Shizuoka in Japan was one of the hosts of the new Karen Fukuhara and Brad Bitt action movie, Bullet Train. To mark it hitting the big screen, we look at some must-do experiences for travellers looking to discover and experience the true essence of the prefecture in a more relaxed way than Mr Pitt did.
Hike on Japan’s tallest mountain
Shizuoka is home to one of Japan’s most beloved icons, Mt. Fuji, and allowing time to explore the iconic UNESCO-listed giant is a must when visiting the prefecture. And with the hiking season open until 10th September 2022 (the season often runs from July to September), the Mt. Fuji Hiking and Shrine Ecotour is an excellent option for travellers looking for a hiking challenge combined with cultural adventures and local delicacies.
With morning pick-up at Shin-Fuji station, one of the stops of the Tokaido Shinkansen, the guided experience takes just under seven hours. It includes visiting the Mt. Fuji Sengen Taisha Shrine, which has over 2,000 years of history; a 50-minute hike from Mt. Fuji’s 5th station to the Hoei crater (the largest crater on the iconic mountain), followed by lunch and further exploration of the area on foot; and finishing with a sampling of local sweets.
Prices per adult start from ¥42,350 per person and include the activities listed. (Image courtesy of En-Ya Mt. Fuji Ecotours).
Discover the essence of the prefecture on two wheels
With its spectacular natural environment of coastline, lakes and mountains, Shizuoka has a growing reputation as an unforgettable cycling destination for riders of all levels. The Mt. Fuji Nature E-bike Ecotour allows visitors to discover not only Shizuoka’s stunning scenery but also its traditional life and local flavours en route. The experience includes:
- Visiting Lake Tanuki.
- Riding through a traditional Japanese village.
- Trying fresh spring water from Mt Fuji and fresh rainbow trout at a local farm.
- Riding to the World Heritage Shiraito falls.
After the action-packed day, visitors return to basecamp for a local craft beer surrounded by paddy fields in front of Mt. Fuji. The one-day experience starts from ¥42,350 per person (approx. £260) and includes pick-up at Shin-Fuji station or for travellers with more time.
Overnight stays at a private glamping site are also available for a two-day experience starting at ¥60,500 per person (approx. £373) and inclusive of three meals. (Image courtesy of En-Ya Mt. Fuji Ecotours).
Learn about Shizuoka’s finest hot beverage
Renowned for its premium-quality green tea and as Japan’s biggest producer, no visit to Shizuoka is complete without getting to know the local tea culture. Located approximately a 40-minute drive from Shizuoka station in Kogouchi Village, visitors will find Nukumorien Yururi, one of many organic tea farms offering both day visits and overnight stays.
There is no better way to learn about the healthy beverage than from the people that grow it. The owner of this tea farm is Kyoko-san, whose goal is to help visitors to ‘Yururi’ (meaning to unwind) with activities taking place at a relaxed pace.
From ¥3,000 (approx. £19) and lasting around three hours, the ‘Shizuoka Tea with…’ experience includes visiting the fields to pick up green tea leaves, followed by an expert class from Kyoko-san on how to prepare a farmer-approved brew and time to sit down to enjoy a cup of green tea whilst taking in the beauty of the surroundings.
Additional activities such as tea ceremonies and hand-rolled tea making are available at a cost, as well as homecooked meals. And for travellers looking to relax in nature a little longer, overnight stays start from ¥6,000 (approx. £38) with dinner and breakfast included.
Quintessential onsen relaxation
Shizuoka spoils visitors for choice when it comes to relaxing and revitalising in the traditional Japanese way, with an array of hot springs available throughout the prefecture. A UNESCO Global Geopark, the Izu Peninsula is a popular choice for an onsen break. Here, travellers will find the hillside and boutique Isaba Sea Hotel (Umi-no Hotel Isaba), ideal for a unique wellness escape.
Located on the shores of Suruga Bay (Japan’s deepest bay) in the fishing town of Heda and with 26 sea-facing rooms to choose from, hot spring facilities include a communal rooftop outdoor bath, indoor communal baths, and several private baths for guests to use, as well as a selection of guest rooms with their own private baths too.
Thanks to its location, freshly caught fish and seafood are a staple at the hotel, including a speciality of the town, the high-legged Takaashigani crab, one of the world’s largest crabs.
Enjoy wasabi at its birthplace
Shizuoka is renowned as the birthplace of water-grown wasabi cultivation producing almost half of all wasabi grown in Japan. A method dating back approx four hundred years and recognised by UNESCO as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System, visiting a wasabi field offers travellers a truly unique experience.
Located deep in the mountains of the quiet coastal town of Nishi Izu, visitors will find an organic wasabi farm using the knowledge and methods passed down from their ancestors, Fujii Wasabi-en. Their ‘Wasabi Farming Experience’ includes a guided tour of the fields to learn about this plant’s unique cultivation and harvesting and a visit to the Katsuobushi (dried bonito) factory.
The experience finishes with preparing a wasabi rice bowl for visitors to enjoy both the wasabi they harvested and the dried bonito flakes picked up during the factory visit – all whilst enjoying great views of the west coast of the Izu Peninsula. For booking, price and further details: [email protected].
Read more travel guides, news and features here.