Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weekend Getaway to Shimoda

Last week we had a three day weekend, thanks to Sports Day, and took the opportunity to go down to Shimoda, a little beach town at the bottom of the Izu peninsula.

I've been interested in the Izu peninsula for a while because it's supposed to have some of the best beaches with any proximity to Tokyo. It's also a pretty historical area because Shimoda is where Commodore Perry first landed and demanded that Japan open it's doors to the outside.

We were definitely visiting in the off season, so the town was a lot sleepier and not everything was open. But John and I talked about it and we thought we might like it better that way. One of the best parts of getting away from Tokyo is getting away from the crowds.

While Shimoda is known for the beach it was drizzly two of the three days of our visit so we never made it to the famous beaches. Instead we walked around Perry Road, a shopping street along a canal that reminded me of Kyoto, explored the beach near our hotel, and took a cable car up to Mt. Nesugata. We went hiking on the one sunny day on a cliffside ocean path, which was absolutely fantastic. The views were gorgeous, though some parts of the trail can be quite steep. Don't be put off though, Raku was able to do it, and she's seven months pregnant. (Eeek! Did you guys catch that announcement? Raku's having a baby!)

We also had some really nice food and drinks. If you're looking for coffee shops Cafe Pepe is a very relaxed spot with a friendly shiba inu and Jashumon is a great old fashioned coffee shop with a nautical vibe. On our last night we had the best sushi that John and I have ever had at Mimatsu. The owner and his wife were so friendly, chatting with us, showing us a New York Times article they were recommended in ten years ago, and even showing us some photos of their children.

The one activity I wouldn't recommend is the black ship harbor cruise. It's very brief for the cost, and the ship is so crowded with tourists! The ones near us were much more interested in feeding crackers to seagulls than the actual scenery. From the ship however, we did spot a little island in the harbor that appeared to have caves in it. After getting off the ship we found our way there, walking out a long jetty people were fishing off of to explore the area. It's not a must do, but it was interesting. From there we were able to walk back to our hotel, most of the way right along the ocean, as the sun set.

We stayed at the Tokyu Shimoda Hotel, and being the off season we only paid $79 per night as oppose to the $200-300 they charge in the middle of summer. While the rooms were nothing special the amenities more than made up for it. They have two onsen with the most gorgeous outdoor baths I've ever seen. Sitting in the hot water looking out at the mountains jutting up from the ocean with palm trees swaying nearby we felt like we were in Hawaii. The hotel also has a pathway down to the ocean, and during the summer a nice swimming pool. Another great thing was the free shuttle into town that we used several times. If you'd rather not wait for their schedule the front desk is also happy to call taxis for you.

It's taken us so long to visit because Shimoda isn't the most convenient place to get to in terms of trains. The odoriko is the only direct train from Tokyo and it stops running by 4:00 in the afternoon, making it impossible for a Friday night departure. There are a number of different options to get there, so it's probably best to use google maps or Jorudan to find the best route and price for your trip. If you are able to take the odoriko, try and get the super view train - we caught it on the trip home, and the enormous windows make for a really beautiful ocean view.

Tokyu Shimoda Hotel
Suzaki Hiking Trail
Cafe Pepe

Garden at the top of Mt. Nesugata
Jashumon Coffee Shop
Perry Road
Floating Torii Gate
Ocean Cave
The beach near our hotel, once the sun came out the colors were amazing!

View from our hike
The Tokyu Hotel's outdoor onsen (super against the rules, but we were the only ones there)
Onsen selfie

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