From concrete to coastline in just three hours. A date with the Pacific in Japan.
Sometimes, when living in Tokyo gets too much, it’s good to throw a pair of boxers and a toothbrush in a bag and travel down to Izu for the night. About 150km away in Shizuoka prefecture, the journey down from Tokyo is a bit too much to pull off comfortably as a day trip: an hour or so to Odawara, a connecting train to Atami, then another 90 minutes hugging the Eastern shores of the peninsula right down to Shimoda. You could always take faster trains I guess, but faster equals more money and more money is not what I want to hear. The slower local trains also give you the opportunity to soak up the scenery and stare in disbelief as old people fight for window seats as if their lives depended on it.
The trip down is very scenic, with jagged cliffs rising from the Pacific and handpainted signs for tiny Japanese stations (read: platforms) scattered along the way. I hopped off the train mid-way at Izu Kogen, and after eating an uber-traditional lunch of katsudon, cold soba and miso, I followed a river for about 20 minutes down to the sea. This particular stretch of land is known as the Jogasaki Coast and it really is stunning. I’m pretty sure I have seen nicer coastlines in New Zealand, and dare I say even Ireland, but living in Tokyo really does make you appreciate the sea when you get a chance to see it.
It felt like I had the whole saw-toothed coastline to myself. The water was turquoise-blue and I sat absentmindedly dangling my legs off a cliff in the sun for a good 60 minutes. I found however, that the further south I travelled, the more ominous the serene coastal landscape became. The sun turned to grey, bringing with it a sense of desperate isolation. To top it all off I discovered an abandoned hotel which I will write about in my next post… In the meantime, here are some photos from my first trip to Izu in 2012.
Cool train seats facing the sea
The ryokan I stayed in was properly Japanese: a simple tatami room with a futon and not much else. There was an onsen bath downstairs, and the little old lady who ran the place made me tea. I was the only person staying there.