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!