Since we’ve been missing the Japanese hot springs, we’ve gone on a little weekend getaway from Tokyo. The Izu peninsula boasts a variety of generously flowing hot springs. Atami (熱海), only half an hour’s ride by Shinkansen from Tokyo, was our first stop. Its main attraction are definitely its seven hot spring sources. The town lies on the hillside descending down to the ocean, sporting a sun beach and beach front that is lit up at night. Its main products are dried fish of all shapes, citrus fruit, and onsen manju, a Japanese sweet that is traditionally steamed in the steam escaping from the hot springs themselves.Twenty minutes further along the coast, you find the town of Ito (伊東) – with more hot springs!
The surrounding hills and coast line offer a variety of spots worth exploring. The volcanic cone of Omuroyama (大室山）looked promising, but in the end we only made it to Lake Ippeki (一碧湖), a pleasant little lake in the hills with a walking trail that leads you all around it in 4km. Ito itself is mostly interesting for its hot springs and its main produce is – you guessed it, dried fish, manju and citrus fruit.
While the countryside of Izu holds some interest (if we had been more lucky with the weather, we would have made better use of this fact), the towns of Atami and Ito themselves are both not very attractive. The thing to do is splurge on a fancy ryokan, enjoy its bathing facilities and then indulge in a Japanese style dinner, which given the sea-side location will contain a variety of fish and other sea food. The springs are varied (both saline and alkaline) and the easy access from Tokyo make the Izu onsen towns a prime spot for the Tokyo based hot spring enthusiast.