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".
tabi-tabi Izu blog
Event announcements, sight-seeing recommendations, bar and restaurant reviews, and other commentary from Shimoda and the surrounding area on the Izu peninsula.
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.
Open: 11-00 - 23:00
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.
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
Earny's is a great new Italian restaurant propped up against a rocky island in Shimoda Bay (there is a bridge). We were impressed with their excellent lunch menu. For only ¥1500 we got an appetizer of our choice, picked out a pasta which came with a salad, and then had to choose from a yummy selection of desserts, and finised off with our choice of coffee or tea.
Lunch: 11:30 - 14:00
Dinner: 18:00 - 22:00 (last order 21:00)
You can find it on our recommendation map here
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 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....
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
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!
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.
You can find the Open Cave on our tabi-tabi recommendation map here
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.
We've got bikes and a toboggan. Come and join the fun!
You can find it on our recommendation map here
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 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
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.
You can find it on our tabi-tabi recommendation map here
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!
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 rivalling 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.
March in Shimoda, Izu March in Hakuba, Nagano
We love all of Japan's sides!