fbpx
    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi by Camper Van

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.
        hiroshima skiing osorakan snow parkvideo

        Hiroshima Skiing at Osorakan Snow Park

        Enjoy skiing and snowboarding just an hour from Hiroshima at Osorakan Snow Park. Every winter, people from Kansai and Kyushu flock to one of the region’s most popular ski resorts for winter fun.
    • Travel
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
    • Races and Events
      • Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.
        summer events omm lite and bike hakuba

        2021 Summer Events and Races in Japan

        Check out upcoming events and races held throughout Japan this summer and early fall.

Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

Shimoda is one of the most popular beach getaways from Tokyo with its white sandy beaches, surf spots and sea kayaking. But beneath its sleepy port town appearance, Shimoda is steeped in rich history dating back to the mid 1800s when Commodore Matthew Perry’s Black Ships arrived and opened Japan up to the West. It is here where the development of modern Japan began. 

Outdoor Japan Shimoda

Exploring Historical Shimoda

Shimoda’s main port and town is pleasant to stroll about and can be explored in a day. Start at Ryosenji Temple; this is where the historic Harris Treaty was signed, which ended centuries of self-imposed isolation and opened Japan up to international trade.

“Commodore Perry is a famous household name, but it was actually U.S. diplomat Townsend Harris who stayed behind in Japan to learn about the local culture and work on relationships between Japan and the west,” says Daiei Matsui, chief priest at Ryosenji Temple. “Before that, foreigners were prohibited from communicating with Japanese people. But with the treaty, Shimoda became the first town where cross-cultural communication between Japanese and foreigners took place. We want to keep Shimoda as a place of open communication.” 

Aside from serving as the chief priest, Matsui, who attended graduate school at the University of Hawaii, works on preserving and collecting historical artifacts related to the cultural exchange that happened in Shimoda long ago. He also provides English-guided tours around Ryosenji Temple and the adjacent Museum of the Black Ship. This museum displays artwork and artifacts related to Perry and his gunboats—nicknamed the “Black Ships”—for their color and steam engine smoke. Admission is ¥500.

Stroll down the path along Perry Road, a charming riverside road connecting Ryosenji Temple and a monument marking where Perry first landed. This road is dotted with traditional buildings which are now cafés, restaurants and boutique shops. 

Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Perry Road

The nearby Shimoda History Museum is built in a traditional merchant building and houses more than 1,000 artifacts including early photographs, woodblock prints and Perry’s personal items. It also provides insight into what Japan looked like in the early 1800s.

Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Shimoda History Museum

Experience riding Perry’s Black Ship for yourself on a 20-minute sightseeing cruise around Shimoda Harbor. The ship, Susquehanna, is designed as a replica Perry’s Black Ships. Admission is ¥1,250.

Outdoor Japan Shimoda

Back on shore, visit Roadside Station Kaikoku Shimoda Minato for lunch, local fish, vegetables and souvenirs. The second floor is dedicated to the Harbor Museum, which shows the development of Shimoda. 

A 15-minute walk away is Gyokusenji Temple, a Buddhist temple that is more than 430 years old and served as the first American consulate in Japan. Townsend Harris lived here for two years and ten months. It was also where the Russo-Japan Treaty of Peace and Amity was signed. The adjacent Harris Memorial Hall houses Townsend Harris’ articles and other cultural artifacts. Admission fee is ¥500. 

Surfing and Water Activities

Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Shirahama Ohama Beach

Shimoda has a selection of beaches catered to every type of beach-goer. While Shimoda’s town area is small, the beaches are spread out so it’s recommended to rent a car or cycle (note the coastal roads are hilly). Shirahama Ohama is the most photographed as its 700-meter white sandy beach makes it the largest beach in Shimoda. It has a famous torii gate on the left end of the beach and offers some stunning sunset views. Surfers flock here in summer to enjoy the big waves. 

Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Kisami Ohama Beach

The second largest beach, Kisami Ohama, offers beginner-friendly waves as the water isn’t as rough as Shirahama and it is a mostly sandy beach. It is surrounded by mountains and the cliffs jutting out into the sea attract snorkelers.

Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Tatadohama Beach
Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Iritahama Beach

The milder Tatadohama and Iritahama are less crowded and good spots to learn surfing and bodyboarding. These beaches are famous for their clear and clean waters. 

Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Sotoura Beach

Sotoura is located in the bay and has no waves, but is good for swimming, easy sea kayaking and snorkeling.

Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Nabeta Beach
Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Kujuppama Beach

Kujuppama is a half-sandy, half-rocky beach. It’s a great place for rock fishing and light coastal hiking. The emerald green waters of Nabeta are close to town. Be sure to wear proper footwear as it has a rocky shore. 

Outdoor Japan Shimoda
Ryugu Sea Cave

Drive further south to Toji and its scenic, rocky cliffs. You can view the famous Ryugu Sea Cave from above, where the weathered rocks have eroded the cave into a heart shape. You can also go inside the cave.

Outdoor Japan Shimoda

Right next door is the Toji Sand Skiing Field, a 70-meter dune where you can rent a sandboard. Beware of sand flying into your eyes and nose as it can be very hard to remove!

Outdoor Japan Shimoda

On sunny days, you can view the Izushichi-to—Izu’s seven outer islands—from Tsumekizaki Lighthouse located at the tip of the Suzaki Peninsula. The view gets even better in January when the grassy hills around the lighthouse are dotted with three million daffodils in full bloom. The Suzaki Walking Trail, which connects Tsumekizaki and Suzaki Bus Stop, is a 2.8-kilometer easy coastal walk. 

Getting There

The best way to get to Shimoda is the train to Izukyu-Shimoda Station on the JR Ito Line. You can also travel in style on the JR Odoriko Limited Express Train direct from Tokyo, Shinagawa, Kawasaki and Yokohama stations. There are public buses to the beaches available, but it’s recommended to drive or cycle. 

As Shimoda has long been a beach and hot spring resort, there are many types of accommodation here ranging from traditional ryokan and luxury inns to family-friendly B&Bs and beach cabins. 

For more information, visit Explore Izu.

Related Stories

Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts

Categories