The Izu Hantō Peninsula is an area possessing some splendid coastlines, beaches, mountains which is home to larger cities such as Atami; famed for it’s many hot spring baths and less so for the “Adult” museum which I visited back in March 2010.
Back on the 12th of August in 2004 I went on a day trip of sorts to the Izu Hantō Peninsula which was a very exhaustive 100km+ drive southwest of Tokyo in Shizuoka Prefecture. Setting off from Minami-Urawa station in Saitama just after 1am, my girlfriend of the time and I arrived shortly after 7am at the port harbour.
Our main goal was to go swimming and snorkelling at Hirizo Beach in Minamiizu-cho which is west of Shimoda, on the southern tip of the Izu Hantō peninsula. The secluded beach was accessed via a two minute boat ride and we had to take everything we needed for the day as there were no facilities at the beach and even the toilet was a return boat trip away though I suspect most people just went in the sea! The boat ticket is valid for the whole day so the idea of popping back and forth maybe isn’t as ridiculous as it initially seemed!
Back then I was still fairly new to Japan and so the sight of Hirizo beach being completely covered with hundreds of Japanese beach-goers was one I’ve never forgotten. It wasn’t just this beach that was overly crowded as so was Onjuku Beach in Chiba which I went to a couple of years later. What was most surprising for me at both that beach and the rocky one in Hirizo was the huge number of tents erected all over the place. This phenomenon is apparently very much a Japanese one and I’ve since seen it in parks and gardens around Japan too.
Hirizo was the first place I went snorkelling in Japan and, although the water was a bit cool and murky, it was quite impressive which is no mean feat given that my first ever experience of this aqua activity was on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 2001!
There was plenty of marine life congregating around the reefs and rocks, including a number of tropical bright fish as well as dragon moray eels, lion fish, sea urchins, scorpionfish and a minor shark or two. A nice reward for the distance travelled! My sunburned knees, feet and back was less well received!
We left just after 3pm and took the highway back to Tokyo and with heavy traffic delays we didn’t get back home till just gone midnight. A long day trip if ever there was one!
For shorter day trips click on the following: