At House of Coco when we travel we like to get really immersed in the culture, seek out the hidden gems and find undiscovered locations. Walk Japan, the pioneer of off-the-beaten-track tours of Japan, has announced the launch of the new Izu Geo Trail, an in-depth tour into a fascinating and diverse corner of Japan and it sounds right up our street.
This tour explores the Izu Peninsula, one of the most unique geological areas on Earth. Although only 150km (94 miles) from the giant metropolis of Tokyo, Izu, with its distinctly different landscape and climate akin to a sub-tropical island, is a world away from the capital.
The Izu Geo Trail weaves its way south along the peninsula’s east coast and mountainous central spine to its southernmost tip at Cape Irozaki before returning along the west coast to Shuzenji, a charming and atmospheric onsen thermal hot spring resort town. The cobalt-blue Pacific Ocean almost completely surrounds Izu and provides the backdrop to a rugged and intricately carved coastline of bays and soaring precipices.
In the peninsula’s mountainous and forested hinterland, myriad natural springs provide a continuous supply of pure water that cascades over numerous waterfalls, through gorges and valleys, to the coast. Izu is a fish-lovers’ paradise and on this tour it’s possible to enjoy some of the freshest available. Depending on the season meals may include spider crab, squid, lobster, sea bream and many more varieties. All the tour accommodation, most of which sit beside the ocean, incorporate onsen thermal hot spring baths.
The peninsula was immortalised in Yasunari Kawabata’s short story The Izu Dancer. The author, who was awarded Japan’s first Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, fictionalised his own juvenile experience falling in love with a young itinerant dancing girl while travelling through Izu, and from time to time this journey coincides with Kawabata’s route.
Izu is also renowned in Japan for the momentous events that unfolded at Shimoda, at the southern end of the peninsula. In 1854, Admiral Perry arrived here with his fleet of ‘black ships’, forcing Japan to open its ports to foreign trade. This shock set in motion the fall of the shogun in 1868 and launched Japan on its rapid path of modernisation and industrialisation. The Izu Geo tour visits Shimoda, which today is a quiet backwater; its charming streetscape belies the turmoil once unleashed here.
The Izu Geo Trail is a seven-day, six-night walking tour for up to 12 participants. Private tours for groups of family and friends can also be arranged. The first scheduled tour starts on 15th November 2016. Priced at JPY348,000 (approximately £1919*) per person including Walk Japan tour leader, six nights’ accommodation, six breakfasts and six evening meals, travel from tour start point to finish. Private tours priced on request.