I’m back in eastern Japan after about 5 weeks of traveling around like it was my job (what a job that would be!). After meeting up with some Japanese friends (whom I met during the Cialthon event I did) yesterday at their university in Kyoto for lunch, I hopped on a shinkansen (bullet train) heading east for the Izu Peninsula (izu hantou).
Izu Peninsula is a (you guessed it) peninsula that juts out about 100 km south of the Tokyo region. It’s not particularly well-known to foreign tourists, and is even seen as something of an old-people’s area amongst the Japanese (the friends I mentioned above kept asking me why I was going to Izu Peninsula). Well, this is why:
Izu Peninsula, especially the southern end, has vast stretches of relatively unspoiled coastline. Rocky cliffs stoop over the churning waters of the Pacific, and on clear days (like today, thank god) it offers spectacular panaromas.
First thing though, my hostel is in Ito, a city on the eastern coast of the peninsula. I woke up early today since I had some traveling to do to the southern tip, and took a quick dip in my hostel’s onsen before heading off. From Ito, it’s a 1-hour train ride to Shimoda followed by a 40-minute bus to Cape Irozaki.
The bus drops you off at the bottom of the cape, and after receiving directions from the helpful bus driver, I walked the remaining 15 minutes up the side of the cliff. There are a few vantage points overlooking the cape, the most famous (well, not really famous) of which houses the Irozaki Lighthouse.
After a relatively steep walk, I could suddenly catch glimpses of the rocks and waves below, before the path cleared of trees and opened up onto the view I had been waiting for (and why I scurried down the Izu coastline).
The lighthouse itself was closed, but it didn’t matter since the small rock observatory right below it was the perfect spot to see out.
I could see the Izu Peninsula to my left, the Izu Islands straight ahead, and many more cliffs veering off to my right. It was a little chilly and windy, but I had no complaints since it was sunny.
After puttering around the observatory for 45 minutes, I headed back down, walking together with an elderly Japanese couple whose photo I had just taken. They were such kind people, and even offered me a ride back to Shimoda since they were driving there next. Since I had already bought my round-trip bus ticket, I had to say no but it’s amazing how nice some people in the world are, and the small periods in which you meet them.
All in all, it was a successful sightseeing day, but more meaningful to me was the spontaneous meetings you have with complete strangers. The husband of the couple kept telling me how impressive it is for me to have studied Japanese in the US and then travel throughout Japan. He said he could never have done that. I was definitely grateful to their kindness, and am glad I am meeting such people through these 10 weeks.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Thanks as always for reading.
Here are a few more pics: