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Take a Walk on Japan's Izu Geo Trail

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We traveled by bus to Shimoda, a lovely white sandy beach where we explored the harbor and the town. We saw the Gyokusen-ji temple and the home of Edward Harris, the first American consul to Japan. Again we ended the day with a soak on our inn's onsen. By that time we were all addicted.

On Day Four we continued toward the southernmost tip of the Izu Geo peninsula, where the scenery changed dramatically from white sandy beaches to more rugged cliffs. At Toji we were delighted by a sea cave on a giant sand slope, which is now a popular place for children to go sledding. My son was able to flatten a cardboard box and go whizzing down the dunes, and we all loved the hiking along the beach trails.

When we arrived at Cape Irozaki, Izu's southernmost point high above the Pacific Ocean, we visited a family-run factory that produces katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes that are used in Japanese cooking. Then we went to Matsuzaki, known for its period buildings that feature black clay tiles. We watched the sunset from our balcony of another incredible inn.

On Day Five we faced an elevation gain of 1,870 feet up a winding trail along the clifftops. While this walk was the most challenging, the view -- including Mount Fuji in the distance -- was worth it. We saw many coves and rock formations as well as turquoise waters. The onsen at our hotel here overlooked the ocean. I never wanted to leave.

We had a final seven miles to cover and an almost 1,000-foot elevation. The next morning we had free time to explore Dogashima, the cliffs and a long tombolo, a spit of land that surfaces as the tide recedes, offering access to a small island. We reached the peak of Mount Daruma, a dormant volcano, and ate lunch as we caught glimpses of Mount Fuji in between the scuttling clouds.

Shuzenji, an enchanting village, was our final overnight stay at a historic resort that's more than 160 years old. It features the oldest onsen inside a hotel and has been declared an "important cultural property" by the Japanese government. A lovely hostess in a traditional kimono greeted us before we explored the gardens and their koi ponds. One of the ponds is connected to the onsen, so when I was soaking the fish were looking at me, which was both hilarious and strange.

We have so many good memories about this trip -- the smile of the old lady drying her fish, our capable tour guide who became my son's new hero, the sound of the seven crystal-clear waterfalls. The tranquility, the manners of the Japanese and the majesty of the coastline will remain in our hearts forever.

 

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WHEN YOU GO

Walk Japan's attention to detail allowed us to immerse ourselves fully in Japanese culture and nature: www.walkjapan.com.

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Margot Black is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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