The second day of our Izu adventure greeted us with a beautiful sunrise just outside our lanai.
After a buffet breakfast (which included offerings of miso soup, fried fish, and fermented soybeans), we checked out, buckled up, and headed to our first stop of the day….Hagachizaki-en!
This is “wild monkey paradise”. With over 300 “free-range” primates, it’s the largest habitat for wild monkeys in this region of Japan.
These are Macaca fuscata, Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys.
In 1953, Yohei Hida started feeding the monkeys by hand, but it took four years until they became accustomed to him.
Today, they don’t seem to have any reservations about being around people…although I can’t say the same for the visiting Homo sapiens.
Our sweet, little tour guide made sure to warn us about how aggressive these macaques can be. “Please! Do not lower your altitude! Do not look into eyes! Do not show your food!”
But it’s hard to remember all those instructions when they’re this cute!
We hated to leave our new friends and the beautiful view.
Some of the residents tried convincing us to say longer…but they only succeeded in freaking out our bus drivers.
So off we went!
Our next stop was the Toi Gold Mine which was discovered in 1370…more than 120 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue!
We were able to tour some of the actual mine shafts that had been under the control of the Ashikaga Shogun.
This is how it was done nearly 650 years ago.
Then we got a crash course in panning…
And became bona fide gold panners!
Lookie thar! Sweeeet yeller gold!
Maybe I’m greedy, but I’d rather smuggle this piece home…all 250 kilograms (551 lbs)!
But perhaps we don’t blend in as well as I thought…
Our next stop was Dogashima Marine. We were supposed to have a cave cruise, but with 25 foot swells, they had to cancel our boat tour for safety reasons.
However, we were able to make it on foot and peer into a section of the caves from above.
Gotta love those hydrangeas!
We were making our way back from the caves when we came across this darling little Japanese woman.
She was cleaning seaweed….for her locally famous”Seaweed Jelly”. Yes, well…uh. Hmm.
After such an eventful day, we were fairly starving…despite passing up an encounter with seaweed jelly.
We found a tiny little pizza joint (no inside seating) that serves wood-fired pizzas. Or perhaps they were sidewalk-baked?
We nearly exhausted our wordbank of elementary Japanese trying to explain that we don’t eat meat. Nevertheless, we must have been successful because we were pleasantly surprised when they delivered eggplant & corn mayonnaise pizzas! (Almost everything is served with Japanese mayo, a thicker, richer version of its American cousin.)
After trying the hot pepper oil served with our pies, we needed to peruse the ice cream selection.
With choices like “white bait” and “jellyfish”, it was a hard to choose just one flavor. In the end, we opted for vanilla and mango.
I didn’t ask what the clear gel topping was…it’s probably best I don’t know.
Once we were on the road again, the bus started making its way back home. But we had one more scenic stop along the way.
And the view was stunning!
What a great way to end the trip!
Hubby and I had such a wonderful time, and we’re so grateful for the opportunity to experience such a fantastic excursion. We loved every sweltering moment!