A coastal town located in the Shizuoka-Kanto area of Japan, Nishi-Izu is known for fresh seafood and its outstanding natural beauty. Just 3 hours south-west of Tokyo, it really is a must-visit for any outdoor adventurer or travel-buff. With a wide range of activities from line fishing and wasabi picking, to boat tours around the coastal islands and the beautiful Dougashima blue cave, Nishi-Izu is a big contender for your next travel itinerary.
With the help of the Nishi-izu Nohaku foundation, Tokyo Creative's Emma (Tokidokitraveller) and Shiori recently had the chance to tour the area and got a glimpse of all that Nishi-Izu has to offer. You too can arrange a self guided tour with English speaking information and reservation services, kindly provided by the Nishi−izu Nohaku foundation. Details of their services can be found at the end of this article.
Even with Japan’s world-renowned train network, Nishi-Izu is a little more remote than some other destinations. But there are still a number of good transport links including busses and ferries from the nearby Mishima and Atami Shinkansen stations.
For public transport information, see: https://www.town.nishiizu.shizuoka.jp/english/access/
For extra convenience and to take in the beautiful scenery along the way, Emma and Shiori elected to use one of Mishima station's rental car services. If you’re looking to explore Nishi-Izu a little more, a rental car is one of the best ways to navigate the area.
Sample the local seafood delicacies
For lovers of seafood, Nishi-Izu offers countless opportunities to try some of the freshest fish across Japan. The shoreline is home to a wide variety of fish including Horse Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Pufferfish, Black Snapper and squid. And if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can also take a boat trip into the bay to try line-fishing for your yourself! You can also arrange to have one of the local restaurants cook your freshly caught fish. So whether you fancy your fish deep fried or delicately grilled, you can enjoy it whilst it’s still fresh and delicious!
Nishi-Izu is also famous for Yuuhi-don (夕陽丼), which is a dish of sliced squid laid over rice. Costing around 820yen, this is a must try if you’re in the area and is produced using locally sourced squid.
Experience Katsuo-bushi (Bonito flake) making
Continuing on the topic of seafood, Nishi-Izu is one of only a few places where you can experience and try the traditional art of making Katuo-bushi. Used as a topping for many of your favorite Japanese dishes including Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki and Tofu just to name a few, these light fermented fish flakes bring the dish to life. Katsuo-bushi is the world’s hardest fermented food and its production has gradually been mechanised such that the traditional methods and art of hand-sanding and shaving the fish are sadly dying out. At Kanusa Katsuo-bushi Shouten in Nishi-Izu, you can learn from a local expert and try your hand at hand-slicing the Katsuo-bushi yourself!
Relax in an Outdoor Onsen Bath with a view
Like other areas of Japan, Nishi-Izu is home to a number of naturally heated onsen or hot springs. But unique to the Nishi-Izu coastline, these onsen also come with some outstanding views of Suruga Bay. And if you time your visit correctly, you may be rewarded with an absolutely breathtaking sunset, where the sun dips behind the rocky islands and shoreline.
Pictured here is the Sawada Park outdoor bath where for 600 yen, tourists can feel at one with nature and take a relaxing break from all the sightseeing activities.
Take a cruise across Nishi-Izu’s emerald green shoreline
There’s no better way to take in the beautiful Nishi-Izu coastline than to get down on the water and take a pleasure cruise along the shore and around the nearby rocky islands. Departing from Dougashima marina, the 20-50 minute cruise will take you on a tour of the beautiful emerald green shoreline and into the breathtaking Douagashima blue cave. Lit by a naturally occuring skylight in the cave’s roof, the clear water illuminates the entire cave with a beautiful turquoise glow.
Take a swim in a converted elementary school pool
Yamabiko-sou is an old Meiji-period elementary school in the Nishi-izu area, which has been renovated and outfitted as a beautiful new hostel. In addition to walking around the site and getting a sense of what school life was like, you can also take a swim in the outdoor pool -- there’s no better way to cool off in the summer months. And being naturally fed by the area’s onsen water, you can even enjoy the pool in the cooler months.
Yamabiko-sou offers both the outdoor pool and barbecue facilities to non-guests so it’s great even just for a flying-visit.
Visit a real wasabi farm
Nishi-Izu’s rich geology and mountainous landscape make for the perfect place to grow real Japanese wasabi. Despite its spicy taste, wasabi is actually quite a delicate plant, requiring special conditions and care to grow. Even to this day, the mechanisation of wasabi production has proved difficult and manual methods are still employed. In fact, Nishi-Izu’s wasabi production method is certified by Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). With a single wasabi root costing from 4,000 to 5,000 yen ($40-50), most of the wasabi you find in stores today is the much more common horseradish.
The Tsutsumi Wasabi farm located in Nishi-Izu’s surrounding hills offers you the rare opportunity to see the production of real Japanese wasabi, and learn more about this spicy paste.
Now it’s time for your adventure!
We’ve only just scratched the surface of that Nishi-Izu has to offer. There’s so much more to explore and do in the area. With its coastal location and beautiful clear waters, a wide range of watersports are also available.
Check out our collection below for some more of our top picks in the Nishi-Izu area. And if you’re interested in planning your own trip, the Nishi-Izu Nohaku Foundation can assist you in the planning and booking of your very own trip to the area, just like Emma and Shiori did!
English planning support and bookings are handled by their friendly team via email at: [email protected]. Inquiries are usually handled in around 3 business days.