Tucked away in a hidden pocket of Izu, the rural port town of Matsuzaki is known for its abundance of onsen, unique architecture, and green surroundings. Found along the southwest coast on the tip of Izu Peninsula, Matsuzaki is a little harder to reach but well worth the extra effort.
With the majority of Izu’s attractions found along the east coast, the less accessible west coast of the peninsula has been left relatively untouched. The most notable of these spots is Matsuzaki, a small seaside town whose port was originally used for the transportation of rocks. Like much of Izu Peninsula, one of Matsuzaki’s main draws is its natural hot springs which can be found all around the town and the surrounding areas in the form of public baths and traditional onsen ryokan.
While the town’s natural hot springs may not set it apart from the rest of the peninsula, Matsuzaki’s main selling point is its beautiful architecture, most notably the namako kabe. Omnipresent around town, namako kabe is a white, latticed wall design that is used for all types of architecture including buildings, shrines, and bridges. As the birthplace of Chohachi Irie, the brainchild behind the internationally renowned namako kabe design, Matsuzaki is home to not only several buildings incorporating the design but also the Chohachi Art Museum which displays a number of his artworks.
Located along the idyllic west coast of Izu Peninsula, the town of Matsuzaki is home to a port, quiet beaches, and beautiful rock formations, with Senganmon Rocks an unmissable spot for picturesque views over the ocean. The town’s positioning also offers a backdrop of Mt. Fuji from the coastline if you make it on a clear day. Heading further inland promises luscious hills, forests, and, just a 20-minute drive from Matsuzaki center, Ishibu Terraced Rice Fields which are an incredible sight at sunset especially during harvesting season when the fields are filled with water.
Matsuzaki’s mild climate makes it a pleasant place to visit in the cooler months of the year or the perfect sun worshipper’s spot during summer. However, one of the town’s most popular seasons is spring when the cherry blossom fills the area with picture perfect scenes. The locals’ love for the cherry blossom is also to thank for its speciality sakura mochi, a Japanese sweet snack made from sweet anko bean paste wrapped in soft pink mochi rice cake and a Japanese cherry tree leaf.
With no train station in Matsuzaki the town takes a little more effort to reach than Izu’s east coast. Local buses run from Shuzenji Station and the Nishi Izu Tokkyu Bus makes the more direct route from Mishima Station to Matsuzaki on Saturdays and holidays. While it is a little more inconvenient to visit, Matsuzaki benefits from a quieter, non touristic atmosphere that allows visitors an insight into life in the Izu countryside.