Make the most out of an overnight trip from Tokyo to the charming coastal town of Shimoda, located on the eastern side of the Izu Peninsula, with our Shimoda Overnight Trip Itinerary.
One of the shrine gates at Shirahama Shrine. - image © Florentyna Leow
Located to the southeast of Tokyo, the Izu Peninsula has all the elements for a great adventure – fantastic hiking trails, rugged cliffs, the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean, and dozens of great little towns to explore. While it's theoretically doable as a day trip, it's far better to take a train out and stay overnight in one of the little towns on the peninsula.
We recommend an overnight trip to Shimoda, a charming coastal town on the east side of the Izu peninsula. A compact little town with a ton of history and delicious seafood, Shimoda makes a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
Shimoda was also pivotal in Japan’s history. Japan had successfully maintained its isolationist foreign policy since 1603 for the better part of two and a half centuries. This changed in 1854, when Commodore Matthew C. Perry arrived (for the second time) at Shimoda with nine warships – the infamous kurofune, or Black Ships – to force the Japanese to open up the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trading ships.
Today, Shimoda’s tourist attractions are largely themed around Perry’s arrival. Our itinerary will help you make the most of your time here.
This itinerary contains the following sections:
- Notes Before You Go To Shimoda
- The Full Shimoda Overnight Trip Itinerary
- Shimoda Overnight Trip Map
- Recommended Accommodation in Shimoda
Notes Before You Go To Shimoda
- This itinerary is a guideline. Add or subtract places as you like. Shimoda town itself is fairly small and easily navigated, as you’ll see from the map. The walking directions are a guideline – you could just as easily stray and wander around the town exploring.
- Itinerary timings are approximate. It is meant to be done at a rather leisurely pace, so you can spend as little or as much time as you like at each place. Adjust the timings to suit your schedule.
- It’s always worth checking train and/or bus times to make sure you won’t miss anything, especially the trains back to Tokyo on Day 2. You can check train times at this website
- This is a walking itinerary. Put a comfortable pair of walking shoes on and give it a shot.
- Alternatively, Shimoda is quite flat and perfect for cruising around on a bicycle. You can pick a ‘mamachari’ or single-speed ‘mum bike’ up from Renta-ya-chari レンタ屋ちゃり, located opposite the bus stops. Opening hours are 9:00am–5:00pm, and all bikes must be returned by 5:00pm. This is also a good shop to rent an electric bike, should you wish to cycle further out of Shimoda for the day, e.g. up to the Seven Waterfalls in Kawazu (a round-trip of approximately 30–40km) or as far down as Cape Irozaki (also 40km round-trip). It will cost JPY2000 for the day.
The Full Shimoda Overnight Trip Itinerary
South underground exit at Tokyo Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
8:30am Start at Tokyo Station
Begin at any of the exits to JR Tokyo Station. You’ll be traveling on the Super View Odoriko limited express train, which was developed specifically to serve the Izu Peninsula. The earliest train departing from Tokyo Station departs on the hour at 9:00am. For your pick of train times, check this website.
Tickets can be purchased in English. - image © Florentyna Leow
Tickets can be purchased at the counter or at any ticket machine. Ticket machines now have options in English, so it’s simply a matter of following the instructions. Trains may be a little busier during peak travel seasons, so you may want to purchase reserved seats for peace of mind. At the time of writing, a reserved-seat one-way trip from Tokyo Station to Izukyu-Shimoda Station costs JPY6390.
Head to Platform 9 & 10 for the Odoriko. - image © Florentyna Leow
Put your ticket into the gates – don’t forget to collect it as you pass through – and head to Platform 9. If you’re unsure of where the Odoriko departs from or you’d like to check, just ask a nearby station attendant.
On Platform 9. - image © Florentyna Leow
Hop on your train – you’re going on an adventure to Shimoda!
Arriving at Izukyu-Shimoda Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
11:45am Arrive at Izukyu-Shimoda Station
If you have suitcases with you, it may be better to head to your accommodation first to leave them there. But if you only have an overnight bag, it’s easiest to stash it in a coin-operated locker at the station. These are located to the right of the ticket barriers after you exit, past the toilets.
The coin locker room is open until 10:30pm. - image © Florentyna Leow
Depending on the size, they range from JPY500–JPY700 and they only take JPY100 coins. There’s a change machine in the coin locker room if you need it.
Entrance to Kinme. - image © Florentyna Leow
12:00pm Lunch in Shimoda
After a long train ride, it’s time for lunch. Shimoda has a surprisingly high concentration of restaurants and cafes for a small town. You can eat around the station, or walk on to Perry Road. We’ve marked some restaurants in the vicinity of Izukyu-Shimoda Station as well as along Perry Road on the Google Maps located at the end of this article.
Simmered kinmedai on white rice. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you like fish, Kinme is a good place for a quick lunch near the station. It specialises in kinmedai, a fish known as Splendid Alfonsino in English. Kinmedai is most commonly caught around Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures, and is fished often in the waters surrounding Izu. With a delicate flavor and tender texture, it’s great as sashimi or simmered in a robust soy-based sauce. The simmered kinmedai rice bowl is pretty generous with the rice!
Willow trees along Perry Road. - image © Florentyna Leow
12:40pm Walk to Perry Road
After lunch, it’s time to wander on to Perry Road. This consists of two narrow streets along a canal lined with willow trees stretching over 700 meters. It’s the path that Commodore Perry took to Ryosenji Temple to sign the Convention of Kanazawa in 1854. There are also a number of charming cafes, bars, and antique shops along the street.
Scramble-style crossing near the station. - image © Florentyna Leow
Head over to Mai Mai Shopping Street. From the station, you’ll walk past the roundabout to the traffic lights. Turn right and keep walking. You’ll see a scramble-style crossing. You’ll be on Mai Mai Shopping Street when cross the road. Walking straight and southwards will take you to Perry Road.
Hofukuji Temple in daylight. - image © Florentyna Leow
There are a number of temples and shrines to visit on the way. The first one you’ll encounter is Hofukuji Temple. Built in 1559, it is best known today for its association with Okichi, who was reputedly the most famous geisha in Shimoda. Before visiting her grave at this temple, it would be well worth looking up the story of her life, which was fictionalized by the novelist Gisaburo Juichiya in 1928.
The main shrine building of Shimoda Hachiman Shrine. - image © Florentyna Leow
You’ll also see Shimoda Hachiman Shrine, which is located off the main street to your right.
Further along Perry Road. - image © Florentyna Leow
At the end of the street, turn left. You’ll see a sign for Ryosenji Temple, as well as the Museum of Black Ship (MoBS) ahead of you. Perry Road is just past the start of the canal nearby.
The main building of Ryosenji Temple. - image © Florentyna Leow
Ryosenji Temple is where Townsend Harris, the first United States Consul General to Japan, signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the Tokugawa Shogunate on 29 July 1858.
Inside the MoBS. - image © Florentyna Leow
The Museum of Black Ships (MoBS) is a small museum displaying artwork and artifacts related to Commodore Matthew Perry’s arrival and his ‘black ship’ gunboats. At present, there’s little in the way of English captions, so you may want to just browse the museum shop for souvenirs without entering the paid exhibition space.
One of the buildings on Perry Road with sea cucumber walls. - image © Florentyna Leow
Today, one side of Perry Road has houses decorated with traditional black-and-white diamond-patterned ’namako kabe’ or ‘sea cucumber walls.’ These are especially thick earthen walls designed to be fireproof. The other side consists of more modern housing.
Outside the Old Sawamura House. - image © Florentyna Leow
Don’t forget to have a quick look inside the Old Sawamura House. Previously belonging to one of the mayors of Shimoda, this is a particularly fine example of a house built with the traditional earthen walls mentioned above. It also has a small rest area at the front of the house where you can have a free cup of tea.
The thatched roof nestled in among the woods. - image © Florentyna Leow
2:30pm Murakami Gassho-zukuri Folk Art Museum
After spending some time along Perry Road, it’s time to head to one of the most interesting places in Shimoda – the Murakami Gassho-zukuri Folk Art Museum. If the term ‘gassho-zukuri’ sounds familiar, it’s because UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go Village is famous for precisely this. The term refers to the traditional five-story gabled thatched farmhouse.
Old samurai armour on display inside. - image © Florentyna Leow
How did this end up in Shimoda? In 1964, the then-head of the Murakami family brought the pieces of this exact farmhouse piece by piece from Shirakawa-go and rebuilt it in its present location. On my visit, the 76-year old custodian observed that his father “simply wanted to live in one of these houses. Not one thought was given to the children and how it would be for them.”
Almost every inch of surface is covered in stuff! - image © Florentyna Leow
Be that as it may, it is a fascinating showcase of how some rural families in Japan would have lived. Much of life in a house like this would have centered around the irori, a traditional sunken hearth used to heat the home and cook food. The custodian of the museum made tea for me at the hearth, using a hollow bamboo tube to stoke the fire. He keeps the fire going at all times of the year, even in summer, and there’s a distinct and lingering smokiness about the place.
An old-fashioned thermometer on the wall. - image © Florentyna Leow
There are five stories to explore in this museum. You’ll want to give yourself ample time to have a close look at the treasure trove of items inside, and explore all the different areas and rooms in this house.
Part of the first floor. - image © Florentyna Leow
The central living area is quite spacious, with all manner of interesting furniture and paraphernalia scattered around.
Close-up of woven thatch. - image © Florentyna Leow
Climbing up to the fifth floor will give you a close look at the finely-woven thatched roof from the inside.
Climbing up to the fifth floor of the house. - image © Florentyna Leow
Because of its relatively off-the-beaten-path location, there aren’t usually many visitors here if at all. I had the place to myself for about an hour on a Sunday afternoon. The Murakami Gassho-zukuri Folk Art Museum closes at 4:00pm. Aim to arrive by about 3:15pm if you can to make the most of your time here.
Note: You can either walk to the museum directly from Perry Road, or you can take a more circuitous route by looping around Shimoda Park, located to the southeast of Perry Road. This will take you into Wakanoura Bay, past the Shimoda Floating Aquarium. We’ve provided walking directions in the attached Google Map.
The entrance to Shimoda Park at the ocean end of Perry Road. - image © Florentyna Leow
4:00pm Optional visit to Shimoda Park
Time permitting, you may wish to explore nearby Shimoda Park, also known as Shiroyama Park or ‘Castle Mountain Park.’ This is a wooded park on a hill near Shimoda’s city center, and is particularly famous for its hydrangeas. The best time to see all of them in bloom is in June.
One of the park entrances is located near the ocean end of Perry Road. On our recent visit in October 2019, trails to the hilltop park were closed due to the aftermath of the typhoon. However, the main trail through Shimoda Park takes approximately 30–45 minutes, and will take you past plenty of hydrangeas and historic monuments, such as the Monument to the Opening of US-Japan Diplomatic Relations.
5:00pm Check in to accommodation
Having spent the afternoon exploring the town, it’s time to head to your hotel. Pick up any luggage you’ve left at the station and make your way to the accommodation. Most hotels in the Shimoda area will have regular shuttle bus services to and from the station, though it would be wise to check departure times directly with them. Alternatively, you may need to take a taxi.
Sashimi set meal at Arata. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you are staying at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn), you will most likely have breakfast and dinner included in your stay. However, if you’re staying at a hotel, you might not necessarily want to eat there for your evening meal. Much of the town shuts down once it gets dark, but there will still be a few places open.
One option for a local seafood dinner is Arata, located near Perry Road. They’re a small family-run izakaya serving fresh, tasty seafood-based set meals. We liked the sashimi dinner set.
Day 2 of the Full Shimoda Overnight Trip Itinerary
Entrance to Shimoda Ropeway. - image © Florentyna Leow
9:00am Ride the Shimoda Ropeway
A good way to begin a half-day of sightseeing after breakfast is to ride the Shimoda Ropeway to the top of Mt. Nesugatayama for a view of the city, Shimoda Port, the surrounding rugged coastline, and the Pacific Ocean. The ropeway is a short walk away from Izukyu-Shimoda Station. Walk past the roundabout to the traffic lights. Cross the street and turn left. The entrance to the ropeway will be on your right after a minute or two.
The cable car up to Mt. Nesugatayama. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you like, you can head straight to the ropeway from the station. However, the tourist ticket counter at the train station sells discounted tickets to the ropeway. It’s a small JPY90 discount, but every little bit counts if you’re on a budget. Regular tickets cost JPY1050, while discounted tickets will set you back JPY940. The earliest scheduled departure is at 8:45am, and they leave every 15 minutes.
The view from the top. - image © Florentyna Leow
Once you’ve reached the top of Mt. Nesugatayama, there are a few things to see. Everything is connected by walking paths, and you can spend as little or as much time here as you like. Nearest the ropeway station is the Shimoda Fuji Observatory, which offers lovely views of the harbour and beyond.
Strolling through the garden. - image © Florentyna Leow
You’ll walk through a beautiful herb garden and rock garden!
Aizendo Temple is pretty in mist and rain. - image © Florentyna Leow
Walking further to the top will take you to Aizendo Temple, which is a popular spot for those seeking good fortune in marriage, love, and having children.
The entrance to Shirahama Shrine just outside the bus stop. - image © Florentyna Leow
10:30am Head to Shirahama Shrine
After you’ve finished exploring the top of the mountain, it’s time to head back to the station and catch a bus to Shirahama Shrine.
Bus stop #9 at the station. - image © Florentyna Leow
Walk back to Izukyu-Shimoda Station and head over to bus stop #9, located past the roundabout in front of the station. You’ll see a Lawson’s nearby too. Hop on the S31 and ride it for approximately 11 minutes. The bus will stop right outside the shrine.
Gorgeous carvings at the main shrine building. - image © Florentyna Leow
Shirahama Shrine is a lovely little Shinto shrine located on Shirahama Beach. The beach itself is popular with surfers and swimmers in the summer, and it’s great to spend some time on the white sands just enjoying the sun.
The path out to Shirahama Beach. - image © Florentyna Leow
Once you’re done exploring the shrine grounds, don’t forget to wander out to the beach nearby. Exit to the nearby carpark where you’ll see a small path leading to the beach.
Shirahama Shrine’s iconic shrine gate against the sea. - image © Florentyna Leow
There’s another shrine gate located on top of a rocky outcrop. It’s especially gorgeous on a sunny day – the vermillion gates like a gash against the azure sky.
IRIE Coffee & Sea right opposite Shirahama Shrine. - image © Florentyna Leow
11:00am Coffee break nearby or lunch
IRIE Coffee & Sea is a cute little surf-themed cafe located right opposite the shrine. If you have a little time before your train, it’s a nice little place to relax over a mid-morning cup of coffee.
If not, it might be time for an early lunch – this can either be in the Shirahama area, or back in Shimoda. We’ve marked a number of restaurants in both areas on the Google Map at the end of this article to check out. To head back to Shimoda, simply hop on the same bus headed back towards Izukyu-Shimoda Station. The bus stop is located right outside the cafe.
1:00pm Explore Shimoda or Head Back to Tokyo
Spend your afternoon exploring the side streets of Shimoda, revisit a place you like, or hop on a train back to Tokyo. The earliest Tokyo-bound train departs at 10:04am, while the last train leaves at 4:50pm. You can check train timetables at this website. Ideally, you should purchase tickets the day before or a few hours in advance just in case.
Shimoda Overnight Trip Map
View the full size version of our Shimoda day trip map which has each of the places discussed above marked on it.
Recommended Accommodation in Shimoda
Shimoda Kaihin Hotel
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Popular with Japanese guests, this is a relaxed hotel located on the coast of Shimoda. Take your pick of large, traditional Japanese-style rooms or Western-style rooms. The decor is a little dated but everything is reasonably well-maintained. The buffet breakfast has an excellent selection of food! Plus, it’s also a short walk away from the Murakami Gassho-zukuri Folk Art Museum and the Shimoda Floating Aquarium.
Shimoda Kaihin Hotel - image © Booking.com
Shimoda Tokyu Hotel
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Rooms at the Tokyo Hotel are comfortable and reasonably spacious. Beds here aren’t particularly firm, which may suit some guests. Located on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean – it’s a steep climb up to the hotel if you’re not driving – so try and book rooms with sea views if you can. The breakfast buffet is oddly eclectic but decent, if a little steeply-priced. However, it may be one of the only hotel breakfasts around offering wine and sushi. There’s a regular shuttle bus service to and from the station. The last one departs the station at 5:50pm, so you’ll have to walk or take a taxi otherwise.
Shimoda Tokyu Hotel - image © Booking.com
Shimoda Prince Hotel
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Though it’s a little removed from Shimoda town itself, Shimoda Prince Hotel is a nice hotel to stay at if you like resort-style places. Sea view rooms have fantastic views of Shirahama Beach, while the facilities are generally clean and well-maintained. Breakfast is good but on the more expensive side, so if you’re not much of a morning person, nearby convenience stores will probably suffice. There’s a shuttle bus service available between the hotel and the station. Don’t forget to try the hot spring bath facilities – there’s an ocean view from the outdoor bath.
Shimoda Prince Hotel - image © Booking.com
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Located right on Shirahama Beach, Hotel Izukyu is another good choice if you like beachfront hotels. You have your pick of Japanese-style tatami rooms or Western-style rooms. The facilities are a little old but they’re clean and well-maintained. Plus, the staff are kind and friendly, which is always a plus. There are on-site restaurants, but if you’d rather eat dinner out of the hotel, you’ll need to use the shuttle bus service or taxis.
Hotel Izukyu - image © Booking.com
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Ogawa Ryokan isn’t your average traditional Japanese inn – it has a pretty tasteful and contemporary vibe that will jive well with the younger set. Think wooden flooring, carpets, and comfortable futons with stylish bedspreads. If nothing else, the coffee stand right outside should tell you everything you need to know. They also offer bike rental services. Be warned that there are no private bathrooms, but you do get your own toilet and sink.
Ogawa Ryokan - image © Booking.com
Ryokan Hoshi Meguri
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Located one station north of Izukyu-Shimoda rather than in Shimoda itself, Ryokan Hoshi Meguri is a lovely traditional Japanese inn with some great hot spring baths. The food is great, the hosts are attentive, and there’s even coffee at breakfast – uncommon for a Japanese inn! You can reserve the baths for private use. You will need to take the train up one stop, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a friendly ryokan not far from Shimoda.
Ryokan Hoshi Meguri - image © Booking.com
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