A stay in Japan would be lacking without a decent soak in a hot spring. An escape to an onsen town with an overnight stay in a traditional ryokan with good bathing facilities and a good kaiseki style dinner is, admittedly, an indulgence, but nothing else gives you this Japanese feeling! With limited time and baby in tow, we were looking for a place within two hours from Tokyo with hassle-free access. The Izu peninsula recommended itself through its easy access via the Tokaido Shinkansen and multitude of hot springs. While we had stayed on the sea shore in spring, we chose a place inland this time: Shuzenji Onsen (修善寺温泉), half an hour by local train away from Mishima which is reached by Shinkansen. Mt. Fuji is looming behind as the local train crawls down the Izu peninsula.Shuzenji Onsen is a quiet village with a relaxing atmosphere along the picturesque Katsura river. With its traditional ryokan, Shuzenji has retained the atmosphere of the old Japan. Already during the cab ride from the station, it became obvious that the main local product is wasabi.
Since Shuzenji is small, there are not many sights, but there is Shuzenji temple, some foot baths (including the place where the first hot spring is said to have been “made” by a Buddhist monk) and a small bamboo forest inviting for a stroll. I personally prefer a quiet traditional place over the overdeveloped hot spring resorts where one huge hotel sits next to the other. But the whole experience really stands and falls with the quality of the ryokan, its meals and bathing facilities. Our stay turned out to be perfect!