Discovering the real Japan in Nishi Izu

Vermillion sunsets, cascading waterfalls, and ancient Shinto temples are just some of the reasons local people call the Izu Peninsula “God’s Country.” Locals also joke that people take life slowly in Izu, presumably from the sun and ocean-connected lifestyle that they have led for generations.

 

While the eastern coast of Izu is geared towards tourists, with lots of attractions that open and close on time, the west coast (Nishi Izu) moves at a slower pace. The narrow coastal road, jungle like in some places, winds its way around the rocky outlets and sleepy harbors of Suruga Bay. The sunsets are spectacular. And it seems like all activity on the coastline is connected somehow to the majestic Mt Fuji, which keeps watch on the coastline from afar.

 

My wife and I chose Numazu on Nishi Izu coastline as the site for our ocean front restaurant, Ezo Seafoods ‘Summer’ which we opened in 2015. We are here from June to September each year, hence the name ‘Summer.’ Numazu is close to Tokyo (a 1hr shinkansen ride to Mishima); to Hakone and the Fuji National Park (30 min drive); Shuzenji (20 mins drive) etc etc. Its really an excellent alternative to the 'famous' tourist desitinations near Tokyo with good accommodation options (our picks listed below), and the "real Japan" just around every corner. And the restaurant is simply stunning with gorgeous ocean views, a live seafood tank in the middle of the dining room, and a menu that emphasizes pasta, paela and craft beer.

 

 

Numazu to Osezaki

 In this blog I want to share some tips for sightseeing along the 25km stretch of oceanfront road from Numazu to dive mecca Osezaki. 

The trail: NUMAZU TOWN Kuchino; Awashima; Mitoura; Nagahama; Nishiura; Kisho beach; Wakamatsu beach; Enashi beach; Osezaki

 

 

Temples: try a 2-wheel pilgrimage

Each village along the trail is home to several shrines and temples. You can recognize the entrance to the temples by the traditional curved tori gate, mossy stone steps, lotus or water lilies. One temple Hasunosatu蓮の郷 (Numazu) is home to 40 varieties of water lilies. Another temple, Zenchoji 禅長寺 is home of to the graves of feudal era heroes and was built in 1698. It is nestled up in mikan country behind Nishiura Kisho西浦木負. 

 

 

 

Awashima Island -- local power spot

Awashima Island is a small, conical shaped island that floats just off the mainland in emerald green waters. It’s home to a high quality marine park, abundant bird life and a 4-star hotel, the Awashima Hotel. I enjoy walking around the island and watching the marine life -- cobalt blue fish, idling snapper, sea urchins and occasionally a massive gliding manta ray. The ¥1800 fee gets you across to the island and into the marine park. It’s free if you are taking advantage of the Awashima Hotel or its restaurants.

 

 

In the footsteps of emperors -- the Numazu Alps

Immediately behind the coastline there is series of interconnected mountains known as the “Numazu Alps,” which is a favorite trail of the Japanese Imperial family. There are numerous trail heads (Tabi, Mitoura close by) and it takes around 30 minutes to hit the razorback at about 300-500m above sea level. Use ropes to pull yourself up or down steep parts. The trail heads snake through mikan groves and modest outposts of civilization such as single plot vegetable gardens, hedge protected mikan groves and even hermit meditation huts.

 

 

 

Snorkeling & Swimming: Locals know the best spots

If you know where to go, Nishi Izu is a snorkeler’s paradise. In between Nishiura Kisho and Osezaki, there are two excellent spots called Wakamatsu and Enashi. You will only find them on local area maps. You can snorkel in and around gigantic volcanic boulders and smashed tectonic plates in perfect snorkeling depths amongst schools of fish large and small, sea eels, coral, shell fish and sea anemone. Look out for the red signs advertising “海水浴場and charging \500 for parking.

 

 

 

Osezaki: Nishi Izu's Dive Mecca

Osezaki is a community of small businesses that service the diving industry clustered around a picturesque beach and geographical spit. On any day, especially in summer, the place is a hive of activity with wet-suited divers in various stages of preparation and dive equipment everywhere. Walk on through all of the activity towards the spit. Your will find a temple dedicated to Tengu, god of fish where you can view exquisite wood carvings. Cross over the spit and take in the expansive ocean vista with Mt. Fuji looming in the background.

 

Fishing: Summer season action

There are more fishing tackle shops on the Nishi Izu coastline than any other business. Locals fish all year round, but the real season starts from late July when skipjack tuna and dolphin fish crowd into Suruga Bay. Serious local fishermen fish for Snapper, Aji and Tachiuo, or “Great Sword fish” which is caught in Autumn/Winter.

 

 

Recommended Food on the Peninsula

Located on the deep water Suruga Bay, Nishi Izu’s seafood is excellent. Head straight to Port Numazu 沼津港 for seafood action. Braised redfish, boiled whitebait, sakura ebi shrimp, Aji sashimi are some of the specialties. Mikan mandarins groves at every turn. Harvest is December, but there are also natsu mikan and other summery citrus fruits available year round. Mango, lychee and strawberry farms also close by At Ootomi Farm. For beer lovers, the local Shuzenji brewed Baird Beer is simply superb and available on tap at Ezo Seafoods Summer, or at the Baird Beer Taproom at the Port Numazu seafood market.

 

Top picks:

l Futaba Sushi, Port Numazu. 双葉寿Old style sushi restaurant. Located on the eat street at the markets Numazuko Inshokutengai 沼津港飲食店街 055-962-0885

lYamaHirai, Port Numazu. やま平Hole in the wall counter restaurant located in arcade just off eat street Numazuko Inshokutengai 沼津港飲食店街. Don’t leave without trying the braised Redfish 金目鯛煮, sashimi. 055-962-9640

lEzo Seafoods Summer, Kuchino – our place. Oceanfront dining with a Mediterranean twist. Paella, Pasta, Craft Beer. Open June –End August

lIzu Kai – basic but high quality sashimi sets served up in ramshackle Japanese style tatami mat dining room. Opposite Awashima Marine Park car park. Open lunch only.

lKohi- dodesuka コーヒどうですか, on the road just past Osezaki. Cute café with a tree house feel and excellent collection of ephemera.

lOotomi Farm大富農園: Strawberrys (Dec-May), Blueberrys (June-July), Lychee (July), Mango (July-August), rice (October). Numazu.

055-948-1133

 

Transport

A car is the obvious way to get around, you can rent at Mishima Station as you alight the Shinkansen; or you could try a Car/Bike expedition and use the bike to allow you to follow your whims as you wind your way around the coastline road.

Public transport buses can get you from Numazu Station to the coastline but is not recommended due to the somewhat infrequent schedule.

Link to Rental Cars.com

http://www.rentalcars.com/us/city/jp/mishima/?affiliateCode=google&preflang=us&label=mishima-XF81j0M*xBQXJKnaOwDDeAS103874721056&ws=

 

Accommoation Close by Ezo Seafoods Summer

Minshuku: New Shirosaka www.newshirasaka.com/

Ryokan: Sandaime ADACHI http://www13.plala.or.jp/m-adachi/access.html

Four-star Hotel: Awashima Hotel www.awashima.com/

Rental Oceanside house/apartment:

TERUNESIA www.facebook.com/seasideluxuryresort.terunesia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x:

Press and Awards