Located about three hours away from Tokyo, Shuzenji is a small, historic town with several attractions for visitors to experience, which makes it perfect for a one-day excursion.
Things to do in Shuzenji
Shuzenji is the oldest onsen (hot spring) town in Izu and is filled with beautiful traditional buildings that offer visitors the opportunity to experience its delicious local cuisine and rich cultural heritage.
Although there are dozens of great ryokan (旅館, traditional Japanese inns) located all around this small town which open for non-staying guests for around 1000 yen, if you’re looking to enjoy a cheaper soak in a local onsen for a couple of hours, you should head to Hakoyu one-day onsen.
Once you have enjoyed a nice, warm soak in this indoor onsen, why not climb to the top of the adjoining tower to enjoy views stretching out across the town?
Fee: 350 yen (those above elementary school age), 150 yen (local inn guests)
Hours: 12:00-21:00 (last entry is at 20:30)
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Temples and Shrines
Shuzen-ji Temple (修繕寺)
Within Shuzen-ji, there is both a 1,200-year-old Buddhist temple, which is supposed to have been founded by Kobo Daishi (Kukai)—one of Japan’s most famous monks—and a shrine next door.
Upon entering Shuzenji temple, you will be greeted by a small spring fountain, which pumps out warm water straight from the local hot springs to cleanse your hands before entering the grounds.
While the temple is beautiful year-round, if you are searching for a beautiful spot to admire the autumn foliage or sakura in spring, Shuzen-ji offers a stunning background to both.
And if you’re truly looking to experience Japanese spirituality, every Tuesday, the temple offers a free zazen (座禅) session from 09:30 am, which lasts between one to two hours (participation requires reservation).
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Hie Shrine (日枝神社)
Legend has it that Hie Shrine was built to protect the next door Shuzen-ji temple from demons. Originally making up part of the temple, it split from the temple in 1868 as a result of the Shinto-Buddhist separation order.
Hie Shrine is home to several beautiful ancient cedar trees that tower over the shrine, offering blessings to those who visit. The most spectacular of which are two great eight-hundred-year-old cedar trees that are joined at the root and stand next to each other on the shrine grounds.
According to shrine legend, those who pray to the “husband and wife” tree will be blessed with a healthy child.
Bamboo Forest (竹林の小径)
Shuzenji is also home to a small but scenic bamboo forest. And although it’s only 100-metres long, there is a large bench in the centre, which allows those who visit a chance to sit and enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by nature.
The bamboo forest is lit up between sundown and 11 pm every evening, making for some beautiful nighttime scenery, so why not get dressed up in a rental kimono and take a short stroll through this beautiful bamboo forest!
Shuzenji Niji-no-Sato (虹の郷)
Located just a short five-minute drive from Shuzenji, Niji-no-Sato is an expansive theme park made up of eight sections, including a British village, a Canadian village, a craft village and a smaller Izu village which is home to traditional Japanese thatched-roof style buildings and several cafes.
British Village (イギリス村)
The main entrance to the park takes you straight into the British Village, which is filled with Tudor-style houses and souvenir shops lined with brightly coloured umbrellas.
At first glance, the town looks like it could fit in somewhere in the British countryside with its quaint houses and tranquil atmosphere, but past the pretty facade, there wasn’t much else British in the British Village. However, it is definitely a nice photo spot and a good opportunity to pretend you’re on holiday for a day.
For train lovers, there was even a small train museum within the village dedicated to the Romney railway and a small train station where you catch a ride on a miniature steam train to the nearby Canada village, which is worth a ride, even if you aren’t a fan of trains!
If you do decide to walk to the Candian Village, however, there is a viewing point where you can look out over the rest of the park and (if you’re lucky) get a view of Mt. Fuji in the background!
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Niji-no-Sato Canadian Village (カナダ村)
Niji-no-Sato’s Canadian Village, which is split into the main Canadian Village, and a smaller “Indian Fortress”, is a 25-minute walk from the main British Village.
The main village is made up of a kaleidoscope museum with works from Japanese and foreign artists, a relatively large souvenir shop, a couple of cafes and a small play area for younger children to play, which is filled with inflatable water sports during the summer.
Unlike the British Village souvenir shop, the Canadian Village did have a few (albeit not many) Canadian snacks stocked up, which was nice to see!
However, while the Canadian Village was full of children playing, the dubiously named “Indian Fortress”, was completely empty. Most of the attractions, save for a large and rickety slide, were closed, and the entire section looked like it hadn’t seen visitors since 1985.
Even so, we decided to have a go on the long roller slide, which was thrilling and definitely worth a ride if you enjoy extremely fast speeds and lax safety measures.
Visiting the Rest of the Park
The entire park spans 50 hectares, meaning there is a lot to see. And while you can easily spend the whole day in the park, each section is small enough that if you aren’t too bothered about seeing everything there is to see, you can just spend a half-a-day wandering through the four main villages of Niji-no-Sato.
While this theme park may not win on authenticity, it’s a must-visit for those who want a taste of foreign travel without having to leave the country, and it’s a great place to visit with kids, especially during the warmer months!
During the summer, why not join many others in bringing a picnic basket and enjoying one of the many expansive gardens within the park?
Fee: Adults 1,220 yen, Children 600 yen
Hours: April to September 10:00-17:00, December to March 10:00-16:00
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Getting to Shuzenji
By car, the trip to Shuzenji is about 2-hours one way. However, you’ll be privy to beautiful views of Mount Fuji on the way if the weather allows it! Make your way to Shuzenji and drive a little further on past Shuzenji if you want to visit Niji-no-Sato.
Paid parking is available at both locations.
No matter where you’re coming from outside Izu, you will likely have to change trains in Mishima. From Tokyo Station, you have four options; you can either get either the shinkansen to Mishima, which takes 40-60 minutes at 2,600 yen, or you can get the JR Tokaido train to Atami before changing trains towards Mishima, which is about a 2-hour journey that will cost 2,310 yen.
The other two options concerning the train are the Odoriko and Saphir Odoriko trains. The Saphir Odoriko requires advance reservation and a change in Atami before arriving at Mishima, setting you back 6,640 yen, while the regular Odoriko includes a direct train to Shuzenji, which takes 2 hours and 6 minutes and will set you back 4,610 yen. However, beware that the latter only runs twice a day in the morning.
Once you have arrived in Mishima, just transfer to the Izu Hakone Testudo Sunzu Line (伊豆箱根鉄道駿豆線) for a 35-minute trip to Shuzenji at 520 yen.
Click here for more information on getting to Izu via train or car.
If you want to travel at the lowest cost, the best option is to go for the high-speed bus from Shinjuku Bus Terminal to Mishima station. The entire journey from Shinjuku to Shuzenji takes around two and a half hours with a transfer at Mishima and sets you back just 2,310 yen (prior reservation is required).
Enjoy a Day Trip to Shuzenji From Tokyo!
Although Shuzenji is not as well-known as other small historic towns around the Kanto region, it has just as much to offer. If you’re looking for a day trip to a historic town with few people and a tranquil atmosphere, Shuzenji is the place to go!
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