Japan City Guides: Shizuoka & Hamamatsu
Shizuoka Prefecture produces more than half the green tea produced in Japan and is also a major producer of mandarin oranges - its scenic mountains and valleys are great places to walk, hike or cycle. Mt Fuji lies to the north-east; onsen and the annual Shimoda matsuri commemorating the arrival of the US Admiral Perry and his Black Ships in the mid-nineteenth century at Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula; castle town at Kakegawa City;
Shizuoka City Guide
Shizuoka's main sites are within easy walking or cycling distance of its rather unprepossesing main station. Sumpu Park is located on the former site of Sumpu Castle, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1585. The East Gate (Higashi Gomon) and the Tatsumi Yagura Turret have been restored to their former impressive glory. In the center of Sumpu Park is a bronze statue of the great shogun with a falcon perched on his fist and nearby, behind a fence, is a mandarin orange tree planted by Ieyasu.
Shizuoka Sengen Shrine, west of Sumpu Park, contains a collection of items associated with Ieyasu including a suit of his armor housed in the Shizuoka Museum of Cultural assets (Tel: 245 3500). The Shizuoka Sengen Shrine hosts the Hatsukaesai Festival in early April.
South of Sumpu Park, behind the Shizuoka Prefectural Government buildings, are Shichiken-cho dori and Aoba Symbol Road, which are pleasant places to stroll, shop and eat. Aoba Symbol Road has a pedestrian, tree-lined park running down its center, with a collection of varied street sculpures. The street has an illumination show from October to January. At its base is Tokiwa Park, which has a water display on the hour and is lit up at night.
Other places worth a visit in Shizuoka city include the Sumpu Museum, (Tel: 252 0001) to the west as you exit the north exit of the station. The museum contains paintings by artists from the Kano school and Shinsui Ito as well as examples of Ieyasu Tokugawa's brush work. Kiyomizu Temple, called after its more famous namesake in Kyoto, is east of the station in Kiyomizu-yama Park and dates from the mid-sixteenth century.
Nihondaira, to the south and east of Shizuoka city, is a noted natural beauty-spot with views of Mount Fuji and the sea. There are buses from the main bus station (35-40 mins) or a taxi will cost around 6,000 yen one-way. Things to see and do include a visit to Kunozan Toshogu Shrine and Kunozan Toshogu Museum, which are reached by cable-car. The decorative shrine dates from the Momoyama Period and the grounds contain the tomb of Ieyasu Tokugawa. The adjoining Kunozan Toshogu Museum (Tel: 237 2437) contains over 2,000 pieces related to Japan's greatest warlord including an exquisite golden helmet and a desktop clock, a gift to Ieyasu from the Spanish Governor General in Mexico.
The Shizuoka Prefectural Art Museum, (Tel: 054 263 5755) exhibits pieces by Rodin, including "The Thinker", Gauguin and Monet. Nihondaira Zoo (Tel: 054 262 3251) has around 800 animals in a park-like setting. The Toro Ruins and accompanying museums and park include reconstructions of Yayoi Period housing on the site of previous excavations.
Other places of interest in the Nihondaira area are Nihondaira Stadium (Tel: 0543 35 5111), home ground to the J-League's Shimizu S-Pulse, Ryuge Temple (Tel: 0543 34 2858), which is known for its "Kanpuen" style of landscape gardens - the oldest style in Japan, the Nihondaira Tea Hall (Tel: 0543 34 1391), the Serizawa Keisuke Art Museum (Tel: 054 282 5522), which showcases the dyeing art of Keisuke Serizawa (1895-1984) and the Shimizu Funakoshi-Zutsumi Park, which is famous for its 1,000 cherry trees.
The Mariko area, to the south and west of Shizuoka city, was the location for the 20th way-station on the Tokaido, the historic highway linking Kyoto with Edo (modern-day Tokyo). Traces of that history are still visible today and the area is a pleasant place to hike or cycle following the Mariko River. Wooden buildings dating from the Edo Period can still be found in Mariko-ji and Utsunoya, which retain something of the atmosphere of the Tokaido. Near the village of Utsunoya, is Japan's first toll tunnel (Meiji Tunnel) dating from 1876. Some historic temples in the Mariki area include Seiganji Temple, which may date from the 12th Century, Togeppo Saiokuji Temple, modelled after Ginkakuji in Kyoto and Keiryuji Temple in Utsunoya, famous for its health-restoring rice cakes (dango).
Outside Shizuoka City
In Kanaya, one stop on the JR Line east from the Kakegawa Station on the Shinkansen Tokaido route is one of Japan's very few active steam trains. The train runs between Kanaya and Senzu through tea fields along the Ooi River. The journey is popular and booking in advance or traveling midweek is a good idea.
Festivals & Events in Shizuoka
The Daidogei (Street Art) World Cup takes place annually in early November in Sumpu Park and in the streets around Shizuoka. Street performers of all descriptions: jugglers, mime artists and magicians congregate in Shizuoka for the big event.
Other large festivals in Shizuoka city are the Ieyasu-inspired Shizuoka Festival on the first weekend of April complete with cherry blossom dances, the Hatsuaesai Festival, with a procession and the Chigomai (Children's) Dance in early April and the more contemporary Abekawa Fireworks Festival on the last Saturday of July.
Nearby Shimizu has a large and colorful Tanabata Star Festival in early July.
Shizuoka Prefecture Tourist Association
Good rail links with Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka (Shinkansen bullet train). From Tokyo JR Tokaido Shinkansen super-express (1 hour by "Hikari" express or 90 minutes by "Kodama") to Shizuoka. From Osaka (Shin-Osaka Station) 1 hour 40 minutes by Shinkansen bullet train and 1 hour 20 mins by "Kodama" from Nagoya and 1 hour by "Hikari" express.
JR Highway Bus from Tokyo and Nagoya Stations.
2 hours from both Tokyo and Nagoya by Tomei Expressway.
Shizuoka Airport (Mount Fuji Shizuoka Airport) opened in June 2009 and has international flights to Seoul and Shanghai. There are domestic flights to Osaka, Naha (Okinawa) and Fukuoka and other places. The airport is close to Makinohara and Shimada and it takes around an hour by bus to Shizuoka.
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