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Shimoda: A Heavenly Resort with Beaches, Onsens and Gourmet Food

Ryugukutsu is a cave that has a 50-meter diameter hole on top. Looking down from the top, you’ll see a heart-shape landform. It is known as a romantic power spot among the locals.

It was about 160 years ago when Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy arrived offshore of Shimoda in Shizuoka Prefecture, leading Japan to open the country out of 250 years of national isolation and to enter into modern society. The small port and fishery town suddenly became the center of diplomacy where the first U.S. Consulate to Japan was situated. Today Shimoda is a popular resort for neighboring cities. It has something for every visitor: beaches offering beautiful views, onsen hot springs and fresh seafood. Located on the tip of the Izu Peninsula and about a 2 1/2 hour drive or train ride from Tokyo, Shimoda’s positioning is unique. An irregular coastline combined with sandy beaches, rocky coves and blue ocean offers not only magnificent views, but also opportunities for water sports, fishing and just relaxing. There are 9 beaches with different features, including the popular Shirahama Ohama Beach with 700 meter long white sands, Sotoura Beach which is a quiet beach in a cove, and Tatadohama Beach, a mecca for surfing and bodyboarding. Nabetahama Beach is family-oriented with an esplanade alongside the ocean. Ryugukutsu, an open air cave located near Toji Beach, is also a must-see location when visiting the Shimoda coastline. The Izu Peninsula itself offers countless onsen facilities, and so does Shimoda. In this area, visitors can enjoy unique experiences like onsens with ocean views. There are many onsen that allow you to soothe yourself and restore your energy while overlooking the dynamic Pacific Ocean, but the views are diverse depending on where the onsen is located. For example, in the inner or outer bay, close to the city or isolated from it, and which beach it faces. Also, there are some “rotenburo” (open-air bath) facilities where you can instantly connect with nature. Even if you don’t have enough time to spend the night, you can still try one of the “ashi-yu” (foot baths) found throughout the city. Eating local food is one of the highlights of traveling, and in Shimoda you cannot miss fresh seafood from the local fish market. A variety of fish swim into the ocean near Shimoda with the Black Stream, making the area a great fishing zone. Among the many fish available there, “kinmedai” (Japanese red snapper) is the one you should try. Shimoda boasts the largest catch of kinmedai in Japan, and naturally it has a lot of restaurants that offer dishes with this white meat delicacy in different cooking styles from sashimi to grilled whole kinmedai to simmered dishes. Great beaches, onsens and food – you can’t ask for anything more in order to relax and unwind!

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Shimoda’s complex coastline provides diverse views from beach to beach.


Bathing in an open-air onsen while appreciating the ocean view is a heavenly experience.


Local “Kinmedai” Dishes

Shimoda records the largest Kinmedai catch in all of Japan. The city harvests the fish year round and serves dishes prepared in various cooking styles such as sashimi, simmered, grilled and dried.


Broiled Kinmedai Skewers


Kinmedai Nigiri Sushi

Shimoda Kinme Festival (June 1-30)

Kinmedai becomes fatty and tasty when it comes in to lay. During the high season, Shimoda hosts a month-long festival celebrating the fish. The Shimoda Fish Market allows visitors to see freshly caught kinmedai and restaurants in the city serve an original kinmedai menu created specifically for the festival. There are more events and offers available during the period.


Meal Coupon “Kinme Ga Don”

To allow visitors to savor kinmedai in a more casual style, the Shimoda Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Rurubu Travel currently offers an original meal coupon service called “Kinme Ga Don.” Visitors can choose one coupon out of the four price ranges of 3,000 yen, 2,000 yen, 1,500 yen and 1,000 yen to enjoy original kinmedai donburi bowl dishes created by local restaurants at discounted prices or served with extra drink or appetizer.

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