Beyond the brochure: Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Area Tourist Pass Mini
Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県 Shizuoka-ken) is a prefecture of Japan one hour west of Tokyo City (東京) by shinkansen. It is well-known throughout the land for its tea production, wasabi farms, and for being the home of Japan’s most recognizable symbol, Mount Fuji (富士山 Fuji-san). But besides those features, the region is also a veritable treasure trove of secret onsen, seafood, and ocean power spots which mostly go overlooked by the hordes of foreign visitors who pass by in the Tokaido Shinkansen (東海道新幹線) everyday.
(Image credit: Central Japan Railway Company)
The Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Area Tourist Pass Mini (referred to henceforth as the Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Tourist Pass for this article) is a special travel pass released by JR Central in 2016 to further promote travel around the region with a focus on Mount Fuji. This pass is very unique when compared to the other regional rail passes usually available, as it requires very particular conditions to use. It is only valid for three consecutive days and can be used for most local trains, private railways, buses, and ferries in the area, but NOT on the Shinkansen. Its area of use also does not include nearby major transportation hubs such as Tokyo or Nagoya (名古屋市 Nagoya-shi), so you will have to arrange a separate mode of transportation to enter the region before you can use it. That being said, it is a very cheap pass which has the potential to give you a great amount of savings in travel costs, so without further ado, here is my personal recommended itinerary to help you explore Shizuoka Prefecture!
Day 1: Hamamatsu
Different flowers bloom in Hamamatsu Flower Park year-round, such as these hills of nemophilia. (Image credit: photoAC)
We’ll be starting our trip this time from Nagoya City. Take either the Tokaido Shinkansen (¥3,430, 26 minutes) or a local train (¥1,340, /56 minutes) to Toyohashi Station (豊橋駅 Toyohashi-eki), the start point of the Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Tourist Pass. From Toyohashi Station, take the JR Tokaido Main Line (東海道本線 Tōkaidō-honsen) local train to Hamamatsu Station (浜松駅 Hamamatsu-eki). The main draw of Hamamatsu City is Lake Hamanako (浜名湖), a large saltwater lake dotted with a variety of attractions and hotels along its shoreline.
You can take the Kanzanji Onsen (舘山寺温泉)-bound Entetsu bus (遠鉄バス) from Hamamatsu Station for a 40-minute bus ride to Hamamatsu Flower Park (はままつフラワーパーク). With over 3,000 different varieties of plants and flowers, you can always find something blooming spectacularly year-round, from cherry and plum blossom orchards in spring, to fields of chrysanthemum in autumn.
Enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Hamanako from the Kanzaji Ropeway. (Image credit: photoAC)
A brisk 1km-walk away from the Flower Park is Kanzanji Onsen, a collection of hot spring hotels on the edge of Lake Hamanako. A stay at some of the hotels and ryokan here may give you access to a beautiful lake-view hot spring bath, a zen experience which may be hard to come by in most hot spring regions. Special seafood delicacies including fugu (フグ blowfish) and unagi (うなぎ freshwater eel) are also abundant in the area, so check in with your hotel to have a scrumptious feast along with your bath!
Day 2: Shimizu/Shuzenji Onsen
The ferry route across Suruga Bay is affectionately known as Route 223. (Image credit: Shutterstock)
Take the bus back to Hamamatsu Station, from where we can board a train headed further north into Shizuoka. Drop off at Shimizu Station (清水駅 Shimizu-eki), where we’ll be spending the first half of our day. Shimizu Port (清水港 Shimizu-kō) is a small town off the coast of Suruga Bay (駿河湾 Suruga-wan) which is known for its ferries, sushi, and spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Right outside the train station’s east exit is the Kashi-no-Ichi Market (河岸の市), a fish market that boasts the largest daily catch of tuna in Japan. If you arrive early enough in the morning you should be able to soak in the bustling atmosphere of an authentic wholesale fish market, before gorging yourself on extremely fresh yet cheap seafood across the dozens of restaurants that line the market.
When you’re ready to depart Shimizu Port, head on over to the Shimizu Marine Terminal, where you’ll be able to board the Suruga-Wan Ferry bound for Toi Port (土肥港 Toi-kō). This luxurious ferry can cross over Suruga Bay and reach the Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島 Izu Hantō) in just 70 minutes, and on a clear day can provide some of the best ocean views of Mount Fuji. Best of all, this trip is entirely covered by the Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Tourist Pass, so it would be a shame not to take advantage of it! Be wary, however, as only four round-trips of this ferry run daily, so it would be prudent to plan your schedule accordingly on their site here.
From Toi-ko Ferry Terminal, take the Tokai Bus bound for Shuzenji Station (修善寺駅 Shuzenji-eki). Once you arrive at the station, you can opt to either take a 3-minute bus ride or walk a short distance to get to our final destination of the day, Shuzenji Onsen (修善寺温泉).
A wonderful escape from the bustle of the city. (Image credit: Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)
While Kanzanji Onsen was a more modern, ocean-facing hot spring resort town, Shuzenji Onsen is an older, far more traditional-looking town with over a thousand years of history and plenty of ryokan (旅館 traditional Japanese inn). This beautiful locale has everything you could ask for in a quintessential onsen town experience, from bamboo forests, gushing hot-water streams, and beautiful Edo-era architecture. There are also a good number of attractions in the vicinity which would make for good day trips, including Niji no Sato (虹の郷 an England-themed amusement park) and Tokko no Yu (独鈷の湯 the main public open-air bath house).
Day 3: Gotemba/Fuji
Shop til you drop in the mall with the best view ever. (Image credit: Shutterstock)
We’ll be ending off the last day of our Tourist Pass with a day trip to an iconic Mount Fuji landmark. From Shuzenji Station, board the Izuhakone Railway (伊豆箱根鉄道 Izu Hakone Tetsudō) and head on over to Mishima Station (三島駅 Mishima-eki) at the end of the line. From there, take a transfer to the Tokaido Line and make a brief ride to Numazu Station (沼津駅 Numazu-eki), before changing trains one more time and arriving at Gotemba Station (御殿場駅 Gotenba-eki). A brief summary of the trip to get here can be found below:
(Image credit: Gotemba Premium Outlets)
The Gotemba Premium Outlet (御殿場プレミアム・アウトレット) is, well, exactly what it’s called; one of the most popular and premium outlet mall complexes in Japan. A branded goods heaven for all you shopaholics out there, you can treat yourself to a daylong shopping spree with over 200 different stores featuring brands such as Ralph Laurent, Seiko, Prada, and Adidas, just to name a few, with prices that are generally lower than their counterparts in Tokyo.
If shopping is not your thing, fret not, for Gotemba is also a great gateway to access some of the other attractions in the Mount Fuji area. The Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Tourist Pass gives you access to the Fujikyoko Sightseeing Buses (富士急行バス), which you can board from Gotemba Station. Some of the popular attractions which can be reached through these bus routes include Lake Kawaguchi (河口湖 Kawaguchi-ko), Fuji Q Highland (富士急ハイランド) and Yeti Ski Resort (スノーパーク イエティ Sunōpāku ieti). For an in-depth look at some of these attractions, check out our other article detailing the Mount Fuji area here!
How much do you save?
Information based on Hyperdia
Total cost: ¥8,100
- Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Area Tourist Pass Mini (3 days) price: ¥4,570
= Savings: ¥3,530!
As you can see in the itinerary above, you can save a pretty penny while exploring a beautiful part of Japan that fewer foreign visitors have yet experienced! More information on the Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Tourist Pass can be found here. The Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Tourist Pass is available for purchase online and at selected overseas travel counters, including the JTB Rail Pass Counter available at JAPAN RAIL CAFE.
JAPAN RAIL CAFE
Address: 5 Wallich St, #01-20, Singapore 078883
Opening hours: 11am - 8pm (daily)
(JTB Rail Pass Counter and Travel Communicators Desk are temporarily closed due to Circuit Breaker)
Header image credit: JR Times
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