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Matsuzaki, One of the Most Beautiful Villages
During my journey to the Izu peninsula (Shizuoka Prefecture) – on the road to the fishing village of Kumomi Onsen (see the article “Izu peninsula: my night in a ryokan in Kumomi Onsen, a fishing village”) – I stopped in Matsuzaki (松崎), listed “Top 100 of The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan”.
I quickly understood why it was listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Japan upon arriving in this small old port town, which faces the bay of Suruga on the Pacific Ocean. As the village is difficult to access, it has kept its charm and you will certainly meet no tourists! This area also has the advantage of being pleasant whatever the season: the winters there are sweet and in spring there is an explosion of sakura blossoms!
During the Edo Era, Matsuzaki was an important place for the production and transportation of stones (which were used for the construction of the Edo Castle). Today, we can still visit some old well-preserved merchant buildings for free (or for a very moderate fee).
The Nakase house is especially interesting: it is the home of the Nakase family – manufacturers of kimono fabrics during the Meiji period – transformed into a museum. The building, which hosts a house and a shop, are a beautiful testimony of the Edo period architecture! The museum is open everyday from 9am to 5pm and admission costs ¥100.
In recent years, Matsuzaki has been featured in many movies and TV dramas. One of the most famous is “Sekai no Chushin de Ai wo Sakebu ( 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ). So you might have seen the scenery of this port town even if you didn’t know where it was!
How to Get There
The most convenient way to get there is to rent a car (If you are American, you can check this article to know how to drive in Japan) in Mishima, or wherever you want to go in Shizuoka Prefecture.
By Public Transportation
If you do not drive, you can take a bus. You can take either the “Nishi Izu Tokkyu Bus Line” (West Izu Express Bus) from Mishima JR Station (South exit, Platform No.4), or a local bus (Tokai Bus) that leaves every 30 minutes to 1 hour from Shuzenji Station (修善寺駅) on the “Izu Hakone Railway Line”(伊豆箱根鉄道). There is a train called Izu Hakone Railway that goes from Mishima station to Shuzenji station.
Ishibu Terraced Rice Fields
The terraced rice fields of Ishibu (石部) are located a little higher up in the mountains, 20-30 minutes drive from Matsuzaki (free parking lot, 10 minutes on foot from the view point, follow the signs). The terraced rice paddies of Ishibu are a rarity in eastern Japan. Spread out from 120m to 250m elevation with an area of 4.2 hectares, there are about 370 paddies. Over hundreds of years, people stacked stones one at a time to build this amazing cultural heritage site!
The best moment to go to see the terraces is at the end of the day, just before sunset. This spot has a nice view on the bay, and at nightfall hundreds of little lights illuminate the rice paddies!
When I visited , there was an illumination event of the terraced rice fields. The scenery was amazing and romantic! This event was held from the 13th of December to the 15th of February, so if you would like to visit to see it, please wait for the upcoming 2017 details!
If you are traveling by bus, take a bus 15 minutes from Matsuzaki to Ishibu-Onsen (石部温泉) and walk 40 minutes to reach the rice fields. If you intend to visit other places on the Izu Peninsula, there is a day pass available at Mishima Station.
Need more information? You can find up to date information about Shizuoka’s history, sightseeing locations, accommodation, food, and transportation by clicking the link below: