Hubby and I decided to do something random – nay, crazy. We signed up for a 400 kilometer-long, overnight tour of a place we had never heard of before: the Izu (Eee-zoo) Peninsula.
Situated 260 kilometers (162 miles) southwest of Tokyo, the Izu Peninsula is famous for its deeply indented coastline, volcanic mineral hot springs, and large mountain ranges. Tectonically speaking, the Izu Peninsula results from the Philippine Sea Plate colliding with the Okhotsk Plate.
But enough history…
At 0600 on Sunday morning, we bounded aboard our coach tour bus, eagerly anticipating the day’s adventures.
After our backsides had become adequately numb, we made our first scheduled stop at the Usami Kannon Temple and Grounds.
It boasts Japan’s largest sitting Kannon, Sekai Heiwa. At 165 feet tall, this Buddhist statue was built for global peace and is known as the “World Peace Goddess of Mercy”.
It’s quite huge…
And the view from the top of the mountain is beautiful!
The grounds are so lovely, with graceful Japanese cranes.
There are also seven Shichi Fukujin statues which represent seven different happinesses: love, popularity, wealth, tolerance, bravery, versatility and long life.
This is Mr. Bravery……with one of the Shichi Fukujin
And, of course, Mr. Wealthy “Pillsbury Doughboy”!
But my favorite aspect of this stop was the glorious hydrangea display!
Seriously! I couldn’t get enough of them…
Nevertheless, we had many more sights to see.
Our next adventure took place through a 2-mile nature trail along the Jogasaki Cliffs.
The scenery was breathtaking…
However, the temperatures & humidity were nearly unbearable. Unbeknownst to us, Japan set heat records that day, with heat indexes well over 100 and 820+ Japanese nationals hospitalized with heatstroke.
But the picturesque trail helped to keep our minds focused on the task at hand.
Some of the vantage points reminded us of Big Sur and California’s gorgeous coastline.
But then we’d feel a new river of perspiration and were reminded we weren’t in California anymore!
We finally came to a large suspension bridge – 77 feet high and 160 feet long!
We paid a visit the observatory located on the other side of the bridge. After climbing flight after flight of narrow stairs, we were afforded a 360 degree view of the area and caught a glimpse of Mt. Omuro, the volcano that is credited for forming this portion of the peninsula.
But the trail continued, and we wound our way down to the Zen-like seaside.
I was thrilled to discover a portion of the path zigzagged up and around the largest hydrangea bush I have ever seen!
The clarity of the ocean isn’t fully apparent until you’re directly above it. By golly, is it ever pretty!
I do love the water and hydrangea bushes!
And around every corner seemed to be a more interesting section of trail…
Along with even more beautiful vistas!
And, of course, lots and lots of stairs.
Once we reached the end, we looked back with pride at the distance we had covered.
Once we caught our breath and quenched our thirst, we collected our tickets for the adjoining botanical gardens.
The gardens turned out to be one of my favorite places on the trip!
The flowers didn’t seem to mind the heat and humidity one bit…
In fact, I think they were loving the torrid weather!
Table for two, please?
More of my hydrangea obsession…
What a fantastic little spot!
Hubby decided to take a well-deserved respite
While I continued to explore…
I adore cute little waterfalls!
That low cloud bank on the horizon has a mountain beneath it!
Sadly, all fun days must eventually come to a close. But we were famished and exhausted, and heading to the hotel sounded like a capital idea.
Our room was comfortable – huge by Japanese standards – and came with a traditional tea set, dried squid jerky, and salty seafood rice krispie treats.
But, um, I didn’t want to spoil my dinner…
More pleasant extras included indoor slippers, outdoor slippers for the lanai, and yukata (summertime kimons).
Nothing beats a nice shower and comfy yukata after a long day of adventures!