Japan Guides: Toi - Izu Peninsula
Toi - Not So Far Away 土肥
Last year, I was invited to Toi for the summer festival. If my Japanese friends had not introduced me to Toi, I would have never known the west side of the Izu Peninsula existed. Toi is much less traveled than the east of the Izu peninsula, and is full of natural beauty.
We took the Nishi-Izu Ferry from Shimizu port to Toi port.
The ferry ride was a fun experience in itself. It was a clear, sunny day and the view of Mt. Fuji was beautiful. Korean ships dock at the Shimizu port (There is a passenger service to Korea from Shimizu port, too) and as we were setting out for Toi, sailors shouted out greetings and waved to us across the bay from gigantic ships.
The Toi Summer Festival is held August 18-21 and well worth the trip. It is the perfect get-away, and farewell to summer, before heading back to work or school. As in all Japanese towns, the summer festival is a grand party. Here, there are food and beer stalls, a stage to accompany non-stop performances from the local talent, and a magnificent show of fireworks.
Once the last performance ends (Last summer it was a fantastic local taiko group) and the stage is shut down, everyone strolls through the food stalls on their way to the beach. This beach is not overly crowded, so there is no rush. The fireworks are displayed from Suruga Bay which makes for twice the glamour. They last about 30 minutes, but even after they're done, the sky is so dark all the stars are easily visible. This is refreshing after spending a lot of time in crowded, bright Japanese cities.
Why go to Toi?
Toi is known for having the world's largest flower clock and there is a path of varying textures that circles the clock. People are meant to walk on the path barefoot for relaxation and therapy, but some of the textures look more torturous than relaxing.
Like most Izu towns, Toi is full of onsen hotels and beaches. There are 40 ryokan and 80 minshuku (family-run guesthouses). They have some tourist sites, hiking trails, and excellent Japanese restaurants. The spectacular views include Suruga Bay, unusual rock formations, and Mt. Fuji. It is wonderful to sit in an onsen and take in the natural scenery.
Onsen hotels allow visitors to use their hot spring baths for a price without staying in their hotels, so it is possible to have a soak and take in the views even if you are not planning to spend the night. This is an ideal day trip or weekend get-away for anyone or any couple any time of year.
Interesting history and tourist attractions
Toi has an old gold and silver mine Toi Kinzan (Tel: 0558 98 0800) in the mountain behind the spa. The tunnels have been made into a museum with dioramas depicting mining and the history of Toi town life in the feudal period. Visitors can touch the world's largest gold ingot (200 kg) as recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. You can also try your hand at mining for gold dust for an additional fee.
Toi Kinzan, one of the largest mines in Japan, was under the direct control of the Tokugawa Shogunate and produced gold and silver for so-called "Keicho" coins.
The mine's most productive years were between 1596-1615. Over the 388 years of total production, 78 metric tons of gold and 2,330 metric tons of silver were mined. Mining ceased in 1965. Toi grew as a port with the frequent visits of Tokugawa ships to transport the gold and silver and geisha houses sprang up to service visiting officials.
Where is Toi?
Toi is a small town located on the west side of the Izu Peninsula. Toi is more of a challenge to reach as opposed to the east side of the Izu and Ito city. As of 2004, Toi is part of the Izu city municipality along with Amagiyugashima, Nakaizu, and Shuzenji.
From Atami, take the JR Ito Line to Ito. At Ito, take the Tokai bus toward Dogashima and get off the bus at the Toi Stop.
From Mishima, you can get on the Tokai Bus toward Ito/Dogashima.
For the ferry experience, take the JR train from Shizuoka Station to Shimizu (3rd stop). From there, it is a 10-minute bus ride to Shimizu Port. At Shimizu Port , take the Nishi-Izu Ferry to Toi Port (65 minutes). Be sure to check the ferry schedule.
There are more ferries running from Toi via Heda (25 minutes) to Numazu on the JR Tokaido Line (55 minutes).
There are usually four round trip sailings from Shimizu Port to Toi on weekdays and seven on weekends and public holidays. My friends took their car across on the ferry in the morning, and we drove back to Shizuoka after stopping for a bowl of homemade ramen.
Toi City Tourism Association
Tel: 0558 98 1212
Japan Articles by Jennifer May
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