"In 2012 we started this project called Venezia x Izu, to help creating a connection not only between Venice and Izu, but also between Izu and the rest of the World. In 2020 Japan will host the Olympic Games and Izu will host the cycling events at Shuzenji Velodrome. A big chance for less known local areas to become more open to foreign tourism and to build worldwide connections. Please feel free to contact us for whatever needs you should have while visiting Japan (including camping, water and electric supply)!"
Izu Peninsula, lesser known destination you must see in Japan (part 11)
Last week we were in the middle of Mount Amagi woods, heading to one of my favourite spots in Western Izu.
It is called Mount Fukino 21th Century Forest.
It is not easy to reach as it is really in the middle of the woods on the top of a mountain, in a very few populated area.
It can be reached from the Nishina Pass or the West Coast of Izu, by following some narrow roads that goes up into the mountains. The indications are very few and only in Japanese, so it is better to follow the Google Maps instructions.
Once you will reach there there is a small parking area (where I didn'f find any car both the two times I went).
2 minutes walking from the small parking you will find a closed Buddhist temple and walk between more than 100 old buddhist images on the ground.
There you won't hear nothing except for the voices of the singing birds.
It is a very mystic experience, especially in foggy and cloudy days! I won't suggest to go there at night...
From the parking you can see one of the best views of the entire Izu Peninsula, in my opinion:
Leaving this mysterious place you will go "back to the civilized world" in two directions, or west to Matsuzaki or east to Nishina Pass.
Well, we've ended our trip through the Izu Peninsula, but I will write again next week about the area between Mishima and Gotenba, very close to Mount Fuji and very beautiful to drive through!
Izu Peninsula, lesser known destination you must see in Japan (part 10)
Last week we started entering the Amagi Mountain through the town of Shuzenji and after reaching Amagi Yugashima this time we will turn right heading west.
This is one of my favourite route.
It takes about 1 hour from Yugashima to Toi on the West Coast and by driving thru this route we will find a very few traffic, often none.
So it is a very relaxing drive into the woods.
We can also choose a faster way to reach Toi, by turning right at the Deguchi light (about 30 minutes) and also to reach Heda, by crossing the Heda Pass, but I prefer the longer and more relaxing route.
We will reach and cross the Nishina Pass, from where you will have a stunning view of Toi and the West Coast from the top.
At the Nishina Pass you will also find a farm, to take a rest, let the kids play and have lunch.
From the Nishina Pass you can take to different directions, one to reach the village of Ugusu and then Toi and the other to reach Matsuzaki, also on the West Coast, but a little more South.
Both roads are completely into the woods, narrow and so we must drive carefully, but also with no traffic and very peaceful.
If you go slow and take a look around you can see many different types of birds and if you are lucky enough also deers and wild boars.
The first time I saw them in my life was here in the Amagi area.
By choosing to take the Matsuzaki route you can also reach a very misterious spot.
It is called Mount Fukino 21 century forest and there is a buddhist temple and a walk into the woods.
The silence is amazing and could be a little bit scary too as it is really in the middle of nowhere in the forest.
The temple is closed but you can walk around freely and listen to the chants of the many different species of birds that live there.
Will talk about it more in detail next week!
Izu Peninsula, lesser known destination you must see in Japan (part 9)
Leaving Izu Nagaoka we enter the core of the Izu Peninsula.
As it is of volcanic and tectonic origin, the center of the Peninsula is characterized by many mountains.
The Amagi Mountain Range dominates the center of it, with Mount Atami and Mount Amagi in the East and Mount Daruma in the West.
The peninsula's major river, the Kano River, flows through a valley created by plate tectonics.
As a result of its geology it abounds in hot springs, onsen, like in Izu Nagaoka and Shuzenji, the village that I've introduced in the first part of this blog, as it will host the cycling events of the next Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
In between Nagaoka and Shuzenji there are the small villages of Nirayama (with its Nirayama Hansharo reverberatory furnace) and Ohito.
The Nirayama Hansharo became Unesco's World Heritage Site in 2015, determinating an increase in local tourism.
There, the Japanese built their cannons to try to stop the American troops to enter the island, at the end of 19th century.
Close to Hansharo there is a restaurant and also a brewery, where you can enjoy some good local beers and have some delicious food too!
A lot of people coming from Tokyo, Yokohama and all over Japan comes in the Nagaoka, Nirayama and Shuzenji's area every year to enjoy some relaxation at the onsen and local ryokan.
The area is also surrounded by many golf courts, where are being held many business meetings and transactions and by a lot of wasabi plantations, the typical green spicy cream that is used to give sushi and meat that delicious taste.
In this area's supermarkets and souvenir's shops you can find raw wasabi roots, that can be then used at home instead of the industrial ones.
As I love its taste, it is one of the main reasons I like living in Izu:)
It reminds me the Italian (used especially in the city of Trieste) kren root even if the color is different, but the taste is very similar.
From Shuzenji you can go to both East (Atami, Ito), West (Heda, Toi) and South, to the Amagi Pass or through the small town of Naka Izu.
In the middle of the Amagi Mount it is a very interesting experience to visit the old Amagi tunnel, where ghosts are coming out at night, they say...
Let's continue together our trip next week!
Izu Peninsula, lesser known destination you must see in Japan (part 8)
As I wrote last week we've now arrived in Izu Nagaoka.
It is a small town located in the middle of the Izu Peninsula, from where you can reach both the East coast, the West or head South to Mount Amagi and North to Mishima and Mount Fuji.
For this reason I think it is really a convenient place to book a hotel if you plan to travel through Izu.
Last month I went with one of my colleagues to eat lunch at a small guesthouse which have also a small curry restaurant (Nouka).
The food was delicious and we had the chance to eat inside an old typical Japanese house.
The owner rents it to foreign and Japanese guests. He also rents original kimono dresses so you can relax and feel like living in the real Japanese style.
I've been working here in Izu Nagaoka at a Ready Mix Concrete plant for about eight years, but never lived here (I'm living in the City of Mishima). If and when I will own my own house I want it to be here.
Panorama Park is one of the best places to have a stunning view of the Izu Peninsula.
You can reach the top of Mount Katsuragi by a quite long lift and enjoy a drink, some good food, of course the view, but also a warm foot bath!
Nearby there is also a big acquarium, the perfect place to bring your family and kids, to discover a lot of the fishery that lives in the Suruga Bay.
It is called Mitohama Sea Paradise.
Here there are also some dolphins, that perform some shows everyday especially for the young kids.
Honestly, I don't like a lot these kind of places where the animals are kept confined, but since I became a father I must say that they are the only places where our kids can see and play with the animals. And so become conscious about the respect they must have for them.
When in Nagaoka you can choose between many beautiful and comfortable Japanese style hotels and ryokan, all with relaxing onsen inside and outside (rotenburo), so I won't suggest this or that, as you won't be disappointed by none of them.
Finally I suggest and I can organize a visit to a marvellous Buddhist Temple, Shourenji, located in the small village of Ema, right next to Nagaoka. The chief priest Mr. Watanabe run also a kindergarten and is involved in a lot of activities for the locals (but not only).
Next week we will move South again to Shuzenji Town and Mount Amagi and discover the Izu Peninsula mountains!
Acqua Altaってご存知ですか？ Have you ever heard about Acqua Alta?
Here some pictures of yesterday's acqua alta in Venice: