in a majestic waterfall. If visitors descend to the shore below, they can enjoy two natural pools called Oyodo and Koyodo formed by the rapid cooling of lava that flowed into the sea 4,000 years ago.
Children will be happy to spend a blissful day in Izu Kogen by visiting the cute Teddy Bear Museum. The museum also holds special events in collaboration with Studio Ghibli, exhibiting giant stuffed toys of the Cat Bus, Totoro, Ghibli's concept drawings, and more.
Izu Kogen is also a great destination for a springtime trip, as it boasts a tunnel of 600 fluffy cherry blossoms that has a total length of about 3 kilometers.
・Izu Hokkawa - Hokkawa Onsen
Izu Peninsula's Hokkawa Onsen is a beautiful seaside hot-spring resort that preserves the simplicity of a fishing village but provides the comfort of splendid ryokan with rooms and baths where you can view the sea.
Particularly popular is Kuroneiwa, a public open-air bath that is built on the beach at zero meters above sea level. This unique onsen is appreciated for its superb vista, as it is surrounded by nature with the Pacific Ocean extending to the horizon, as well as for its tranquil environment where visitors can enjoy the breeze of the sea and the calming sound of the waves. Kuroneiwa is free for Hokkawa Onsen's guests, while it requires a 600-yen bath fee for day visitors.
・Izu Atagawa - Atagawa Onsen
Atagawa Onsen is a small hot-spring town overlooking the sea that leaves a great impression thanks to its deep onsen culture and retro atmosphere. Streams of steam gently float from the hot-spring turrets over the town and its distinguished ryokan while the seaside is enriched by crystalline waters and sandy beaches. The high-quality hot-spring water produced in this area of the Izu Peninsula is considered beneficial not only for health but is also a secret to beautiful skin.
Atagawa Onsen was said to have been discovered several centuries ago by Ota Dokan, a samurai famous for being in charge of the construction of the Edo castle. He supposedly first witnessed the curative power of these hot springs during a hunting trip when he saw a monkey healing its wounds in a river with hot waters. The name of this onsen town might be a reference to this, as Atagawa means "hot river".
・Izu Inatori - Inatori Onsen
Izu Inatori is famous for its hot springs, Inatori Onsen. Most of the traditional inns and luxury hotels in the area are built on the cliffs of a cape jutting into the ocean, so their soothing open-air baths allow visitors to gaze at the endless, azure horizon and listen to the sound of the waves for some serious relaxation! The stunning views team up with the freshest seafood, as Inatori was originally a fishing village that took pride in its local fish.
Since the late Edo period, the picturesque town has held a unique festival called Hina no Tsurushi Kazari Matsuri that displays hanging decorative dolls handmade by mothers and grandmothers who wish for their daughters' healthy growth.
Kawazu is the birthplace of the vibrant pink "kawazuzakura", a type of cherry blossoms that bloom around a month earlier than the rest of Honshu, usually in February. The town hosts the Kawazuzakura Festival where visitors can admire 8,000 cherry trees blooming along the Kawazu River for about 4 kilometers from Kawazu Station to Mine Onsen.
Kawazu also boasts relaxing hot springs such as Amagiso Onsen, with baths located in front of a magnificent waterfall; and lush nature, such as the Kawazu Nanadaruーa one-hour-long walking trail with seven roaring waterfallsーand Imaihama Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the Izu Peninsula.
South Coast of the Izu Peninsula
Shimoda is the southernmost city on the Izu Peninsula, renowned for its plethora of marine activities, beautiful beaches such as Kisami Ohama Beach, and wonderful onsen options like Kawachi Onsen, Shirahama Onsen, and Kannon Onsen.
The colorful town, located among wooded hills and the sea, is also historically important as the place where Commodore Perry's ships landed when he returned to Japan in 1854, as Shimoda became one of the two Japanese ports open to American ships. The town even has a picturesque street named after the Commodore: Perry Road, which is lined with Izu's traditional "namako kabe" buildings (buildings with "sea-cucumber walls", black walls overlaid with a white raised diamond pattern) along a canal surrounded by willow trees.
Shirahama Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Izu Peninsula, praised for its clear, turquoise waters and white sand, as the name also suggests ("shirahama" means "white beach"). The 800-meter-long beach not only is a great spot for swimming and surfing but also attracts visitors captivated by the beauty of the nearby Shirahama Shrine. The picturesque shrine is built on a cliff and features a bright-red torii gate standing right on the edge of a bluff overlooking the ocean.
Tsumekizaki Cape is considered one of the most scenic spots in the Izu Peninsula. Visitors can enjoy magnificent views of the sea beyond the white lighthouse as well as explore the "tawaraiso" (straw bag rocks), columnar rocks that look like they are piled up on top of each other in perfect order that were formed about 5 million years ago by cooling and solidifying lava.
The Cape is also a go-to spot for flower lovers as it is covered in different plants and flowers throughout the year. A Narcissus Festival is held every year from December to February to celebrate the 3 million daffodils blooming along this fragmented coastline.
Shaped by the power of the Pacific Ocean, the coast surrounding Cape Irozaki is one of the most dramatic of the Izu Peninsula, as well as being its southernmost point. Several hiking trails will lead you through rocky, steep cliffs and unspoiled nature that provide majestic panoramas. Highlights include its white lighthouse, in used since the 1870s and the Imuro Shrine, thought to have been founded in the Nara Period (710 - 794).
Not far from Cape Irozaki, visitors can also enjoy the superb scenery of Cape Tarai and the quaint beach-town of Toji with its Ryugu Sea Cave, a 50-meter-large cave shaped like a heart.
Central Area of the Izu Peninsula
Mishima flourished as a postal town on the old Tokaido Highway during the Edo period (1603 -1868), also providing convenient access to the Izu Peninsula. The town developed around Mishima Grand Shrine, which is considered Izu's highest-ranking shrine and the most prominent power spot in the region.
Visitors can also experience the thrilling Mishima Skywalk, Japan's longest pedestrian suspension bridge where they can admire spectacular views of Mt. Fuji, Suruga Bay, and the Izu mountains. Not far from the bridge lies another great Mt-Fuji-viewing spot, Yamanaka Castle Ruins Park, a mountain stronghold built in 1560.
Izu Nagaoka Station offers access to a plethora of fun activities. From relaxing hot springs at Nagaoka Onsen to the incredible seasonal scenery at Izunokuni Panorama Park. Hop on the cable car to Fujimi Terrace where you can sit and relax while being amazed by the spectacular panoramic view of Mount Fuji, Suruga Bay, and Hakone.
Don't miss the opportunity to visit the World Heritage Site of Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace, an iron smelting facility built by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1857 which remains as a trace of Japan's Industrial Revolution in the Izu Peninsula.
Centered around a temple built by Kobo Daishi (one of Japan's most important Buddhist personalities) around 1,200 years ago, Shuzenji Onsen lacks the ocean views of other hot-spring towns in the peninsula but compensates for it with its history (it is said to be the oldest onsen town in the Izu Peninsula) and its impressive location surrounded by lush wooded hills and a bamboo forest.
Shuzenji Onsen's first hot springーTokko no Yuーis also said to have been created by Kobo Daishi when he struck a rock in the river with his "tokko" (walking stick). Even though bathing in this particular historical onsen is prohibited today, visitors have plenty of options to choose from, including Shuzenji's public bathーHakoyuーand the many traditional inns offering daily access to their baths for a fee.
Located in the Amagi Mountains, in a small onsen village called Nanadaru Onsen, Amagiso Onsen Hotel offers a one-of-a-kind hot spring experience. Amagiso's open-air baths are located right beside a river, facing the 30-meter-tall Otaki Waterfall, one of the largest waterfalls in the Izu Peninsula. These outdoor baths in the wild nature are sure to make you feel a sense of connection with the natural surroundings. Six more stunning waterfalls are also within walking distance of the Hotel along a lovely, easy walking path that follows the river.
West Coast of the Izu Peninsula
Heda is a remote fishing village that stands out for its superb views of Mt. Fuji, visible in the distance behind Suruga Bay. Mihama Peninsula offers sunbathers and swimmers a spacious, sandy beach where they can relax, as well as the best viewpoint of the area, Mihama Observatory, which is just a short walk uphill from the peninsula. In Heda, visitors can enjoy the village's vintage atmosphere, slow pace, and local spider crab served fresh.
Toi is a great onsen option when you are traveling on the west coast of the Izu Peninsula. Most of the ryokan and "minshuku" (Japanese-style guest houses) have hot springs with incredible views of the sea, including Mt. Fuji and some unique rock formations in the bay.
During the Edo period, Toi was also an important gold and silver extraction center, second only to the gold mines on Sado Island. Toi Kinzan Former Goldmine is located in the mountains behind the town and can be visited today as a museum depicting the mining history of Toi.
One of the most renowned spots for diving off the Izu Peninsula is Tago, where a large rock reef houses all types of fish. Tago is a great place also for those who just want to sunbathe and relax as the nearby Tago Beach or the Futo Coast are perfect for all summer activities, as well as for viewing magnificent sunsets. Both coasts are well-known for some unusual rock formations like the "Meganeccho" or "Godzilla Rock".
Izu Peninsula has some of its most dramatic rock formations in Dogashima, a coast shaped by past volcanic eruptions and sea erosion. The area is famous for the rare tombolo phenomenon, when a strip of land emerges from the sea at low tide forming a bridge to the mainland and making it possible to walk to the closest island, Denbe.
The best way to appreciate the fragmented shoreline is by a sightseeing boat that will also allow you to enter the impressive Tensodo Cave. The cave's most prominent feature is the unique way that sunlight pierces through a giant hole in the ceiling, glimmering in turquoise and emerald hues on the surface of the water.
Matsuzaki is an old port town that is so charming that it is listed as one of Japan's most beautiful villages. The village may be a bit tricky to access but this has allowed it to preserve its traditional atmosphere. During the Edo period, Matsuzaki was a key spot for the production and shipping of stones used for the construction of Edo Castle. During this time, some local merchants grew quite wealthy, and today it is still possible to visit some of those merchant buildings showcasing an Edo-period architecture unique to the Izu Peninsula.
Kumomi Onsen offers some of the best things of the Izu Peninsula all in one place. This fishermen's village boasts great hot springs, beautiful beaches, and magnificent views of Mt. Fuji. It is worth staying the night at one of the traditional guest houses in the village, as most are run by local fishermen families, meaning you can enjoy the catch of the day for dinner.
Enjoy a Dreamy Stay on the Izu Peninsula
The Izu Peninsula is a place where you can enjoy the best of Japan. From rejuvenating hot springs to unspoiled nature, delicious fresh seafood, and incredible panoramas of Mt. Fuji and the ocean, the peninsula is an easily-reachable getaway not to be missed!
If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.