Once you board the JR Odoriko Limited Express train from Tokyo Station, you'll embark on a picturesque two-and-a-half-hour journey that will transport you far from the bustle of the capital. As you wind through the heart of Yokohama and travel through tunnel after tunnel, you'll suddenly emerge into a completely different world. The train takes you along the stunningly beautiful coastal route of the Sagami Bay on the Izu Peninsula, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and mountains that surround you. Here, locals are relaxed, and time seems to stand still in this subtropical paradise.
Visiting Izu Peninsula is always a good idea, but spring is undoubtedly one of the most delightful seasons to experience this little piece of paradise. During springtime, Izu has plenty to offer:
The eastern side of Izu Peninsula is home to Jogasaki Coast, situated about 10km south of Ito. This area has been designated as a UNESCO geopark, and it's not hard to see why. The views along Jogasaki Coast are nothing short of spectacular, with towering cliffs jutting out into the ocean as far as the eye can see. This is a place where you can truly immerse yourself in the moment. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and listen to the sound of the tidal waves crashing against the shore, and the hummingbirds fluttering high above. Feel the raw power of Mother Nature as you become one with the harmonious symphony of nature.
During spring, the temperature is just right for admiring the awe-inspiring views and feeling the cool ocean breeze without the discomfort of excessive sweating or sunburn. For a short and picturesque hike, don't miss out on the seaside trail that spans approximately 10km along the coastline.
Mount Omuro is the quintessential symbol of Izu, a dormant cinder cone volcano that last erupted 4000 years ago. To reach the summit, visitors can take a chairlift and follow a circular trail that runs around the bowl-shaped crater nestled in the center. On sunny days, Mount Omuro offers unobstructed panoramic views of the entire peninsula and Sagami Bay, along with stunning vistas of Mount Fuji inland. Spring is the optimal time to visit Mount Omuro, as the weather is mild, and there is plenty of sunshine. As a special treat, Mount Fuji still boasts its iconic snow cap from the winter, providing an ideal opportunity for a picture-perfect moment!
Hanami is a popular way to commence the spring festivities in Japan. The word "Hana" means "flower," and "mi" means "to see." Thus, Hanami is a custom of welcoming spring by gathering with good friends, enjoying delicious food and drinks, and going on cherry blossom viewing parties together. Due to its mild subtropical climate, Izu Peninsula boasts a plethora of scenic Hanami spots from late January through the beginning of April! In February, over 800 cherry blossom trees adorn the riverbanks of the quiet town of Kawazu. As the weather grows warmer in March, Mount Omuro's base becomes home to approximately 1500 cherry blossom trees, while the area surrounding Izu Kogen Station transforms into a magical paradise complete with sakura-lined boulevards.
Shuzenji, situated on the western side of Izu Peninsula, boasts one of the oldest temples in the region. In springtime, the iconic Buddhist Temple is adorned by beautiful cherry blossoms, making it a charming sight to behold.
Right outside the temple lies Shuzenji onsen street, where shops and restaurants sell local delicacies like Shizuoka green tea, mochi, and other sweets made with matcha or wasabi, which are well-known produces of the region. After strolling around and enjoying the savory snacks, unwind and soak your feet in the river foot bath. This activity is highly popular among locals, offering a great opportunity to relax and meet new people.
Izu Peninsula boasts some of the freshest seafood sourced from its coastline, which pairs perfectly with locally grown wasabi from the region's interior. Although seafood and wasabi are available year-round, there is one particular delicacy that I personally adore, and it can only be savored during springtime.
A ten-minute walk along a quiet alley from Izu-Shimoda Station leads to one of the best-kept secrets of the locals: Hirai Sweets Confectionary. This hidden gem is renowned for its soft and fragrant "Milk Anpan" pastries. The Milk Anpan is a flaky sweet bun with red bean and fresh cream fillings in the center, and Hirai has been baking fresh batches every day for over 75 years! During spring season, a more popular limited-edition pastry is the Sakura pan!
The Sakura pan is exactly like the signature Milk Anpan but filled with the bakery's secret cherry blossom infused filling. The filling is sweet and savory, with a delicate hint of floral aroma that enhances every bite. It's a very refined flavor that cannot be fully captured by words. You have to try it to understand.
There's so much to do, see, and taste on Izu Peninsula. With its stunning coastal landscapes, palm-lined boulevards, refreshing tropical breeze, and subtle ocean fragrance, it almost feels like visiting Hawaii instead of Japan. If this is your first visit to Izu, you'll most likely fall in love and look forward to returning. For those who have visited Izu multiple times, there is still so much to explore, so much to do, and there is never a bad time to revisit Izu and rediscover it all over again.