In Japan, as you may know, you can find heavenly beaches and breathtaking underwater reeves, especially if visiting Okinawa and other southern islands. But few people know that even relatively close to Tokyo it is possible to dive and admire seabeds teeming with life. We take you to Hirizo bay!
Hirizo is a small bay located at the southern tip of the Izu Peninsula, in the Minami-Izu National Park, Shizuoka Prefecture, which houses, among others, many of the famous Shimoda beaches, among the best you can find in Japan excluding Kyūshū and Okinawa. As the most popular ones, we mention Shirahama, a long beach of white sand furrowed by big waves, Yumigahama and Tatara, but there are also many others!
Hirizo, however, does not have a large white beach, as it is mostly made up of gravel and pebbles, but the sea in front is extremely transparent, and houses a fantastic marine fauna. First, take a look at our short shooting!
Getting to step on Hirizo can be somehow challenging. First of all, assuming that you are coming from Tokyo, you must arrive at Izukyū-Shimoda Station. The fastest way is to take a Shinkansen to Atami (only Kodama, and some Hikari trains stop here, so double check if you do not want to be transported all the way to Nagoya!), and from there change, taking an Izukyū Railway local train, or a Odoriko Limited Express, (from 1 hour to 1 hour and a half), to the end of the line.
If you wish, you can also take the same Limited Express train with no change from Tokyo or Shinjuku Stations (although reaching Atami by bullet train will help you to save up at least 30 minutes).
In addition, from spring 2020 JR East started a new luxury service on the Saphir Odoriko, a Green Car (first class) only service.
After leaving Izukyū-Shimoda Station, from the square in front of it, take a bus to Nakagi (in kanji: 仲木), where you will find the kiosk where you can buy a return ticket (2000 yen as of 2020) to reach the bay. Yes, you can only get to Hirizo by boat, but the ride lasts only 5 minutes, and the frequency is at the same time high.
With this ticket, actually, you can go and return as many times as you want between Hirizo and the port of Nakagi, which is useful as on the beach there are no facilities (showers, lockers, places to eat, and no toilet).
We went to Hirizo during a busy weekend in August (we suggest to visit on a weekday, if possible), and after getting a small free space to put our belongings and towels, we immediately jumped into the sea! An interesting fact: while in your imaginary, beaches are usually dotted with parasols, Japanese people mostly bring their own camping tent, and mount directly on the beach as you can see in the picture above!
Near the shore the soil is stony, so it is better to have rubber shoes to walk more easily. The sea water becomes almost immediately deep, and here, with mask and snorkel, you can dive to admire the marine fauna! We want leave the follow pictures speak for themselves!
In short, as you have seen from the photos above (taken in a slightly improvised way with a smartphone kept in a transparent waterproof pocket), this underwater world is quite surprising if we think that we are so close to the Japanese capital!
In addition to snorkeling, for those who own the license, it is also possible to dive with a tank at a greater depth, to admire even more coral reefs and sea creatures!
You can enjoy other beautiful photographs of Hirizo or, if you understand Japanese, find more information, on the official website: HERE
In addition to Hirizo, Izu has a world to discover. For example, the coast of Jōgasaki, the cherry trees of Kawazu in the spring, and many other destinations we will be showing within the upcoming posts!