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See Shimoda, Izu by rail: Hot springs, seasonal blooms, and Japan's first gateway to the world (Part 2)

See Shimoda, Izu by rail: Hot springs, seasonal blooms, and Japan's first gateway to the world (Part 2)

Read Part 1 of our article here.

 

Bonus: A stopover in Izu's Inatori

After exploring Shimoda on foot, head back to the train station and hop back on to get to Izu-Inatori Station (伊豆稲取駅), located just a stop away from Kawazu (famous for its early-blooming cherry blossoms). Join us in Inatori to eat more luxurious kinmedai, savour the sweetness of some surprisingly creative kakigori shaved ice, and feast your eyes on traditional Japanese crafts.

 

Tokuzomaru Seafood: Indulge in Kinmedai to your heart's content

(Image credit: JAPANKURU)

 

As is clear from all the kinmedai used in local cooking, this fish is a local specialty in Izu, and the Inatori area is especially famous for its delicious kinmedai cuisine. If you want to taste the fish at its best, you can't go wrong with Inatori. Right in front of the Inatori Fishing Harbor you'll find Tokuzomaru, a seafood restaurant that uses fresh-caught fish to prepare meals just the way the local fishermen like it. Options range from simple seafood rice bowls to more decadent multi-course kaiseki meals, and even kinmedai hitsumabushi, prepared Nagoya-style.

 

For foodies who want to thoroughly immerse themselves in the delicious umami of kinmedai, we recommend the Kinmedai Zukushi Set, which includes kinmedai grilled with soy sauce, served raw as sashimi, sliced thin for shabu-shabu hotpot, and cooked in miso soup, all in one meal. The set also comes with gardenia rice, an eastern Izu specialty! Before heading out, you can check out the souvenirs on the restaurant's first floor, too.

 

Tokuzomaru Inatori Fishing Harbour Shop (網元料理徳造丸 伊豆稲取漁港本店)
Address: 798 Inatori, Higashiizu, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka 413-0411
Access: 10 minutes on foot from Izu-Inatori Station
Opening hours:
 Weekdays: 09:30–16:45 (Last order: 16:00)
 Weekends, Holidays, & Busy Season: 09:30–15:45 (Last order; 15:00) / 17:00–20:15 (Last order: 19:30)
TEL: +81-557-95-1688

 

Culture Park Hina-no-Yakata & Kinu-no-Kai: Traditional crafts and Hina Matsuri traditions

(Image credit: JAPANKURU)

 

Not far from the fishing harbour, the Inatori Culture Park offers a look at a different kind of Inatori culture, with displays focused on the traditions surrounding Japan's Hina Matsuri (ひな祭り), AKA Girl's Day. This Japanese holiday is for young girls, and celebrations often include displays of sumptuous dolls dressed in the opulent attire of ancient Japanese court dress. At Inatori's Hina-no-Yakata (文化公演 雛の館), they not only have exquisitely crafted dolls on display, but also hanging ornaments used for the festival. While wealthy families of the past could afford to buy the ornate Hina dolls, ordinary families have long relied on handmade hanging ornaments instead, similarly using them to represent well-wishes and hopes of health and happiness for the family's young women. Hanging Hina ornaments of this kind can now be seen in many parts of Japan, but Inatori is one of their earliest points of origin!

 

Inatori has strong cultural traditions surrounding Hina Matsuri, and that includes their "skyscraper Hina dolls", which are set on tall steps for a striking display that goes viral on the internet every year. Inatori's Hina-no-Yakata isn't always open all year round, so you'll want to check the official website before visiting, but if the timing is right during your next trip to Inatori, this spot is a must-visit!

 

Culture Park Hina-no-Yakata (文化公演 雛の館)
Address: 1729 Inatori, Higashiizu, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka 413-0411
Access: 15 minutes on foot from Izu-Inatori Station
Opening hours: 09:00–16:00 (Last entry: 15:40)

 

(Image credit: JR East Yokohama Branch Office)

 

After admiring all the cute ornaments on display at Inatori Culture Park, you can actually try making one yourself! Not far from the Hina-no-Yakata, the Kinu-no-Kai Workshop (絹の会) offers handicraft workshops led by "local moms", who help you hand-sew your own hanging decorations. Workshops are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, and price/time requirements depend on which ornaments you want to make. 

 

On this trip to Izu, we tried making Chinese lantern berry ornaments (beginner level), which are said to be a symbol of good health. Although the local moms who teach the workshops mostly speak Japanese, they also provide illustrated instructions for each ornament, so it's not hard to understand the process. Make a reservation on Kinu-no-Kai’s website to try the workshop yourself!

 

Kinu-no-Kai (絹の会)
Address: 429 Inatori, Higashiizu, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka 413-0411
Access: 10 minutes on foot from Izu-Inatori Station
Opening hours: 09:30–18:00 (Closed on Tuesdays)
TEL: +81-557-95-0722

 

Kitchen Zen Food & Kakigori: Seasonal shaved ice to match the scenery

(Image credit: JAPANKURU)

 

Kitchen Zen (キッチンZEN) is one of Inatori's most popular seaside cafes, and while their lunch sets always draw a crowd at midday, the shop is best known for its kakigori (かき氷shaved ice) made with seasonal Izu ingredients. For autumn, the shop was offering "Izu Chestnut Mont Blanc Kakigori", which screams autumn with just its bold appearance alone. Take a taste, and this shaved ice might just subvert all your expectations, with the sweet scent of chestnut mixing into the mellow flavour of black tea ice, and little pops of hazelnut and berry flavour. 

 

The owner, previously a chef at a restaurant specialising in Japanese cuisine, uses expertise with seasonal ingredients to create innovative shaved ice options bursting with flavour, all throughout the year. The cosy shop with its fantastic ocean views should be added to any foodie's itinerary.

 

Kitchen Zen (お食事&かき氷キッチンZEN)
Address: 3-13 Inatori, Higashiizu, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka 413-0411
Access: 10 minutes on foot, north along the shore, from Izu-Inatori Station
Opening hours: 11:30–14:30 (Last order: 14:00) / 18:00–21:30 (Last order: 21:00) (Closed on Wednesdays & Thursdays)
TEL: +81-557-55-9171

 

Transportation tips: JR TOKYO Wide Pass

JR TOKYO Wide Pass

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The JR TOKYO Wide Pass and usage area. (Image credit: JR EAST)

 

The best way to get to Shimoda is to use the JR TOKYO Wide Pass by the JR EAST Group, made specifically for foreign travellers in Japan. The JR TOKYO Wide Pass is available at ¥15,000 per adult, and offers unlimited rides on designated Tokyo area train lines for three whole days, including shinkansen and limited express trains from JR EAST and other railways. This includes the Odoriko Limited Express service, fully covered by the pass, which is a separate service compared to the similarly named SAPHIR ODORIKO introduced in this article.

 

Unlike SAPHIR ODORIKO, the fare onboard the Odoriko Limited Express is fully covered by the relevant JR East Passes! (Image credit: JAPANKURU)



You can use the pass to explore Izu using the Izukyu Line, too! (The limited express sightseeing train Saphir Odoriko requires an additional seat fee.) And sSince the JR TOKYO Wide Pass can also be used to travel from Izu to areas like Karuizawa, Kawaguchiko, and GALA Yuzawa, you can plan a train trip to some of Japan's most popular spots for a great price.

 

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SAPHIR ODORIKO. (Image credit: JR EAST)

 

If you plan on using riding the SAPHIR ODORIKO for the experience of a sightseeing train, please note that the JR TOKYO Wide Pass only covers basic fare, so you only need to top up to cover for the surcharges required to ride on the Green Car / Premium Green Car reserve seats.



Plus, it's easier than ever to buy a JR TOKYO Wide Pass, now that you can scan your passport and buy the pass directly from a ticket machine without needing to go to a ticket window. You can also make reservations online, while you're in Japan or before you even arrive, to book seats for Rail Pass trips or the limited express SAPHIR ODORIKO using the JR-East Train Reservation page. 

 

(Image credit: JAPANKURU)

 

The passes aren't just available at ticket machines, though. Visit JAPAN RAIL CAFE Tokyo at Tokyo Station for tickets and advice on your trip from multilingual staff, plus a full cafe menu. It's a great place to pass the time while you wait for your train!

 

(Image credit: JR East Yokohama Branch Office)

 

The great deals don't just stop at the train tickets themselves, either. JR East is currently offering a special promotion for foreign tourists called "&EKINAKA," which means that customers using a JR TOKYO Wide Pass, JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area), or JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) also get discounts at a variety of shops in and around train stations. For example, travellers visiting Izukyu-Shimoda Station can shop for souvenirs at Zushu Yamakichi and show their JR EAST PASS during checkout for a special discount!

 

All aboard for a rail trip to Shimoda, Izu

(Image credit: Sue Lynn / JR East)

 

A trip from Tokyo to Izu's city of Shimoda might be just the right distance for railway lovers, be it aboard the regular JR Odoriko Limited Express train or the stylishly luxurious SAPHIR ODORIKO, with the two and a half hour journey providing just enough time to enjoy the scenic views of Japan's countryside, and maybe a bite to eat. After settling into your trip on the train, just keep the momentum going in southern Izu with views of Shimoda's cosy harbour, glimpses of pink cherry blossoms or golden canola flowers, and delicious morsels both sweet and savoury in Inatori, to make the most of your time in Izu!

 

Header image credit: JR East / JAPANKURU

 

This February 2024, another exciting collaboration"izu" happening! A membership and subscription service by JR East, JAPAN RAIL CLUB is launching a Valentine & Izu-themed snack box in collaboration with JR East Yokohama Branch Office! The "With Love, Izu" Omiyage Snack Box is filled with delicious regional snacks such as the Shio Katsuo Udon Snack as well as other additions like the SAPHIR ODORIKO Sand Cookies.

Get started on your subscription journey with JAPAN RAIL CLUB and enjoy savings of up to SGD55 (USD42) with these two promo codes—applicable when you subscribe to a quarterly (3-month) or bi-annually (6-month) plan with us — “IZUOFF3" or "IZUOFF6". The discount code is valid till 29 February 2024. We hope that this box will entice you to make a trip to Izu even further!

 

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