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In the heart of Japan, between the iconic Mount Fuji and the serene Pacific, lies the vibrant region of Shizuoka. An area often overlooked in the rush to more famous destinations, the area is a treasure trove of understated cultural and natural wonders. It’s where tradition and modernity converge, creating a variety of experiences that resonate with the soul of Japan. From bustling seafood markets brimming with the day’s fresh catch to tranquil historical towns echoing centuries-old tales, Shizuoka invites travelers to delve deeper into its unique allure. As we embark on this journey around the Mid and Eastern region of this prefecture, prepare to uncover its hidden gems, testaments to Shizuoka’s rich heritage and breathtaking beauty.

A Feast for the Senses at Shimizu Fish Market

The Shimizu Fish Market “Kashi no Ichi” (清水魚市場河岸の市) is the pulsing heart of local culinary culture, where the ocean’s bounty is displayed like a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. Sakura shrimps glisten beside silvery baby sardines in Suruga Bay, while tuna promises a taste of the ocean’s depths. The market, Japan’s pioneer in allowing wholesalers to sell directly to the public, is a bustling hive of activity, especially during weekends and holidays.

fish market in shizuoka, japan
Photo: Nomadasaurus

Step inside, and you’re enveloped in an atmosphere where the freshest seafood is the norm, not the exception. Wholesalers, masters of their craft, select the finest catches, which you can savor in the market’s restaurants. The prices, surprisingly affordable for such fantastic flavor, are a gentle reminder of the market’s direct-to-consumer ethos. The dining experience here is a true dive into the heart of the region’s gastronomic culture, a celebration of the sea on every dish.

Strolling Through Art and History in Shizuoka City

In Shizuoka City, the Tokaido Hiroshige Art Museum (静岡市東海道広重美術館) is a beacon of artistic heritage that celebrates the legacy of Utagawa Hiroshige, one of the great ukiyo-e masters. This museum offers a dynamic view into the world of Edo Period art through different monthly exhibitions showcasing a neverending wealth and variety of art and themes. Take a journey through time, seen through the lens of Hiroshige’s intricate and colorful woodblock prints, providing a new perspective on traditional Japanese art.

japanese tatami room
Photo: Rebecca Hallett

Not far from the Tokaido Hiroshige Art Museum is Kanbara-juku (蒲原宿), a 15th inn town from Nihonbashi during the Edo Period. It is a doorway to the past. Its streets, lined with distinctive namako walls and a blend of Taisho-era Japanese and Western architecture, whisper tales from centuries ago. Here, time seems to stand still, urging visitors to take a leisurely stroll and absorb the nostalgia of this historical national highway. Each step in Kanbara-juku is a step back in time, a chance to savor the quiet charm of a bygone era.

A Voyage Across Water: The Suruga Bay Ferry Experience

From the historical lanes of Kanbara-juku, we shift to the rhythmic waves of Suruga Bay. The ferry journey is a serene interlude to the journey, offering a window into the coastal splendor of Shizuoka, unveiling a landscape where sea and sky merge in a tranquil tableau. Certified as the “223 (Fuji-san)” prefectural road, this route is unique, blending road and sea into one seamless experience.

inside a ferry in japan
Photo: Rebecca Hallett

As the ferry glides across the bay, passengers are treated to majestic views of Mount Fuji and Miho Matsubara. The 75-minute voyage offers a panoramic feast for the eyes, a tranquil contrast to the usual hustle of road travel. This sea route, free from the binds of traffic, is a breath of fresh air for those seeking a serene adventure. The deck becomes a stage for nature’s grandeur, inviting travelers to witness a different perspective of Shizuoka’s landscapes.

Echoes of Edo: Tracing History in Nirayama

In the city of Izunokuni lies a historical marvel, the Nirayama reverberatory furnace (韮山反射炉). This remnant of Japan’s industrial revolution, once a hub for cannon production, stands as a sentinel of time, a National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site that tells the story of Japan’s journey into modernity.

Nirayama reverberatory furnace in shizuoka
Photo: Rebecca Hallett

An exploration of the Nirayama reverberatory furnace, a piece of Japan’s industrial legacy, offers insights into the nation’s transformation and its echoes in today’s Shizuoka.

The Retro Shopping Streets of Atami

Just a short walk from JR Atami Station, the lively streets of Atami Naka-mise Dori (仲見世商店街) and Heiwa Dori Shopping Street (平和通り商店街) pulse with energy. These bustling avenues, with their eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes, and shops, are a microcosm of modern Japanese street life with a nostalgic traditional vibe. Whether you’re searching for unique souvenirs, savoring local delicacies, or simply soaking in the vibrant atmosphere, these streets offer a slice of contemporary life amidst the backdrop of Shizuoka’s rich history.

Serenity and Discovery at a Luxury Retreat in Shizuoka

Staying at Hoshino Resorts KAI Anjin (界 アンジン) in Ito City is an experience woven into the fabric of Shizuoka’s coastal beauty. Each room offers a view of the ocean and is decorated with art made from old ship timbers, creating an ambiance that reflects the maritime history of the region. This modern onsen ryokan, inspired by the voyages of the English navigator Anjin Miura, also known as William Adams, offers a unique blend of luxury, history, and scenic beauty.

Anjin Memorial Park (按針メモリアルパーク), adjacent to the resort, adds another layer to this experience. It’s a serene space that honors the legacy of Anjin Miura, blending history with the natural beauty of the coastline. Visitors can enjoy the tranquility of the park and then retreat to the resort, where luxury and history combine to create a harmonious escape.

The Rugged Beauty of Shizuoka’s Coast: Jogasaki and Komuroyama

The Jogasaki Coast (城ヶ崎海岸), sculpted by the forces of Mount Omuro’s ancient eruptions over 4,000 years ago, presents a rugged yet mesmerizing landscape. The 9-km-long nature trail offers a blend of thrilling adventure and beauty, ideal for both casual walks and dedicated hiking. Among the highlights is the Kadowaki Suspension Bridge, stretching 48 meters long and 23 meters high, providing a stunning view of the craggy coast and the vast ocean as you walk across it. Equally breathtaking are the panoramic vistas from the Kadowakisaki Lighthouse that showcase the Izu Shichito Islands and the Amagi Mountain Range. The area also blooms with seasonal flora throughout the year, offering a picturesque setting with hydrangeas in June, hamakanzou and sukashi lilies in July, and isogikku and tsuwabuki in the fall, adding to its scenic beauty.

Jogasaki Coast in shizuoka
Photo: Rebecca Hallett

In contrast, the Komuroyama Ridge Walk (小室山 リッジウォーク), also known as “MISORA” in Ito City unveils a different aspect of Shizuoka’s natural splendor. This undulating trail, spanning 166.3 meters and embracing the contours of a scoria hill, offers a 360-degree view that encapsulates the grandeur of Mount Fuji, the Sagaminada Sea, and beyond. The summit, standing at 321 meters, is a vantage point for nature’s grand symphony, where the harmony of land, sea, and sky is on full display.

A Mosaic of Timeless Experiences

As our exploration of Mid to Eastern Shizuoka draws to a close, it’s clear that this region is more than just a destination; it’s a living tapestry of experiences. Each aspect, from the historic streets of Kanbara-juku to the serene heights of Komuroyama, tells a story that resonates with the soul of Japan. Whether savoring the freshest catches at Shimizu Fish Market, marveling at the artistic masterpieces in Shizuoka City, or basking in the natural splendor of Jogasaki Coast, Shizuoka offers a journey that is as diverse as it is enriching.

This journey through Shizuoka is a reminder of the timeless beauty that lies in the heart of Japan. It beckons travelers to not just see, but to feel, taste, and live the stories that make this region unique. Shizuoka, with its rich heritage and breathtaking landscapes, is waiting to offer its gifts to those who seek to discover the true essence of Japan.

Getting to Shizuoka

Embarking on your adventure to explore the Mid to Eastern regions of Shizuoka is straightforward and enjoyable, with Tokyo as the starting point. The most efficient way to travel is by train, with the Shinkansen (bullet train) offering a swift and comfortable journey. Board the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo or Shinagawa Station, and in just about an hour, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Shizuoka. The journey itself is an experience, featuring picturesque views of the countryside and, on clear days, the majestic Mount Fuji.

For those who prefer the road, renting a car or taking a bus from Tokyo is an option as well. This offers the flexibility to explore the scenic routes at your own pace, with the journey taking approximately 2 to 3 hours depending on traffic. Whether you choose the speed and efficiency of the Shinkansen or the leisurely pace of a road trip, reaching Mid to Eastern Shizuoka from Tokyo is a hassle-free and enjoyable start to your journey of discovery.

You want to learn more about Shizuoka Prefecture? Check out our other articles about the highlights of Western and Eastern Shizuoka:

Sponsored by: Shizuoka Prefectural Government Office

Toshiko Sakurai

Toshiko Sakurai

I shoot (with my camera!), therefore I am. I paint with light and try to put letters together to the best of my abilities. I arrived in Tokyo from Barcelona the autumn of 2017 and since then I've devoted myself to capture every corner of the city while riding my bicycle. When I'm not carrying my camera, I'm usually defying the culinary ortodoxy mixing styles from everywhere I've ever lived.

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