Shizuoka Prefecture has to be one of my favorite spots in all of Japan. It’s easily accessible from Tokyo, but often leaves you feeling as if it was a world away. One of my most loved parts of Shizuoka is Shimoda, a port city which was one of the first places in Japan that opened up to international trading. If you’re looking to diversify your travels in Japan and want to pay Shimoda a visit, here’s some of what you should check out while you’re there.
If you enjoy surfing, swimming, or simply strolling along the sand, Shimoda delivers – with its plenty of beautiful beaches along the coastline. Shirahama (白浜) Beach is one of the best, and on weekends in peak season you’ll find the area packed with people. The ideal time to visit is mid-week, when you’ll often have long stretches of sand all to yourself! There are spots where you can rent beach umbrellas and beach chairs if you need a bit of shade, and even a 7-11 across the street if you need some snacks.
A Black Ship replica
The name “Black Ship”, or kurofune (黒船), is the name that was given to Western boats arriving in Japan in the 16th and 19th century. If you want to see a replica of what the real deal would have looked like back then, you can do that here. In fact, there’s a black ship tourist cruise boat that you’re able to set sail on! Izu Cruises (link in Japanese) operate multiple tour departures daily, where you can explore Shimoda Harbor for yourself. There’s even an annual festival in Shimoda called the Black Ship Festival, held in mid-May. If you’re in the area at that time, it’s worth a visit!
Shimoda is a spot that is enjoyable to explore on foot, in part because of the breathtaking views you can get from hiking around the area. One particular noteworthy sight that you’re likely to see on the skyline is what’s often referred to as “Shimoda Fuji” – a mountain that seems to take on the triangular shape of the iconic Mt. Fuji itself.
Bites of history
If you’re a history buff, you can’t miss Perry Road during your time in Shimoda. Perry Road is named after Commodore Matthew Perry, a U.S. Naval Commander who helped open up Japan to external trading – right here in Shimoda itself! Wandering along Perry Road, you’ll see restaurants, cafes, handicraft stores, and even traditional houses. There are a number of charming bridges that cross the waterway along the street, and depending on the time of year you’re also likely to see some beautiful blooms, including hydrangeas during May and June.
To get to Shimoda from Tokyo, take the Kodama Shinkansen to Atami. From there, take the JR Ito Line bound for Ito, and then switch to the Izu-Kyuko Railway and get off at Izukyu-Shimoda Station.
Shirahama Beach is approximately 5km from Izukyu-Shimoda Station itself.
Taxis are available from the station.
Black Ship Cruises
Izu Cruises depart from Shimoda Port.
A ride on the replica black ship is priced at ¥1,200 adults (12 years and over) and ¥600 for children.
Perry Road is located at 3-14 Shimoda, Shizuoka Prefecture 415-0023.
From Izukyu-Shimoda Station, it’s just under 15 minutes on foot.