Izu bound!

Last weekend we managed to enjoy a long weekend in Japan as the Monday (18th) was a national holiday. What national holiday? Believe it or not, it was actually ‘Beach Day’. What better way to spend ‘Beach Day’ than to go to the Izu Peninsula to enjoy the beaches there? The UK really needs cool holidays like this too!

My friend organised this trip back in May during Golden Week. I went with a group of ALTs, and straight after finishing work on the Friday evening we started to make our way to Izu! The car ride took around 5-6 hours, from our tiny little town in Tochigi to the Shizuoka prefecture. It was a long journey, and the amount of toll roads we had to drive through were insane! After a long and tiring journey, we made it to our ryokan at around 10pm.

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The ryokan we stayed at (over 100 years old)

Above is the ryokan we stayed at. It was such a beautiful place to stay, and for a really good price! One night cost around 3000 yen (around £20), which is incredibly cheap! It was described as a hostel, but it felt much more luxurious (with a 24 hour onsen!). It was my first time staying at an old-style Japanese house. The smell of the rice-papered doors, the creaking floorboards, rolling out the futons to sleep on. This was the Japan I had been picturing in my head for a long time! The view from our room was amazing too, overlooking the river.

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View from our room
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Our room
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The onsen at the ryokan

I really enjoyed my first onsen experience. A lot of people are put off by the fact that onsens are done completely naked, and to be entirely honest, I was a bit too. But once you overcome this, it really doesn’t faze you anymore. Since the ryokan had a 24 hour onsen, I made sure to make the most of it! I used the onsen every night of my trip. The water is incredibly hot, and I struggled to stay in for a long time as I felt like I was going to pass out. But I gradually got use to it. I’ve tried steam rooms and saunas, but the onsen made my skin feel incredible. I have always had tiny spots on my tricep areas, but after being in the onsen they had all vanished. I’m definitely going to make the most of the onsens near where I live!

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Shirahama beach

The following morning, we drove an hour away to Shirahama beach. I was told that Shirahama beach is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Japan. We were insanely lucky with the weather, as prior to our trip the weather was forecasted to have thunderstorms. One thing you will learn whilst living in Japan is that the weather forecast is highly inaccurate. Most times the weather will be the complete opposite of what has been forecasted.

Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The weather was cloudy whilst driving to the beach, but upon arrival, the clouds cleared up and the sky was a luscious blue. A sad thing happened that day. I was dragged into the water by a friend and was hit by a huge wave and lost my Ray Bans in the sea. My friends ended up diving into the water to try and search for them, but they were long gone. MY heart is breaking as I type this. Me and expensive items do not really work well together.

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The drive to the onsen
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The drive to the onsen

The drive to the onsen was beautiful however. Driving up in the mountains with the sea view. The onsen we stopped at was the most beautiful onsen I have ever been to! (Saying that, I have only visited 2 onsens..) I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the onsen of course, but it was breath-takingly beautiful. The onsen was in a multi-story building. We took an elevator to the third floor. From the third floor, we were able to sit in an onsen on a huge balcony overlooking the mountains and sea. The scene was almost like a watercolour painting. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt totally relaxed, I could have stayed there forever!

The only problem I had was that I ended up getting totally burnt. I applied sun lotion (obviously not enough…). My skin was so red that it looked like I had been scalded with hot water. Any movement I made hurt so bad. Dipping my feet into the onsen hurt like hell! One of the most excruciating pains I have felt. But after a minute of pain, the pain settled and I could relax (up until I decided to get out and dip into a different onsen).

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My burnt limbs
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It’s tradition to drink a bottle of milk straight after being in an onsen!
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The beach near the ryokan
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The beach near the ryokan

The next day we decided to take it easy as a lot of us were suffering from what felt like third degree burns. We chilled in the ryokan for most of the afternoon then headed to the beach as the sun was about to set. We also went to a nearby izikaya for dinner.

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At a nearby izikaya
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Teriyaki chicken set

The food took almost an hour to come, but this was kind of expected as there were 11 of us who came in at a time and ordered. It was worth the wait however!

The next day we decided to explore the market just across the road from where we were staying. Izu is famous for the honey, so there were a lot of honey-flavoured omiyage snacks on sale. I tried out the honey ice-cream which was so good! There were also a lot of food stalls, which made it a good thing that I came on an empty stomach!

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Izu market

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Honey ice cream

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Teriyaki chicken in pita bread

 

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Sesame chicken wings

On the final day we decided to Kamakura, nearby Tokyo, as it was on the way going home. The drive was interesting as it was all mountainous, and I managed to spot a few paragliders!

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We stopped off at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura.

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Entrance to the Tsurugaoka shrine
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Tsurugaoka Hachimangu
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Tsurugaoka Hachimangu
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Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

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The weather was super hot that day, and by that time I was ready to just go home. I think I had had enough of the sun by that point! But the shrine was beautiful. There was a ginkgo tree which use to stand beside the shrine which was said to be over 1000 years old. But sadly it was completely uprooted during a storm in 2010. We didn’t get a chance to visit the famous buddha statue in Kamakura, but there’s always next time!

The drive back was pleasant as we could actually see the skyline of Yokohama and Tokyo. It was cool seeing the Skytree tower in the distance! I do kind of miss Tokyo, will have to make another visit there soon! Yokohama is also on my list of places to visit next!

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Yokohama skyline
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Skytree visible

Overall, it was a nice little trip. Although I was kind of burnt out towards the end! But the weather was incredible, the beaches were great and of course the company was good!

Hope you are all enjoying the week! Take it easy!

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