201503 Tokyo-Izu Trip Day 9 (Izu Peninsula Road Trip Day 5) – 2 Apr 2015, Thursday
It was the last day of our Izu Peninsula road trip before we head back to Tokyo. Weather was back to blue skies which was great for that day’s outdoor activities. We were to visit a few places in Mishima before returning the car at Atami. We would then take the train from Atami to Shinagawa to continue the rest of our Tokyo-Izu trip.
Breakfast at Taizanso Ryokan
On Day 8 post, I mentioned about the typical breakfast served at ryokans. Similar at Taizanso Ryokan, our breakfast consisted of rice, a grilled fish, a few rice complements, Tamago (egg), a small salad and pickles. Instead of a miso soup, we were served a lobster miso nabe (hotpot). It was quite a hearty breakfast.
Onward to Mishima
We left Taizanso Ryokan with happy memories of the stay and drove towards Mishima. I had to go onto a highway and was rather apprehensive as it was my first time encountering a highway in Japan. I don’t particularly like driving on highway/expressway anywhere in the world. Majority of the local drivers were driving above speed limit but I kept to speed limit.
Rest Stop at Ichigo Plaza
On our way, we saw a sign for Ichigo Daifuku (いちご大福) and decided to stop for a break at Ichigo Plaza (いちごプラザ). Ichigo (いちご) is Japanese for Strawberry while Daifuku (大福) is a Japanese glutinous rice cake. Daifuku is usually filled with sweeten red bean paste. For Ichigo Daifuku, the Daifuku is wrapped around a strawberry instead.
We had a beautiful view of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), green hills and fields with blue skies peppered with white clouds to enjoy our delicious Ichigo Daifuku. We spent some time there just relaxing and admiring the view.
On our way to Mishima, we managed to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji’s top. Most of Mount Fuji was still covered by low lying clouds. Look carefully at the below photos and see if you could spot the top of Mount Fuji.
Genbe River (源兵衛川・Genbe-gawa)
Genbe River is a clear stream in Mishima, fed by waters from the slopes of Mount Fuji. It flows from Kohama Pond (the water source) in Rakujuen Park to Nakazato Onsuichi Reservoir. The length of Genbe River is 1.5km but only a section of it was transformed into a picturesque pathway. Genbe River was reduced in size and almost covered up during the city’s industrialization. Great efforts by various groups saved the river and continued to maintain its clear waters today.
The picturesque river and its surrounding provided a calm and tranquil spot for one to relax and enjoy the cool spring air. SY and I took a slow stroll, stepping over stones and walkway along the river, taking in the scenery.
We found a nice spot for a rest and enjoyed the entertainment provided by the ducks, Koi and tortoises that lived on Genbe River. If you visit in early May, you might get to see wild fireflies at Genbe River, one of the earliest spots in Japan to get fireflies. During summer, children would play and splash around Genbe River to keep cool.
There were also many monuments and water features at one end of Genbe River, providing many photo opportunities. A walk along Genbe River would do wonders to remind one to slow down and admire what nature has to offer and enjoy life a little.
Mishima Taisha Shrine?
We wanted to visit Mishima Taisha Shrine to view the Cherry Blossoms (Sakura). However, we weren’t sure where the parking was and tried looking around the Shrine vicinity. Following the GPS which led us to one side of the Shrine, we finally managed to find a parking lot. We were happily getting out of the car when a lady told us the parking was for residents of a block of apartments; non-residents were not to use the parking lots. Disappointed, we got back into the car and continued to look for parking close by. After driving around a few times and unable to locate any paid parking, we decided to give up and proceed to our next stop.
As we drove past the entrance of Mishima Taisha Shrine, we noticed there was a festival at the Shrine. There were lots of food stalls and the Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom. Quite disappointed that we couldn’t visit. If you’re ever in the vicinity during Cherry Blossoms season, do visit Mishima Taisha Shrine. I’m hoping for an opportunity to visit in the future.
What happened to lunch?
Weirdly, I don’t remember us eating lunch nor were there any photos of lunch. We must have snacked on something as there was too long a break between breakfast and dinner especially on a Japan trip! Why would we not eat lunch in Japan right? Yeah, why? Hmm… 🤔
Izu Fruite Park
Shizuoka prefecture is one of the top producers of strawberries in Japan, with many farms where visitors could pick and eat strawberries during strawberry season (Dec-May). We decided to stop by a strawberry farm and initially thought to go strawberry picking. When we got to Izu Fruite Park, we decided to just take a peek inside and asked for permission to take photos instead.
There were many visitors inside the strawberry farm. The strawberry farm was sectioned out so that visitors were only allowed into 1 area for picking. Doing so allowed other sections to be kept for the next group of visitors, ensuring ripe strawberries were available for everyone. 1 lady got a scolding for venturing to a closed section.
Each of the paid visitors were given a little tray with condensed milk where they would dip the strawberries before eating them. We didn’t try any so wondered if the strawberries were sourish, thus needing the condensed milk to sweeten them.
Izu Fruite Park has a sale centre where other seasonable fruits were sold as well. We didn’t buy any fruits, but did buy some trinkets as souvenir.
Last view of Cherry Blossoms on Izu Peninsula
There were rows of Cherry Blossoms near Izu Fruite Park. We managed to catch our last view of Cherry Blossoms on our last day in Izu Peninsula. It was really pretty with light pink white blossoms all over the place.
Returning the rental car
When a car is rented in Japan, the car rental company would provide GPS information for return location and also the nearest petrol stations. We followed the GPS instructions to the nearest petrol station where we filled up the tank. Luckily there were petrol station staff to assist us with the payment as it was our first time filling up the gas tank in Japan. Imagine our surprise when the petrol bill only came up to about JPY2,500 (~S$29) for 5 days of driving around Izu Peninsula. I wasn’t sure how much petrol would cost in Japan and had budgeted JPY10,000 for that 5 days drive trip; clearly that was an over budget.
I let SY off at Atami Station with our luggage and shopping (lots of shopping!) and returned the car to the rental company. There was a shopping lane next to Atami Station but we didn’t visit as we already bought too much stuff and had to catch the train back to Tokyo. The return direct train journey would take about 100mins.
Thanks Izu Peninsula for the lovely time. We hope to be back again someday… especially for the Spider Crab! 😋
Will write about the Tokyo portion of our Tokyo-Izu trip another day.