It is Monday and I am back from my weekend trip to Shimoda, Shizuoka.
I told my coworkers this and they met me with blank stares.
It was to be expected. Shimoda is pretty obscure and pretty far from Tokyo (3-4 hours on the cheapest train) away this was exactly why it was chosen to be the first open trading port with the Americans when Commodore Perry famously came to Japan and demanded that they open up ports to foreign trade.
Now Perry is immortalized in a super kawaii deformed caricature of himself. You can buy Perry cookies, and other snacks at various gift shops around town.
But black ships and Commodore Perry aside, there is much more to Shimoda….
What to do in Shimoda
The main answer to this is: beaches.
Shimoda’s beaches are absolutely beautiful. The white sand might be imported but the clear water is all just the Pacific Ocean.
The curvy coastline creates natural coves and bays, making some pretty nice beaches with calmer waves.
This is the one I went to. It is the most expansive one and is just a 20 minute bus ride from Izukyu Shimoda Station. There were not that many people at the beach that day.
There is a bathroom with changing rooms and there are showers you can use (for a fee).
There were some surfers there, trying to surf some of the waves.
Irita Hama Beach
A popular beach with surfers and a popular location for filming commercials, etc. Take a bus from the station that stops in “Irita.”
↑Some people stepped into my picture. This happened multiple times, so I have just given up.
Hydrangea Festival- It sounds dumb to go travel for so long to just go down and see some flowers but the hydrangea festival is actually really worth it. If you can make it out to Shimoda in June, go see it!
The festival is located in Shimoda Park, a pretty good-sized park that you can spend a good hour in. The park offers great views of the town and the bay area. There is also a small aquarium, Shimoda Aquarium on the other side of the park.
The street leading up to the park is also a nice place to take a stroll. It is called Perry Road because it is a semi-preserved historical street with atmospheric restaurants and cafes.
Because Shimoda is next to the ocean, there is a lot of fish around to eat. When you are staying near the ocean, it only makes sense to treat your to its bounty.
Where to stay
I stayed at the Shimoda Tokyu Hotel. I paid 9,550 yen for one night with 2 meals included. The food was really good! This was a bit of a spurge for me. There are many beach houses and pensions in the area that will let you stay with no meals included for about 3,000 yen.
The price I mentioned above was actually for a room with a mountain-facing room, but all the cheap rooms had been filled up, leaving the staff no choice but to give us a free upgrade into an ocean-view room!
Getting to Shimoda
Shimoda is near the south-eastern tip of Shizuoka, so it is not exactly the easiest place to get to. I decided to try and take the cheapest route I could (by train, I think that if you can drive, you should rent a car and drive down there).
If you have the JR East Railway Pass this entire trip might be free. But I would consult a station person to reconfirm this.
I did this route:
Tokyo->Atami 106 minutes
Atami->Izukyu Shimoda 84 minutes
price: 3,883 yen
Yes! You get to ride the train for 186 minutes! Luckily there are toilets on board.
Also there are 2 varieties of train that leave from Atami. One of them has a giant scenery-viewing window. If you happen to get that one, you are lucky.