Hop on the bullet train to discover Shizuoka prefecture for tea, hot springs and Mount Fuji in an authentic part of Japan that remains overlooked by the majority travellers
Hop onboard our Japan by Train: The Grand Tour for the ultimate Japan experience, courtesy of its incredible rail network, which allows us to visit Osaka, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Hakone, Kyoto and much more in just 12 days.
Under the constant watchful eye of Mount Fuji, on the Pacific coast, lies a prefecture unspoiled by hordes of tourists, where ancient meets contemporary; science meets nature. And best of all, Shizuoka, known for its for tea production, being the global origin of wasabi production and for abounding in Shōgun history, is only an hour on the bullet train from Tokyo.
‘Off the beaten track’ and bullet train may seem oxymoronic: how can somewhere be off-the-beaten track if it’s on the route followed by one of the fastest, most efficient and most famous train lines in the world? Disembarking the train and strolling through the streets of Mishima, one of the cities in the prefecture with a station, and you quickly notice how few Westerners there are.
Tony Everitt, a local tour guide and self-described Mount Fuji enthusiast, says: “Very few visitors from the UK and US come here even though it’s so close to Tokyo. People photograph the volcano on their phones while travelling past at 85mph on the train from Tokyo to Yokohama, but don’t stop to explore the region.”
“It is, however,” he adds, “extremely popular for domestic tourism because Japanese people want to come and experience their country’s history and culture for themselves. To escape the busy cities for a night in a traditional ryokan and focus on health and wellbeing ”
If that isn’t a seal of approval for a truly authentic Japanese experience, I don’t know what is. Here are the reasons why you need to visit Shizuoka on your next trip to Japan.
Shizuoka is just a stone’s throw from Tokyo, 45 minutes by bullet train to Atami on the eastern edge of the Prefecture, and one hour from Tokyo to the prefectural capital of Shizuoka City. There are four other bullet train stations within the prefecture on the same Tokaido Shinkansen line (Japan’s main line connecting Tokyo with Kyoto and Osaka), so with Japan Rail Pass in-hand, visitors can hop on/hop off and experience as much as they desire with ease.
Things to do
Off-the-beaten path Mount Fuji experiences are everywhere in the prefecture. You’ve got cycling (Shizuoka was the recent Tokyo Olympics’ cycling venue), hiking, paragliding, surfing, sailing, fishing and much more. For visitors who are more focussed on unwinding, they can refresh body and soul through green tea tasting and farm stays (Shizuoka is a leading green tea region), natural hot spring relaxation, and even zen meditation and mindfulness activities.
Being located between the new capital, Tokyo, and the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Osaka, Shizuoka was the strategic centre in centuries past as the nation developed. Much of the action in James Clavell’s epic novel Shōgun(1975), for example, takes place in Shizuoka and visitors can enjoy castles, temples, and preserved feudal-period foot-highways that bring to life this rich heritage. Check out the Shizuoka Prefecture Official Tourism website for a host of local activities.
Planning a trip to Japan? Book your flight today with Japan Airlines.
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