Everyone's cup of tea
It's resorts galore in serene Shizuoka.
Situated roughly at the halfway point between Kanto and Kansai, Shizuoka is a relaxing rest stop for those travelling around the main island of Honshu. Mount Fuji rises in the west of the prefecture, its volcanic foothills extending out to the Izu Peninsula and filing the area with hot springs and an abundance of resorts. The prefecture also produces more than half of all of the green tea in Japan and is the best place to sip sencha straight from the source.
The majestic Fuji-San straddles the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. Though much of the main Fuji-related attractions are on the Yamanashi side, Shizuoka is home to the ancient Fujisan Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya, built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate Tokugawa Ieyasu and where climbers pray for protection before making the trek up the mountain. You can combine a shrine visit with a trip to the nearby Shiraito falls which are said to resemble hanging threads of silk.
Shizuoka’s star player though is the beautiful Izu Peninsula, which is well-equipped for the crowds of tourists that descend on the numerous resorts during the holidays. Atami, Ito and Shimoda along the eastern coastline are the most famous, rated for their excellent beaches and hot spring facilities. It’s less than two hours from Tokyo via a scenic coastal train line but worth more than a day trip – you definitely won’t be short of a place to stay. Head to the Dogashima-Kaigan coast for a more remote resort experience. There you can walk across the water between the mainland and the rocky Sanshiro-jima islands at low tide.
Southwest are the cities of Shizuoka and Hamamatsu. Shizuoka is the prefectural capital where tea is religion. Hike the tea-covered slopes of Nihon-daira to see some great views of Mount Fuji and the city below. Hamamatsu has sprawling sand dunes where kite fliers come to take part in the annual kite-fighting festival. Nearby Lake Hamana offers scenic boat tours of the area, as well as the unsurprising but welcome addition of the Kanzanji hot spring resort.