If you’re looking for a captivating destination that blends culture, history, and nature, Shizuoka Prefecture is the place to be! Located just one hour southwest of Tokyo on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen, this region along the Pacific coast and shadowed by the Japanese Southern Alps is known for its hot springs, beautiful beaches, and of course, the iconic Mount Fuji. Eastern Shizuoka, in particular, comprising the areas of Atami, Izu Peninsula, and Fujinomiya, offers a variety of experiences for all types of visitors, from exploring historic mines and enjoying tranquil sunsets to immersing oneself in the serene beauty of its natural landscapes.
In this article, we’re going to take you on a journey through Eastern Shizuoka through nine must-see attractions and activities. Experience the ancient, the wild, and the unique, and discover what makes this region so special!
- The Ancient: Cultural and Historical Attractions
- The Wild: Natural Attractions and Activities
- The Unique: One-of-a-kind Experiences and Accommodation
The Ancient: Cultural and Historical Attractions
Let’s start our journey through Eastern Shizuoka with experiencing cultural and historical attractions:
The Toi Gold Mine
Step back into a bygone era at the Toi Gold Mine (土肥金山) in Izu, a site of historical significance and a testament to Japan’s rich mining heritage. Back in the Edo and Meiji periods, this mine produced an incredible 40 tons of gold and 400 tons of silver.
Today, you can wander through the preserved tunnels and check out the museum, where you’ll discover gold ores, a model of a Sengoku boat, and ancient coins. But the real star of the show is the world’s largest gold nugget, weighing a massive 250 kilograms! You can even try panning for gold yourself! And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try panning for gold yourself.
Experience the spiritual aura of Kinomiya Shrine (来宮神社), a historic site deeply woven into the fabric of Atami. This historic site is deeply rooted in the history of the town and is also known as Kinomiya-daimyojin.
It’s a popular destination for people seeking good luck and fortune, and for good reason! Legend has it that in the early Heian period, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, a shogun and prominent character in Japanese history, visited the shrine to seek divine favor for his battles, and enshrined his spirit in various places. Today, Kinomiya Shrine is the central shrine among 44 Kinomiya Shrines across Japan, and visitors from around the world come to experience its unique spiritual vibe.
Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine
If you’re visiting Eastern Shizuoka, you can’t miss the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine (富士山本宮浅間大社) in Fujinomiya. It’s the top shrine of all Asama shrines, a group of Shinto shrines centered primarily in Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures dedicated to the worship of the kami of volcanos, particularly Mount Fuji.
The shrine complex, a quick 5-minute walk from the Mount Fuji World Heritage Center, is nourished by the pure waters of the mountain symbol of Japan and houses a tower gate, worship hall, and main shrine, each echoing centuries of reverence. Interestingly, the entire top of Mount Fuji from the 8th stage upwards is also considered to be part of the shrine grounds!
If you’re planning your visit in early November, you’re in for a treat: that’s when the Fujinomiya Autumn Festival takes placeーa huge event that attracts over 100,000 visitors every year.
Mount Fuji World Heritage Center
The Mount Fuji World Heritage Center (静岡県富士山世界遺産センター) is located near the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine. It is a testament to the commitment to preserving, protecting, and passing on the legacy of Mount Fuji to future generations.
Designed by the renowned architect Shigeru Ban, the center is an architectural marvel, blending seamlessly with its sacred surroundings. The design, featuring an upside-down Mt. Fuji, a torii gate, and a water basin, creates a serene and beautiful space.
The center offers various experiences to get acquainted with the mountain symbolic of Japan, where you can learn all about the volcano’s history and cultural significance at one of the exhibitions, or take in the breathtaking view of Mount Fuji from the observation deck.
The Wild: Natural Attractions and Activities
From the gold mines and spiritual sites, we move on to the natural beauty of Shizuoka Prefecture. From extraordinary views of Mt. Fuji and e-bike tours through wasabi farms:
One of the most stunning views in Eastern Shizuoka can be found at Koganezaki Park (黄金崎公園) on the western coast of the Izu Peninsula. At sunset, the cape is bathed in a golden hue, which illuminates its characteristic rocks and makes for an unforgettable, picture-perfect experience. The park is really well-designed, with a great promenade, plenty of grassy areas to relax in, and an observation deck with a splendid view of both Mount Fuji and Suruga Bay.
If you’re into diving, you’re in luck: the beach along Koganezaki Park (also known as Nego Beach) is another must-visit. The water here is crystal-clear, with amazing visibility that makes it easy to spot all kinds of fish. The beach is a bit rocky, which only adds to its charm, and it’s a favorite spot for divers all year round (except when westerly winds are blowing, of course).
E-bike tour through Izu’s wasabi farms
If nature is calling, hop on an e-bike for an exciting tour through the lush wasabi farms of Izu, a journey so special it’s been awarded the Inbound Prize by the Japanese government’s Mizu no Sato no Tabi Contestーan initiative designed to promote tourism and cultural experiences related to water and water-rich environments.
As you cycle through the verdant landscapes, you’ll learn about tatamiseki, a wasabi cultivation technique involving laying wasabi plants on sloped fields with flowing streams, creating a natural, clean environment that’s essential for the delicate wasabi to thrive.
Your adventure will take you through crystal-clear streams and spectacular scenery, with stops at noteworthy locations like the Kisobosui Shrine, the Ikadaba Wasabi Fields, and Banjo Falls.
This tour is much more than an excuse to get some exercise while on vacationーit’s a chance to get up close and personal with the traditional and eco-friendly practices of wasabi farming, all set in the breathtaking natural beauty of the Izu Peninsula.
The Unique: One-of-a-kind Experiences and Accommodation
Before we end our trip in Eastern Shizuoka, let’s taste some culinary highlights and enjoy the healing powers of hot springs:
Sushi making and Japanese culture experience in Susono City
Get ready for an authentic cultural deep dive with the Miyoshi Sushi Making and Japanese Culture Experience, as featured on Explore Shizuoka. This 3-hour workshop offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in two quintessential aspects of Japanese culture: sushi and kimonos.
First, you will be provided with a traditional kimono to wear. Then, you’ll learn how to craft the iconic Japanese dish under the guidance of the owner of Miyoshi, a renowned sushi restaurant in Susono. And once you’ve made your sushi, you’ll get to enjoy it alongside some delicious Japanese sake.
As a final touch, the tour offers you a chance to capture memories in your kimono. You’ll visit some of the most picturesque locations around Miyoshi, where you can snap some photos and create lasting reminders of your cultural adventure.
Experience the allure of Japanese indigo dyeing in Gotemba
Experience the world of Japanese indigo dyeing with this unique tour, also highlighted on Explore Shizuoka. Guided by fourth and fifth-generation artisans, you’ll delve into the traditional craft of aizome, a dyeing technique known for its vibrant colors and durability dating back to the Edo period.
In this hands-on experience, you’ll learn the traditional dyeing methods and create your own indigo-dyed T-shirt to take them home as a special souvenir.
Stay at the ryokan Ochiairo
After an exciting day packed full of attractions and experiences, you’ll want to relax somewhere cozy and welcomingーand there’s no better choice than the charming ryokan Ochiairo (旅館 おちあいろう), a gem located in the heart of Amagi Yugashima Onsen. This area is famous for its therapeutic hot springs, which have been enjoyed for centuries and are surrounded by stunning natural scenery.
Arriving at the ryokan, you’ll be greeted by a delightful mix of tradition and modernity, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that is sure to make you feel right at home. Ochiairo itself is a beautiful blend of classic Japanese style and contemporary design, with all the modern amenities you could wish for. It has been loved by many writers and artists, and is worth a visit, for sure!
In this article, we introduced nine ideas to make the most out of your trip to Eastern Shizuoka. Add them all to your bucket list or mix and match them to fit your traveling style!
You want to learn more about Shizuoka Prefecture? Check out our other articles about the highlights of Western and Mid Shizuoka:
- Western Shizuoka: Discover Japan’s History and Culture
- Mid and Eastern Shizuoka: Uncover the Hidden Gems
Sponsored by: Shizuoka Prefectural Government Office