Kanto + sea + drive + superb view = what?
The answer is Minamiizu. If you're not convinced or don't know what's great about Minamiizu, you came to the right place. Here are the top 10 driving spots in Minamiizu that will blow your mind 10 different ways!
Where is Minami-Izu?
Minami-Izu is one of the four areas that divide the Izu Peninsula: Higashi-Izu, Nishi-Izu, Minami-Izu, and Naka-Izu, or East, West, South, and Central Izu, respectively. Atami and Ito are cities in Higashi-Izu, Numazu and West Izu in Nishi-Izu, Shimoda and Minami in Minami-Izu, and Izu in Naka-Izu. You can get to Minami-Izu by taking the train up to Shimoda Station and driving the rest of the way, of you can drive straight from Tokyo in 3.5 to 4 hours.
Was Izu Peninsula an island before?
Minami-Izu has an amazing geography precisely because of the history of Izu Peninsula itself. Until about two million years ago, Izu Peninsula was an island formed by volcanic eruptions that's why it's called a volcanic island. Then, its plate moved and connected to the mainland about 500 thousand years ago causing the volcano to become dormant and later extinct after about 300 thousand years, making Izu the peninsula that it is now. The peninsula has since become famous in Japan for its hot springs.
Now, let's get down to business. Buckle up for 10 mind-blowing driving spots in Minamiizu!
① Cape Aiai
Cape Aiai is without a doubt the most famous spot in Minami-Izu, located on the westside of Irozaki. And on the hill sits an observation deck that overlooks the beautiful islands of Suruga Bay and perhaps the most spectacular coastline especially at sunset and at night when the stars come out. It's also close to One Island, so if you're lucky you might see wild monkeys with your own eyes.
・Address: Iruma, Minamiizu, Kamo District, Shizuoka 415-0312
② Irozaki Lighthouse
The tenth oldest Western-style lighthouse in Japan since 1871. It's located in Irozaki on the southermost tip of Izu Peninsula and is listed as one of the "50 Lighthouses of Japan." Irozaki Cape was a very difficult point to sail to and has caused countless of boats and ships to run aground, so this lighthouse was erected to prevent more shipwrecks. It was opened for public in April 2019, giving visitors a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.
・Address: 125 Irozaki, Minamiizu, Kamo District, Shizuoka 415-0156
③ Hirizo Beach
Amazing beach in Cape Aiai that you can go to by ferry for ¥1,500 (round trip) from July to September. It's one of the most famous snorkeling spots in the country. And for a reason: you can clearly see the seabed 5 meters under the water as if you're floating on air. On a lucky day, you might encounter precious green turtles.
・Address: Nakagi, Minamiizu, Kamo District, Shizuoka 415-0311
④ Yusuge Park (Sakuya Bell of Love)
A park in Irozaki where pretty yellow flowers called Yusuge bloom from June to August. It's about a 150-meter walk from Cape Aiai and you can see a good view of Izu from the Sakuya Bell of Love. There is also a camera stand there to put your camera to capture a romantic photo of you and your partner. It's a serene place for a stroll and extremely popular with traveling couples.
・Address: Irozaki, Minamiizu, Kamo District, Shizuoka 415-0156
⑤ Shirahama Beach
The largest beach in Izu Peninsula. It attracts tourists for its 700-meter white sand beach that contrasts the emerald green sea. It's very famous for crystal clear water that's come to represent Izu in the eyes of beachgoers and surfers all over the country. Here is more information about surf spots around Kanto area.
・Address: Shirahama, Shimoda, Shizuoka 415-0012
⑥ Shirahama Shrine (Torii Gate)
The oldest shrine in Izu dating over 2,400 years. It enshrines the goddess of love and marriage "Ikonahime no Mikoto," so couple flock to this place for blessing. The torii gate is erected by the coast and it's one of the very few places in Japan where you can see torii and the sea at the same time.
・Address: Shirahama, Shimoda, Shizuoka 415-0012
⑦ Ryugu Sea Cave
One of the largest sea caves in Japan with a diameter of 50 meters. It was formed after thousands of years of waves hitting the cliff (called wave erosion). It is one of the best hidden gems on Izu Peninsula where you can pass through the cave and look at the sky, or from the promenade overlooking the cave.
・Address: Touji, Shimoda, Shizuoka 415-0029
⑧ Yumigahama Beach
A bow-shaped beach, spanning one kilometer, located in the southern tip of Izu Peninsula. It's very well known for the sea turtles that come to spawn in the early summer every year. Many families go to this beach for its shallow and gentle waves and for the kid-friendly SPLASH Water Park.
・Address: Minato, Minamiizu, Kamo District, Shizuoka 415-0152
⑨ Canoe Legend
An ancient quarry hidden in Izu and the birthplace of the "Canoe Legend." It is said that the stones used in the construction of Edo Castle were taken from this quarry and transported out by canoe. Even deer and wild boars still inhabit the place that appears left in time. Visitors should make reservations ahead of time by Carstay booking page.
・Address: 1187-1 Kano, Minamiizu-cho, Shizuoka Prefecture 415-0305
⑩ Shimogamo Hot Spring
The hot spring that truly represents Minami-Izu. Cherry blossoms and rapeseed blossoms line Aono River as it passes through the hot spring for an early bloom every February, giving a stark contrast with their bright pink and yellow flowers against the white foam of the hot spring. Over 800 Kawazu cherry trees are in full bloom, and four-kilometer worth of stroll with no crowd.
・Location: 157-1 Shimogamo, Minamiizu, Kamo District, Shizuoka 415-0303
Extra: Shiratori Shrine (Chinese Juniper Tree)
One of the biggest secrets of Minamiizu, Shiratori Shrine is tucked in Yoshida. On top of the shrine is an 800-year-old Chinese Juniper Tree. It's known to be a shrine for Japanese martial arts and "Ototachibanahime no Mikoto," the goddess of peace and safe voyage at sea. It's a long scenic and mountainous drive to the shrine that's only accessible by car.
・Location: 1387 Minamiizu-cho, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture 415-0533
Which one are you going first? This list introduced 11 mind-blowing spots in Minami-Izu, a treasure trove of stunning views and unexplored areas in Japan. Cherry blossoms in spring, beach in summer, delicious food in fall, and hot springs in winter--different things for you to enjoy for every season. Hurry, and book your camping parking lots in Minami-Izu with Carstay below!