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Jocelyn came to InsideJapan Tours almost four years ago, spreading news of her beloved Shizuoka in which she lived for two years. Joss is always keen to fit the prefecture known for its green tea and Mt. Fuji into her itineraries and insists that Shizuoka is more than a place people pass through on the Bullet Train. Jocelyn travelled extensively during her time in Japan and even managed to get herself to the sub-tropical Okinawan islands on a school trip – nice work if you can get it! We thought we would ask Jocelyn about her tips for travelling in Japan expecting the obvious, but she surprised us all and came out with a gem.
“Where is your favourite place in Japan?”
When asked to name my favourite place in Japan, my first reaction is undoubtedly Shizuoka – with dense green tea fields, sandy beaches and spectacular views of Mount Fuji. However, I understand that for most people, they will simply speed through the area at 300km/h, with sprawling cities to the right, an admittedly uninviting coast on the left, with a number of long dark tunnels on the way.
So for this occasion, I will choose my current favourite place, which inevitably changes each time I go back to Japan and presently is Ikuchijima, a small island scattered along the Shimanamikaido route in the Inland Sea. A destination once only accessible by boat, the recently built bridge has connected the islands, making it accessible to cars and bikes, and also makes it the perfect place to stop along the Inland Sea.
The island itself is small and hilly, decorated with ripening bushes of mikan (tangerine) in autumn and blossoming sakura (cherry blossom) in the spring. To the north of the island you will find the imposing Kosanji Temple, a large and rather obnoxiously kitsch structure built by a rich businessman and dedicated to his mother. The resulting temple and grounds however are brilliantly stunning, with rich colours and complex composition – well worth a couple of hours stroll.
Next door you will find the small but appealing Hirayama Art Museum, and a short bike ride away to the west is Sunset Beach, where you can grab a beer and as the name suggests, enjoy the sun sinking into the Seto Inland Sea – the perfect way to end the day.
With the Travel Foundation’s ‘Making Holidays Greener’ month running in July, a cycling trip across the Shimanamikaido is a great experience to have in Japan. Thanks for sharing this little gem with us Jocelyn. I shall put in on this list…..really need to do something about that list.