Shizuoka is a port city and the prefectural capital, situated on Japan’s Pacific coast roughly halfway between Tokyo and Nagoya. The sea dominates the southern end of the city, while to the north, the urban sprawl gives way to remote mountains and Mt. Fuji watches over the area from the northeast. The Tokaido Shinkansen line races through town, but visitors who take time to get off and explore will find a wealth of interesting places in and around the city limits.
Miho-no-Matsubara, one of the largest pine gloves in Japan
Jutting into the ocean at the eastern end of the city is Miho-no-Matsubara, a wonderful expanse of 50,000 pine trees running for 7 kilometers along a large black sand beach on the Miho Peninsula. There are paved roads and walkways for visitors to cycle or stroll along, and the iconic view of Mt. Fuji with the beach and ocean in the foreground is one of Japan’s best. It can be reached in 30 minutes by bus from JR Shimizu Station.
Shimizu-ku Miho 1282-1 Shizuoka
Another iconic view of Mt. Fuji can be glimpsed from Nihondaira, a scenic and small 308-meter plateau close to the center of the city. It is a short hike up stairs to the top, where wonderful views of Mt. Fuji and the surrounding mountains and bay can be seen. The Nihondaira Ropeway then whisks visitors to Toshogu Shrine, where the tomb of the famous leader Tokugawa Ieyasu lies. There are regular buses to and from Nihondaira from Shizuoka Station.
Sunpu-jo Koen (Sunpu Castle Park) is a green and spacious parkland in the heart of the city, and it’s the site of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s former castle. Along with the moats, only a few remnants of the castle can be seen today, but visitors can enjoy strolling around and relaxing in the pleasant gardens and grassy lawns. During the spring, it is a popular spot for viewing the cherry blossoms.
Hotel Celeste Shizuoka
Toro Iseki is a fascinating outdoor archaeological site where full-size reconstructions of iron-age (Yayoi-era, 300 BC to 300 AD) dwellings are on display. The spot is one of the most important excavation sites in Japan, and the traditional pit-houses, raised-floor buildings and rice paddies have been lovingly re-created to give visitors a real sense of what ancient village life must have been like. A museum also displays many artifacts discovered during excavations. The park is free to enter and can be reached by bus from Shizuoka Station, or it’s just a 30-minute walk.
For a unique trip out of the city, visit the Sumatakyo Gorge in the foothills of the Southern Alps. From the Sumatakyo bus stop, there are a number of short, easy trails that cross the gorge’s spectacular turquoise waters via rickety and swinging suspension bridges, the most famous of which is the Yume-no-Tsuribashi. The wonderful natural setting, nearby hot springs and sense of adventure make this a memorable escape to a truly remote area.
From Shizuoka, take a train to Kanaya, and change to the Oigawa Railway to Senzu, where there are buses to Sumatakyo.