Discover Old Izu at Matsuzaki-cho Town
Situated on the southwest coast of Izu Peninsula in the Kamo District is Matsuzaki-chō aka Matsuzaki town, a humble port hub filled with history, scenic views, and incredible seafood. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful villages in Japan, the port’s bay faces the Pacific Ocean and offers visitors a slower paced way to explore the beauty of Izu. Not really considered a tourist spot like, say, the neighboring towns of Ito and Shimoda, Matsuzaki-cho is a little more difficult to access which means it has been left rather untouched by the masses, which simply adds to the area’s charm.
Much like the rest of Izu, Matsuzaki-cho is an excellent place to visit during summer. However, its fascinating architecture, small locally run stores, and beautiful natural surroundings make it a great place to spend a little time no matter the season. In winter the days aren’t too frosty and in spring the village is filled with exploding cherry blossoms. Given the fact that it has remained untouched, the bay-side area has become the backdrop for a number of Japanese movies and TV dramas including the famous 2004 series ‘Sekai no Chushin de Ai wo Sakebu’ (Crying Out Love in the Center of the World).
Matsuzaki is a world of untouched history; during the Edo period, the town was a transportation and production hub for building stones that were used for the construction of the Edo Castle. Even today many of the still standing merchant buildings are open and available to explore either for free or at the most a very small fee.
One of the town’s main attractions is Nakase house. Home to the Nakase family – key players in the manufacturing and production of kimono fabrics during the Meiji period, the latticed building has been reincarnated into an impressive museum. It’s open every day from 9am to 5pm and admission costs just 100yen. Inside you can explore the untouched Edo period architecture and pick up some unique gifts from the museum’s store.
Because of its isolation the best way to get to Matsuzaki-cho is via car, many of which are available to rent in the surrounding areas. But if you are travelling by public transport you can still make your way there by taking either the Nishi Izu Tokkyu Bus Line (West Izu Express Bus) from Mishima JR Station or a local bus (Tokai Bus), but check the times because they only leave every 30 minutes to an hour from Shuzenji Station. If you’re coming from Hakone, catch the Izu Hakone Railway that goes from Mishima Station to Shuzenji Station.