It’s always nice to get out of the big city, inhale some fresh sea air, and take in some natural vistas. A couple of hours drive along the coast from Tokyo will bring you to Manazuru Peninsula. This compact Peninsula is an old lava flow from the Hakone area volcanoes flowing down into the Pacific.
A short distance onto the Peninsula from the main highway turnoff you are greeted by a make-shift sign that says in Japanese <left> for Seaside Route or <right> for Ridgeline Route. Those are your only options. You immediately feel you’re in a quaint, uncomplicated place. Take the Seaside route, and a few more twists of the narrow road brings you to a small deep-water port. Stop for a minute and soak up the mood. From somewhere across the dark green water Hawaiian music drifts lazily across the bay. Around the foreshore are a score or more of people fishing, in no hurry, just happy to be there.
If you’re feeling energetic talk a walk up the dozens of steps to the left to the Shrine for Ships. This local deity keeps an eye out for the fishermen. The huge concrete seawall at the entrance to the harbor no doubt also helps to keep out typhoon and tsunami swells. Visit at the end of July and enjoy the festival at the Shrine.
Drive further along the Peninsula and you will soon be covered by pretty coastal forest. This is natural forest, not plantation, a rare experience in Japan. Camphor trees and black pines with impressive trunks twist and turn through the greenery.
All too soon the forest opens up because you’ve reached the southern tip of Manazuru Peninsula. Park the car and stroll along the pretty green grassed gardens enjoying spectacular views out over the Pacific Ocean. Take a walk down the zig-zag staircase to the water’s edge and dip your toes in the brine. Big waves crash on the shore. Just off the beach are three vertical rocks, Mitsuishi. Watching the year’s first sunrise between these rocks is apparently a good way to bless your forward calendar.
If you’re revitalized from your Manazuru experience and are thirsting for more, drive an hour further on, part-way down Izu’s east coast to Jogasaki Coastline. Jogasaki is the lava flow from Omuroyama eruption of 4,000 years ago, sticking out into the Pacific. Partial wave erosion of the new rock has create a jagged, moon-like landscape.
Park the car and head off for a stroll along the coastal path. If you’re up for it you can go the full 2km distance to the 17th century lunch house Boranaya. On the way you can be spooked by the Anaguchi, literally ‘hole-mouth’, a vertical shaft in the ground descending straight to the boiling sea below. Don’t fall in! You’ll also cross a suspension bridge which saves you the risk of navigating a big chasm carved out the lava by wave action. Half way along is a light-house. Climb to the top for an excellent view of the northernmost Izu islands to your east. To your west the bright green figure of Omurayama itself supervises your wonderings along its own lavaflow.
Access: The nearest station is Manazuru Station on the Tokaido Main Line from where you can walk to towards the coast or take a local bus towards the Tsushima Shrine from where you can access the coastline. Other option is to rent a car and drive along the Tokaido Main Line along the coast.