Before visiting Shizuoka Prefecture, I assumed my trip would be all about Japan’s tallest mountain. The chance to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji is a bucket list item, for sure. But it’s not the only bucket list item! Shizuoka’s Izu Peninsula is a food lover’s dream and an adventurer’s paradise. Don’t believe me? Here are 42 things you need to do in Shizuoka!
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How to get to Shizuoka
Shizuoka is less than an hour’s ride on the Shinkansen from Tokyo. While the distance makes this prefecture a wonderful spot for a day trip from Tokyo, you’ll want way more than a day here!
However, I recommend riding the Shinkansen. You can get reserved tickets delivered to your hotel – with same day delivery options available for hotels in Tokyo. Book your Shinkansen ticket to or from Shizuoka here and travel at speeds up to 200mph!
Still in your home country? Consider buying a JR Pass for cheaper, easy travel throughout Japan. Book it here.
42 epic things to do in Shizuoka
1. Zip line with a view of Mt. Fuji
At Mishima Skywalk, you’ll get to experience three of the #1s in all of Japan! The suspension bridge is the longest walkable suspension bridge. You may get to see Mount Fuji – the tallest mountain in Japan. And you can see Suruga Bay, the country’s deepest bay, extending to 8,200 below sea level.
As you zip line nearly 1,000 feet, you’ve got time to feel the adrenaline and enjoy nature all at the same time!
Want to continue the adventure? Take to the trees with Mishima Skywalk’s adventure course, auto-belay climbing, or take an off-road Segway excursion!
If you want to experience the suspension bridge with an English-speaking guide, you can book a tour here.
2. Eat ice cream under a hanging sky garden
The fun at Mishima Skywalk doesn’t stop with the zip line! The Sky Garden is an Instagrammer’s paradise. With a ceiling of live flowers hanging in baskets, you can shop and eat under flowers in bloom year round!
I was a big fan of the ice cream (made with milk from cows who live at the base of Mount Fuji) topped with colorful Konpeitō candies. So kawaii! And don’t miss the daifuku cakes – fresh strawberries wrapped in mochi dough!
3. Leave your mark in Shizuoka
At Mishima Skywalk, you can purchase a wooden charm with a flower seed pasted on top. Make a wish and drop the charm from the bridge. Your flower will grow and beautify the region for many seasons to come!
4. Taste cherry blossom sweets
Togetsuen is a high class confectionary in the city of Mishima. The pastry chef, Takeshi Ayabe, is the third generation to run this shop. He trained in New York and when the white hat comes off, he’s a reggae DJ who’s played around the world – including Jamaica!
The day we visited, though, the chef’s hat was on and I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon tea treat! The Mishima Sakura is made with a special blend of shiso, grated chestnut and brown sugar covered with a sweet white bean bun. This paired perfectly with a salted petal cherry blossom infusion – a salty balance to the sweet Mishima Sakura.
Don’t forget to pick up cookies featuring Mishima’s mascots: Mishimarokun and his girlfriend Mishimarukochan. The cookies feature local flavors and pair perfectly with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
5. See the cherry blossoms
The climate of Izu Peninsula means that some kind of flower is in bloom all year round! If you’re set on seeing the cherry blossom, though, you’ll find the beautiful, pink blooms in Kawazo Town in early spring. Want to go with the pros? Here’s a tour that will show you all the best spots for cherry blossoms in February and March!
Throughout the rest of the year, you’ll find lavender, hydrangeas, plum blossoms, daffodils, hibiscus and more!
6. Learn to pray at a Shinto shrine
All over Japan, you’ll find shrines. Some are big and some are small. And some are Buddhist while others are Shinto (the indigenous Japanese religion)
If you find yourself at a Shinto shrine, there are a few things you need to know.
1. Never walk directly under the center of a gate – the middle of the road is reserved for the gods.
2. There’s a special way to purify yourself before praying using a ladle of water at the temizuya (fountain).
3. To pray, toss a ¥5 or ¥50 yen coin for luck. Then bow twice, clap your hands twice, say a prayer, then bow once more.
Mishima Taisha Shrine dates back to at least the 8th century and is known as a shrine of high status. If the history doesn’t impress you, this shrine was the prayer spot of choice for the first samurai leader, Minamoto no Yoritomo.
7. Visit a wind chime artisan
Summertime in Shizuoka is HOT! But relief comes with a soft breeze that is often heard before it’s felt. Residents of the region will tell you that just hearing the tinkle of a furin (wind chime) gives relief from the heat.
In Mishima City, there’s an artisan who is making the town just a little bit cooler. Visit the Nikko Factory Shop where you can buy a wind bell with local imagery that’s hand painted on blown glass. Or arrange for a class to make your own!
Throughout the year, you may run into the owner of the shop and the artisan behind the beautiful glass carrying his wind chime cart around town and passing out information about Mishima!
8. Test your bravery with wasabi ice cream
Did you know that wasabi changes its flavor depending on the grater used? Traditional graters (like the one you probably have in your kitchen) only aerate the wasabi a small amount, leaving flavor left unearthed. The traditional grater in Japan is shark skin. While this aerates the wasabi a little more, there’s still more flavor inside the root. So Yamamoto Foods created their own grater. This metal grater is embossed with the Japanese characters for “wasabi” and provide a smooth, creamy and spicy wasabi paste. Eat it quickly, though! True wasabi loses its flavor after about 15 minutes’ contact with the air.
At the Yamamoto Foods shop, you can try wasabi with ice cream – that spicy + cool combination is a unique one! Or create a savory wasabi rice dish that’s known as “crying rice” in the town of Kawazu.
Whatever you choose, it’s sure to be a winner!
9. Fill your water bottle at a motion activated water pump
At “Megumi-no-ko” in Mishima, a water fountain is manned by the statues of a little girl and boy. When you approach the fountain, they say (in Japanese) “Hello! This is the delicious water of Mishima. Please try it! It is safe to drink. Please try it!”
At “Tsurebe-ko,” just across the street from the wind chime shop, little boy and girl characters pump water from the well. These characters are dressed in costumes made by local volunteers and changed seasonally.
Mishima’s water began as snow on Mt. Fuji, before melting and flowing under rocks and reemerging as clear water springs. This town’s clean water is very important to them, and this is a great spot to fill your bottle!
10. Get picked up by a muscular chef
At FOODO, the food is fresh and delicious. Sushi is expertly prepared, tempura vegetables are cooked using a healthy method and the karaage (fried chicken) is finger lickin’ good!
The owner also owns a gym, and somehow it came up that he can carry women in his arms. And somehow… it happened to me! This was definitely the most surprising end to a meal I’ve ever experienced!
11. Catch a glimpse of the Double Diamond Fuji
Double Diamond Fuji is the phrase coined to describe the moment that the sun rises over Mt. Fuji and seems to rest atop the volcano. The scene is reflected in Lake Tanuki, causing double the awe-inspiring beauty. Check out this awesome phenomenon from Lake Tanuki on April 20 and August 20.
12. Be on the lookout for puppies in prams
All across Japan, I noticed an exciting an adorable trend. There are puppies in strollers all over the place. This isn’t an activity you can book… but finding puppies in prams was one of the cutest things to do in Shizuoka!
13. Drink sake made from Mount Fuji water
They say that the best sake comes from places with the best water… and the water from Mount Fuji certainly is special. When you try sake from the Shizuoka prefecture, you’re getting a taste of pure mountain spring water.
A sake drinking tip: Never pour your own sake. Fill your neighbor’s glass, and they’ll fill yours. Now you’re ready to drink – Kampai! (That’s how you say cheers in Japan – it literally means “to empty your glass.”)
Click here to book a sake brewery tour.
If whiskey’s more your style, click here to book a tour at a local whiskey distillery.
14. Relax by the Genbe River
Mishima city has plenty to see and do (and eat!), but perhaps you need a little rest? Take a walk over the stepping stones in the Genbe River and cool off in the shade with your feet in the water. Sticking around for dusk in the summertime? Be sure to watch for the flicker of fireflies!
Be on the lookout for pieces of pottery in the river. In the olden days, it was customary to send chipped rice bowls into the river. A shard of pottery makes a great free souvenir!
15. Experience a Japanese Onsen
The Izu Peninsula of Shizuoka is well known for their Onsen (spa) culture. At the stunning Hotel New Akao Royal Wing, enjoy a private bath overlooking the Pacific Ocean or join the other guests in the public bath. Here’s a full guide on how to take a Japanese Onsen bath.
Other popular Onsens on the Izu Peninsula include the Horizontal Style Hot Spring, first discovered 1,300 years ago, the Sawada Park Outdoor Bath, where you can watch the sunset from the Onsen, and Atagawa Onsen, which was discovered when a monkey was witnessed bathing here!
Got ink? If you have a tattoo, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. Only non-tattooed guests may enjoy the Onsen experience.
16. Local fruits and veggies
The Izu peninsula is proud of their rich fruit and vegetable culture. At a local grocery store, you can try your luck with a claw crane game to win a variety of Shiitake mushrooms!
Don’t miss the korokke in Mishima. This deep fried mashed potato cake is both sweet and creamy. I tried it as a side with Mishima Skywalk’s local curry.
If you’re a fan of fruit, be sure to stop by the Izu Fruits Park, where you can join in the harvesting process of strawberries, melons and mandarins.
17. Get in the Love Live! Sunshine!! spirit
Love Live! Sunshine!! is a manga and anime series set in Numazu, Shizuoka. The series is set at a real school in Numazu as the fictional characters become “idols” to save their school from shutting down. Watch for the train car in Shizuoka painted with the characters from the series!
18. Learn to make wagashi
At CHAKI CHAKI, you can learn how to make the kawaii sweet bean paste treats in a seasonal motif, then enjoy the fruits (er… beans) of your labor during a traditional tea ceremony.
Ms. Asuka is the owner and confectioner and she’s a kind and patient teacher. I wasn’t confident in my skills, but through her encouragement, I ended up with wagashi that I loved the look and taste of! This was one of my favorite experiences in all of Shizuoka, and the setting in the Amagi Mountain Range lends to a feeling of calm in this beautiful cafe.
Prefer to let someone else do the hard work? Chaki Chaki is open Wednesday – Saturday. Be sure to try the wagashi, served with matcha tea from the Shizuoka Region or hand-dripped coffee – all made with water from an old gold mine. Now that’s rich!
Want to book a foodie’s day out on the Izu Peninsula with wagashi lessons? Contact Nina at Cooking Holidays Izu and she’ll plan the sweetest day for you!
19. Taste fresh sakura shrimp
Suruga Bay in Shizuoka Prefecture is the only place in the world where you can try fresh sakura shrimp, named for their color – comparable to a pink cherry blossom. You’ll see bright pink patches where the shrimp is laid out to dry in spring and fall.
20. Get the royal treatment at a prince’s villa
Rakujuen Park was built in 1890 as the country villa for Prince Komatsu. From his home, you can see lava formations from an eruption by Mount Fuji 10,000 years ago and Kohama Pond, a natural spring fed by Mount Fuji.
The park is bigger than 10 football fields and is home to cute animals like alpacas, capybaras and red pandas at their on-site zoo.
21. Eat ALL the seafood
The proximity to Suruga Bay means that the Izu peninsula is blessed with fresh, clean fish – perfect for sushi!
In Atami City, Kamatsuru offers a multi-course meal with several types of fresh seafood. The menu was in Japanese, but our waitress communicated through Google translate to let us know that one of the fish on our platter “was alive until just minutes ago.” I got out of my comfort zone with both the raw fish and the paste made from its liver.
22. Go to the beach
Izu Peninsula is home to some of the best white sandy beaches and clear blue water in Japan. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, collect shells, go for a walk or just relax, there’s a beachfront for you.
23. Scuba dive with hammerheads
Just 6 miles south of Izu Peninsula, the uninhabited island of Mikomoto Island offers scuba diving with hammerhead sharks. I didn’t get to experience diving with a school of hammerheads this time, but you can be sure I’ll make my way to Minamiizu town at the southern tip of Izu next time to experience this adventure!
24. Watch out for cyclists
If you’re visiting for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Izu is hosting a portion of the cycling races! Outside the Olympics, watch for the athletic men and women who come to this region to train.
25. Have a Pikiniki
I thought sandwich lunches were a very American thing. However, the talented team at Pikiniki, near Joren Falls, are making sandwiches that are the best thing since sliced bread! I loved their spicy pork sandwich and their pancetta sandwich. All meals are served in an adorable basket and the vibe is very Melbourne.
26. Cut out the middleman – go to the fish market
Hop off the train at Shimizu station, where you’ll walk past fishermen’s boats on your way into the fish market. The prices you’ll find in this local market are a fraction of the price you’ll see in Tokyo.
Pop in for a look, or stay for a meal, where the fish is as fresh as possible!
27. Search for Shizuoka gastronomy on manhole covers
Don’t get so caught up in all the gorgeous scenery and interesting shops around you that you forget to look down! Manholes throughout Japan are often intricate and beautiful. Those in Shizuoka Prefecture are no different. Watch for gastronomy themed manholes scattered throughout the prefecture. You may find tea leaves, bonito, strawberries, and clams, just to name a few!
28. Visit a strawberry factory
Strawberries aren’t just for manholes! At Bon Bon Berry in Atami, you’ll step into an Instagrammer’s paradise, complete with a swing set and strawberry wigs! The beautiful presentation of fresh strawberries and strawberry desserts were “berry” great, too!
I loved trying the strawberry cheesecake, created to look like a giant strawberry!
29. Take a hike
The Jogasaki Coast offers popular hiking trails with scenic views of the jagged coast line. Take a tour that will bring you to the most beautiful spots along the coast where you can enjoy the volcanic topography. Don’t miss the lighthouse and the Kadowakizaki suspension bridge.
Here’s a tour that will show you all the highlights of the Jogasaki Coast!
30. Try sakuramochi
Sakuramochi is a special sweet pink mochi confection you can find during cherry blossom season. In the center of this treat is red bean paste, which is covered by the sweet rice cake. Then, all of it is wrapped in an edible cherry blossom leaf. I missed out on this seasonal treat, but if you’re in Shizuoka in the spring, be sure to try it!
31. Old world meets new fashion
Wooden GETA shoes are traditionally worn with the kimono. As you might imagine, wooden blocks aren’t the most comfortable. Thanks to craftsman Masashi Mizutori, men, women and children can now choose a cute and comfortable modern GETA to pair with a kimono or everyday clothes.
32. Learn from the master of soba
Mr. Osamu Tagata is the lead artisan and chef at Tagata, a popular soba noodle shop in Shizuoka City. You’ll find buckwheat noodles all around Japan, but you won’t find the strain of buckwheat he’s serving anywhere else on Honshu (the large island of Japan where Tokyo is located). You see, Mr. Tagata uses indigenous buckwheat from Sashima, in the west side of the Nagasaki prefecture. This is the same strain that was brought over from China 6,000 years ago.
Mr. Tagata is also active in preserving the indigenous planted in the Shizuoka region and hopes to serve indigenous Shizuoka soba noodles soon.
Here, you can try the noodles hot or cold. I actually prefer them cold and dipped into the sauce because you can better appreciate the true buckwheat flavor that makes these noodles so special.
This restaurant is small and popular, so I recommend arriving early to ensure a seat.
33. Celebrate with great food and a beautiful presentation
At Kakuya Bessyo the food is incredible and the presentation knocks it out of the park!
Every course came with a special feature. The raw fish course is served on a bed of ice, with a sculpture of Mount Fuij.
The smoked duck is presented in a bell jar full of smoke.
And the award winning Izu beef is served on lava stone, where you can cook it as much (or as little) as you’d like. I’m from Texas and I LOVE my steak… this is some of the best I’ve ever eaten!
I celebrated my birthday at Kakuya Bessyo, and was surprised with this gorgeous platter of desserts! For a special meal, don’t miss this Shizuoka city restaurant!
34. Take a gondola ride for panoramic views of Mt. Fuji and Suruga Bay
Did you know Mount Fuji is most often seen in winter months? The cool, crisp air leads to less cloud cover and better visibility. I assumed that I wouldn’t get to see the famous mountain since I visited in August. But luck was on my side! For a few seconds, the clouds parted and I saw the iconic mountain.
Even on a cloudy day, the sparkling waters of Suruga Bay prove worth the trip! (You can always BYO Fuji!)
At the top of the lookout at Panoramic Park, you can enjoy a soothing foot bath at Fujimi no Ashiyu. For ladies wearing stockings, long plastic bags are provided so no one misses out on this experience!
Walk around and visit the Hyakutai Jizouson, a group of 105 Jizo Buddha statues. These statues are said to bring good luck, health, fortune and longevity and have been here for nearly 700 years. One cloth hung around a Buddha statue was a note of thanks for answering a prayer for a baby.
35. Taste 7 levels of matcha
How matcha can you handle!? At Nanaya in Shizuoka city, it’s all about how much matcha you can eat. Try seven levels of matcha ice cream or chocolate. You know me… it’s all about going big or going home, so I went straight for the strongest matcha-flavored sweets I could get my hands on!
I enjoyed trying the 7 levels of matcha chocolate with a bonus chocolate bar of hojicha (green tea leaves that have been steamed and then roasted). While level seven knocked my socks off with the rich, full, umami flavor of matcha, I found that level three was perfect for me.
36. Try the unagi!
I don’t like it when my food looks at me. Especially when it’s looking at me with a face full of scary teeth. Get over the presentation, and try the eel! While the eel served in Mishima is raised in other parts of Japan, it’s special because it’s kept in Mount Fuji water for several days before becoming dinner.
Believed to be messengers of the water gods, the people of Mishima only recently began eating eel. However, after a soldier caught and ate an eel at the end of the Edo period without consequence, the eel was deemed good to eat!
37. Visit the mountains that inspired a popular karaoke song
In 1986, Japanese singer Sayuri Ishikawa released the song “Amagi-goe.” The iconic song is now a karaoke staple all across Japan. Some of the lyrics include:
If you had to be stolen away
I’d rather kill you myself
Sleeping together at a secret retreat
The long and winding path to Joren Falls
Soaring up and falling down―over your shoulder
I can see burning mountains
I don’t care what lies ahead
Treading through the blazing fire
I want to go with you down the Amagi Pass
I hope your trip to the Joren Falls involves less heartbreak and a more enjoyable experience all around. Visit the monument celebrating this song at the foot of the Joren Falls, or try your hand at fishing.
Once you make a catch, bring it to the station on the walkway to the falls, where it’ll be sprinkled with salt and cooked over a flame. Shioyaki is a favorite snack all around Japan!
Ever wondered how wasabi is grown? You can see the spicy root all along the walkway. Bonus: Wasabi only grows in cooler temperatures, so this is the perfect escape on a hot summer day!
38. Munch on some happy rice crackers
Saiwai Senbei is the shop whose name means “happy rice crackers.” You’ll know you’ve arrived at the Shizuoka city shop when you see a kawaii sign with six gods and one goddess on a boat. Japanese legend says these gods and goddess are bringing happiness with them. I can’t think of much that brings me more happiness than food, can you?! Try their unique flavored rice crackers like seaweed, shiso or spicy red pepper.
39. Sip tea at a shop founded in 1781
“Tea is not to be seen. It is to be drunk.” That’s the motto of Chikumeido. This means that they’re choosing leaves for flavor, even if the leaves don’t look quite as pretty. And their method is working! They’ve been a staple in Shizuoka for around 240 years, through nine generations.
At Chikumeido, you can choose from many different types of tea, ranging from affordable everyday tea to premium tea for special occasions. Created by accident but loved by many, warakake is a hybrid of gyokuro tea (premium refined green tea) and sencha tea (ordinary tea).
40. It’s green tea… only cooler
Times are changing in Japan, and while older generations would drink 4-5 cups of tea every day, the younger generation is drinking less green tea and more coffee.
Shizuoka is the number one green tea-producing region in Japan, and many people’s livelihoods depend on those little leaves. The innovative people of Shizuoka couldn’t just sit by and watch green tea fall out of fashion, and so they did something about it. A challenge was set forth to businesses all around Shizuoka to create a new way to enjoy green tea. And the businesses responded!
A shaved ice treat called kakigori is the new, cool way to enjoy green tea. At Chagama, we tried their signature two flavored kakigori, with one cup of green tea shaved ice and one cup of hojicha. Mochi and sweet red bean paste adorned both. I preferred the hojicha for it’s sweeter and more mild flavor, but both were really special local treats.
End your innovative green tea experience with a green tea latte made using an espresso machine. This method of brewing tea ensures full flavor (and promises the caffeine benefits of green tea’s slow burn of energy)!
41. Learn to fly
See Mt. Fuji from a different perspective as you paraglide through the air! At Sky Asagiri, you can enjoy a tandem paraglide… all the views, none of the work!
42. Climb Mt. Fuji
And of course, there’s Fuji-san itself. Its religious significance and the sheer height (nearly 11,500 feet) make this a bucket list item for many. From early July to early September, trekkers and pilgrims from around the world flock to this part of Japan to climb the country’s tallest mountain. Mt. Fuji is shared between Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures. A climb on the Shizuoka side guarantees a shorter, steeper climb that’s less crowded than the Yamanashi hike. I didn’t get to climb Mt. Fuji this trip, but hope to come back and make it to the top again one day!
Where to stay in Shizuoka
The seaside town of Atami, located on the northeastern base of the Izu Peninsula is less than an hour’s ride on the Shinkansen from Tokyo (book your ticket here). At the end of the 19th century, the imperial family built a home here, leading other influential families to build their second homes in Atami as well.
Today, it’s well known for its onsens and although only 4,000 people call Atami home, more than it welcomes 6 million visitors annually.
When I visited Atami, I stayed at the Hotel New Akao Royal Wing, a beautiful and modern hotel with ocean views. Despite an impending typhoon during my stay, the moody skies and big waves of Sagami Bay captivated me each morning when I opened the shades. The rooms are equipped with a large soaking bath and yukatas to wear in your room or to explore the hotel.
Hotel New Akao Royal Wing offers a breakfast buffet with western favorites as well as local Japanese specialties. Dinner is also available with French or Japanese delicacies, using fresh seafood and local products.
After a long day spent exploring Atami, relax in the public or private onsens, some with ocean views while you soak.
Book your stay at the Hotel New Akao Royal Wing here.
Just steps away from the Shizuoka train station, Hotel Associa Shizuoka beckons business and leisure travelers with its convenient location and modern luxury.
I enjoyed soaking in the deep tub in my room after a day spent walking around Shizuoka City. And despite the hot, humid days, this hotel’s air conditioning was the best I experienced in the whole country!
Breakfast included an omelette station and pancakes with a green tea cream sauce!
Want to stay at Hotel Associa Shizuoka? Book your stay here.
Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, chose Sunpu (now called Shizuoka) as his place of retirement. And I can see why – the bountiful harvests, fresh seafood and stunning scenery forms a land that’s befitting of a powerful ruler. Luckily, we don’t have to be a famous or powerful ruler to enjoy a visit to the Izu Peninsula today!
In short, Shizuoka deserves so much more than just a day trip from Tokyo. I stayed for four days and three nights and I know there’s still so much more that this prefecture has to offer. Whether you’re visiting Japan for the first time or the fifth, I hope you’ll add this region to your itinerary!
Note: Shizuoka Prefecture hosted me on my trip to the Izu Peninsula. All opinions are my own and I’ll never recommend anything to you that’s not awesome!