Coya Cottage Rental House in Kisami, Shimoda!

By / 12th July, 2016 / Retreat wabi-sabi / Off

Coya Cottage

Retreat wabi-sabi is expanding! We have added Coya Cottage to our expanding options of accommodation in the very popular Kisami area of Shimoda. Coya means “small house” but it’s big enough for families and larger groups who prefer a bit more privacy. Coya Cottage is a Japanese style cottage that was built over 40 years ago. We have revamped and refreshed the entire building inside and out but worked hard to retain it’s very quaint Showa Style. There are 2 tatami rooms so couples or kids can have their own rooms. There is a large dining kitchen with seating for 5 plus a very cute retro baby chair in case you have a little one. We have managed to save the original tama-ishi retro tiling in the bathroom. The cottage has a Japanese style engawa, a small deck where you can laze around on zabuton cushion or have a freshly brewed morning coffee. There is parking for 2 cars right next to the building. Coya Cottage rental house is in the lush green valley called Kisane, behind Kisami Ohama Beach, less than 5 minute walk from the sea. We are on a private road so there is no through traffic or road noise. Listening to an orchestra of crickets is sure to calm any restless sleeper. This vacation home has everything you need in the kitchen along with complimentary coffee and tea, organic toiletries in the bathroom, as well as fresh linen, towels, yukata (Japanese cotton robes), original maps with personalized recommendations. Rental surfboards, bicycles, snorkels, body-boards, and so much more! We hope you will come and check out our latest creative space. Check out our website to book direct!

If you are only looking for a room or need a bigger house, check out your options at Retreat wabi-sabi and Guesthouse tabi-tabi. We are waiting for you!



A day bicycle ride south and around the coast!

By / 24th July, 2015 / Activities, More, Sightseeing, Sports & leisure / Off

Dear guests and future guests, my name is Maddy, I am a thirty years old French girl traveling around the world for six months and the Izu Peninsula is by far my favorite place until now. I really enjoy the serenity that surrounds me here and the nature which is everywhere has a lot to do with it. Thanks to my hosts Angela and Yasu I found out that cycling along the coastline is the best way to experience the beauty of the place and if you are ready to have your breath taken away, ride a bike ! You can enjoy the Kisami area thanks to the bicycles available at the guest house for 500 yen per day. Moreover, I highly suggest that you take a day bicycle ride south and around the coast. You will have to pay a 3,500 yen for the renting of a bicycle with gears ( to go on this ride up and down those mountainous roads. Before leaving be sure to wear a cap, to use plenty of sunscreen and to load your bicycle with one or two bottles of fresh water to hydrate yourself as often as possible. No need to worry about finding toilets as there are some at every touristic spots you will find on your tour (and don’t forget to refill your bottles once you are there). Now that you are on your bike, ride at your own pace. The Izu Peninsula has an abundance of natural beauty and you are free to take your time and take fully advantage of this breathtaking scenic coastline where you can breathe, rest, drink, eat and take some photos to share this experience with your friends later. By the way, even though this tour is the perfect occasion to challenge yourself and spend some time alone in the nature, having company might be a good idea especially if you are not used to cycle in mountainous areas. However you will see that those roads are perfect to ride a bicycle and will enjoy to have good brakes when the time will come to cycle down. I join to this article a map of a nice itinerary. On one hand the first thirty kilometers on the coastline are the most breathtaking but difficult. On the other hand the way back along the road 136 is much more easier but offers less interesting spots. I suggest that you take your time on the first part. Remember that happiness is in the doing not in the getting what you want. So cycle and have fun!


Bistro Domani

By / 27th August, 2014 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

Domani Shimoda

Fancy something a little more fancy? A variety of French, Italian, and original dishes are beautifully presented at this cozy spot half way to town.  Bistro Domani offers full dinner courses or choose from 2 very reasonable dinner sets. Set A includes your choice of a main dish, plus appetizer, dessert, baguette or rice, coffee or tea or juice, and dessert. Set B includes your choice of a main dish, an appetizer, soup or pasta, baguette or rice, coffee or tea or juice.  Most dinner sets are ¥2160, while the full courses start at ¥4110. If you are staying at Guesthouse tabi-tabi, grab one of our bikes, head towards town and  after the first tunnel turn left, a little ways up the hill you will see Bistro Domani on your right. The nearest bus stop is Nabeta Guchi, or take a taxi for about ¥1000.

Lunch: 11:30 – 14:00
Dinner: 17:00 – 21:00
Closed: Thursday


Breakfast at Fontaine’s

By / 4th August, 2014 / Restaurants & cafes / Off


I think most foreigners living in Japan would agree that there are not enough breakfast places around.So I am happy to have discovered a great new spot with fluffy omelettes, toast, Italian coffee and freshly squeezed OJ. They even have an outdoor deck. And on top of it all, it is less than 15 minutes away on a bike and cost less than ¥1500. Everything was fresh and tasty! What a great way to start the day!


Fontaine Cafe and Cake shop is just a little south of Kisami on the 136. You can take a bike from tabi-tabi or find it on our recommendation map here.

Open: 10:00 – 19:30

Last order: 18:00

Retreat wabi-sabi is open!!!

By / 3rd August, 2014 / Retreat wabi-sabi / Off

wabi-sabi shimoda snaps

We would like to announce the birth of a new tabi-tabi! On July 19th, 2014 we opened our second location in Shimoda (third in Japan), and proud owners we are! Although our other 2 locations, Lodge tabi-tabi in Hakuba and Guesthouse tabi-tabi in Shimoda, bear the tabi-tabi name, we quickly realized that having 2 places with the same name in the same area could get confusing so we decided to fittingly name it after Japan’s humble aesthetic, wabi-sabi. And since we are (will be) more than just a place to stay, and because of it’s serene private location we decided on the title “retreat”.

The latest incarnation of Retreat wabi-sabi has actually had numerous lives in the past. The building as it stands now was originally a guesthouse constructed some 40 years ago, however, many of the materials that were used came from a much older farmhouse in northern Japan.

The old wooden beams along with the natural rock walls in the building creates it’s own unique character. We have updated and upgraded the rooms with fresh tatami, re-done the walls with traditional Japanese plaster, put in  hard-wood flooring, created a kitchen better suited for communal living, installed air-conditioners in every guestroom, and have connected to fiber-optic cable to provide guests with high-speed wifi.

The location as well is truly extra-ordinary. In fact, many of the locals didn’t know this hidden gem even existed and many  of the people who have now had the chance to join us feel they have made a rare discovery.

Retreat wabi-sabi is propped up on the side of the lush green valley, Kisane. Just like our Hakuba lodge, we are the last one (ichiban oku) on the road tucked into the surrounding woods. Which means there is no traffic to ruin the soothing sounds of nature that thrives all around us. Although it might sound like we are absolutely isolated, we are less than 5 minutes on foot from Ohama Beach in Kisami, Shimoda.

Just like the name suggests, wabi-sabi, is far from perfect, it shows it’s age yet will never be completed. However, it reveals it’s beauty in it’s imperfections.

So please understand, the creatures that create nature’s orchestra may sometimes get curious and find their way in the house. In other words, you might see some bugs. We are up on a hill so the driveway is steep and on rainy days when the roads are wet, cars without 4WD can even expect to spin their tires a bit. If you are coming by car, and don’t have much confidence in your driving, you are also welcome to park at the bottom of the driveway.

We hope you can join us to see what this wabi-sabi-ness is all about.

Angela & Yasu


P.S. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who made it possible:

Kat0-san, the friendly and forgiving ownerAbhi and Kenta, the creative carpenters
Ben-san, the electrical genius who also donated the beautiful washi light in the dorm
Ito-san for sharing his secret shikui recipes and mixer
Horiuchi-san who has provided us with a new home and unexpected opportunities
Nobuhiro, our artistic (and very patient) web-designer
Machami, master of logos
Yuji and Taku, the handymen
Pachamama for her endless creative power and beauty
and all our friends and neighbors  in Kisami who unknowingly provided support and made us feel nothing but welcome.

New Location!!!

By / 13th June, 2014 / Retreat wabi-sabi / Off

Shimoda Guesthouse, tabi-tabi 2

We are getting ready to expand! We are working hard to offer a second location for Guesthouse tabi-tabi in Shimoda. We have already moved in and are now renovating and updating this secluded house on the hill. Surrounded by nature, we wake up to the sound of birds every morning and since we are a mere 4 minute walk to Kisami Ohama Beach we can listen to the sound of crashing waves as we nod off to sleep at night. As you can probably tell, we are very excited about this new spot and hope to be welcoming guests by July 2014.

How to get to Shimoda from Osaka or Kyoto

By / 14th September, 2012 / Transportation / Off

To get to Shimoda from Osaka, or Kyoto, you should take the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Shin-Osaka or Kyoto Station to Atami (141 min). From Atami take the JR Ito line to Ito (23 min) and from Ito take the Izu Kyuoko Line to Izukyu Shimoda Station (69 min).

I suggest you use Hyperdia to check for train schedules, or even better, call the super friendly folks at the JR East English info line. They will be able to help you choose the best departure time. Sometimes leaving later means arriving earlier! The number is:


(If you are calling from overseas, drop the first zero and add the country code 81)

***Please note, the name of the station you want to get off at is Izukyu Shimoda Station. If you use Hyperdia or Jorudan to search for train schedules and fares, you must use “Izukyu Shimoda” as your destination point. There are other towns and stations called Shimoda throughout Japan.

****One more note, when you are transfering in Ito or Atami, take care NOT to board a train bound for “Shimada” (with 2 A’s), be sure to look for a train bound for Izukyu Shimoda.

Hirizo: Underwater Wonderland

By / 12th September, 2012 / Activities, Sports & leisure / Off

From Guesthouse tabi-tabi, take a 40 minute bus ride down and around the coast to Nakagi, pay a 1000 yen for a 5 minute boat ride and you’ll arrive at the underwater wonderland, Hirizo. Before boarding the ship you can pick up some cold drinks, and rent the required snorkel and mask for only 500 yen. Do pack well, Hirizo is nothing but a rocky beach. There are no toilets or vending machines. We brought beach chairs, a parasol, towels, fins (flippers), sunscreen, drinks, snacks, and an underwater camera. If you have a wetsuit or surfing vest it will keep you in the water longer and let you dive deeper as it can get pretty chilly hanging out with cold blooded creatures all day. There are tons of fish to see! I wish I knew the names of them all but can just tell you there are big ones, little ones, blue ones, yellow ones, and striped ones. Some hang out in massive schools while others can be seen hiding alone between rocks and soft coral. We spotted lots of sea anemone too but have yet to find any nudibranches (colorful sea-slugs) but I know they are out there somewhere! Will be back soon with a better pair of goggles to help me find the finer creatures. Click on any pic for my flickr set!

UPDATE: Please be aware that on days when waves are big or the sea is choppy there will be no boats heading to Hirizo. You can find contact details for Nakagi and Hirizo on their (Japanese only) website here.

Izu cruise

By / 5th September, 2012 / More, Sightseeing / Off

As I have mentioned in my blog about kayak, the best way to see Izu’s rugged coastline is from the sea. But if you are not feeling so active and don’t want to spend a day paddling then I highly recommend taking a 25 minute cruise around Irozaki. Irozaki is the southern most tip of the Izu Peninsula, about a 30 minute drive from Shimoda. It is also possible to take a bus from the Kisami area then walk down to the peer. Boats depart every 30 minutes between 9:00 a.m. and 15:30 p.m. and cost ¥1200 for adults/¥600 for children. You will most likely be on the A Course tour since the B Course is only used on days when the sea is too choppy to head west. Once your ship gets out of the bay, look up and you will see Irozaki (Cape Iro) easily identified with its shrine built into the cliff. You can also visit this shrine after you disembark by following the path from the peer up and along the cape. More about the shrine and look-out point here, and a link for the Izu Cruise homepage here.

Lotus Garden

By / 20th August, 2012 / Flowers, More, Seasonal, Sightseeing / Off

(Hasu) is Japanese for lotus. This giant but delicate flower has long been a symbol for Buddhism as it represents the true nature of beings, who rise above the suffering of life then blossom into the beauty and clarity of enlightenment. Just like the lotus, which is rooted deep in the mud, with a long stem that grows through murky water, and a bud that finally rises and opens into the sun.

In Minami Izu there is a privately owned lotus garden that I can’t wait to get back to. A 13 year work-in-progress, where you too can experience real beauty not only from the flowers but also from their grower. An old man with a story to tell and beauty to share. He only ask that you make a donation to Tohoku, where people are still struggling to make their way through the mud and devastation left by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

You can find the lotus garden on our google map here.


Girls at the Beach

By / 10th July, 2012 / More / Off

This is a 100 year old photo of girls at the beach in Shimoda. Love the stripes! Click on the pic for more Swimsuit Girls of Old Japan”.


By / 12th June, 2012 / More / Off

Are you an instagrammer? We are! You can “follow us” at tabitabijapan, or check out all of our Izu photos here. Enjoy!

Cafe Mellow

By / 10th June, 2012 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

For those of you who have been visiting the Kisami area for sometime, you may have noticed that Paradise has been lost and in it’s place Cafe Mellow has set up shop. Although some of the changes will take some getting used to, we were impressed with the food, service, and reasonable prices. Despite the name, staff are attentive and dishes are served up quick. Cafe Mellow offers burgers, sandwiches, pasta, curry, and appetizers from 11 am til 11 pm.

The day we went for lunch we had a Grilled Broad-bill Swordfish Sandwich which came with fries and a bit of salad on the side for ¥800, and the Basil Sauce with Shrimp and Avocado Pasta for ¥1050. Both were fresh, yum, and plentiful. The sandwich I thought could use a smear of mayonaise and a good dash of pepper which they were more than happy to provide.

For those of you arriving late on Friday night from Tokyo, Cafe mellow is the perfect place for a late night drink to help you mellow out from the big city buzz. 


Cafe Mellow is about 5 minutes on foot from Guesthouse tabi-tabi. You can also find it on our recommendation map here.

Open: 11-00 – 23:00

Tokyo to Shimoda,………. the fastest way.

By / 20th April, 2012 / Transportation / Off

The fastest way to get just about anywhere in Japan is by bullet train or what the Japanese call Shinkansen. There are no direct Shinkansens from Tokyo to Shimoda but it is possible to take a shinkansen half way, from Tokyo Station to Atami, and then transfer to a Super Express called Odoriko. The journey takes a mere 2 hours but will cost you ¥7090 one way.

You can save more than 50% by sticking to regular trains. You can read about the cheapest option here. There easiest way to get to Shimoda is to take 1 train direct from Tokyo to Izukyu Shimoda, find out more here, or call the JR East Info line for help: 


(If you are calling from overseas, drop the first zero and add the country code 81)

***Please note, the name of the station you want to get off at is Izukyu Shimoda Station. If you use Hyperderia or Jorudan to search for train schedules and fares, you must use “Izukyu Shimoda” as your destination point. There are other towns and stations called Shimoda throughout Japan.

****One more note, when you are transfering in Ito or Atami, take care NOT to board a train bound for “Shimada” (with 2 A’s), be sure to look for a train bound for Izukyu Shimoda.

Tokyo to Shimoda………. the cheapest way.

By / 20th April, 2012 / Transportation / Off

The cheapest way to get to Shimoda is to take the Odakyu Line train from Shinjuku to Odawara and transfer to the Tokaido line bound for Atami or Ito, then finally switching to Tokyu’s Izu Kyuko line from there. The train from Shinjuku to Odawara takes 93 minutes so be sure to catch an express. The entire journey takes approximatly 3hrs and 40 minutes and costs only ¥3070.  

I suggest you use Hyperdia to check for train schedules. Click on “search details” and make sure you uncheck “Bullet Train”, “Nozomi”, and “Limited Express Trains” to find the cheapest routes.

You can also ask the super friendly folks at the JR East English info line for help:


(If you are calling from overseas, drop the first zero and add the country code 81)

***Please note, the name of the station you want to get off at is Izukyu Shimoda Station. If you use Hyperdia or Jorudan to search for train schedules and fares, you must use “Izukyu Shimoda” as your destination point. There are other towns and stations called Shimoda throughout Japan.

****One more note, when you are transfering in Ito or Atami, take care NOT to board a train bound for “Shimada” (with 2 A’s), be sure to look for a train bound for Izukyu Shimoda.

The Big “O”

By / 10th April, 2012 / Guesthouse tabi-tabi / Off

Guesthouse tabi-tabi provides a refreshing assortment of cleansers and toiletries that are earth and people friendly. All of our soaps are organic and biodegrable making them gentle on the skin and on the planet. In the shower you will find Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.  We try to rotate through the various scents they offer. Peppermint has an amazing cooling effect so it is great for summer. Citrus has a refreshing scent to perk you up, while almond smells good enough to eat. Once you start using Dr. Bronner’s you won’t want to use anything else. I’ve also got a bottle in my onsen basket at all times.

In the shower you can enjoy Avalon Organics Refreshing Cleansing Gel for the face, and organic shampoo and conditioner from Jason’s Everyday Hair selection Care. Once you get out of the shower you can try out the Avalon Organics Balancing Toner.

By the sinks we have organic hand soaps and in the kitchen we wash our dishes with Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.We have a washing machine you can use for ¥200. On the shelf, above the machine, you will find Grab Green’s 3-in-1 Laundry detergent pods. Please help yourself.

We hope you will enjoy our selection of all-natural soaps and cleansers as much as we do!

Tokyo to Shimoda, …………..the easiest way.

By / 6th April, 2012 / Transportation / Off

The easiest way to get to Shimoda is by Odoriko Super Express train. Some of the trains are called Super View Odoriko because they have raised floors and windows that extend to the ceiling so you can enjoy views of the shimmering ocean and the lush landscapes of the Izu peninsula along the way. The journey takes approximately 3 hours and costs about ¥6500 from Shinjuku (with cheaper fares and travel times from other departure stations). Below is a list of departures times. There are other departure stations like Shinagawa, Ikebukuro, and Yokohama. For a complete timetable you can check the JR website here. You can also call the super friendly folks at the JR East English info line at:


Shinjuku Station – Izukyu Shimoda Departures:

8:30  /  9:25

Tokyo  Station –  Izukyu Shimoda Departures:

7:30  /  8:00  /  9:00  /  10:00  /  10:30  /  11:00  /  11:30  /  12:00  /  13:00  /  13:30  /  14:00  /  14:30  /  15:30

***Please note, the name of the station you want to get off at is Izukyu Shimoda Station. If you use Hyperderia or Jorudan to search for train schedules and fares, you must use “Izukyu Shimoda” as your destination point. There are other towns and stations called Shimoda in Japan.

****One more note, if you are using another train route, and are transfering in Ito or Atami, take care NOT to board a train bound for “Shimada” (with 2 A’s), be sure to look for a train bound for Izukyu Shimoda.


By / 4th April, 2012 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

If you love a good sandwich, like I love a good sandwich, you have got to check out cubstar in Shimoda. They have a Panini lunch special to please everyone. A veggie version with mozzarella and cheese, the pescetarian special (as above) is filled with cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon), and for lovers of meat they a have Bologna and egg salad mix. Try to leave a little room for dessert because Cubstar‘s Yama-chan makes the best French toast this side of the planet. This hot and crispy treat is available anytime, comes in two sizes, and has an assortment of flavors but I get the large basic version with honey everytime (to share of course). They also have a dinner menu, with nice fresh salads, pastas, smoothies, and excellent Italian coffees. Be sure to order a cappuccino in order bare witness to Hoshi-kun’s coffee art skills. Cubstar now has a take-out menu so you can grab a good coffee or a smoothie and sit next to the river on Perry Road which is less than a 5 minute walk from the cafe. Cubstar can be a little tricky to find but just look for the quaint green church that is their neighbour. I will also add it to our recommendation map here.


Shimoda Station to Kisami Bus Schedule

By / 3rd April, 2012 / Transportation / Off

To get to Kisami from Izukyu Shimoda Station you can take a bus from the rotary right outside the station. Look for the big orange signs. Busses departing from bus stop 2, 3, and 4, all stop at Kisami Bus Stop. You can walk to Ohama beach and Guesthouse tabi-tabi from there.  You can find a map of the area here. The 10 minute journey costs ¥260 which you have to pay when you get off the bus. Don’t forget to grab a ticket when you are geting on, it shows where your trip originated from much like a train ticket.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi from outside the station for about ¥1400. Most taxi drivers know “Guesthouse tabi-tabi”, otherwise give them our address:

Guesthouse tabi-tabi
1658 Kisami

—————————–(UPDATED MAY 2ND, 2012)————————–

Bus Stop #2 Departures:

8:04 / 8:26 / 8:46 / 9:00 / 9:36

Bus Stop #3 Departures:

6:50  /  7:35  / 8:40  /  9:20  /  10:20  /  11:20  /  11:55  /  13:00  /  14:05  /  14:50  /  15:30  /  16:20  /  16:45  /  17:45  /  18:10  /  19:05  /  20:00  /  21:20

Bus Stop #4 Departures:

6:55  /  7:46  /  8:20  /  9:00  /   10:35  /  11:30  /  12:05  /
12:35  /13:20  /  14:25  / 15:10  / 16:00  /   17:15  /  18:25

*** Please be aware that the bus schedule can change a few times a year so best to have a look at the schedules yourself when you arrive.

Kisami Area Map

Kisami Area Map

道の駅 (Michi-no-Eki)

By / 18th March, 2012 / Food, Restaurants & cafes, Transportation / Off

道 (Michi) means road, の (no) is a possessive like our ‘s, and 駅 (eki) means station. Together you have “Road Station“, which have all of the conveniences of a train station but is made for drivers and their cars. All michi-no-eki are organized by the government, and provide basic travel needs like free 24 hour parking, restrooms, and tourist information. Michi-no-eki is also the hub of many small towns providing them a place to promote tourism and trade. You can often find locally grown veggies, food stalls and restaurants with local specialties, souvenirs, hand-made goods, and sometimes even onsens! Michi-no-eki are government run and merchants are carefully selected to represent the town so you can be sure to find the best food and the most welcoming folks at the road-side michi-no-eki.

The Shimoda michi-no-eki has a great sushi shop you can read about here, and on the first floor you can get the Shimoda Burger I wrote about here.

The Minami Izu michi-no-eki is my favorite place to buy locally grown veggies. They also have bread and other pastries, plants, a gallery with crafts for sale, and excellent soft ice-cream served with a load of fresh blueberries. I will add it to our recommendation map here. Take note of the michi-no-eki symbol below so you will know where to take a break the next time you are on the road.

Shimoda Geisha

By / 5th March, 2012 / Events / Off

Many people don’t realize that there are geisha alive and working in Japan. Other people assume that the only place to spot a geisha is in the Gion district of Kyoto. However, although the number of practicing geisha have dwindled, there continue to be a number of women studying the geisha arts and going on to work as professional geisha. There is even gaijin geisha (foreign geisha) working in Asakusa, Tokyo. You can read more about Australian geisha, Sayuki, on her website here.

In an effort to preserve Shimoda’s cultural heritage and stimulate tourism by enlivening the city, the Shimoda government has flipped the bill for 3 women to be trained as geisha. At the moment these women are very busy preparing for their grand debut on March 27 when Shimoda will be celebrating the Okichi Festival. Iroha (her new Geisha name) is a good friend of mine and I can’t wait to see how her hard work is paying off!

Come and stay at Guesthouse tabi-tabi on the 26th or 27th of this month and join me for the Okichi Festival.

Rent a Car anywhere in Japan

By / 17th February, 2012 / Transportation / Off

The best way to explore the Izu Peninsula is with your own set of wheels. We suggest you check out ToCoo! rent-a-car. They have over 800 outlets, offer services from 12 different car rental companies, have a huge choice of vehicles, and an easy-to-use English website where you can check prices and reserve your vehicle. Although you can pick up your car in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, or even the airport, some people prefer to make their way to Izu by train, and pick up their car in Shimoda instead. They have options for child seats, and all cars come with GPS. There is no extra fee for dropping off your vehicle at a different location as long as is within the same prefecture. Smaller vehicles go for 4200 yen a day and they also offer long-term discounts. Driving in Japan is remarkably easy, roads are well marked in English, and other drivers are courteous. To rent a car in Japan you will need a credit card, a valid driver’s license, plus an international driver’s license which you have to get in your home country. Click on the pic for more details.


By / 4th November, 2011 / Food, More, Seasonal / Off

Even though there is snow on the peaks of the alps in Nagano, Shimoda is still sunny and warm. There are very few signs of fall in fact, except these big orange persimmon (kaki) ripening on trees all over Izu.

Travel Volunteers

By / 26th October, 2011 / Guesthouse tabi-tabi / Off

The Travel Volunteer team, Katy and Jamie, came and stayed with us for two nights at Guesthouse tabi-tabi in Shimoda and one night at Lodge tabi-tabi, Hakuba. Here is a pic of Katy chatting with some local ladies in Minami Izu (just south of Shimoda). We had come to our usual sunset spot and ran into this cheerful gaggle of girls who said the clouds in the sky looked like an angel’s wing.

Katy and Jamie are on a mission to capture the beauty of Japan and report on conditions in order  to relieve fears and bring the tourists back. You can follow their adventures through the 47 prefectures here. If you would also like to help Japan, report on the endless beauty, and experience the rich culture in the Land of the Rising Sun, you can apply for a 10,000 free airline ticket give-away! Find out more here.

Back to Hakuba

By / 7th October, 2011 / More / Off

We have moved west, back to Japan’s Northern Alps, and back to Lodge tabi-tabi. We will be making another appearance in Shimoda on October 21st to prep the house for a couple of very special guests. Later this month we will be providing accommodation for Katy and Jamie, the Travel Volunteer Team. They are on a 100+1 day mission to visit every prefecture of Japan and “show the world that Japan remains a safe and attractive destination for travellers from all over the world”. We are really looking forward to meeting this adventurous couple. You can follow their amazing journey here.

From October until the end of March, Guesthouse tabi-tabi in Shimoda will be available as a private rental only. You can take over the whole place, 4 bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, the backyard, and all the bikes for 25,000 yen a night plus linen and cleaning fees (minimum 2 nights). So if you are looking for your very own cottage get-a-away, please fill in one of our enquiry forms, or send us an email. If you would also like check out the mountains in the picture above, then come and visit us at Lodge tabi-tabi, Hakuba.

Shimoda Burger

By / 18th September, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

At the Ra-Maru Diner in Michi-no-Eki they serve a fish burger made with Shimoda’s most popular fish, kin-me-dai (aka splendid alfonsino). ¥1000 may seem a little pricey for a fish burger and some chips, but it’s a tasty change from its beef and bun cousin.

Open:10:00 – 17:00


By / 17th September, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

Just a short stroll from Guesthouse tabi-tabi a Jerk Chicken Shop has opened up. Their cozy nook, Bingo, is situated right next to Kisami’s shrine so on late evenings in September you can listen to live taiko drumming, shamisen, and bamboo flutes while filling up on their Jamaican Style BBQed bird, and draft beer.


Open: 11:30 – 20:00

Closed: Tuesday

You can also find it on our recommendation maps here and here.

A Sailor’s Eye View of Kisami

By / 17th September, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

Here is a picture of the Kisami area of Shimoda. From left to right, Goishi Beach, Ohama Beach, Maiso Beach, Irita Beach, Tatado Beach, and then more rocky coast line.

Stop and smell these flowers!

By / 11th September, 2011 / Flowers, More, Seasonal / Off

Southern Izu is covered in Lilies of every kind,but the White Spider Lily has the sweetest fragrance of them all. Keep your eyes open, and put the brakes on when you spot one. Bet you can’t sniff just once.

Saiko Taiko

By / 11th September, 2011 / Events, Sightseeing / Off

Yesterday, Matsuzaki held its 12th annual Taiko Festival. It was awesome! (or “saiko”  pronounced psycho in Japanese) 4 taiko groups, 2 dancing dragons, a bamboos flute, smashing symbols and gongs were accompanied by torches of fire, candles in bamboo holders, and the sound of waves lapping on the beach. When the sun disappeared under the sea in front of us, the nearly full harvest moon came up behind us. Nothing short of spectacular! Please join us next year for the  13th annual Taiko Festival in beautiful Matsuzaki!


What are you looking at???

By / 6th September, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

Walls of Fury, or Walls of Fun?

By / 5th September, 2011 / Sports & leisure / Off

Luckily, Typhoon Tala did not hit Shimoda directly. And although we had to put up with a bit of rain on and off for a few days, we got to enjoy the massive swell brought on by typhoon # 12.

Kaiten Zushi

By / 28th August, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

Kaitenzushi is a sushi shop where nigirizushi rolls up to you on a conveyer belt and you get to take your pick of Japan’s most celebrated culinary tradition. Sakanadonya is on the 2nd floor of Shimoda’s Michi-no-eki (road station), right next to the ocean. It doesn’t get any fresher than this!

The cuts of fish are huge but if you are on a budget, don’t just look at the tasty bites of seafood, make sure to check out the plates.  The dishes are priced according to the color and design of the plates the sushi is layed out on. Check the wall for a plate to yen conversion chart.

Michi-no-eki is located near the port just a little north of the station on the 136, and is also a great place to buy omiyage (souvenirs). You can find it our map here.

Open: 11:00 – 20:00

Price: Dishes from ¥130 to ¥530

Summer is OFFICIALLY over!

By / 28th August, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

Summer is over….. NOT! Actually, the fun has just begun! Today was the last day of work for the lifeguards (aka fun police), parking is now free everywhere (was 1500 yen during the “official” summer season), the crowds are gone, the traffic has unjammed, the best restaurants have seating available, and all the locals are expending a huge exhale before swigging down a cold one…… Yes, anyone who spends much time here will tell you that September is undoubtedly the best time to enjoy Shimoda!

The sea is warm, but contrary to popular belief, there are no jellyfish. Yes, we know Kanagawa (Shonan) jellyfish are taking away all the fun of having a refreshing dip in the ocean, but here in Shimoda I have never *knock on wood* seen or felt a jellyfish, or even heard of anyone else getting stung. Now, back to the beach I go….

Catch a Falling Star

By / 26th August, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

Late last night I went for a stroll along Ohama beach and with every wave that crashed on the beach, glowing lights shimmered at my feet. I have never seen so many yakochu (bioluminescent plankton)!

If you are quick, you can catch these mysterious glowing lights. When one lights up, scoop it up along with a bit of sand, keep shaking your hands slightly or the light will go out. The plankton only lights up when disturbed.

Breakfast at Fontaine’s

By / 19th August, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

I think most foreigners living in Japan would agree that there are not enough breakfast places around.So I am happy to have discovered a great new spot with fluffy omelettes, toast, Italian coffee and freshly squeezed OJ. They even have an outdoor deck. And on top of it all, it is less than 15 minutes away on a bike and cost less than ¥1500. Everything was fresh and tasty! What a great way to start the day!


Fontaine Cafe and Cake shop is just a little south of Kisami on the 136. You can take a bike from tabi-tabi or find it on our recommendation map here.

Open: 10:00 – 19:30

Last order: 18:00

From Nanohana to Himawari.

By / 12th August, 2011 / Activities, Flowers, More, Seasonal, Sightseeing / Off

Back in March this field of himawari (sunflowers) was a field of nanohana (rapeseed flowers). You can find it in Minami Izu, just south of Shimoda and on our recommendation map here.

This is what this field looked like in March:


Let’s ride!

By / 12th August, 2011 / Activities, Sports & leisure / Off

Cycling Tours

Another great way to experience Izu’s natural beauty is to get on a bike and ride. Aloha Bike Trip Cycling Tours can take you on road trips, mountain bike tours, night cruises, half day rides, over-night adventures, and can show the kids around as well. They have tours for all levels,  provide instruction for beginner moutain bikers, and have bikes for rent. They also have experienced English-speaking guides and a great English website. Check it out here

Mountain Bike tours

Hanabi in Yumi-ga-hama

By / 9th August, 2011 / Events, Sightseeing / Off

Fireworks in Yumigahama

Last night we filled the van with guests and drove to the west coast to see the sunset. It was kinda cloudy so besides some stunning views of Izu’s rocky west coast, there wasn’t much to see. After that we headed to the southern most tip of the peninsula for fireworks in Yumi-ga-hama. Fireworks exploded above and were shot from the ocean, explosions and flashes of color reverberating through the starless sky. Looking forward to the next fire and light spectacle celebrating the Bon Festival on August 13th. Check out our calendar here for a listing of upcoming events in southern Izu.

Where are you from?

By / 9th August, 2011 / Guesthouse tabi-tabi / Off

where are you from - europe

Guesthouse tabi-tabi has a world map where we encourage our guests to make their mark, and show us where they’re from. We are thrilled to be able to bring together so many people from all around the world. Thanks for joining us everyone!

Click “continue reading” below to check out the rest of our world map



Candle Cafe

By / 8th August, 2011 / Events, Sightseeing / Off

On August 6th, 7th, and 8th, Shimoda held its second annual Candle Cafe. Which is not actually a cafe but a small festival with 1000s of candles lighting up the already beautiful Perry Road. Draft beer, cocktails and snack food was sold on the street. A good sound system oozed out smooth Jazz like Sade’s “Your Love is King”. There were plenty of places to sit and enjoy the ambience with a drink in hand. If you have yet to enjoy this classy festival of lights, don’t miss it next year!


Thank you!

By / 7th August, 2011 / Guesthouse tabi-tabi / Off

A big thank you to all who have stayed with us so far.

We have had many guests join us from all over the world over the past year. We are pleased to have had the chance to meet so many travelers, explorers, adventurers, sun worshippers, sandcastle builders, cyclists, nature enthusiasts, surfers, shell collectors, beach bums, skinny dippers, seafood buffs, kayakers, and Shimoda lovers. And we are looking forward to meeting many more!

Here are our reviews from our Hostelworld Guests over the past year. I will add some more hand written notes from other guests soon.


By / 7th August, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

The Izu Peninsula is covered in mountains and valleys reaching out to the ocean. On some of these steep slopes farmers are still tending their terraced paddies, or tanada in Japanese.   Here are some pictures of the beautiful tanada in Matsuzaki,  the west coast of Izu. Looking foward to harvest time, when the rice will be cut and hung to dry. 


Sea Kayaking

By / 5th August, 2011 / Activities, Sports & leisure / Off

Sea Kayaks have got to be the best way to explore Izu’s incredibly beautiful coastline. Guides can take you into caves and through natural tunnels. There are quite a few sea kayak tour guides in the area. We went with Surface. They have English speaking guides, provide lunch and lessons that give you the confidence you need for a full day tour.


Another Way to Ride

By / 31st July, 2011 / Sports & leisure / Off

Surfmats Surfmats are an easy, fun, cheap, and safer way to ride waves. Yasu has a Krypt MT5 and I have the Tracker Roundtail from 4th Gear Flyer. I love my flyer! Big smiles spread my face wide as I rip towards the coast. These mats can also ride side-by-side as there  is no danger in hurting someome with these cushy air-filled mats. On a beautiful day I also like to paddle out past the break, watch the waves getting pulled to the coast line,  and grab a tan along the way.

Here is a video of the legend surfer/knee boarder/ surfmatter, George Greenough,  on a day out:


Tobi Ishi

By / 31st July, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

Tobi Ishi is our favorite Japanese breakfast spot. For 500 yen you get a perfectly grilled aji, rice, pickles, miso soup, an egg, and some nori (dried seaweed). If you don’t like your egg raw, the friendly obasan is happy to cook it for you. Natto is an extra 50 yen. She’s stays open late (weekends until 11 pm) and serves up other common Japanese dishes like soba, curry, and ramen. She’s got cold beer and a good selection of ice-cream in the freezer. This place hasn’t changed in years, perhaps 30, as the beer ads with women in highcut bathing suits reveal.Tobi Ishi is a 5 minute walk from tabi-tabi, you can also find it on our recommendation map here.


By / 27th July, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

Here is a great little video of Kawazu’s 720 degree loop bridge. The video must have been taken during the July long weekend, because I have never seen that much traffic on Kawazu’s Loop Bridge.

The loop bridge is about a 40 minute drive from Shimoda and can be seen from Nanadaru Onsen.

So Many Ways to Ride Waves

By / 26th July, 2011 / Activities, Sports & leisure / Off

I have a tremendous amount of respect for surfers. I have tried many times to learn to stand on a board, and in the meantime spent hours paddling without moving, getting hit by my board, pummeled by waves,  dragged by tides, and chickening out when I finally did get close.

I haven’t given up on surfing entirely but I have added to my collection of beach toys, and quiver of sticks. A handplane is a mini board that anyone can ride. Basically, it’s a better way to bodysurf. Even when conditions are far from perfect for surfers, handplanes still shred.

Driving in Japan

By / 13th July, 2011 / Transportation / Off

Driving in Japan doesn’t have to be daunting. Nexco Highways Japan has an excellents site for people who want to be in the driver’s seat. With information on tolls, rest-stop details, recommended tourist attractions, restaurants, and shopping along the way. A great way to plan your travels, and keep you from getting lost. Check it out here

Our Daily Bread

By / 28th June, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

Shimoda’s other wood-burning-oven bakery is set in the heavens above. The scenic drive through the country side, then a hair-raising thrill ride up a steep and narrow mountain road is so worth your test of faith (and brakes!). Once you are there, plan to stay a while as you share in the love for bread and relish in the mountain’s divine breezes. There are plenty of offerings; a huge selection of crusty breads, tons of free samples, a photo album of their project and ongoing mission, and cups of coffee on the house.


Word of the Day – June 19th

By / 23rd June, 2011 / Guesthouse tabi-tabi / Off

tabi-tabi is the word of the day! Click to learn more…

Shokichi no Yu

By / 14th June, 2011 / Hot springs, Sightseeing / Off

This has got to be one of my favorite onsen, ever! So worth the journey up the narrow steep mountain roads (although I refuse to drive myself). When I mentioned that one of our previous guests had said, “Now this is off the beaten path.” another guest responded with “What path?”. This onsen is obviously a dream in the making and was not built as a business venture. You’ve got to see it to believe it, and when you are there you will also appreciate the alkaline waters with a PH of 9.5. That means silky water and super soft skin.


Open: 10:00 – 20:00

Adult: 700 yen

Children: 300

By car: About 30 minutes from tabi-tabi

By Bus: From Izukyu Shimoda take a bus to Yokokawa bus stop, from there it is a 30 minute walk (maybe 15 to get back). You can find it on our tabi-tabi map here.

A Fierce God

The Mimami Izu Hiking Trail is know for its amazing views off the high jagged peak of Cape Tarai, or what the local people call “a fierce god”. To get to the trail we took the 20 minute bus ride from tabi-tabi to Yumi-ga-hama.  From there we walked to Ogahama, a beautiful rocky beach with interesting rock formations.  At the end of the beach you will find the Minami Izu (Cape Tarai) trail head. The trails are well maintained and have Japanese and English signs with maps and explanations along the way. The hike leads you through lush forests, over high jagged cliffs, and along a scenic rocky cove.  We stopped many times to worship Izu’s amazing coast line, getting mystified by the sound of the crashing waves, and linger in the therapeutic aroma of the rich soil and other earthy delights. The trail ends in Toji, another beach with a real local feel, where we had ice-cream from the candy shop. From there we followed the main road past the Sand Ski Hill, The Open Cave, Goishi Beach, Ohama Beach, and back to tabi-tabi. The entire journey (from tabi-tabi and back again) only took about 3 hours, but left us feeling refreshed by nature’s divine energies.



By / 9th June, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

Another short jaunt from Guesthouse tabi-tabi is one of our other favorite late night dinner and drinks spots. The friendly owner Hiro, used to live in New York, where he spun hip-hop for skaters. Now he’s not only mixing vinyl, but he’s mixing up home-made ice-cream, tasty pasta, and great drinks! The small but ever-changing menu shows off his unique culinary talents.

Inside the warehouse looking buidling, he’s got a beautiful custom-made bar, amazing wood work interior, cool deco, a couple of candle-lit tables, and super chill atmosphere.

Hiro’s got a great selection of wine served in large stubby glasses. Last time we spent a few hours there, we had a great pasta, and sampled his selection of reds. He also treated us to this hors d’oevre of semi-dried tomato, salty cheesecake pâté, with rye bread (pictured right).


Check out some beautiful pics of Re-Mix on this blog here

South Cafe

By / 8th June, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

I have been meaning to write about South Cafe for a long time. And so I bring my camera with me every time I go but then as soon as the food arrives, my mouth waters and I dig in without capturing any of the deliciousness. This place is a favorite among tourists and locals alike so it is a good idea to arrive a bit early on the weekends or your won’t get a seat.

Don’t let the cheap prices fool you, the portions are huge. Yasu and I usually share a salad, and one other dish, a pasta or a dorian. The veggie pepperoncini is super garlicy so I always order some bread to sop up the buttery garlic once the noodles have been ravished.

If we still have room, we order desert. The brownie is super rich and moist and goes well with the vanilla ice-cream that is served on the side. The yummy banana bread comes with ice-cream too!

They have excellent drinks as well. A Fresh lime soda goes down well on a hot summer day. They have bottomless coffee, great mojitos, super smoothies….. If you like red wine, but don’t like yours chilled, make sure you let them know, and they will take a bottle off the shelf for you.


Hours: 11:30 – 21:00 (closed Thursdays)

From tabi-tabi, South cafe is a 7 minute stroll along the river. You can also find it on our tabi-tabi recommendation map here


By / 1st June, 2011 / More / Off

There is no direct translation for the word “natsukashi” but it is exlaimed when Japanese people talk about the good old days, that song that brings you back, or that warm and fuzzy feeling of waxing nostalgic. Check out this fabulous montage of still shots and 8mm film of Ohama, and Minami Izu that will take you back to the mustardy hues of the 70s.The very first part of the video is in Nakagami which I believe is in western Tokyo. Don’t think the peninsula has ever seen snow. Tokyo, however, does get a wee bit of the white stuff every winter season. Enjoy!

Open Cave

By / 31st May, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

open cave

Right next to the Sand Ski Hill, down a steep set of stairs, you will come to another one of Shimoda’s natural wonders. It is a massive cave naturally carved out by blowing wind, sand, and water. It is open on the top and has a passage out to the sea.  You can also walk around the top of the cave for some mesmerising ocean views.

 path to open cave kazu in cave

You can find the Open Cave on our tabi-tabi recommendation map here

Sand Ski Hill

By / 14th May, 2011 / Activities, Sightseeing / Off

sand ski hill 2

Sand Ski Hill is a massive sand dune you can sled down with a toboggan. It takes about 10 minutes to ride a bike from tabi-tabi to Sand Ski Hill. You can swim there as well but the beach is rocky. There is also a massive cave next to the Sand Ski Hill, I will write about later.

 sand ski hill girl yuka shredding

We’ve got bikes and a toboggan. Come and join the fun!

You can find it on our recommendation map here


By / 12th May, 2011 / Food, More, Seasonal / Off

bamboo shoots

We are forever receiving gifts from our neighbours and their gardens. In spring the local people forage through the bamboo forests and dig up these tasty delicacies, takenoko. If you eat them in the first two hours of being picked, you can enjoy “takenoko sashimi” or raw bamboo shoot with soy sauce and wasabi. If they are not that fresh then it is best to peel it, boil it, and use it for a number of dishes like, “takenoko gohan” (takenoko rice) and “nimono” (veggies boiled in a simple Japanese broth).

Here is Yasu’s yummy nimono recipe:


What you need:

1 takenoko (peeled, cut, and boiled in advance)

2 carrots

1 atsuage (friend tofu)

4 tbs soy sauce

3 tbs sugar

2 tbs mirin (sweet cooking sake)

1 tbs sake (Japanese rice wine)

400 ml of stock made with water and Japanese dashi (katsuo or kombu)

Boil everything together for about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Turn off the heat and let it cool in the pot. It’s even better the next day!


Monkey Park

By / 10th May, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

monkey at monkey park

Not sure what happens at the Monkey Park when it is open but when it is closed all the monkeys come to gawk at and harass the humans in the parking lot.

    monkey park sign monkey on our car monkey trying to get into a car

Open: 8:30 – 16:30

Entry Fee: adults ¥500 / kids ¥250

The Izu Monkey park is on the west coast of the peninsula in Hakachizaki, Minami Izu. You can also find it on our tabi-tabi recommendation map here

Kanaya Ryokan Onsen

By / 10th May, 2011 / Hot springs, Sightseeing / Off

kanaya ryokan women's bath

Kanaya Ryokan has been welcoming guests since 1866, but is most famous for its 15 meter long “sen-nin buro” (1000-man bath) built in 1915. This beautiful wooden bath is not only long but also very deep. In fact, it’s big enough to swim in.

The women’s bath (pictured above) is much newer but probably just as nice, and although not quite as big as the main bath you can still do about 6 or 7 breast strokes in the longest part. The women’s bath has many partitions with a slightly different temperature in each one.

Women don’t have to feel left out though. The main bath (sen-nin buro) is not actually a men’s bath, it’s “konyoku” (mixed bathing).  Curious women can take a key and enter the sen-nin buro through a double door from the change room. Hang onto your key or you’ll get stuck with the boys.

Both the women’s and the men’s bath has a small “rotenburo” (outdoor bath) as well. Nothing really exciting outside but still nice to get some fresh air.

kanaya ryokan outdoor bath kanaya ryokan garden jizo kanaya ryokan sign

Kanaya Ryokan is in Rendaiji, one stop from Shimoda by train.

You can find it on our recommendation map here

Open: 09:00 – 22:00

Price: weekdays ¥700 / weekends and holidays ¥1000

Perry Road

By / 9th May, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

perry road shimoda

Most people only know Shimoda for its pristine beaches and emerald green sea, but there is a lot more to Shimoda you should really check out! Perry Road is a tiny street divided by a river with overhanging wheeping willows lit buy old skool gas lamps. You can spend hours at this end of town as the road is lined with cafes, restraurants, antique shops, and boutiques.

perry road antique shop perry road bridge and tree perry road warehouse

You can find it on our tabi-tabi recommendation map here

Got Loaded!

By / 7th May, 2011 / Sports & leisure / Off

loaded dervish

A good friend if mine has a good friend who helps Loaded Longboards get promoted in Japan. Lucky for me, my friend was so impressed by these beautiful bamboo boards he decided to buy a Loaded Dervish for me! Thanks, Boss!

I can’t do anything real impressive but love carving and a bit of not-too-steep down hill. It’s also a realy fun way to get to Re-Mix for some homemade ice-cream. This is what these boards are really meant for though:


By / 6th May, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

Driving through the peaceful countryside, past villages built alongside rivers, surrounded by freshly planted rice paddies, I was reminded of this beautiful documentary, Satoyama: Japan’s Secret Water Gardens”. Here is part two (of six):

The sea is safe!

By / 6th May, 2011 / More / Off

On April 26th Marine Net Shimoda conducted air and sea water tests for radiation and no detectable levels of radiation were found! The sea is safe and the surfers are surfing! Wet suits are required though. The ocean is just 15 degrees. Cold but safe!

radiation test results show no detectable levels

And for more good news, the Prime Minister of Japan has asked Hamaoka, a nuclear power station in Shizuoka to shut down. Sadly though, the government does not have the power to order it to close its doors. Power to the people (and the governments that are supposed to represent them)!

UPDATE: Hamaoka Power Plant has been shut down!


By / 6th May, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

matsuzaki walls 3

The Izu Peninsula has so many many interesting places to visit. Today we were on a flower picking mission in Matsuzaki but we have been to Matsuzaki numerous times before. It’s a great town to saunter around in. There are tons of historical building with namako walls, museums, cool kuras, cute cafes, and interesting shrines. 

matsuzaki kura matsuzaki shrine matsuzaki shrine lanterns

matsuzaki museum pic matsuzaki museum matsuzaki kura doors

You can find Matsuzaki on our tabi-tabi recommendation map here

Flower Picking!

By / 5th May, 2011 / Events, Flowers, Seasonal / Off

flower picking in Matsuzaki

Every year in Matsuzaki (west coast of Izu) wild flowers are grown in rice paddies before the rice seedlings are planted. Once the May flowers bloom everyone is invited to pick as many flowers as they can. I cut and collected as many flowers as I could carry. Next year though, I will be more prepared and bring a bucket, some large scissors or a sharp knife, and wear a T-shirt and shorts. It got pretty hot frolicking around in the flowers for hours.

bud squared kaleidoscopic flower purple flower squared pink poppy

Thanks Maia for the beautiful bouquet and for telling us about this endless field of floral fun!

flowers picked in matsuzaki

You can find Matsuzaki on our tabi-tabi recommendations map here

Cheap Chinese

By / 4th May, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off


This place has been open for a little over a year. Serves great Chinese food by Chinese people at Chinese prices. They have a picture menu so no worries about communication. Dishes start at 380 yen. For lunch they have huge lunch sets for around 1000 yen. They even have quite a few vegetarians options.

  chinese spicu cucumbers    crispy nooldes

Lunch: 11:00 – 14:00

Dinner: 17:00 – 24:00

You can find it on our tabi-tabi recommendations map here


By / 1st May, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

irozaki shrine

Irozaki is a cape at the very bottom of the Izu Peninsula. There is a lighthouse and a shrine with amazing views of Southern Izu’s rocky coast.  You can visit the shrine and buy an “omikuji” (a fortune) if you end up with “kyo” (bad luck), you can tie it to a tree branch and hope your misfortune is blown away by the strong coastal winds.

    irozaki bad luck light house

Find it on our tabi-tabi recommendation map here

Nikuzuki in Kawazu

By / 30th April, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

nikuzuki in kawazu

Nikuzuki means “meatmoon” but they also serve fish and noodles to feed the vegetarians and semi-vegetarians alike. The food is delicious and the location is amazing. We have decided this will go on the list of “What to do on a rainy day”. I suspect the sound of the falling rain and the views of the fresh and green surrounding bamboo forest will make for a relaxing getaway. This wabi-sabi house was built using old techniques and old wood from a farmhouse in Fukushima. You can see pictures of the 10 year (and still ongoing) construction in one of their photo albums.

nikuzuki bbq nikuzuki sign nukizuki chillin nikuzuki table

Sunset Tour

By / 30th April, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

sunset tour in spring

At the moment we have guests from the UK, the Ukraine, Tokyo, and Osaka! It’s a long weekend here in Japan so we are enjoying a full house at the start of our season. Yesterday evening we took a family from Kawasaki to see the sunset on the other side of the peninsula.

sunset on west coast of izu

This is also one of our favorite longboard skateboarding spots

Izu longboard skate session


By / 30th April, 2011 / Events, Sightseeing / Off

koinobori across the river

It’s Golden Week here in Japan which means a lot of people are enjoying a whole bunch of holidays. Children’s Day is on May 5th and the Koi (carp) streamers are here to help us celebrate. Families throughout town have strung their own families of fish but the town also raises a long set of streamers over the river across the street from tabi-tabi. I love their reflections!

   koinobori in the river koinobori


By / 24th April, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

gorosaya sign

Shimoda is jam-packed with restaurants, cafes, and bars which can make it really difficult to choose. Well at least that is what happened to me a few years past when I really wanted to try some good local seafood. Eventually I turned to my trusty lonely planet which read, “Gorosaya. Elegant understated ambience and fantastic seafood”. I can’t agree with the ambience part. It is understated but not exactly elegant. I do love to sit at the counter and watch the master chefs do their work (and hopefully learn some of their secrets). The food is probably better than fantastic, and the price is also incredibly reasonable if not down-right cheap.

Gorosaya has an amazingly long history as well. This place has been operating under the same name by the same family for the last 200 years, and if you try it you will see why they have been in business for so long.

Gorosaya has an English menu that is not as comprehensive as the Japanese menu but I highly recommend getting a set meal (teishyoku)for 1575 yen. They have several different teishyoku to choose from. Take your pick: Yakizakana (grilled fish) , the Nizakana (boiled fish), Tempura (deep-fried goodness), or Sashimi (raw fish) teishyoku. There is also one slightly more expensive option (2100 yen) which is a mix of the sashimi and the boiled fish (kin-me-dai & Sashimi Teishoku) set.

I usually go with the boiled fish or the raw fish or get the mixed set. The sashimi is an amazing mix of the sea’s fresh delicacies. The boiled fish is usually kin-me-dai (a golden-eyed red snapper) cooked to absolute perfection. All set meals come with rice, pickels, chawanmushi (a savoury pudding), miso soup, a seaweed dish, and a citrus jelly for dessert.

        gorosaya sashimi gorofinme

Do go there hungry. The portions are huge!

Lunch: 11:30 – 14:00

Dinner: 17:00 – 21:00

Closed Thursdays

Find it on our tabi-tabi recommends map here

Sunset Onsen

By / 23rd April, 2011 / Hot springs / Off

sunset onsen view

We often drive to the west coast of the peninsula to watch the sunset. There are some great viewing spots on top of high cliffs where you can enjoy soft hues in a colorful sky. There are some place markers on our google map here. Drive another 30 minutes up the coast and there are several free onsen to enjoy. Onsen water near the sea is usually a bit salty and called “ensen” in Japanese.

This onsen has only one small bath, is konyoku (mixed bathing but swim suites are optional), not that hot (about 37 or 38 degrees), and not very easy to find. There is also very little parking and can be a little busy on weekends during the summer months. If you go at night you will definitely need a flash-light. As you can see, the best time to visit though is while the sun is setting.

swiss family at sunset onsen

We took this Swiss family to enjoy one of our favorite spots with us. This adventure (a windy ride through mountain roads followed by a hike down a steep path) naturally lead to more “off the beaten track” stories like a near miss lighting strike on a trek in Mexico! Thanks for joining us, Jobin family!

Open: June – September

Shanti Time

By / 22nd April, 2011 / Events / Off

jazz bread for sale dutch oven

We had a super shanti time at this free party just a little south of Shimoda. On the 19th DJs played for about 50 party people. While the bar sold strong drinks from eco-cups made out sawed off bamboo. Yasu had some yummy eggplant noodle soup and I enjoyed a veggie curry. The music stopped at midnight but the campers drank on. We drove home and returned the next day for an amazing breakfast with a few shots of Acai juice to get us going. The rest of the day was filled with workshops (miso making and Dutch oven baking), massage, reflexology, a flee market, petitions, and all the other requirements of a good party, plenty of music, dancing, drinks, friends, and more….

stuff for sale reflexology miso making workshop

                                                                                               Thanks for all the great vibes! See you next year!


By / 22nd April, 2011 / Restaurants & cafes / Off

the barn bread shop

This is one of our favorite bread shops in Shimoda. They are one of 2 bakers in the area that use a wood-fired brick oven. I promise to write about the other one soon. You can read about the other wood-burning oven bakery here.

Barn opens at 9:30 so if you get there when they unlock the doors you will be guaranteed a hot loaf. The brick ovens produce an extra thick crust. I highly recommend the walnut raisin buns. They have the perfect balance of crunchy and chewy and sweet walnuts mixed with fresh raisins. No need for butter, just a cup of coffee on the side.

They are located on the hill near “Cliff Side Hotel” just off the 135 near Shirahama. I will add a marker on our tabi-tabi recommendation map on Google.

    the barn bread selection baking bread at barn in shimoda

Open: 9:30 – 17:00

Closed: Thursdays

Welcome to the Front-side!

By / 10th March, 2011 / Sightseeing / Off

On March 9th we travelled from the back-side to the front-side of Japan. Hakuba  to Shimoda is only about a 6 hours drive yet feels like a world apart. We run a lodge in Hakuba, Nagano, where our snow-loving guests and staff were lapping up 40 cm of fresh powder while we were in Shimoda thigh deep in spring flowers!

Climate map of Japan

Those of you who have had to choose a Japan Rail-pass know that Japan is usually split into East and West Japan. Which divides the 2 rivaling cities, Osaka in the west and Tokyo in the east, and the 2 different electricity frequencies, 60 hertz in the west and 50 in the east. But in the old days when people lived in tune with nature, revered the changes of the seasons, and struggled with the differences in climate, Japanese people referred to front-side Japan as the place where the climate was mild, the summers were long, and people never saw snow, and the backside where people endured long harsh winters, and spring planting started late as farmers fields were covered with a thick white blanket of snow for a few months every year.

     izu flowers in march powder day in march

       March in Shimoda, Izu                                                                                 March in Hakuba, Nagano

We love all of Japan’s sides!