Ito – A Popular Hot Spring Town on the Coast
The winter in Japan is known for being wet and chili and the first place you want to escape for travel or holiday in general, is an onsen. In Japan it’s very common that Japanese travel to onsen areas year round. So, why not combine both?
Ito is one of the famous onsen areas that’s located on the eastern coast of the Izu peninsula.
How to Get There
This area is very famous because it’s not that far away from Tokyo and is also perfect for a short trip. By car, it only takes about two hours or train from the Tokyo Station by the JR Odoriko limited express.
The town has various onsen hotels and ryokan to offer. Some of them are also very nice sightseeing spots to visit.
The most famous spot in Ito is the Tokaikan. It’s a former ryokan that was established in 1928 and is still running as a guest house for foreigners. Non-guests are allowed to visit the bath, which I highly recommend.
For ¥200 entry fee you can explore the old guest rooms and wooden corridors. At first you enter a room with old photos on the wall and afterwards you were guided to the guest rooms. Some of them have old exhibits like former roof tiles or timbers.
All guest rooms are south facing to the Ito River which is flowing on the backside of the ryokan.
You learn a lot about the history of the Tokaikan and get the feeling of a small museum. There’s also a huge room on one of the floors that exhibits modern designed carvings and you get the chance to write down an entry in a guestbook. When you’ve made it to one of the higher floors, a huge room awaits you that was used for parties and entertainment in the earlier days. When you explore some hidden corners, you’ll find rooms with huge yokai masks like Tengu and oni.
The last highlight of the building is the upper floor which consists of one single room with open windows and a stunning view awaits you. The ocean on the one side and mountains on the other side. It’s tough to climb up the narrow stairs, but you shouldn’t miss that visual reward.
Yu No Hana Dori
When you walk a few meters away from the Tokaikan, you’ll reach a very charming shopping street. On that street you will find statues of the Seven Lucky Gods. Some of them are very well hidden and it’s a lot of fun to find them. You can also collect stamps.
In the south of Ito is another great sightseeing spot and you should be prepared for a little thrill. The Jogasaki Kaigan is a 9km hiking trail along the coast and there are two ways to enter it. The normal one and the one over the Kadowaki suspension bridge. You get a stunning view from there but it also feels like you’re flying over the surge.
There’s also a lighthouse you can visit for free.
If you have some time and the weather is great, you should visit this place to get a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.
Where to Stay?
Ito has several hotels to offer. I can recommend the Laforet Yunoniwa. One of the larger hotels. You can choose between different rooms. Some of them have private onsen.
There’s also a public onsen you can use and three family-run onsen which you don’t need to reserve. They might be good for foreign visitors with tattoos. The breakfast is delicious. There’s a huge grill where you can order freshly made grilled fish.