After our skiing trip in Hokkaido we continued our journey towards Southern Japan. We did not decide where to of until we were in Japan. We basically were letting the weather Gods have the biggest impact on our decisions, we don´t mind the rain, but no reasons to chase it when we don´t have to. Our options were either to see Mt. Fuji, snow monkeys in Nagano, or head to a place which we had not heard about before. While deciding the next destination, we were browsing the internet and it felt like Izu Peninsula would have some interesting attractions: Kinomiya Shrine at Atami and from there a short distance to Ito and Mt. Otaru which has (on a perfect day) a clear view to Mt. Fuji.
We chose Izu Peninsula. It simply takes hours after hours to reach everywhere due to the long distances in Japan. Atami was close enough to Tokyo (we had to keep in mind that our Japan Rail Pass would expire soon and after that we did not wish to pay additional travel costs, more than one way back to Tokyo).
Atami has many onsen´s (hot springs) and one of them is just by the train station, many were enjoying a foot bath ;). We did not visit any onsen´s, but had a small hot spring bath tub at our Airbnb accommodation instead, so called everyday luxury?
Kinomiya Shrine was one of the highlights of our trip in Japan. There were no crowds! (so far I have not managed to see any other attraction in Japan without crowds). The holy tree at Kinomiya Shrine (Ookusu) is over 2000 years old and it is the largest tree in Honshu region- It was one massive tree!
Even the weather conditions at Mt. Omuro (an extinct volcano and its crater) were freezing, we enjoyed the small town of Ito and the bus ride through the town to and from Mt.Omuro more than we had expected.
Sitting in a local bus with kids is always amusing. You see school kids, local families and older people and even you are not having a common language with the others, the curiosity takes over and there is always a way to communicate (especially kids know the common language is only one way to communicate), this makes the time fly.
We did not see Mt.Fuji this time and for sure Mt.Otaru is a nice place during summer months, but this time we visited it rather quickly as we simply did not wear warm enough clothes. There is a ski lift taking you up to the 580 meters and already in the ski lift we understood that we would be freezing, how stupid can one be sometimes?!
Atami´s Kinomiya Shrine
Opening hours are from 9am to 5pm.
It takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes by train (45minutes with bullet train) to reach Atami from Tokyo. (JR Tokaido Main Line). Please note that the bullet trains do not stop at Kinomiya station, but only at Atami station. You can either walk (20min) to Kinomiya Shrine or take a local train (JR Ito Line) which takes you within 3 minutes to Kinomiya station. The shrine is just next to the station, clearly marked signs leading to the attraction.
Ito and Mt.Omuro (ski lift)
You reach Ito with a local train and from Ito to Mt.Omuro there is a convenient access with a local bus (Tokoi Bus). Tickets for the bus are sold in a tourist info at Ito Station. (The tourist info does´t have any international “Info” signs, but the staff speaks good English).Opening hours for visiting Mt.Omuro are: from 9:15 to 17:15 (until 16:15 from October to March)