fbpx
    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
      • the nomad pasche family

        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
        adventure travel world summit in hokkaido

        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
        mead brewing in japan

        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
        the knights in white lycra

        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
        sea to table yamagata

        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
        togari onsen outdoor japan

        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
        dd4d brewing

        DD4D Brewing

        In nearly e...

Winter Mountain Biking on Izu’s Ancient Paths

While most mountains this season are blanketed in snow, the Izu Peninsula offers a warmer escape. The old-fashioned port town of Matsuzaki is the base for Yamabushi Trail Tour, a mountain bike and kayak-fishing operator that runs tours year round. 

Quaint Matsuzaki Town is nestled between coastal mountains and the ocean. A stroll through town takes you back to the Edo Period, as many of the historical buildings still stand with the region’s characteristic namako-kabe (black tile walls) in a criss-cross design held together with white plaster. No trains run through Matsuzaki, making it tricky to access, which has helped preserve its antiquated charm and avoid being overcrowded with tourists.

The trails up in the dense mountains were used more than 1,200 years ago as kodo (ancient pilgrimage paths) and then, later, for a thriving charcoal industry. Matsuzaki’s subtropical weather and abundance of hardwood made it a popular production spot for charcoal. Workers would make charcoal in the mountains and transport them down by horse to the port until gas became a more sought-after commodity.

These overgrown, forgotten paths were recently discovered by a group of mountain bikers who found potential here for adventure. They cleared over 40 kilometers of trails and started exploring the mountains by bike. 

“Matsuzaki is great for mountain biking in winter because there’s no snow or frost which makes for safe and fun riding,” says founder Junichiro Matsumoto. Matsumoto is originally from Yokohama and spent years trekking the Himalayas, Patagonia and around South America before settling down in Matsuzaki. 

“The Izu Peninsula teems with nature and I was attracted to how close the mountains and ocean are to each other,” says Matsumoto. “From where I’m at, it takes five minutes to the mountains, five minutes to the ocean, five minutes to the river.” 

Matsumoto and his team developed several trails, the longest a 550-meter vertical descent from mountain to sea without leaving the forest. Ancient kannon (Bodhisattva) sculptures line certain sections of the trails: reminders of the rich history the mountains hold. 

Matsuzaki Izu MTB Outdoor Japan

Advanced riders can test their skills on the Epic courses with naturally formed half pipes, walls, banks, switchbacks and rock faces carved out of the bedrock. There are also several gullies. More experienced riders can opt for two-day tours. 

For beginner mountain bikers, there’s the Fun Ride which slowly introduces elements like half pipes, bunkers, walls and up-down runs. Yamabushi Trail Tour will transport bikes and riders to the trail entrance at the top of the mountain.

The Easy Ride tour is a leisurely cycle around Matsuzaki with excellent views of the satoyama (countryside) and even a 50-meter waterfall you can cool down at in the summer. Electric mountain bikes are available for rent, which give you a nice power-assisted boost when needed.

While their tours are mostly centered around mountain biking, Yamabushi Trail Tour also offers fishing tours using a pedal kayak with all equipment included. Suruga Bay offers a wide variety of fish depending on the season, ranging from madai (sea bream), saba (mackerel), katsuo (skipjack tuna) and hirame (flounder). In the evening, a partnering restaurant prepares and serves the fish. 

“Even if you don’t catch anything, the views of Mt. Fuji are great,” laughs Matsumoto. “On the kayak, it feels like you’re sitting directly on the surface of the water looking out at Mt. Fuji.” 

Matsumoto also operates Lodge Mondo, a renovated guesthouse on the edge of town. The lodge features private rooms, dormitory rooms, a shared space and big shared bath. His team used locally sourced wood, which were left unused in the mountains, by chopping themselves and processing them into lumber at a nearby sawmill. 

“Everything in nature is connected, from the mountains to the river which flows into the ocean. We’re taking people on these mountain bike tours but simultaneously we want them to see the connection and importance of preserving our forest and natural environment,” says Matsumoto.

To book your mountain bike adventure or learn more, visit their website here.

HIGHLIGHTS

Ishibu Rice Terrace Fields

Matsuzaki Izu MTB Outdoor Japan

These terraced fields, with around 370 paddies, lead down towards Suruga Bay and Mt. Fuji on a clear day, and have been awarded for its photogenic landscape. In May, the fields are lit with candles. 

Mt. Eboshi and Kumomi Shrine

Matsuzaki Izu MTB Outdoor Japan

This 160-meter mountain is a sharp climb to the top where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of Mt. Fuji and Suruga Bay. Kumomi Shrine is located halfway up the trail.  

Diving

Right under Mt. Eboshi’s nose are several popular dive spots. Divers enjoy Matsuzaki’s complex underwater landscape as it has a bit of everything: caves, nudibranch, macro diving, schools of fish and white sandy spots. Some diving spots are conveniently close to shore. There are large schools of pectoral fish, snapper and amberjack. It’s common to see large stingrays and you may even see sea turtles. 

Dive Shops

Sakuraba Leaf Mochi Production

Matsuzaki Izu MTB Outdoor Japan

Foodies will delight that Matsuzaki is the biggest producer of sakuraba, a pickled and sweet sakura leaf usually wrapped around sakuramochi, a popular confection. This wagashi is a sweet, pink-colored rice cake filled with a red bean anko paste and wrapped in the sakuraba. Several roadside stalls sell these sakuramochi, especially during cherry blossom season in late March and Girl’s Day in the beginning of March. 

The leaves are from oshima zakura, different from the popular light pink variety, which thrives in Matsuzaki’s warm climate. Leaf harvesting and production started in the mid-1920s. They are usually harvested in May to September and pickled in salt in big cedar barrels before being shipped out nationwide to some of the country’s best confectioners. 

Chohachi Art Museum

Matsuzaki Izu MTB Outdoor Japan

It’s almost impossible to miss the tiled namako-kabe walls lining Matsuzaki’s historical buildings. Namako-kabe is one of the traditional finishing styles dating back to the 19th century. They are made of flat tiles over mud and joined with swollen-looking white plaster which looks like namako (sea cucumber). The plaster strengthens weak points of old external walls and helps keep the building fireproof. 

The Chohachi Art Museum celebrates Irie Chohachi, a great plasterer from Matsuzaki who created plaster artwork and sculptures during the late Edo period to the Meiji period. His masterpieces were mainly for temples around Tokyo which were unfortunately lost during the Great Kanto Earthquake. Here you can see about 50 of his pieces. 

Former Yoda Residence

Despite what its name suggests, this historical home has nothing to do with Star Wars; it is the second oldest private house in Izu belonging to the prestigious Yoda family who found success in the silk industry during the Edo Period. Tour the main building, which was built nearly 300 years ago.

Getting There

The best way to get to Matsuzaki by public transportation from Tokyo is to take the JR Odoriko Limited Express Train from Tokyo, Shinagawa or Yokohama stations direct to Izukyu-Shimoda Station. From there, rent a car or take the W40 bus heading for Dogashima and Rendaiji (takes 50 minutes).

For accommodation, there is actually a surprising variety of places to stay, from big hotels like Izu Matsuzakisou and Nishiizu Matsuzaki Itoen Hotel, to cozy ryokan and cheaper minshuku.

For more information, visit Explore Izu.

[novo-map id=2 individual=”yes”]

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts

Okinawa’s Treehouse...

Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.

The Spirit of the Kuma Va...

Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.

CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madara...

Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.

Categories