Boarding the JR Odoriko Limited Express train from Tokyo Station, a scenic two-and-a-half-hour journey will take you far, far away from the hustling and bustling capital, through the heart of Yokohama, through tunnel after tunnel, before suddenly emerging into a completely different world… Along the breathtakingly scenic coastal route by the Sagami Bay on the Izu Peninsula, with plenty of ocean and mountain views to admire, where locals are relaxed, and time just doesn’t seem to matter at all in this subtropical paradise.
There is no such thing as a bad time to visit the Izu Peninsula, and spring, in particular, is certainly one of the loveliest seasons to visit this little piece of paradise. Here is what Izu has to offer during springtime:
Jogasaki Coast is located on the eastern side of the Izu Peninsula, approximately 10km south of the city of Ito. Designated as a UNESCO geopark, the views along Jogasaki Coast are spectacular. Lined with jagged towering cliffs and a panoramic view of the ocean for as far as the eyes can see, this is a place to live in the moment that you absolutely need to visit. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, listen to the crashing tidal waves beneath your feet and the hummingbirds flying high above and feel the powerful energy of mother nature while you listen deeply to nature’s harmonious symphony.
Spring is a great time to visit, as the temperature is just perfect for enjoying the breathtaking views and the ocean breeze, without having to worry about getting sweaty and dealing with sunburn. If you are up for a short and scenic hike, be sure to check out the seaside trail that stretches over 10km along the coastline.
Mount Omuro is the ultimate icon of Izu, a Cinder Cone dormant volcano that last erupted 4000 years ago. Visitors can ascend the summit by chairlift and walk along a circular trail that follows the rim of its bowl-shaped crater nestled in the center. On clear sunny days, Mount Omuro offers unobstructed panoramic views of the entire peninsula and Sagami Bay, while also providing fabulous views of Mount Fuji towards the inland. Spring is the perfect time of year to visit Mount Omuro since the temperature is gentle and the sunlight is plentiful. As an added bonus, Mount Fuji still retains its iconic snowcap from the winter, ready for that picture-perfect moment!
Hanami is one of the best ways to kickstart spring festivities in Japan. Hana means “Flower”, and mi means “see”, Hanami is the tradition of welcoming spring by inviting good company, bringing plenty of good food and drinks, and going on cherry blossom viewing parties together. Owing to its gentle subtropical climate, Izu Peninsula offers a great selection of scenic Hanami spots from late January all the way until the beginning of April! Throughout the month of February, the river banks in the sleepy town of Kawazu are lined with over 800 blooming cherry blossom trees! As the weather gets warmer around March, the base of Mount Omuro is home to about 1500 blooming cherry blossom trees, while the vicinity around Izu Kogen Station transforms into a magical paradise decorated with sakura-lined boulevards.
Shuzenji is located on the west side of the Izu Peninsula, and it is also one of the oldest temples in the area. During springtime, the iconic Buddhist Temple looks especially charming adorned by blooming cherry blossoms.
Directly outside the temple, the Shuzenji onsen street is lined with shops and restaurants selling traditional local delicacies such as Shizuoka green tea, mochi, and other sweets made with matcha or wasabi, the most well-known produce from the region. After walking around the area and munching on savory snacks, relax and take a foot bath beside the river! The foot onsen is a popular activity amongst locals in the area, as it is a great place to relax and meet new faces at the same time.
Izu Peninsula offers some of the freshest seafood caught along its coastline, which pairs perfectly with locally grown wasabi from the peninsula’s interior. While seafood and wasabi can be enjoyed all year round, there is one particular treat that I personally adore, and it can only be enjoyed during springtime.
A ten-minute walk along a quiet alley from Izu-Shimoda Station leads to one of the locals’ best-kept secrets: Hirai Sweets Confectionary. This hidden bakery is best known for its soft and fragrant “Milk Anpan” pastries. The Milk Anpan is a flaky sweet bun with red bean and fresh cream fillings in the center, and Hirai has been baking fresh batches every day for over 75 years and counting! During the spring season, there is an even more popular limited-edition pastry: the Sakura pan!
The Sakura pan is exactly like the signature Milk Anpan but comes with the bakery’s secret cherry blossom-infused fillings. The taste of the filling is sweet and savory, with a gentle hint of floral aroma working its way into every bite. It’s a very delicate flavor that cannot be fully described in words. You really just have to try it and see for yourself.
There is so much to do, so much to see and so much to eat on the Izu Peninsula. With its spectacular coastal sceneries, boulevards lined with palm trees, soothing tropical breeze and the subtle scent of the ocean, it almost feels like visiting Hawaii rather than Japan. If this is your first time visiting Izu, you will most likely fall in love and look forward to returning here again. For those who have visited Izu on multiple occasions in the past, it’s safe to say that there is still so much more to explore, so much more to do, and there really isn’t a bad time to go back to Izu and explore from scratch all over again!
Guest blog post by wanderplans.com