I spent two days in Izu Peninsula back in March with two of my close friends. This was along the same time as Hina Matsuri, so we got to enjoy some of the festivities as well. I must admit I didn’t do any planning prior to going. All I did was show up at Shinagawa Station that morning with my overnight bag and they did the rest. =)
Perhaps because of that, I was a little surprised that the train we took to Izu was completely full. I found out later that everyone was heading towards Kawazu for their cherry blossom festival. Kawazu is known for their Kawazu-zakura, which bloom much earlier and are distinctively bright pink in colour. Since Izu is close to Tokyo, it makes a great day trip from the city.
That morning we first arrived at Izu-Inatori Station. We picked up a local guide map and proceeded to head into town. For such a small city there’s actually quite a few shrines in the area. Each one we visited had all sorts of decorations on display for Hina Matsuri. Both the Hachiman Shrine and the Mishima Shrine had their Hina dolls out. However, the Susanoo Shrine was by far the more elaborate in terms of its decorations, as the entire staircase leading up to the shrine (which is situated on a hill) was filled with rows upon rows of Hina dolls.
I think the shrine itself has become a tourist attraction in its own right as they even had volunteers who helped visitors take photos at the bottom of the stairs. We actually had to wait in line to get our photos taken as there were so many people there already!
Once we visited all the shrines in the area, we finally stopped for a late lunch. As the town was overrun with tourists, there were only a handful of restaurants to choose from. We ended up waiting almost an hour for a table at this restaurant called Kinmedokoro. Kinmedai is the name of a fish that’s a specialty in Izu. Since we were all freezing from waiting outside for so long, I decided to order their shabu shabu to warm up. Fish shabu shabu was soooo good I would have ordered a second meal if I still had room for it!
After lunch we took the train over to Kawazu Station for their Cherry Blossom Festival. While it seemed like the Hina dolls were already a big attraction in Izu, it didn’t compare to the cherry blossoms as the area was packed with people. It was as if everyone and their owls were out. (I mean that quite literally.) We stayed there for about an hour and got to try food from the stalls like ayu no shio yaki and strawberry daifuku. Then we headed back to the station to take the shuttle to our hotel for the evening.
I must say my friends really went out of their way to plan our trip cause the hotel we stayed in was absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed at such a fancy hotel that I got to pick my own yukata from a selection they had out on a table. Nor have I stayed at a hotel which had been visited by the Imperial Family and offered a breathtaking view of Izu Imaihama beach. It was definitely a treat staying at Imaiso!