- Takeshi Senuma
20 Things to Do in Shizuoka from the Standards to Hidden Gems
Shizuoka Prefecture, which has Japan's largest mountain, Mt. Fuji, to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south, has many scenic spots, food, and produce that fascinate and entertain visitors. This time, we will introduce 20 recommended destinations that you won't want to miss if you are going to Shizuoka.
Where is Shizuoka?
Shizuoka Prefecture is located in central Honshu (the main island of Japan) and has a mild climate all year round while bordering the Pacific Ocean. It is divided into three areas: The eastern area, which consists of the Izu Peninsula, with its many onsen (hot springs), and Mt. Fuji; the central area, with scenic spots such as Miho-no-Matsubara and Nihondaira; and the western area, which includes Lake Hamanako, a lake famous for its eels and sightseeing cruises. On the shinkansen (bullet train), it is between 45 minutes to Mishima and 2 hours to Hamamatsu from Tokyo, and between 1.5 hours to Hamamatsu and 3 hours to Mishima from Osaka.
The eastern area of Shizuoka Prefecture, which spans from the Izu Peninsula to the southern foothills of Mt. Fuji, has a wide variety of tourist destinations. The Izu Peninsula is distinguished by its spectacular nature, such as a coastline with strangely shaped rocks and a hiking course with a landscape that reminds one of ancient volcanoes. There are also many hot springs to soak in, as well as opportunities to experience marine sports like diving and sea kayaking. The southern foothills of Mt. Fuji are a great place to enjoy views of Japan's largest mountain.
Offical name: Fukuchizan Shuzen-bannanzen-ji
Shuzenji Onsen, which is located in the center of the Izu Peninsula, is an old hot spring town with a history going back to before the Middle Ages. As famous people of culture began to visit it in modern times, it became famous around the country. Shuzenji (from which the area gets its name) is a historical Zen temple located on the banks of the beautiful Katsura River that runs through the hot spring area, and there are still many monks undergoing strict training there. At the temple, you can visit the solemn Hondo (main hall) and the Treasure House. On Tuesdays, you can participate in a Zen meditation exercise that is open to the public (reservation required). Why not experience meditation at an authentic and historic Zen temple?
Treasure House entrance fee: 300 JPY/person
Photograph the Majestic Mt. Fuji
There are many spots in the eastern area of Shizuoka from which to enjoy fantastic views of Mt. Fuji. In particular, Osezaki in Numazu City is a wonderful place from which you can see Mt. Fuji rising above the calm Suruga Bay and a beautifully curved cape. Fill your viewfinder with the ocean to take a fantastic photograph. If you want to see Mt. Fuji from up high, don't miss the view from Darumayama Kogen Rest House. You can see a stunning view of the long, majestic foothills of Mt. Fuji and the ocean - a view that the famous Japanese painter Yokoyama Taikan is said to have greatly admired.
Visit Shiraito Falls
Shiraito Falls is located in a beautiful waterside spot in the foothills to the south of Mt. Fuji. The 20m-high, 150m-wide cliff has several hundred waterfalls of various sizes that surround the main waterfall. It is called Shiraito (white thread) Falls because the water falling looks almost like white thread. There is a maintained path near the waterfalls, so you can take a walk up to the plunge basin while enjoying the sound of the waterfall and the feel of the spray. On a sunny day, you may even see a colorful rainbow created by the sun and the spray.
Visit Izu Peninsula Geopark
A geopark is a place to learn about the earth's topography and ecosystems while having fun. The entire Izu area, which was created by ancient volcanic activity, area is recognized by UNESCO as Izu Peninsula Geopark. Today, we can get a sense of its formation through designated geosites around the peninsula, such as the coastline with intricate topography, former volcanoes that cross the peninsula, waterfalls between mountains, and islands of varying sizes off the coast. Why not visit the scenic geosites in search of the great nature of Izu?
Take a Walk on Jogasaki Coast
Jogasaki is one of Izu Peninsula's foremost scenic spots located on the sea. It has approximately 9km of fantastic views of intricate coastlines and sheer cliffs. There is a walking path with Kadowaki Lighthouse at the center, so you can enjoy a hike and take in the major sights. One spot not to miss is the iconic Kadowaki Suspension Bridge. There is a spectacular and thrilling view from the 48m bridge with a height of 23m above the sea. Don't forget to take a picture on the bridge!
Cross the Great Suspension Bridge, Mishima Skywalk
Hakone Seiroku Mishima Suspension Bridge, affectionately referred to as Mishima Skywalk, is a great suspension bridge that has quickly become a popular tourist destination. The bridge stretches over a valley on the western foothills of Hakone and is a little over 400m long, making it the longest pedestrian-only suspension bridge in Japan. It is at a height of 70m, and the great panorama view including Mt. Fuji, Suruga Bay, and the mountains of Izu that you can see from it stunning. There are shopping centers, cafes, and restaurants near the bridge so you can look for souvenirs and try some local food.
Fee: 1,000/adult, 500 JPY/junior high and high school student, 200 JPY/elementary school student
Enjoy the Retro Atmosphere of a Hot Spring Town in Atami
Atami, which is one of Izu Peninsula's leading hot spring areas, has many spots with a warm and nostalgic, retro feel. The Nakamise Shotengai (shopping street) that stretches from Atami Station towards the ocean and the Atami Ginza Shotengai near the coast both have warm and simple atmospheres with many old souvenir shops and mom-and-pop stores. Many of the restaurants, cafes, and confectioneries selling western-style sweets have been in operation for decades, and have signage, interiors, and menus that retain the feel of the Showa Era (1926 - 1989). Enjoy walking around this retro town that will invoke a sense of nostalgia.
Enjoy Marine Sports by the Shore of Izu Peninsula
Izu Peninsula is surrounded by the ocean and has many popular spots to enjoy marine sports. Cape Ose in western Izu, which offers a view of Mt. Fuji, and Izu Kaiyo Park, located in eastern Izu, are famous places to enjoy diving in the beautiful ocean around Izu. The variegated coastline of Izu also makes it a popular area for sea kayaking. There are many popular tours that can give you a sense of adventure by, for example, going through caves on the cliff walls at the water's edge. There are also many more marine sports to enjoy, such as surfing, bodyboarding, and snorkeling.
Shopping in Gotemba Premium Outlets
This mall in the foothills of the majestic Mt. Fuji is one of Japan's largest outlet malls. It is divided into the East Zone and West Zone, with more than 200 shops selling brand-name fashion items, interior goods, and everyday necessities at outlet prices. There are many restaurants and cafes including a food court, so you can enjoy a leisurely day of shopping with a meal and even stop by a cafe for a rest if you get tired.
Try Fujinomiya Yakisoba
Fujinomiya Yakisoba is a local dish from Fujinomiya City in the foothills of Mt. Fuji. It has become famous around the country since winning a contest of specialty dishes from across Japan. Unlike regular yakisoba (pan-fried noodles), it is made with chewy local Chinese noodles fried with meats and vegetables, as well as nikukasu (the leftovers from making lard) and shaved sardines. It is served in an "antenna shop" (shop for testing new products) for Fujinomiya Yakisoba, as well as in more than 150 restaurants in the city, so be sure to give it a try.
The central area of Shizuoka Prefecture, which includes the capital city of Shizuoka, has many scenic spots such as Miho-no-Matsubara and Nihondaira. It also has many great ports facing the Pacific Ocean, such as Shimizu Port and Yaizu Port, and is known for its fresh seafood. In particular, the sakura shrimp from Yui and young sardines from Mochimune are products that Shizuoka is famous for. Anther specialty of Shizuoka is its tea. This area has long been known as a producer of tea equaling Uji in Kyoto and Sayama in the Kanto region.
Enjoy the Fantastic View at Miho-no-Matsubara
Miho-no-Matsubara has long been known as a fantastic spot from which to view Mt. Fuji, and has even been featured in traditional Japanese ukiyo-e paintings. There are approximately 30,000 pine trees on the 7km coastline, and the sight of Mt. Fuji beyond them is one that has represented Japan over the ages. When Mt. Fuji was registered as a World Heritage Site, Miho-no-Matsubara was included as a component. On the coast there you can also find Hagoromo no Matsu, a pine tree that is said to have been visited by an angel.
Visit Kunozan Toshogu
Kunozan Toshogu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, who unified Japan after it had been divided by war for centuries and established the Edo Shogunate about 400 years ago. The shrine is on the 216m-high Mt. Kuno in Nihondaira, and the recommended way to get there is by ropeway gondola from Nihondaira. There, you can witness a view of Suruga Bay and all the way to Izu Peninsula from the precincts. Once you've finished paying your respects at the shrine and enjoying the buildings with their richly colored decorations, be sure to stop in the Kunozan Toshogu Museum where you can see various treasures related to the Tokugawa family, such as armor and helmets.
Entrance fee to shrine building: 500 JPY/adult, 200 JPY/elementary school and junior high school student; entrance fee to museum: 400 JPY/adult, 150 JPY/elementary school and junior high school student
※Joint ticket for shrine building and museum: 800 JPY/adult, 300 JPY/elementary school and junior high school student
Enjoy the Great Nature of Nihondaira
Nihondaira is a hilly area at an altitude of about 300m facing Suruga Bay and is known as a wonderfully scenic spot from which to see Mt. Fuji. The Mt. Fuji from here stands beyond the tea fields and looks as if it is attended by Suruga Bay, and if you change the direction of your gaze, you will also see the southern Japan Alps. A sight not to miss here is the nighttime view that can be enjoyed from sunset. As the sun sets, the lights of Shimizu City below will begin to shimmer, creating a romantic scene. Be sure to take a photograph with the nightscape in the background.
Ride the Oigawa Railway Steam Train
Oigawa Railway is famous for the traditional steam locomotives that run for more than 300 days a year. Four steam trains are in operation as a part of its fleet, and the sight of the retro trains running through the pastoral landscape and along the beautiful Oi River is the envy of many railway fans. The trains run between Shin-Kanaya Station and Senzu Station from one to three times a day, taking about 1 hour to go approx. 37km (one way). All seats are reserved, so it is recommended to make advance reservations, although you can get a seat without a reservation if there is availability when you show up.
Try the Sakura Shrimp of Yui and Shirasu of Mochimune
The coastal prefecture of Shizuoka is a treasure trove of wonderful seafood. In particular, the sakura shrimp caught in Suruga Bay are famous around the country as a specialty of Yui in Shizuoka City. You'll see the sakura shrimp being sun-dried all around the town when they are in season in summer and fall. There are many restaurants in the area that serve sakura shrimp dishes, such as sakura shrimp kakiage (tempura), so be sure to try them. Additionally, Mochimune Port, which is near Abe River to the west of Yui Port, is famous for the raw shirasu (whitebait) rice bowls and cooked shirasu bowls made with fresh shirasu brought into the port.
Enjoy the Fireworks over the Sea at Shimizu Minato Festival
Shimizu Minato Festival is a big event that is held early in August every year at Shimizu Port, which is one of Shizuoka's major ports. A variety of events are held during the festival, such as the Shimizu Yukata Odori Jiodori-shu (local dancing troupe) dressed in yukata (light kimono worn during festivals) and the Minato Kappore So-odori dance in which approximately 20,000 people participate. The climax of the festival is the fireworks display that is shot over the sea on the last day. Around 10,000 fireworks are set off over the course of an hour, creating a beautiful view of fireworks lighting up the night sky.
Buy Tea as a Souvenir
Shizuoka is known nationwide for its tea. In fact, Shizuoka is Japan's number one tea producer, accounting for approximately 40% of the country's tea production both in terms of volume and acreage of the tea fields. The Honyama tea and Kawane tea varieties produced in the valleys in the central area of Shizuoka Prefecture are known for their delicate aroma and beautiful green color. Japanese teas are sold at souvenir shops, department stores, and specialty stores around the region, so try purchasing them and comparing their flavors.
The central feature of the western area of Shizuoka Prefecture is Lake Hamanako, Japan's 10th largest lake. The relaxing boat rides on this huge lake that is connected to the Pacific Ocean are hugely popular among tourists. Hamamatsu City and Kakegawa City on the shore of Lake Hamanako are castle towns that have flourished over the centuries, and both Hamamatsu Castle and Kakegawa Castle are popular tourist destinations. The food not to be missed in this area is the unagi (eel), which is a Lake Hamanako specialty. It can be enjoyed in the traditional kabayaki style, where it is cut into thin rectangles and grilled in a marinade, as well as in sweets, such as one called Unagi Pie that is famous nationwide.
Visit Castles such as Hamamatsu Castle and Kakegawa Castle
The western part of Shizuoka Prefecture is known as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Hamamatsu Castle, which still remains in Hamamatsu City, is a castle that Tokugawa entered and then developed from a young age. The tenshukaku (castle tower) has been renovated on the original stone walls, and now houses exhibits of armor and historical documents. The view of Hamamatsu City from the observatory on the top floor is not to be missed. Kakegawa Castle in Kakegawa City is also a major castle in Shizuoka. It has Japan's first wooden reconstructed tenshukaku, which looks fantastic against the blue sky.
Hamamatsu Castle Tenshukaku entrance fee: 200 JPY/adults
Kakegawa Castle Tenshukaku and Palace entrance fee: 410 JPY/adult, 150 JPY/elementary school and junior high school student
Go Cruising on Lake Hamanako
Lake Hamanako is the foremost scenic spot of the western part of Shizuoka Prefecture. It is a brackish lake that is connected to the Pacific Ocean, and is surrounded by beautiful nature and hot spring towns. The best way to experience the appeal of this lake is to go on a cruise boat. The 30-minute and 70-minute rides that depart from the Flower Park Port on the east shore are particularly popular. Give it a try and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Lake Hamanako that can only be seen from within the lake itself.
Fare: 30-minute course—1,000 JPY/adult, 500 JPY/child; 70-minute course—1,500 JPY/adult, 750 JPY/child
Visit the Unagi Pie Factory
Unagi Pie is famous around the country as a sweet from Shizuoka Prefecture, and has been popular for more than half a century since its release in 1961. It is a pie-like baked sweet with extract from unagi (eel) that Lake Hamanako is famous for. Unagi Pie Factory is a place where you can see the Unagi Pie being made first-hand. No reservations are necessary, and entrance into the factory is also free of charge! The on-site cafe serves sweets made with Unagi Pie that are only available there, so be sure to give them a try!
Shizuoka Prefecture, which is blessed with nature of both the mountains and sea, has much more to offer to travelers than just the places shared in this article. It is a place worth visiting over and over again to truly appreciate its appeal!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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