Notes for Potential Hikers
Please see our trip report on the TSH for general information about hiking in Japan. Comments in that report are generally applicable to this walk as well.
We took a train from Tokyo Station to Shimoda, a large town on the southeast coast of the Izu peninsula. There are frequent trains, and with favorable connections, it takes roughly three hours to make the journey.
From Shimoda we walked west and north along the coast.
The Tōkai bus line runs several daily buses up and down the main road on the peninsula’s west coast. There are bus links between many of the west coast towns and the Shuzenji railway station. From Shuzenji there are frequent trains back to Tokyo. Thus no matter how far we were able to get up the coast, we would be able to easily get back to Tokyo in time for our flight home.
The Izu Peninsula Geopark includes many unique geological and other natural features and was named a UNESCO site in 2018. One of the Geopark’s goals is to build a continuous footpath on the west coast of the peninsula, and this project is partially complete. The trail segments that have already been finished are connected by walkable roads, thus allowing a nice multi-day hike. We walked all of the trail segments we could find between Shimoda and Heda Port. Once we were on a segment of trail, it was generally well waymarked and easy to follow
We ran out of time and did not walk the final ~10 km between Heda Port and Cape Ose, the northernmost point on the west coast. We assume that those trail segments are as well documented as the rest of the route. We believe that a regularly scheduled bus serves Cape Ose and it would be a logical termination for this coastal hike. It would be easy to do shorter versions of our walk and still have a satisfying experience.
The attractive coast is dotted with small villages and modest-sized towns, each of which supports an active small-scale fishing fleet, some agriculture, and provides some level of tourist infrastructure. A few of the towns have large hotels that were nearly empty when we were there. The Geopark is interspersed between these communities.
Overall, conditions were similar to, but a bit easier than the TSH. The peaks are lower and usually not quite as steep. Many of the trails were recently constructed or recently maintained and were in very good condition. The vegetation was lush and thick. In a few places, plants had overgrown small areas of the trail, but we believe they are regularly trimmed back. High quality trail signs included English text.
The road walking generally had very little traffic when we were there, but during the high tourist season, that situation may be different.
There are many road tunnels on this route, including one that is about 1 kilometer in length. All but one very short tunnel had a pedestrian pathway elevated above the road. Walking through the tunnels can be a bit unnerving, but we never had anything happen that seemed particular worrisome. Vehicle noise is quite loud inside the tunnels and we wore earplugs while walking through the longer ones.
Our CalTopo map shows the locations of many convenience and grocery stores. This coastal area is popular with tourists, so there are many restaurants and cafes, some with signs and menus in English. Not surprisingly, fresh seafood is commonly available.
We wild camped every night and sites were never difficult to find. There are also many accommodation options of all sizes. It is likely that with a bit of planning the walk could be done carrying only a daypack.