Sunday, September 8, 2013

K's house, Ito

I wouldn't normally devote a post to a hostel, but we were so impressed with this that there needs to be reviews and information and recommendations for all!

We stayed at K's house, Ito.

K's House
The building is an old Japanese inn and the style is tradition Japanese style with tatami rooms, riverside views, public onsens for overnight guests and day visitors and money off coupons for new arrivals! 


 K's house, Ito is a 100 years old building! It's such a great chance to feel Japanese history, experience the ryokan style at pure traveller prices!

There are many K's houses around Japan too...I expect to check out a few and will add to the blog.

What  a great idea for not just visitors to Japan, but even people living here too!

Check out the web page for bookings and more details!!

Ito, 伊東

Ito is a great little Onsen town on the Izu peninsula. Situated 20 minutes further south from Atami, it holds a little more magic than its beach & onsen partner town. We were pleasantly surprised with the stillness of the town even with the summer fireworks happening and the matsuri on the bridge.

In truth, there is very little to do there, but on this visit, we appreciated it a lot. Even the matsuri (the summer festival) wasn't too crowded nor big in size. As always, it was decorated beautifully, in this case with summer lanterns, hand written by the local children.  

We were fortunate enough to stay at K's house, a hostel priced hotel with a traditional Japanese feel to it. We loved it so much and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone. (See next blog post or go straight to their website -

K's House
The beach at Ito itself was longer than Atami's sun beach. The water was clear but the sand was still dark and volcanic and not necessarily the most inviting. We enjoyed a stroll up to the marina where we indulged in some great food and coffee and watched the bus loads of tourist alight to collect souvenirs (there were many, many shops there) and to take the dumb ass dolphin boat out. I had read about this boat from another blog, although this kind of tourist trap doesn't work on me. In any case, as you stand at the bay, you have the chance to witness some lovely fish swimming in the clear water beneath you. These are the same fish the boat takes you out to see. Don't say you haven't been warned!
Orange beach, Ito
The marina
Strolling along the river
Ito is a great destination for just being pure mellow. Expect a few walks on the beach, an onsen here and there, enjoy a walk a long the river, or even a hike as far as the Jogasaki coastline (we didn't have that much energy...)

There was a lovely, small restaurant next to our hostel... 
Try the Tofu! And enjoy the black sesame ice cream!!

Access to Ito is simple. If you are lucky enough to catch the 534pm train from Tokyo, you can enjoy the Tokkaido line train straight to Ito with no changes (Can you tell that's what we did!) Otherwise, just change at Atami and you will still get to Ito in time for dinner. No need to waste money on the Shinkansen, if you ask me!! Just remember, it is an easy escape for Tokyoites come rain, shine or snow -(mmmm, onsen in the winter!) - so, expect a few crowds and elbow in the ribs as you travel back. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nagata, Yakushima, 永田、屋久島

Nagata area

Nagata, on the east coast of Yakushima - an island more famous for its forests than its beaches - is home, albeit temporarily to many a baby loggerhead turtle. It is situated on the north west coast of the island and magically avoids a lot of the rain and clouds that gather in the middle of the island in the forest.

Parts of the beaches are cordoned off to prevent us from walking on their eggs, but, even an early morning stroll might afford you the joy of watching a baby hatchling run free to the ocean. The summer is turtle season, but, bizarrely, despite the beaches being protected, we can still roam free on them, just not at night (9pm - 5am).

We were so lucky as to witness such a sight...on a few occasions! Unfortunately, we saw the perils of nature in action too and found a few turtles hacked by hawks, or gasping for air after the morning sun has burnt them dry. We managed to save two and give them water while they gained the strength to swim into the sea. It was really a miracle! Others,we gave a little helping hand towards the ocean as the sun was up high in the sky, even at 9am and they had to cross a lot of hot sand.

There is a NPO doing great work and research too in Nagata and through them, you can witness the night release of new hatchlings (no booking required, just get there early - from 8pm). Some hotels as well as the NPO also take bookings for viewings of the loggerhead mummies coming out lay their eggs. These bookings must be made well in advance - we failed here.

 We visited the NPO(( in the evening. From 8pm, you can join a group and witness the release of the baby turtles on the beach. There are a lot of people and some might just stand in your way, but it is a great feeling to see the hatchling off on their journey. It costs 800yen to see the mummies come and lay their eggs, but, as I said, that needs to be booked in advance. For 5000yen, you can become a volunteer for the day; this entails patrolling the beach and making sure people adhere to the rules, protecting the eggs and digging for turtles in the sand. As NPOs go, it is small and seemingly well organised, but as far as protection of the beaches go and the actual conservation of the turtles, it could do with stepping up its game a little as loggerheads and green turtle numbers are declining so we should take a lot more care for the protection of their eggs and hatchlings..

Inside the NPO

Turtle eggs

Garbage in the sea....

We listened to a talk on the turtles, remarking the slight differences in size, patterns and colours...

Since the NPO started, they have helped more ad more turtles.

Inakahama いなか浜、is where you will find the NPO as well as the public toilets and a cute beach shack selling the best guava kakigori - thoroughly recommended !
You can find this quirky dude at the 'Happy'
shack by the beach in Inakahama.

Me & my guava Kakigori

We stayed at the mariner blue resort, a lovely beach resort style ryokan. It's very simple, yet the food is divine! It is run by some housewives, apparently and they cook up a storm.
Expect flying fish, the freshest sashimi, but be weary of the coffee! I would recommend just booking up the meals at the hotel, it is worth it for the taste, and if you don't have a car and are travelling in Obon season...well, good luck!
Our hotel!

Yakushima island has a bus service that seems to be very regular. We had an awesome driver on the first day and it couldn't have been better. We didn't rent a car - travelling in Obon and leaving it until the ,last minute wasn't very clever! But, then, we found we didn't need one. We came for the chill, the beach and the turtles.

However, if you are coming for more, take into account that it is about two hours drive around the whole island, with plenty to see along the way.

There will be another blog entry with a more green and forest based theme, day....
but this one is about the turtles :-) 

Bless them all on their journeys. We feel at peace for having seen them and helped them too.

Any visitors to this awesome island can find all, they need from a great website and friendly advice too - these guys were so helpful.