One of the best journeys out of Tokyo and to the surrounding prefectures is a two day tour of Shizuoka. The prefecture hosts much natural beauty, including the stunning Izu region. A little bit farther than Izu is some of Japan’s most rural countryside and one weekend we enjoyed a lovely drive into Tamagawa.
The drive out of Shizuoka can be a beautiful journey, traveling through Tokyo’s rainbow bridge and through the central areas of the region; before heading onto the Shizuoka Prefectural Road 64 all the way into the countryside.
One of my favourite parts of this journey is the countryside roads off of the highways. The journey is often littered with small hamlets built around winding, thin streets; thus as we noticed we did not see or hit a convenience store for at least 10km at times.
Once in Tamakawa, we stayed at the excellent camping centre owned by the prefectural government. This is approximately 40 minutes away by car from the Shizuoka central area.
The journey will take at least 2 and a half hours from Tokyo, traveling 180km of beautiful countryside along the way.
The Izu Peninsula is a popular side trip away from Tokyo for the day, or even for a weekend. A town full of beautiful onsens and ryokans, you are sure to find both enjoyment and a chance to relax amongst Japanese countryside. The area is well served by local train and direct from Tokyo, whilst driving there is also an excellent experience. A journey from Tokyo to Izu (part of the Shizuoka prefecture) will normally take over 2 hours. Depending on which part of Izu you are staying, this could take as long as 3 hours, however. The peninsula is a very large place.
There are numerous options for getting to Tokyo. The first, and perhaps the longest route, is to drive from Tokyo into Yokohama, and then follow the route around Sagami Bay. This will then show you some of the beautiful scenery from around this lovely bay overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This also goes through Odawara, a good spot to stop off and have a light snack before you head on into Izu peninsula. Alternatively, and perhaps the fastest route, sees you drive through the highways on an approximate journey of around 142 kilometres, passing through Gotenba. This town is famous for its unparalleled view of Mount Fuji from distance, as you drive through the Yamanashi Prefecture. Gotemba is also famous for being a hot spot for shopping, with Tokyoites taking a weekend trip to the Gotemba Premium Outlets.
As the locals swarm to this area on a weekend, be sure to be well prepared for traffic. The road into Izu is sure to be busy and full of tourists and local Japanese people alike, looking for a quick break away from the city.
In Izu, there are numerous places to enjoy and to stop by. On the east coast, you have the beautiful Jogasaki. Overlooking Sagami Bay this truly offers some wonderful driving around the coastal lines.
At the southern tip of Izu you have the beautiful Irozaki. This is very close to Kawazu, which is beautiful during the months of March and April for cherry blossom. The sakura is not just the most famous thing from the area though, as you may have heard that Shimoda, just in between Kawazu and Irozaki, is where Commodore Perry’s black ships landed in 1854. Commodore Perry is of course famous for helping Japan break free from their period of isolation; a time when no foreigner was allowed into Japan or to engage with Japanese people.
Further around the west coast of Izu is the delightful Dogashima and Matsuzaki. This unique and scene coastline is famous for its stunning views of stone formations and cliffs. You can even venture into some of the caves along the coast. Driving around this area will give you a good general feel for the area, but the best way to approach this is via boat, which can be found nearby.
In central Izu, and finally, you have the main town of Shuzenji, most famous for its onsen. This resort is named after the local temple of the same name. Many say that Izu hosts Japan’s oldest hot spring.
If you are planning a trip to Tokyo, do consider a trip around Izu. Nowadays, you can hire a car for around 5000 to 6000 yen, it is also worth shopping around using the excellent Tocoo website.