Travel

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

If you follow me on social media, especially on Instagram, or even if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter (the last one I sent during my trip with “live information”), then you probably already know where I went for my “Japan Spring Vacation 2014”.

Spring is one of my favorite times to travel and I’d love to share my itinerary with you just like in previous years (Winter Vacation 2011/12, Spring 2012, Golden Week 2013). I hope you can find some inspiration and travel tips – or simply enjoy the beauty of Japan with me.

 

Shizuoka Prefecture

My first destination was Shizuoka Prefecture. Shizuoka is usually one of the first spots in the Chubu / Kanto region where cherry blossoms bloom. If you happen to be in Tokyo in spring, but are disappointed that the cherry blossoms aren’t out yet, I recommend visiting Shizuoka.

Kawazu on the Izu Peninsula has early blooming cherry blossoms from February to early March.

 

Izu Peninsula – Atami:

As I’ve never been to the Izu Peninsula before, I decided to go there this time – and I started my trip in Atami.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

Atami (熱海) is at the northern tip of the beautiful Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture.

I admit that I mainly went there for the castle, but Atami is absolutely worth a visit for many different reasons.

In summer you can go swimming. There’s a nice beach. Atami also has a lot of hot springs. And last but not least it’s the gate to the Izu Peninsula. The Shinkansen stops at Atami, so it’s easily accessible and can get crowded on the weekends or during holidays. However, there weren’t many people while I was there.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

The view from the top of Atami Castle is breathtaking.

Please note that Mt. Fuji can’t be seen from there. You’d need a car to get to a much higher elevation.

 

Izu Peninsula – Izu:

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

I also decided to go a bit further down the Izu Peninsula. Theoretically you could spend many days there. Your best option is a rental car. But as I had not planned or booked anything beforehand I just travelled by train.

My next destination was the area around Izu Kogen. From the Jogasaki Kaigan Station it’s a pleasant walk down to the Jogasaki Coast. Almost the whole way was full of cherry blossom trees and I had them all for myself. Such a wonderful experience!

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

The Jogasaki Coast is famous for its rock formations. As you can see you can also take a cruise to get a closer look.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

Interesting and extremely large rock formations can be seen from an observation platform near a small light house and suspension bridge. There’s also a roughly 10 km long hiking trail, offering lovely views of the ocean and rock formations.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

Another spot of interest is nearby Mt. Omuro.

At the foot of the hill you’ll find the “Sakura no Sato” where a lot of beautiful cherry blossom trees line up.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

From above the mountain looks like this. As you can see it is a cone-shaped dormant volcano. You can take a chairlift to get up to the top.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

That’s the view you’ll have on top of Mt. Omuro. It isn’t very high, but it’s still the highest peak in the area.

On a clear day you can even see Mt. Fuji.

Just a few steps away from the lift is the Izu Cactus Park, but I wasn’t really interested in visiting.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

The cat lover in me couldn’t resist. I had to visit the cat museum (Neko no Hakubutsukan) in Izu.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014 Japan Spring Vacation 2014

I’ll be honest. I was very disappointed. The admission fee was quite expensive and apart from a few cute cat items that they had displayed and some real cats you could pet, there was nothing.

But I fell in love with the cat in the photo above! (*___*) I just couldn’t resist those blue eyes.

 

Hamamatsu:

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

I left the Izu Peninsula to go to Hamamatsu again. Regular readers might remember that I’ve already visited Hamamatsu in spring 2012.

But as I tend to say, there’s ALWAYS something new to discover in Japan.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

This time I went to the “Hamamatsu Flower Park” where you can enjoy colorful tulips and cherry blossoms at the same time.

A very popular destination, I suppose, as it was extremely crowded, but totally worth the visit!

Japan Spring Vacation 2014 Japan Spring Vacation 2014

You’re probably color-blind after visiting, but if you like botanical gardens, flower parks or cherry blossoms, this is a MUST-SEE in spring!

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

Only a short walk or bus ride away from the flower park is “Nukumori no Mori“.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014 Japan Spring Vacation 2014

You’ll find a few houses with a café and shops that make you feel like you’ve just fallen right into a Ghibli movie!

 

Shimizu:

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

It took me many, many frustrating attempts until I managed to take some Mt. Fuji x cherry blossom photos, but I’ve f-i-n-a-l-l-y done it!

The photo above was taken at “Funakoshi Tsutsumi Park” in Shimizu (Shizuoka).

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

Another popular sightseeing spot in Shimizu is Miho Beach which is famous for its views of Mt. Fuji coupled with pine trees. There’s one special pine tree called “Hagoromo no Matsu” which is said to be over 600 years old!

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

The region is also famous for tuna, so of course I couldn’t resist and had to try it.

I love raw tuna. It was delicious, but to be honest it just tasted like other raw tuna I’ve eaten. Nothing special about the tuna in Shizuoka, but what do I know, right? emoticon

 

Chiba Prefecture:

I eventually left Shizuoka Prefecture to do some day trips within the Kanto region.

Tateyama:

Ever since visiting Nokogiriyama and one of the biggest Buddha statues in Japan, I’ve become a fan of the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture.

So, this time I decided to visit Tateyama City (館山市).

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

Yes, the fact that there’s yet another castle I wanted to see, might have influenced my decision a little.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

The view you get from the top of Tateyama Castle is beyond breathtaking and I was in paradise as there were too many of my favorite things in one place: the ocean, sakura and a castle!!

By the way, on a very clear day you can see Mt. Fuji from there.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014 Japan Spring Vacation 2014

Another highlight in Tateyama is Gake Kannon (cliff kannon) at Daifuku Temple (大福寺). The panoramic view from up there is almost as great as the one from the castle!

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

Last but not least there’s a Reclining Buddha statue at Mantoku Temple (萬徳寺). It’s about 16m long and one of the biggest of this kind in the world!

 

Tokyo and Kanagawa:

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

I also briefly stopped by in Tokyo to meet friends, but also to FINALLY see Chidorigafuchi (千鳥ヶ淵) near the Imperial Palace.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

It’s one of the most picturesque spots in Tokyo for cherry blossoms! Although I’ve seen many things in Japan already, this was truly a highlight!

If you happen to be in Tokyo during cherry blossom season, you NEED to go there!

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

I also went to yet another cat café. This time it was the popular “Hapineko” in Shibuya.

Luckily I went there with friends, so it wasn’t that boring when we had to wait in line for about an hour to get in. I’ll write about the experience in more detail in a separate blog post, so stay tuned.

Japan Spring Vacation 2014

And as promised in my newsletter, I quickly dropped by the “Phallus Festival” in Kawasaki (Kanagawa Prefecture).

As you know I went there in 2012. This year it started raining during the parade. I was surprised how popular the festival has become! There were even more people than in 2012 and the majority were foreign tourists.

 

Japan Spring Vacation 2014 – Conclusion:

To be honest I didn’t really plan anything this time. I wasn’t sure if I would go somewhere at all until the very last minute. So I planned a rough itinerary and booked hotels the night before I left. emoticon This is something I can’t recommend unless you have at least some Japan travel experience. Due to bad weather conditions (read: rain) I had to reschedule many times.
All in all it was yet another great spring vacation and I especially liked the Boso and Izu Peninsulas. Highly recommended – not only during spring. emoticon

 

How about your spring vacation?

Did you go anywhere this spring?
Have you been to any of the places I visited this time?
Please let me know in the comments below. emoticon

20 Comments

  • WOWOWOW, these pictures are absolutely Fabulous. It reminds me so much of Disneyworld in Orlando Florida, only prettier. Everything was just so dang spectacular. Cough , cough, I see why Japan has a population problem now also, because that Phallic symbol needs a a shot of Human Growth Harmone… (so sorry) tehe.

    I’m currently watching a Japanese anime on cycling and one of the teams competing in the anime is Hakone, I wonder if there really is a High School by that name on Hakone Mountain? I so loved the extinct volcano shot with the golf course right next to it, that was really weird how there are no trees or growth on it. The picture of the Tuna looked certainly good enough to eat, even if it wasn’t better than other similar meals in Japan. This posting was exceptional well laid out and so beautifully complimented with the pictures. J, you really are an artist at doing this!!

    I’m also glad that you mentioned the chair lift, now that’s good to know that they do have some of those in Japan instead of a gazillion stairs coupled with a story of how enlightened it would be to walk to the top! Maybe there will be some things I can do in Japan even with my bad knees, that is if I win the lottery and can afford to travel there…LOL!

    • Hi Bud!
      Long time no read! ;)
      I’m really happy that you like the photos.

      I’ve only always visited the touristy spots around Hakone, so I don’t know if there’s a high school. There’s certainly none nearby the volcano for obvious reasons.

      I truly hope that you can come and travel here in the future. I’m sure you’d love it! :D

  • Bud Martin: there is a town called Hakone, and since it has more than 13,000 inhabitants, I am sure it has a high school. And there are lots of chair lifts, cable cars, cog trains, etc., in Japan. It’s only the temples that want you to do penance by walking up the stairs.

    Lovely pictures, as usual. Sorry you didn’t make it to Shuzenji, Shimoda, or Dogashima. I do like the Jogasaki coast.

    I don’t think they should have put those tulips with those bright primary colors next to the cherry trees. Except for the pretty pink and purple display, I didn’t care for them. Too much like the artless Dutch masses of tulips for me. But that’s just me, clearly the place is popular.

    I always love the cherry trees near the Imperial palace’s moat in Tokyo!

    • I know, but I will definitely go back to the Izu Peninsula to explore the rest – and then WITH a rental car. :)
      Thanks for recommending it. It’s totally worth a visit.

      I liked the pink and purple tulips in combination with the cherry blossoms better as well and I understand what you’re saying.
      All the colorful flowers in one spot were very impressive nevertheless. ^^

  • Lovely pictures and information!
    I’m a big fan of the Boso Peninsula, surfing on the warm days, walking on the cooler ones. You’d find so many secret and lovely beaches. Cherry blossom, waterfalls, temples, onsen, rice fields on terrace, and more, and more!
    Also Izu, it’s always something new to find!
    If you need a driver, I’ll love to show you around! Ah! You don’t need one hour to wait for the cats! I have 5 at home if you like to relax from the sound of Tokyo!
    Thank you soo much for your amazing job, it’s always a pleasure to read and see the world from your pics!

    • Thank you, Marisa! :)
      Yes, I actually saw some windsurfers in Tateyama when I visited although it was still quite cool in early April.

      Awww, so nice of you. I’ll certainly get a rental car if I decide to visit the Izu Peninsula again. ^___^
      If you have 5 cats at home, you could open your own cat café. ;)
      It’s not just about the cats, though. It kind of became my hobby to check out cat cafés and write about them here on my blog.
      If I just want to see cats, I know enough places (mostly parks) where I can find them.

      Thank you so much for your nice words and your kind offer. I REALLY appreciate it, Marisa! :D

  • Looks like you had another great spring vacation Zooming Japan! Shizuoka is one of my favourite prefectures in Japan and I’ve been loving your various pictures of Fuji-san. Do you have any plans for the Golden Week break?

    • Right. One can never get enough of Mt. Fuji! ^___^
      Thanks a lot!
      Yes, I wanted to visit Kyushu again, but currently I’m sick in bed and had to cancel part of the trip. I hope I still can go and enjoy the second half of Golden Week, though.
      How about you?

      • Sorry to hear that you are not feeling well. Hope you are better soon and can enjoy the second part of Golden Week. Kyushu is an amazing part of Japan and I hope to be able to travel there soon. No real plans for me at this stage. Will try and get out to see some more of the flower parks around the Tokai area.

        • Thank you. I hope so, too! :)
          I’ve been to Kyushu many times already, but there’s always something new to discover. I’m also trying to see some flower parks there.
          I love your flower park photos and I haven’t been to many flower parks in the Tokai area yet, so I’m looking forward to your photos and articles! :D

  • That dormant volcano looks awesome! :heart: I would love to take a lift to the top!
    I never understand how you have so much energy to travel all around! :happy: Don’t you ever get really tired and just want to laze about for a holiday? :music:

    • Alyse, in recent times I actually do get a bit lazy.
      I love travelling, but I don’t like planning my trips, especially if there are so many of them.
      But every time I leave, I’m so happy I did! ;)

      My trips don’t make me tired, they give me more energy! :D

    • Huch, das arme Schloß!
      Naja, ich bin nicht so der Godzillafan (sorry), daher wusste ich das nicht! ^^;;

      Gut, viele Schlösser sind heute so. Osaka Castle sieht zwar von außen toll aus, macht aber drinnen auch nicht viel her. :/
      Deswegen mag ich ja lieber die “Originalschlösser”, wo man noch die Holztreppen raufkrakeln muss und sich hier und da den Kopf anhaut. ;)

  • Well, first off I love your blog! I am so excited to follow you. I have been in Japan for 5 months now and have seen many things, but have not traveled very far yet. I love seeing your pictures, and I live in Shizuoka Prefecture, so it was neat to read about your visit here. I will be visiting Nukumori no Mori as I didn’t even know it was there and I was at the flower park last week!! Our spring trip started in Nagoya at the Science Museum, our daughter is 8, and we loved it! This wasn’t our first plan, but with the rain we didn’t want to be miserable at the zoo. Then we headed to Ninja Village in Mie Prefecture – I haven’t found it yet where you maybe visited it, but I think I saw a picture of something similar… Of course we stopped at Iga Ueno Castle and picked up the stamp book! My husband was grinning ear to ear when he bought that so we hope to have many stamps in it by the time we leave Japan towards the end of next year. Then we went up to the Ise Shima Skyline! It was a gorgeous view that you can’ miss if you plan to visit Mie! We headed to Ise Grand Shrine and enjoyed the day before riding the ferry back across. I plan to get many good ideas from this blog :)

    We did also visit the Hamamatsu Festival that you spoke about May 3 and we really enjoyed seeing the kites flying by the sand dunes and then the parade near the station! So many exciting things to see in Japan. I absolutely love to travel and explore! I will be planning a trip to Tokyo and Kyoto near Obon week. Yay!

    • Hi! :D
      Thank you so much. I’m envious that you get to live in Shizuoka Prefecture. It’s such a lovely place. :)
      I’ve been to Iga Ueno and the Ninja Village. I just didn’t have time to post about it yet. That’s the biggest problem. I’ve been to so many places in the past six years, it’s impossible to write about them all at once, so I started out with the most recent trips. ^___^

      I hope you get to see a lot more until you have to leave Japan again and feel free to ask me any questions along the way! :D