Shizuoka Prefecture is one of Japan's national treasures for its beautiful nature and traditions in tea-making. It's also the home of the country's most revered mountain: Fuji-san. Shizuoka is not too far from Tokyo, so if you're traveling in Japan, you should definitely consider making Shizuoka an area to explore! Here are some places you must visit in Shizuoka.
For its near perfect shape and for being such a striking feature of the natural landscape Mount Fuji was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being located in the Prefecture of Shizuoka, there are so many good locations to look at the majestic giant.
Contemplating Japan's Iconic Mountain at Miho Beach
You should try Miho beach, located on the western coast of Suga Bay, for a particularly amazing view of the sea, forest, and mountain!
Viewing from Nihondaira
Another great spot for looking at Mount Fuji is from the Nihondaira located on a plateau at the center of Shizuoka city. You can see the Japanese Alps, tea plantations, and the Shimizu port as well.
Climbing Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is beautiful from afar, but for those with enough courage, it's also possible to climb it! The route is safe and well-maintained but you should be aware that you may get altitude sickness if you climb it too fast. The ideal way to climb it is to take a rest at one of the lodges on the way and wake up before sunrise, climb the remainder of the course in order to see the sunrise from the top of the mountain. The best month for climbing it is August.
If you can only visit one place in Shizuoka, go to the Izu Penninsula! It's long been a getaway spot for Tokyoites as it is very easy to access (Atami is just a 40-minute Shinkansen ride from Tokyo) and has beautiful ocean, excellent hot springs, and delicious seafood. All along the peninsula, you'll find small onsen resorts, most of which have beautiful ocean views and serve fantastic food. Take a night or two and stay at a traditional 'ryokan' or old-fashioned Japanese guest house with a natural hot spring bath and you'll be in for one of the most relaxing times of your life!
Atami is the biggest city on the Izu peninsula and is a very popular Onsen resort town. Most of the buildings that you can see in the picture above are actually onsen resorts and hotels, and the area is known for its great natural hot spring water. If you're looking for an onsen getaway that's easily accessible from Tokyo, it doesn't get much better than Atami. It's also a great place to stay for people who want to take day-trips to explore other parts of the Izu Peninsula.
The onsen in Atami are great, but if you'd rather stay somewhere a bit more secluded, travel further south down the peninsula to find other small onsen resorts tucked along the shore or in the mountains.
7 Waterfalls of Kawazu
Japanese Movie buffs will recognize this scene
If you're feeling like seeing some beautiful nature while getting a hike in, the 7 waterfalls of Kawazu are a great destination in the mountains right in the middle of the Izu peninsula. The Kawazu waterfalls can be accessed via a 30-minute bus or taxi from Kawazu Station. A path from the parking area follows along the Kawazu river and takes you past 7 different waterfalls, the smallest of which is just 2 meters tall and the largest of which is a whopping 30 meter-high torrent! Each fall is beautiful for a different reason, and it only takes about an hour to walk the entire path, so it's recommended to go all the way!
Near the parking area are several restaurants and small shops where you can pick up a snack for a meal, and there's also an onsen resort that features stunning outdoor onsen baths in the water below a huge waterfall! Another thing not to miss is the wasabi! Shizuoka is actually one of the most famous wasabi-growing areas in Japan, and you'll find wasabi-infused food everywhere you go (even ice cream!) If you look near the river, you're likely to see wasabi cultivation patches which require fresh moving water.
Mt. Omuro is a dormant volcano with a chairlift up one side that will take you right to the top! Once you get to the top, enjoy panoramic views of the picturesque coastline to the East and the mountains to the west, including views of Mt. Fuji on clear days. There is a 1-kilometer path around the crater that makes for a nice hike (bring your jacket; it gets windy up there!) and there's also a visitor center with a gift shop. In the middle of the crater is a field with targets for archery shooting (¥1,500 for 1 hour + equipment rental) and a shrine covered in stickers.
The lift costs ¥700 for adults and ¥350 for kids and operates from 9:00 am to around 4 or 5 pm, depending on the season. If you're planning to visit, it's best to go in the morning or early afternoon to make sure you have enough time to enjoy all of the activities.
Izu is known for having some beautiful beaches! As mentioned above, its proximity to Tokyo makes it a popular weekend getaway spot for Tokyoites, especially in the summertime. You'll find that the water in Izu is much clearer than what you can see around Tokyo. This is the place for you to go to experience Japan's nice beach summer vibes.
On the Southern tip of the Izu peninsula is the town of Shimoda which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area for its beautiful sandy beaches and many onsen resorts. If you're looking for sand, sun, and relaxation, book a hotel in this area!
Marvel at the Tea Plantations!
This is a common sight you'll see throughout the prefecture. Shizuoka is blessed with the perfect climate and soil for growing tea, hence it has been for hundreds of years the richest region in tea production in Japan! The quality is also beyond compare. Shizuoka green tea is a world-renowned brand of itself. Stop at local tea stores to buy some of the best teas available. Some tea plantations will even allow you to pick tea leaves for a small fee. If you're interested in tea production, you might want to check out a place called Greenpia.
Hamamatsu is the largest city of the prefecture. It is located in the western part of the prefecture.
Visit Hamamatsu Flower Park
One of the main attraction of the city is the vast Hamamatsu Flower Park. It located on the shore of Lake Hamana and has over 100,000 plants. There is a huge greenhouse called the Crystal Palace with changing exhibitions. You can enjoy the park year-round. Different flowers will be blooming at different times of the year (cherry blossoms in the spring, hydrangea in the summer, and chrysanthemum in the fall for instance).
Hamamatsu is also home to the reconstructed Hamamatsu Castle. This spot is also well worth visiting if you're passing through Hamamatsu. On a side note, if you like castles, you might also want to check out Kakegawa castle in Kakegawa city.
This has been a brief introduction to some of the best places to visit and things to do in Shizuoka prefecture. However, there's so much that we didn't cover. Exploration is one of the best parts of travel, though. Get out there and discover your own favorite thing to do in Shizuoka! Have fun.