Izu is a beautiful densely wooded peninsular with hidden bays and beaches close to Tokyo. It is a major area of geothermal activity and the whole of the area has been designated as a Geopark.

After a 45 minute bullet train ride to Atami you connect onto the intensely scenic local line which wends its way through tunnels and viaducts down the easterly aspect of the peninsula.

The resorts along the coast are sought after by the Japanese but unlike some of those further north on the tourist trail, are almost undiscovered by European visitors to Japan. As you arrive at Izu Atagawa you immediately aware of your entry into this geologically active zone. The whole village is steaming and structures which look like mini oil derricks each topped by a head of steam streaming into the sky against the backdrop of green densely forested mountains means you realise that you are at a thermal spring (and there is not a whiff of sulphur anywhere!).

This is the perfect place for an Onsen and that is why we have chosen this area. Essentially it a Japanese version of the European habit of going to a spa but even more pleasurable. The ability to soak in hot springs or hot tubs in natural setting is particularly desirable in this country but an Onsen matches that with a relaxed atmosphere, traditional Japanese rooms and dress and above all the most spectacular culinary displays.

You will spend most of your time in a Yukata, or traditional robe , wearing slippers and you can even wear these for strolling through the town. It does mean that you can pack light (and do forget the bathing suit- unless you are going to swim in the sea). Bathing in the Onsen is done in the buff and in sperate baths for men and women ( unless you take a private Onsen for yourselves).

Izu is stunning and authentic and the perfect way to experience this particularly Japanese leisure activity.


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