Take a Walk on Japan's Izu Geo Trail
By Margot Black
There was a moment as I was relaxing in a Japanese hot spring by a waterfall when I genuinely wondered how I was ever going to plug back into my everyday life. My husband, son and I were on a walking tour of the Izu Geo Trail, which explored the Izu Peninsula and some of the most spectacular scenery this planet has to offer.
This seven-day, six-night adventure took us to the peninsula's southernmost tip at Cape Irozaki and over its central mountain region via many seaside towns and rugged western coastlines. We ended our tour in Shuzenji, a historic hot-spring resort town.
We left with our guide, Taku, from Tokyo Station and arrived at Izu-Kogen Station on the coast at midday. Here we enjoyed a picnic lunch before setting off on our first walk. We carried our needs for the day in backpacks that contained items suggested by Walk Japan. They also supplied us with a list of easy-to-learn Japanese phrases so that we could express basic pleasantries.
We spent the first day walking along a coastal trail that featured sea caves and crashing waves to a small port along the Jogasaki Kaigan. It gave us our first glimpse of the beauty of the region and also an idea of how the week was going to look and feel. We ended Day One with a divine soak at the Akazawa Onsen, our cliff-top hotel. ("Onsen" is the Japanese name for thermal hot-spring baths.)
The next day we explored the stunning Amagi Highlands and a gently ascending beech forest to the landmark Amagi Tunnel. We then descended a thrilling spiral bridge to Kawazu, where we enjoyed an exquisite seafood dinner and another very welcome onsen.
One of the best things about this holiday was that it allowed our family to try new foods. My son became very good at using chopsticks to eat his sushi, and watching him try raw tuna for the first time was priceless.
Day Three saw us making our way over paved footpaths, mountain trails and rough tracks to the Kawazu Seven Waterfalls, which was my high for the trip. We lunched on buckwheat (soba) noodles at a local restaurant and then had a stroll around the market. My son found a stuffed toy dog that looked exactly like our dog at home, and our guide named him Wasabi.
The simplicity of the noodles, the toy and the market were magical.