The coast between Yokohama and the Izu Peninsula is dotted with oceanside onsen towns that thrived during Japan’s bubble economy in the 1980s. The seaside resorts have become sleepy fishing villages over the past two decades, but towns like Manazuru have started using fishing as a way to attract weekenders looking for a quick getaway from Tokyo.
Manazuru is south of Tokyo in southwest Kanagawa. It lies on a peninsula that juts out of Sagami Bay and forms part of Hakone Geopark. It’s known for its distinctive shape resembling a crane with open wings, formed when a lava plateau solidified. Today most of Manazuru’s 7,000 residents live in this terraced village facing the sea, built so fishermen could have an unobstructed first look at sea conditions.
Sagami Bay is a popular fishing area, especially for mackerel, horse mackerel, kinmedai (sea bream), buri (amberjack), tai (red snapper), ibodai (Pacific rudderfish), shirasu (whitebait) and menuke (rockfish).
“Combined with global warming, we’ve had a problem with big companies overfishing in the surrounding waters the past few years,” says local resident Ryoma Aoki. “But in Manazuru we control our fishing methods. We set limits to net fishing and only take what we need.”
It’s hard to make a living on fishing alone, so many locals also have side businesses or harvest shellfish. Aoki is the 5th generation owner of Uoden, a himono (sun-dried fish) factory that uses a traditional way of brining and drying fish. Uoden prides itself on using zero preservatives during the process.
You can charter a private fishing boat with a local fishing guide or join another group going out. Back on shore, your fresh catch can be served as raw sashimi or himono. There are workshops near the town’s tourism information center that teach gutting and preparing fish for sashimi and himono. Himono takes about an hour to prepare and, if it’s sunny, a half day to dry in the sun.
While waiting for your fish to dry, you can explore Kanagawa Kenritsu Manazuru-hanto Natural Park, which includes one of the Kanto region’s oldest forests dating back to the Edo Period. The forest is home to 300-year-old kuromatsu pine trees. The trail continues along the coast and offers cliffside views of the ocean and Hakone’s mountains.
Further south is Cape Manazuru and Mitsu-ishi Beach where you can see the Mitsu-ishi rocks, a trio of large boulders jutting out of the water. Every New Year, this rocky beach attracts people catching the first sunrise from this vantage point.
Dive down and look a little closer and you’ll find that Sagami Bay is known as the “Treasure House of Nudibranchs.” Manazuru is excellent for macro diving and aside from the colorful nudibranchs you’ll also see lumpfish, blenny, frogfish, gobies, flounders and squid in summer. Contact Scubapro Diving School Manazuru and Kotogahama Diving Center for more details.
Yugawara Onsen is a 10-minute drive from Manazuru. It is called “Yakushi no Yu” (Buddha’s healing onsen) and was designated as a health resort for sick and wounded soldiers during the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars. There are many ryokan and you can find more travel information here.
Fishing Diving Manazuru Kanagawa
There is a direct train from Tokyo Station to Manazuru Station on the JR Tokaido Line (approx. 90 minutes). The town center and fishing port are a 15-minute walk from the train station. There’s also a bus from the station that takes you to Cape Manazuru (get off at Nakagawa Kazumasa Art Museum stop) and you can rent bicycles at the tourism information center in front of Manazuru Station (not to be confused with the tourism information center in town) between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The town’s tourism information center is located near the fishing port. You can rent fishing poles here for ¥1,000. For more information or to book a fishing or himono-making experience, visit Manazuru’s official website or call (046) 568-2543 (Japanese only).
Fishing Diving Manazuru Kanagawa