A soul who fancies culture and heritage should visit Shuzenji Onsen for day. This small hill complex in Izu, Shizuoka will make you feel like you’re time-traveling back to the 1800s. Its streets are packed with old shops and houses. Their ancient temples still proudly standing. Their old hotspring resorts are easily accessible to visitors. All of those on top of a hill in the middle of Izu that is Shuzenji Onsen.
Excited to know how my 1-day Cultural Walk in Shuzenji went? Read ahead!
I didn’t intend to visit Shuzenji Onsen. My 3-day trip around the Izu Peninsula started in Atami, then to Itō, and supposedly it’s going to end in Shimoda. I was planning to surf there for the last days of Summer. However, the odds were not on my favor that time because it was raining in Shimoda that day. So, I decided to escape the rain and went straight to Shuzenji. I was actually not expecting anything. I just thought that it would be great to visit their mini Bamboo Forest and drop by real quick to Shuzenji Niji no Sato. I didn’t have great expectations other than that, but I was head over heels starstrucked when I arrived there. My hostel and the Bamboo Forest is located in Shuzenji Onsen and I arrived there in the evening. One look at Shuzenji Onsen and I fell in love with the place. I literally felt like I was time-traveling! I was pulling my suitcase in their awfully quite tiny old street. There was nobody there. My only company were the moths flying around the lamps. The old yellow lights of their street lamps flickered on me, as if teasing me. I was actually a little bit scared as I walked down the narrow road. The wooden shops and temples looked mysterious as their silhouettes emerged from the solid black darkness around. The red bridges, the hotspring in the middle of the river, the Torii gatesー all of those were only made visible by the light of the yellow lamps placed all around the area. The rollerblades of my suitcase were the only noise that I could hear. I thought to myself; “Where am I?”ー but I knew inside me, it was exactly the trip that I craved for! Right there and then, I cancelled Shuzenji Niji no Sato in my mental itinerary and I decided that I will just do a Cultural Walk around Shuzenji Onsen the next day. And soooooooo, this is how my day went!
Ate some Crab Ramen for Brunch
The day should start with energizing up! I’m a heavy eater and food is definitely my priority. Of all the traditional delicacies available in Shuzenji Onsen, I chose this very rare Ramen flavorー Crab! It was my first time seeing one because Ramens are usually mixed with Pork. And so I walked straight to this traditional store right across the Miyuki Bridge to try a bowl of this.
I just want to say that for me, the flavoring was a little bit blandー like all the other Japanese recipes because Japanese people doesn’t really like salt. I wanted to add some salt to it but I was worried that they might get offended so I just finished it all up. But I do think that common Japanese people would love that kind of taste, but it will just never work for me. Nonetheless, the experience of trying this kind of Ramen weighs more than the taste, so I decided that my ¥600 for the Ramen was worth it!
868-1 Shuzenji, Izu, Shizuoka 410-2416
Glammed up with a Pink Kimono
Ever since I arrived in Japan, I’ve always wanted to try out traditional Japanese outfits. I was very happy that Shuzenji Onsen has a Kimono Rental Store in the middle of the complex. My wish was granted that day! First thing I did after eating was prep myself up with a pink Kimono and flowers on my hair!
The store’s name is Machinavi Yururi. If you avail their rental services, you will be prepped up by a very hospitable and sweet Obāsan. I really loved her and I highly recommend their Kimono Rental Store. They have everything, starting from the Kimono, to the slippers, the bags, the hair ornaments, everything!
(This Obāsan loves getting pictures of their customers. You’ll probably end up in their Instagram account after your trip. So if you don’t like that, just tell her politely.)
Tip: Make sure to bring your own white socks. They do not provide that. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring mine. That was the only thing missing in my get up.
Machinavi Yururi (街ナビゆるり)
818-1 Shuzenji, Izu, Shizuoka 410-2416
Rental Fee: ¥4,000/use
Basked in the Tranquil Mini Bamboo Forest
I’ve always wanted to visit a Bamboo Forest. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove of Kyoto has always been in my Japan Bucket List. But since I promised to only visit Kyoto when my boyfriend finally comes to Japan, I’m so happy to have met the mini Bamboo Forest of Shuzenji. At least, I was able to experience and finally see groups of Moso Bamboos in person.
The mini Bamboo Forest of Shuzenji Onsen is just around the complex. Therefore it is walkableー well everything in Shuzenji Onsen is in walkable distance. So right after I dressed up, I directly and hurriedly walked to the Bamboo Forest.
I would have to emphasize the word “mini”, because it’s really just a mini Bamboo forest, so it’s not as huge and as magical as the bamboo forest of Kyoto. It was just a small park with a handful Bamboo trees, but overall, I think it’s a great place. If I had all the time in the world and if there wasn’t a lot of people there, I would’ve laid down that circular bench and spent hours and hours looking at the sky from that Bamboo grove.
Took a Snap at the Kaede Bridge
As the bridge’s name suggests, it is best to visit this location during Autumnー in the most beautiful version of itー because it will be surrounded by Maple trees or Kaede in Japanese.
Since it was Summer when I came there, the Kaede trees were still green. Nonetheless, the location was still as beautiful, especially the bridge. I’m instantly in love with these types of bridges. They just look very historical and mysterious to meー a creation of art and not just bland architecture.
Ate an Ice Cream while Soaking my Feet in a Hot Spa
All the locals in the place told me to try their Wasabi and Vanilla Ice Cream, and so I did. It’s not my first time trying out a Wasabi and/or traditional Vanilla Ice Cream because I’ve already tried a couple in Nagoya, but eating my Ice Cream while soaking my feet in a hot spa by the riverside was a whole new level of comfort.
One Ice Cream cone costs ¥350. The store is supposedly located near Shuzenji Temple but it was closed when I was there. Luckily they opened a small branch beside the riverside near the footspa. I was able to grab my Ice Cream there.
Marveled at the Beautiful Riverside View
I guess, Japanese people really just know how to cultivate a location because they really managed to make Shuzenji Onsen a place of beauty. They were able to maximize the potential of their river as they placed a hotspring in the middle of it, Ryokans at the side of it, an Omiyage store across, and 2 beautiful red bridges crossing it.
The center of Shuzenji Onsen is definitely a picturesque view. If only I had a better camera to give justice to the actual view, but yes, my phone camera can only do so much.
The center complex of Shuzenji Onsen is definitely a wonder to see. Wish people in my hometown in the Philippines are these talented in maximizing the potential of great locations. I envy Shuzenji Onsen, for both its man-made and natural beauty.
Starstrucked by the Shuzenji Temple
Shuzenji Onsen has quite a lot of temples, but there is one that you should not miss to visit.
The Shuzenji Temple was founded during the 9th century. It was said that this temple bore witness to countless tragedies, deceits, and legends of history in Shuzenji, specifically of the Minamoto family. It is such a privilege to personally see a temple as old and as historical as this. I just sat there for 30 minutes, enjoying the view, marveling at the old bell, the main temple building, and the old trees around. Shuzenji Onsen is definitely lucky to have this jewel around.
Dropped by Hie Jinja
Of course, a Japan trip is never complete without dropping by a Shrine. Hie Jinja is located at the back of Shuzenji Temple. A couple of steps away from Shuzenji Temple, Hie Jinja is shaded by large trees like all shrines in Japan are. It is also very old but well-preserved.
If this place only had benches, I would’ve spent a couple more minutes there to marvel on the tranquility of the place, but there was no place to rest to inside the shrine. So right after looking around it, I immediately left because of course, I’m not a worshipper of Shintoism.
Shopped some Omiyage!
Oh sorry, I actually didn’t shop some Omiyage because I hate the Omiyage culture. *laughs* Nonetheless, I didn’t dare miss to visit the old Omiyage stores around Shuzenji Onsen. Actually, I think the building in the picture below is an old shopping mall, if I’m not mistaken. Unfortunately, it was closed when I went there so I just visited the other Omiyage stores that were open in the same street.
And that’s how my day ended. . . .
Actually, there were still a lot of things to do and a lot of places to visit in Shuzenji Onsen, but I am a person who rests when she already gets tired so those were the only things I did. I ended my day early and returned back home in Numazu early as well. However, for those who might be interested, there are still a couple of things that I recommend you do and these are:
Ride a 1900s Carriage!
I don’t know how much this would cost but this man below offers a tour around Shuzenji Onsen in a 1900s carriage. It looks fun!
Visit Museums and Graves of Legends
If you check the map that I pasted above, you will see that there are still a lot of establishments to visit and see. If you are interested with museums, there are many museums and galleries in Shuzenji Onsen.
Stay in a Ryokan and Bathe in an Onsen
Shuzenji Onsen will not be Shuzenji Onsen if there will be no Ryokans and Onsens around! If I had more money, I would’ve stayed in a Ryokan there and I would’ve bathed in their famous and historical Onsens. Unfortunately, I’m a poor kid so I just abstained to all that, but if you can afford it, why not, right?
Where to Stay in Shuzenji Onsen?
I stayed in a small capsule hostel in the center of Shuzenji Onsen. It’s called Hostel Knot. I love the place! They’re a small hostel but the place was very cozy and the staffs were all friendly. It is also strategically locatedー only a walking distance to all of the locations that I visited above. So I didn’t have any issue with the accessibility and the price of my accommodation. I highly recommend it!
985-1 Shuzenji, Izu, Shizuoka 410-2416
Price: ¥2,987.00 per capsule
Shuzenji Onsen will forever stay in my heart as the place who made me feel like I time-traveled. The whole place just felt like a different era. It’s not as crowded as popular places in Japan. The old shops, the tiny roads, the old yellow street lights, the 1000-year-old temples, the multiple red bridges, the hotsprings, the small-town-feels, everything. Those might be small things, but I love all of it! If you want a cultural immersion, Shuzenji Onsen is definitely a place to visit. Perhaps it will not feel the same for others but if there’s one advice I’d be giving, that would be to live and cherish each moment when you’re there. That way, you’ll definitely have the same experience and emotions as mine.
As always, thank you for reading this travel diary. I did my best to take you on this journey with me as magically as I could. I hope I at least made the reading experience worth it.
Lots of love,