"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 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:
Izu Peninsula, lesser known destination you must see in Japan (part 7)
After leaving the town of Heda following the Suruga Bay coast we will have to drive on a quite narrow and tortous road.
I suggest by the way to take some time to stop and take pictures as much as possible, as there are various places to park the car and enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean.
Until you will reach Izu Nagaoka or get closer to Numazu you will not find any convenient store, for about 1 hour driving, so if you need anything I suggest to buy it at the Daily Yamazaki in Heda.
Even if it may sound strange, this is one of the reasons why I like the Western part of Izu the most.
Now they are improving the road construction works also there, but it is still a quite uncontaminated place. Difficult to reach and I guess to live in, but the surrounding natural beauties compensate everything.
One of the few small villages that you will find on the way is named Ita and to reach it you must turn left and head down towards the sea. It worths a visit, as it is really a beautiful village and you can have a stunning view of Mount Fuji from a different prospective.
Because of its rocky coast you won't find many sandy beaches in this part of the Peninsula, until you get to Osezaki and LaLaSan Beach.
Then you will finally reach a 7-11 convenient store and from there you can go straight to reach Numazu City or turn right to Izu Nagaoka, that is the place where I'm working since 8 years ago and I will focus on it on my next week blog.
Izu Nagaoka is famous all over Japan for its onsen. I will write about it next time!
Izu Peninsula, lesser known destination you must see in Japan (part 6)
Last week we left the town of Toi with its beautiful and peaceful white sandy beaches.
Following the narrow road on the coast you can continue heading up to Numazu City.
After about 30 minutes driving from Toi you will arrive in another very beautiful town called Heda, which is already part of Numazu City.
You will immediately realize that Heda is famous for its delicious fishery products as there are always a lot of fishing boats and ships inside Heda Port.
Heda's landscape is so particular and beautiful!
The beach is located behind a small forest and so it is at repair from the strong wind that normally strikes the Suruga Bay coasts. I don't know why but when I'm in Heda I always feel safe, from wind and waves. Of course nothing can save it from a big tsunami, but until then (hoping that will never come!) it is a very pleasant town to stay.
Like Toi, it is quite crowded during summer holidays, but if you go in any other period of the year you probably will find a few people on the beaches and in the near fish restaurants.
Heda is a jem, not other word can describe it and of course the people living there is very proud of it and its fishery products.
Same as Toi, you can leave the town by two different ways.
Going up to the Heda Pass from where you can then reach Mount Amagi, Shuzenji Town and the inside part of the Izu Peninsula, or continue to follow the coast and reach Numazu City, with many small villages in between, like Ita, but I will talk about it next week!
Have a nice weekend,