As long as I can can get there by public transport I will give it a go. Being based at Mishima for 4 days, the Izu Peninsula looked accessible. Even better, I could do a loop from Mishima to Shuzenji by train, bus to Heda, boat to Numazu, and then train back to Mishima. What a day!
The Izu-Hakone Railway line train rides leisurely through the wide valley from Mishima to Shuzenji train in about 40 minutes. Shuzenji is pretty spa town located on a wide river. It is also a central point for numerous bus routes to the the whole Izu Peninsula. There are a few Nakaizu Tokai buses each day to Heda from the bus terminal at Shuzenji station.
The bus firstly climbs up out of the valley around Shuzenji, depositing passengers at a couple of onsen resorts and golf courses that hug the foothills. Up on to the spectacular plateaus the drive is through many forested areas, with few signs of habitation and certainly no villages. The last leg of the trip is a plunge down an extremely steep and winding road and sharp switch-backs into the port of Heda.
The bus station area adjacent to the port is very old. Not quite tired looking, but also not bright and sparkling. Surprisingly devoid of people on this June Saturday.
With 3 hours before my boat to Numazu, I sought out the ubiquitous Visitor Information Centre. As usual the service was fantastic, and the 2 staff were certainly pleased to see a visitor. I did wonder just how many they had seen today. I got some good advice about where to head, and hired a bicycle to get me around.
It is only about 3 kilometres around to the headland at the port entrance, with the narrow port-side road winding past many small fisherman’s houses, a few eateries, and a gaggle of boat equipment and repair sheds.
I was hoping to have a look around the local museum. Alas, it was closed. This minor disappointment was soon forgotten when sitting under a magnificent stand of shady trees, a large torii gate to my left side, sipping a Coke from the vending machine, and looking back towards the port proper. In these sorts of spots you do get a sense of how hilly most of Japan really is!
Many fishing boats moored, some fisherman repairing nets, a few low rise hugging the shoreline, and high mountains behind held down by thick cloud, as if they were giant green arms holding the port tight.
Making my way back, pushing my bike across the sand of a protected little beach, I smiled to myself while watching the few families present enjoying those universal pleasures: throwing balls, running into the water, sitting on a rug on the grass, pushing young children on park swings.
I had ridden along the tsunami wall protecting the port, but its significance was highlighted in no uncertain terms when I spied this sign. Even without knowing Japanese, interpreting the potential danger is hard to miss.
While this older man cast his lines, I sat nearby staring at him and other fishers around him. So what is it about fishing? Silent contemplation I think is right up there as a reason why thousands spent hours for little or no reward.
With the bicycle returned I sit at the ferry pier, expecting a throng of people to be eagerly waiting the arrival of our transport to Numazu. Again, fairly surprised as it is just me and one other passenger who board the White Marine boat for a the journey on the edge of Suruga Bay.
Heavy cloud hid Mt Fuji. Apparently the view from the water here is quite spectacular. Talking of spectacular, the tsunami gates to Numazu Harbour are abut 8 stories high and make an imposing sight as the boat ends its voyage.
While there are buses that can zip you from the port to the centre of town, I chose to walk the couple of kilometres to Numazu JR. In part along the (seemingly) recently upgraded riverside paths. I did not expect to see rowers stroking their sleek craft here.
The Shuzenji – Heda – Numazu loop from Mishima is an easy day trip. With closer attention to the transport timetables I am sure that a couple of hours can also be taken to explore the temples and shrines at Shuzenji.