Sunday, June 29, 2014

Izu Peninsula - Shimoda - 2. South East.

BEACHES & WALKING ~ South & East (Nagetahama to Shirahama)

Beaches and walking

Perry Road, the landing spot of Mathew Perry and the originally harbour town opening up Japan to the rest of the world, is a quaint little walking spot with bars and restaurants. (Watch out on the menu though...I did see soft turtle shell paella on the menu at the Spanish restaurant...)

The aim was to just follow the coast as much as we could, even if the route looked a little sketchy.

In the end, it was just lovely. We were able to follow the road around where the land juts out a little.Unfortunately, this meant walking past the aquarium. Please don't visit!!!! See my Shimoda Aquarium blog for why!

My boat!

Soutoura Beach

Soutora beach is another lovely beach where you can chill, have kayaking classes and even walk along the rocks and the Mihogasaki coastline to get you closer to Shirahama beach!

Despite the open doors, the old lady shouted out 'Yasumi! (Day off!)
 when I asked for a Kakigori (crushed ice)!

  The Mihogosaki coastline is a wonderful time out from the bustle of the roads above. Watch families collecting seaweed from the rockpools as they picnic together! Very relaxing!


Back up to the road and you will need to walk a little further to hit the next main area where finally, the famed beach of Shirahama!

Shirahama Ohama Beach, South.
There are two main parts to Shimoda's White Beach. This is the first half is Shirahama Ohama...
The Tori gate at Shirahama beach.

Shirahama shrine was a lovely sight too. Having a shrine on the beach is even more serene than regular shrines!

We made an important wish while we were there...Let's hope it will come true!
Shirahama Chuo Beach north in front of the Prince hotel.

We had wanted to hike the whole coastline up to Izukogen (ready for the Jogasaki coast) but the road stopped about a half hour or hour out past Shirahama. In any case, when we stopped to ask for directions or at least find out where the bus went from , we got not only a ride to the next station, but a massive bag of....AMANATSU from the couple tending to their orchard!!!! Some people are just too lovely!!
Lovely amanatsu orchard!

Thank you for the ride to town and all those amanatsus!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Izu Peninsula - Shimoda - 1. South West.

BEACHES & WALKING ~ South & West (Nagetahama to Iritahama)

The Izu peninsula is a popular destination spot for many Tokyoites, although we were surprised that during this Golden Week holiday season, it was not too crowded at all!

Beaches and walking

Nabeta bay was our first stop on the southern tip. From there, we headed west towards Kisami and the popular surfing beaches.  It's a small bay with a lovely beach and rock walk for families, picnics, walking along the rocks. Pretty idyllic, really.

We didn't have a car, but really wanted to explore the west-side beaches everyone raved about so much. Kisami and its surf beaches, so we started walking.

One thing we noticed about the peninsula is the high level of English around. Everyone wanted to help and speak to us to offer tips, directions etc. Sooooo different from Tokyo!

The first hurdle, very shortly after the little hill up from Nabeta bay was the tunnel, but actually, there is a pathway, so we could continue without worry! (We must have looked concerned there for a second as someone stopped us in our tracks to help us!)

You can walk through it!
Nice little eatery with a surf shop opposite
In Kisami (the next area) there are a few amazing surf beaches. First, we hit Tatadohama beach (多多度浜)and Iritahama beach (入り田浜).
Maybe you don't want to use the showers at Tatadohama beach!

Tatadohama Beach


The tunnel between Iritahama and Tatadohama. 

Walking from Nagetahama to Kisami took a couple of hours overall, stopping to take pictures, check out surf shops and eat pizza! It's an easy walk which we undertook in the morning. Wish bicycles or a car, you could continue west and explore the beautiful Touji Beach (about an hour's walk from Nageta bay) or the heart shaped cave of Ryugukutsu. Other great beaches to include are Yumigahama and Hirozo...maybe next time! West is best..maybe, but we headed EAST! More soon!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Izu Peninsula - Shimoda: HOTELS

On this trip, we moved through different hotels and pensions.

1) Tokyu Resort Shimoda **** (rated 4 stars: lacking character and not quite beachside as expected)

Having stayed in this 'brand' of hotel before, we had expected uber high quality and rather a lush experience.

What we got was 'nice', certainly nothing to grumble about...but nothing amazing either. We were quite pleased to be on the move again the next day!

We decided to walk from Shimoda Izukyu station as we were already geared for a trekking holiday. It was a good 20 minute walk, 10 minutes in a taxi, the only benefit of which means you will avoid the big hill climb at the end.

Off season, the pool is uncared for...
July and August is 'summer'.
This is typical in Japan.)
Actually, we were fortunate enough to discover Perry road by night and witness the quaint historical street that sets Shimoda apart from any other town in Japan! That was definitely worth the walk! The desolate road to the hotel...mmmm maybe not! Watch out for one super tall disused and abandoned hotel, eery as ever!!!

The view from our room!

2) Pension Ishitatsu ***** (rated 5 stars for the sheer fun factor, the walk to the beach and the cost)

This pension offered no frills from the start which was great. We expected nothing, but what we got was a warm Rolling Stones fan welcome from  lovely host. Our room was simple, but with a view.
We had to walk up a hill to find the place, which was completely hidden in a slightly residential area above the main White beach of Shimoda.
We paid ¥7000 for the room (not each, for the room!)

 We walked there from the Tokyu resort hotel on the southern tip and trekked north east along the coast. (For more about the walk itself, see the next post ....)

You can follow the beach and the road for the journey and then swing a left up a hill that takes you away from road with some nice views (at this point it was sunset, so we were hoping to not get so lost!)

As a guest of the hotel, you have full use of the kitchen and dining facilities and it was nice to see a family preparing their dinner. We, on the other hand, were less prepared, so we ventured off towards White Beach via a route, explained to us by the owner! He handed us a torch and advised us to watch our step! Into the forest we went!!

This way to Shirahama Beach!

The path down!

It was so fun climbing down and discovering the famous White Beach that we had been wanting to see for such a long time! 
Climbing back up in the dark a few hours later wasn't as scary as you would have thought!!

3) Pension Sakuraya *** (rated 3 stars for the lack of creativeness at dinner time and a bathroom that was too small)

This pension was at the top of another hill not far at all from Ishitatsu. It's easy to find and very foreigner-friendly, so for this reason, many guests come from all over. Personally, I didn't enjoy the steak (I'm a vegetarian and forgot to say!!) nor the fact that the potato wedges were but two and very very small...I could have had so many more!!!
The room was nice; it was in the extension of the hotel as they had expanded in the past. There were rooms for guests who had en suite and those who were sharing the bath rooms were downstairs. In any case, our bathroom was the smallest I have ever experienced ever and this shouldn't really dampen the mood, but when you are paying three times as much as the night before, you expect more, right?!

4) Hotel Izu Kogen Monogatari ***** (rated 5 stars for the private bath, decent breakfast facilities & reasonable rates)

We liked this hotel the best. We had a Japanese style room, with futons. It was another no frills place, with the owners, AKA 'Captain' running scuba diving tours from there. It was such a nice vibe that I even contemplated returning to dive under water...! That is saying something for sure!

It is located between Shimoda and Atami, near Jogasaki and Izu Kogen stations. Perfect for a hike along the Jogasaki coast...which is exactly what we did!
Read all about that here soon!

Izu Peninsula - Shimoda: TRAVEL

Travel down to the peninsula is easy.

From Tokyo station, you can get to Atami on the Shinkansen for a 40 minute journey. Alternatively, the Tokkaido line takes two hours( and costs about ¥2000).

If you are travelling as far as Shimoda, it is worth the few extra thousand yen and making that journey shorter.

(Tokyo - Atami on the shinkansen = (approx) ¥4000Atami  to Izukyushimoda = ¥1900)

There is also the special Odoriko train from Shinjuku (which also stops in Atami) which will take you direct to Shimoda in just under three hours, setting you back just over ¥6000. (¥4000 from Atami)

 From Izukyushimoda, we were able to take the local express train towards Izukogen & Jogasaki for our last night of stay after our hike along the Jogasaki coast.

The trains commemorate Matthew Perry's landing with his 'Black Ships' back in 1853.  A novelty we were happy to experience!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Miyako revisited!

....This time, with a car! And, boy, what a difference it makes!

I can now tell you all the beaches on the island and few other spots to see too!
(Two years ago, this is what I wrote..)

On  the way to Maehama beach

2014 yields this....

Clockwise around the island starting from the
Tokyu Resort Hotel.

Maehama beach and the bridge to Kurimajima in the distance

The Tokyu Resort is very nice and recommended, but by certainly no means essential to making your stay on the island awesome. (While the rooms overlook Maehama Beach, which is owned and joined by  a walkway to the hotel, visitors outside of the hotel may of course come and enjoy Japan's best beach ever¬!

In season, the beach caters for many activities, there is a pedal boat, a safe, cordoned off area for families to swim and play as well as the entire ocean for snorkeling!

The path towards Yonohama Bay
 Follow this path and head north along the west coast and enjoy a pathway around to 
Yonohama Bay

Yonaha Bay &
                                  Yonohama Beach which was shallow enough to wade far out.  

Following the coast line further north and the signs will direct you to Sunset beach
Painagama Beach ...
Painagahama Beach

Quirky little shop at the parking lof by Sunayama Beach
and Sunayama Beach
All important map at Sunayama Beach

The sandy path to Sunayama Beach

As we drove around the island, we were fortunate to be able to find the Yuki Shio Saltworks 

( It's the salt mill but the salt is something else - it contains the most minerals in the world (!) and a place in the Guinness world of records as a result. It looks like snow and tastes pure and fresh and...salty!!! It was on the list of recommendations, and you might not consider it on a vacation to miyako, but actually, it was worth it! We ate ice cream and tried ALL the flavours of salt as topping!!

Ikema Island
Ikema island cafe
 We drove around the island; there was not a lot to see save some houses, a school, a small park. It made for a pleasant drive and at the end of which, we stopped for some tea and cake and a view of the island opposite (Ogami Island) and the Ikema bridge.

Sea Grapes, Umi Budou, 海ぶどう

We chanced upon this amazing sea grape farm. It was just before the Ikema bridge, on the left, signposted, but a little too late so it was easy to miss the turn. Equally, prepare for a quick right just as soon as you come back from Ikema island and off the bridge.

My husband loves sea grapes more than me, I am sure, so he was super overjoyed to have found this farm. The freshest and most amazing experience ever. You can buy a massive box for 400yen, which by far beats the small souvenirs ones in Naha shopping street!

I strongly recommend this as a stop on the island. (There are no doubt a few more farms, this was just the one that we found and easily!)

Shimajiri Mangroves, Batarazu Bay
Follow the boardwalk and enjoy the tranquility of the nature around. Mangroves are swampy marshes of tropical fun! This is more of a must-see than the tropical garden! It is far more unique to observe the ground and the creatures popping up and down and scampering around.

We saw butterflies and small lizards, but it was the small red crabs and their amazing beady eyes that won the show! You gotta stand still though!!

Check out his black eyes!

Miyakojima Botanical Gardens

The thing is that we are on a tropical island surrounded by nature anyway, but this beautiful inland park is free to enter and is just  lovely place to be!

Aragusuku Coast

The pictures speak for much sea waste washed up on the shore...but I get the impression the beaches are cleaned before the summer season hits...
perhaps fugu - puffer fish!

Seems like a touristy area, so the clean-up should start soon, I guess?

Yoshino coast
Last time, we were able to do a fair bit of snorkelling on this beach. This time round, it was earlier in the month of March plus it was later in the day and the tide was out. Still, there were many things to find on this beautiful beach....

Bora beach para
There is a restaurant and parking here, so I imagine the beach is (or will be) clean and popular. We didn;t have the time to explore this one so no pictures. Sorry!

Cape Higashi Hennazaki
This cape is a lovely stretch of path that takes you out to the edge to really appreciate the views around you.

Mamuya's tombstone

Ingya Marine Park

German Culture Village

                          I have no pictures of this save these from the last visit -
even from a German person's perspective who might be yearning for a bit of homegrown culture, this is a peculiar place. Still, it is a novelty for those never to set foot in Deutschland. These police figures can be found around the island in connection with the Deutsch theme park; yes, it really is quite amusing!

Kurima Island
The bridge to Kurima island

Our path leads us back to the Tokyu resort, but not without a quick detour over another bridge. Last time, we tried to cycle over the bridge but got quickly lay and tired half way. We learnt this time that we didn't miss much at all!
There is next to NOTHING on the island, even less than Ikema, which is rather lively in comparison!
We drove around the island, stopped to admire a dirty beach on which someone had been playing around with the rocks and built endless cairns!
The view of Tokyu from Kurima

What's this? Sea cucumber? なまこ?

There is a wonderful pottery shop adjoining a coffee snack place, run by the same family at the beginning of the island. Strongly recommend a visit!

Plus, there is a food place opposite, but off-season, so much is shut!


Miyakojima, Miyako island or even 'paradise' is worth a visit from Japan / Okinawa mainland.