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Izu Peninsula

Located around 100km south-west of Tokyo, the rugged Izu Peninsula is best reached by one of Japan’s most scenic coastal train rides and makes for the ideal relaxing break. We recommend following in Stanley Stewart’s footsteps and staying here for a night or two en-route to Kyoto or Osaka, if you are tempted to escape into unspoiled mountains and deep countryside.

The volcanic origins of this rural peninsula have endowed the region with some of Japan’s finest hot springs and in turn gained the region international acclaim. Totalling some 2,300, these springs lie scattered along the dramatic coastline, nestled in diverse locales from the foothills of climbing mountain ranges to the hidden nooks of atmospheric waterfalls. To experience authentic ‘Onsen (hot spring) culture’ at its finest, we recommend staying in a ‘ryokan’ (traditional inn) with a natural open-air bath to take a relaxing soak within the bubbling water. The Japanese themselves consider this practice a cultural mainstay; viewing it not merely as a personal indulgence, but rather as an integral activity for a healthy lifestyle due to the water’s therapeutic properties and cultural association with the divine. A trip to an ‘onsen’ will therefore enrich any trip to Japan and expose visitors to the myriad of quirks and ritualistic practices involved in this national pastime. Trust us – bathing in the mineral-rich hot water completely open to the elements, surrounded by nothing but raw nature with picturesque steam gently billowing up around you is sure to be a highlight of your luxury tour of this unique country!

Also, not to be missed here is the spectacular cherry blossom, which blooms relatively early in the Izu Peninula’s micro-climate. Bursting into flower across the mountains and lining river banks, these pink petals tend to first appear around the beginning of February and gently blow away until the beginning of March. As a result, ‘sakura’ season here has a head start compared to the rest of the country so we recommend visiting around this time of year to avoid the bustling crowds during the peak ‘sakura’ season elsewhere (around mid-March to mid-April). The autumn leaf season is breathtaking too, for a vivid array of colourful foliage sets the landscape ablaze, providing striking views. One of the best spots to appreciate this is within the renowned Shuzenji Onsen hot spring resort towards the end of November to early December.

As the majority of the rural Izu Peninsula is relatively undeveloped, we recommend renting a car for ease of travel and driving down the jagged Jogasaki Coast. This route is particularly beautiful during the summer months, when the emerald waters of the Pacific lap along dramatic coastline and on to the long stretch of pristine white sand at Shirahama Beach.

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