For anyone tired of Tokyo's narrow alleys and bustling streets, one of the easiest and most relaxing weekend getaway trips is Shizuoka Prefecture's Izu Peninsula. Now wait, I know what you're thinking--"Shizuoka is a whole prefecture away from Tokyo!" And yes, you are correct. But thanks to Japan's awesome train system Shizuoka Prefecture and the Izu Peninsula are only 45 minutes away from Tokyo. Plus, the Peninsula's long-standing popularity with Japanese tourists has granted it many of its own specialty train lines departing from Tokyo, Shinagawa, and Yokohama stations (see below for more deets).
First thing you need to know, Izu is all about chill (trust me, I'm from California, I know). Izu boasts beautiful beaches, countless natural hot springs, hikes with views, local seafood, early-blooming cherry blossoms, temperate weather, and the town with the number-one sunset in all of Japan. Woah. You interested now? Well then here's five things that'll introduce you to the Izu way of life.
#1: THE BEACHES
#2: THE HOT SPRINGS
#3: THE GEOPARK
#4: THE EVENTS
From Tokyo Station take the Odoriko or Super View Odoriko train that's headed to Izukyu-Shimoda and that'll take you all the way down the eastern coast line. The cost to go from Tokyo to Shimoda is around 6500 yen one way, but will be cheaper depending on what part of the peninsula you want to get off at. Cheaper alternatives also include taking the local Tokaido train line down to Atami station and then transferring to Izu's local train, the Izukyuko train, bound for either Ito or Izukyu-Shimoda stations. This route takes more time, but costs about 4000 yen one way.
Take the Shinkansen heading towards Shizuoka city and get off at Mishima Station (about 4400 yen). Then start your west-coast descent on the local train between Mishima and Shuzenji station (510 yen). A couple times per day you can also catch the same Odoriko-line train mentioned above, except instead of getting on the one bound for Izukyu-Shimoda, look out for the one heading to Shuzenji Station. If you're feeling extra adventurous, from Shuzenji Station you can continue your western descent via bus towards Matsuzaki (2150 yen). Although access to this region of Izu requires more transfers, it's well worth it to explore the unspoiled nature and charms of these less-visited areas. Also if you happen to be coming from the Shizuoka-city or Nagoya area you can also take a ferry to Toi City that departs from Shimizu port (2260 yen). From Toi you can take catch the local bus to head either north or south down the west coast.
To access Izu's southern most promised lands you can either take the east coast train to Shimoda and then take a bus towards Minamiizu, or after taking the bus from Shuzenji to Matsuzaki you could transfer again at Matsuzaki Bus Terminal onto the bus headed towards Minamiizu. Again, the transportation to these areas is more tedious but if you want to see what the Japanese countryside is really like then you'll want to make the journey!
It's not for everyone, but honestly the best way to experience Izu is to cruise around in a car with your windows rolled down and your favorite playlist going. If you don't own a car yourself or can't rent one, there are plenty of friendly people around Izu who love to pick up hitchhikers. Japan is also one of the safest countries in the world, so if you've never hitchhiked before but you're curious then now is the time to try! I've seen and met many people who made their entire way around the peninsula by getting rides with others. It works. Recommended spots to hitch a ride include gas stations and near hotels. These spots give prospective drivers enough time to really see you and consider whether or not they want to give you a ride, as opposed to the mere two or less seconds they'd get if you just stood on the side of a busy highway.