My sister is coming to visit me from Australia in two weeks time and I am uber excited! Unfortunately I won't be able to get any time off work to go sight-seeing with her so she will have to entertain herself a little bit until I can hang out with her on the weekend. Because she will be exploring Japan on her own somewhat during the week, I decided to put together a little list of things for her to do in the area to keep boredom at bay. Today I would like to share this list with you!
５ Ｄａｙｓ： ５ Ｔｈｉｎｇｓ Tｏ Ｄｏ Ｉｎ Oｒ Ａｒｏｕｎｄ Ｓｈｉｚｕｏｋａ．
*Note: the starting point for the transport options listed is Mishima Station, my nearest station.
Mishima > Odawara (SHINKANSEN KODAMA 632, 17 min), Odawara > Ofuna (JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line(Via Tokaido Line), 29 min), Ofuna > Kamakura (JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line(Via Yokosuka Line)), Kamakura > Hase (Enoshima Electric Railway, 5 min).
Walk north from the station (or follow the hoards of people) to the Hase-dera (temple) with beautiful gardens and views of Kamakura. There are also many small statues on display meant to represent the souls of children lost through childbirth, abortion, etc. If I recall correctly this is also a little cave you can walk in.
Further up the hill is the Great Buddha (Daibutsu). Not as large as the Buddha in Nara but considered aesthetically superior. There are plenty of signs around in English to point you in the right direction.
Take the train back to Kamakura station and just outside, south of the station, is the main road leading east towards the largest Shinto shrine in Kamakura. The centre median strip of this road is a walkway lined with trees. It will take about 20 mins to walk to the shrine. The Shrine is massive and there is usually a wedding going on there.
2. Shizuoka City
Mishima > Shizuoka (SHINKANSEN HIKARI or KODAMA, 18 min).
There are many department stores and crazy shops to see including some ritzy ones with high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes, etc. Parco (just across the street from the train station, north exit) is my favourite. There is a Jupiter store in the basement which sells imported foods. Several levels up there is a Loft which sells home-wares and craft supplies. Loft is a great place to buy kooky Japanese souvenirs. There is also a Tower Records. In the building next door is Toda books with an extensive selection of books in English. Over near the Shizuoka 109 building (based on the famous Shibuya 109 building), there is a Gap, Zara, and something called G.U. which I really like because the clothes are good quality and cheap. There is also a Starbucks (yay!). Not far to the north from there is a brand new shopping mall which I heard has Clarks shoes and Tokyu Hands as well as lots of clothing shops.
A little to the north-east of the train station is a beautiful castle and park which would make for some amazing photo opportunities.
3. Hiking/Bike Riding on the Izu.
Mishima > Izunagaoka (Izuhakone Railway Sunzu line, 21 min).
You can rent a bicycle from Izunagaoka Station and ride to Panorama Park. Take the cable car (1300yen return) to the top of Mt. Katsuragi from Panorama Park for great views and photo ops of Mt. Fuji. There is a free foot spa at the top as well as a shrine, museum and adventure playground.
Afterwards, you can ride your bike to Shuzenji and enjoy the scenery. Just follow the river past Jo Mountain (great place for hiking and rock climbing if you are interested). Or you can just catch the train to Shuzenji from Izunagaoka.
When you get to Shuzenji Station, you can take the bus from terminal number 1 to the famous Shuzenji Onsen (Hot Spring) area (get off the bus at the stop outside of a Yamazaki convenience store, your ticket should cost 190yen, the bus has to do a massive u-turn to get to this bus stop so it should be obvious that you are at the right place when that happens). Walk a little further south (or follow the tourists) to the centre of Shuzenji Onsen town. There are many souvineer shops and two beautiful temples you can visit. If you mention to a temple monk at the big/main shrine that you are really interested in seeing the beautiful garden at the back of the temple, you might get lucky and they will take you to see it (its not open to the public but I have spoken to a monk before and he said just mention it if I ever want to visit the garden again). There is also a free foot onsen by the river. You can stroll around the river and enjoy the views and small bamboo forest. You can get the bus back from the same bus stop you got off.
4. Mishima Taisha (Shrine), Rakujuen Garden and Sun-to-Moon (サン・ト・ムーン)
Mishima > Mishima Tamachi (Izuhakone Railway Sunzu line, 5 min)
Get off the train at Mishima-Tamachi station and walk (or follow the tourists) north. There are arrows imbedding in the pavement pointing the way to the shrine so just follow the arrows. This shrine is the biggest in the area and very beautiful. There is a turtle pond with koi fish in the front entryway/garden.
After that, you can hail a cab and ask to be taken to Sun-to-Moon (or just show them the Japanese above). Sun to Moon is a cinema/shopping mall complex. There really isn’t much great shopping to be done here but there is a UniQlo and the Cinema is worth going to if you want to see a movie. There is also a Jupiter, a great bakery and a jewelry shop that I like. A bus runs between Sun-to-Moon and Mishima Hirokoji Station for about 190yen. Alternatively, you can just walk between Sun to Moon and the train station; it's really not that far.
If you are around Mishima Station South Exit and want something to do, there is a great park that is free just across the road from the station. The entrance is a little difficult to find because there is a line of buildings in front of the park. Just cross at the crosswalk to the right and walk straight and there should be an entrance there (you might see a statue of a man and woman in traditional dress). The garden's ponds are filled with water from a natural spring which they say originates from Mt. Fuji. You can see water sprouting out of the natural spring/ground like a fountain here.
Mishima > Shin-Yokohama (SHINKANSEN HIKARI or KODAMA 646, approx 30 min), Shin-Yokohama > Sakuragicho (JR Yokohama Line Rapid OR Yokohama City Subway Line Blue, 15).
Once you get to Sakuragicho, most of the top sight-seeing places are within walking distance. There is great shopping around the station, particularly in Queens Square. There is also a Top Shop and other Western brands just outside the station. The Red Brick Warehouses have been converted from warehouses into a shopping area. Yokohama used to be a trading port with China and the rest of the world so there is also a massive China Town here that is worth a look. The Ferris Wheel is fun too. Across the road from the Ferris Wheel is the Cup Noodle Museum which is newly opened and very popular. You can learn about the history of cup noodles and combine your own ingredients to make your own cup noodle combination.
In the Yokohama Station area there are loads of malls and shopping areas including an enormous underground mall called the Diamond and a place known as Sotetsu Joinus, a big-time fashion center.
6. (Because 5 wasn’t enough) Gotemba Premium Outlets
Mishima > Gotemba Premium Outlets (Bus, Fujikyuko Line, approx. 60 min). Total: approx. 80+ mins.~Alternatively~
Mishima > Numazu (JR Tokaido Line, 7 min), Numazu > Gotemba (JR Gotemba Line, 36 min), Gotemba > Gotemba Premium Outlets (Free shuttle bus from east side exit approx. every 20 mins).
Givenchi, Dior, YSL, Balenciaga, Salvador Ferragano, Anna Sui, Prada… Do I need to go on? Basically like a huge DFO (Melbourne) or Harbour Town (Adelaide). Great place to shop for marked down and warehouse-direct/surplus stock without leaving the prefecture. There are also affordable brands too (Adidas, Laura Ashley, Gap, etc.).
From Mishima South Exit take the bus from bus stop #2 (the bus should be clearly marked with “Gotemba Premium Outlets” in English). The bus will take about 60 minutes and should cost under $10. Alternatively, its cheaper and slightly faster to go via Gotemba Station but a bit more complicated with all the train changes.
Useful Words and Phrases:
Hitoride onegaishimasu. 一人でお願いします。 (Ticket for one please)
Arigatou Gozaimasu. ありがとうございます。 (Thank you)
～ni ikikata wa dou desuka? ～に行き方はどうですか？ (How do I get to ～?)
Mayotte shimaimashita. 迷ってしまいました。 (I’m lost).
～wo kudasai. ～をください。 (Give me ～ please)
～made onegaishimasu. ～までお願いします。 (Take me to ～). [When buying a ticket or giving instructions to taxi driver]
What do you think? Is my sister going to have a good time? What are your top sight-seeing destinations in Japan?
Images: Kamakura (taken by me), Shizuoka City (from here), Mishima Taisha (from art.com), Izu Peninsula (both taken by me), Yokohama (taken by me), and Gotemba Premium Outlets (from Wikipedia).