- 1 Atami — closest to Tokyo and consequently the most (over)developed
- 2 Itō — covers much of the east coast of the peninsula
- 3 Izu — includes the 1200-year-old hot spring town of Shuzenji
- 4 Izunokuni
- 5 Mishima — Shinkansen stop at the base of Mount Fuji
- 6 Shimoda — where Commodore Perry's Black Ships landed in 1853, cracking open Japan's isolation
Two to three hours by train from Tokyo station, the Izu Peninsula offers numerous hot springs and seaside resort towns, so it is a popular day trip and weekend get-away destination for many Tokyoites. The peninsula is also famous for being one of only a couple areas in Japan where wasabi is widely cultivated.
Geologically, Izu is a fascinating anomaly in Japan, since it's essentially a chunk of the Philippines that collided with the Japanese mainland. Three tectonic plates meet at the peninsula's north end, and the seismic and volcanic activity triggered by this still-continuing slow-motion collision led to Mount Fuji, many hot springs, and makes Izu one of the most earthquake-prone areas in Japan. The peninsula, particularly the less populated western side, still retains patches of near-rainforest and subtropical flora rarely seen elsewhere at these latitudes in Japan.
The Kodama and some Hikari services on the Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka stop at Atami (40 min from Tokyo) and Mishima (50 min), both at the north edge of the peninsula. Transfer at Atami for JR Ito Line/Izu Kyuko services down to the east coast via Itō to Shimoda, or at Mishima for the Izuhakone Sunzu line to Shuzenji.
Slightly slower, but direct, cheaper and quite comfortable, the JR Odoriko (踊り子) limited express operates three times a day directly from Tokyo Station to both Shimoda and Shuzenji. In addition, the super-deluxe Saphir Odoriko (サフィール踊り子), which only has Green Class and above (JR Rail Pass not valid), runs once a day, with fares from ¥6,270/¥9,110 to Ito/Shimoda.
There are also express buses that operate to destinations on the Izu Peninsula.
The Izu Peninsula is one of the few places in Japan where having your own wheels can come handy. The Izu Kyuko line runs all the way down the east coast to Shimoda at the southern tip, but elsewhere in the peninsula you're at the mercy of limited bus services.
Located at near the intersection of three tectonic plates, the Izu Peninsula is fantastically active geologically, so for Japanese visitors the main draw is the area's countless hot springs (温泉 onsen). There are hot springs in the mountains, hot springs by the beach, hot springs by the river, even hot springs at a waterfall in Kawazu, so many hotels and inns are built around them, but many also welcome daytime visitors.
The Izu Peninsula's dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches lend themselves well to all kinds of marine sports.
Izu Peninsula is recognized in the scuba diving community as the most popular destination for mainland Japan diving. The East Coast of Atami is most popular with dive operators for its accessibility and infrastructure, while the West Coast's sites are largely unspoiled, safeguarded from weekend crowds by its remote destination and lack of train stations.
Surfing is also big in Izu, with many surf schools and beaches like Shirahama (白浜) near Shimoda regularly hosting competitions.
Wasabi! Forget the lurid green powdered horseradish fakes peddled at lesser sushi shops, Izu is where the real thing grows. Dishes to try out include:
- wasabi-don (わさび丼), a simple bowl of rice topped with katsuobushi dried tuna flakes: grate some fresh wasabi root on top and enjoy
- wasabi-zuke (わさび漬) pickles, flavored with, you guessed it, wasabi
- wasabi soft (わさびソフト), wasabi-flavored soft-serve ice cream; don't worry, they go pretty easy on the wasabi
Baird Brewing Company, one of Japan's most famous microbreweries, hails from Izu. In addition to their brewery at Shuzenji (open to the public), their products like the tasty British-style Kurofune Porter are widely available across the peninsula.
- Izu Ōshima — looming off the horizon of southern Izu, this large island can be reached by ferry from Shimoda