Spring in Shimoda

It’s Alice again, back for another post! I have so much I want to share about the different places I have visited here in Shimoda this spring.

Some backstory: After living in Japan for months now and living on three of the four different main islands, the only place I found myself needing to return to was Shimoda. After coming to visit for just two nights back in September, I fell in love with the stunning Izu coastline, the gorgeous beaches, and the small-town feel that makes Shimoda as magical as it is, and decided it was going to be the last place I would stay before I returned home. I returned here to stay for seven weeks, and so far, it has been an amazing paradise!

There is something special about the rocky cliffs and deep vibrant forest that shows you the powerful geographical history in every view, and the ocean calls you to it with the dangerous churning cliffs and the surfable beaches.

One of the most charming parts of Shimoda is its surfing vibes mixed with the Japanese countryside. As much as Shimoda has enough to stand on its own as a wonderful place to stay without the Hawaiian feel, I enjoyed the surfboards decorating shops and restaurants, and vintage stores and homemade craft stores that dot the countryside and make the atmosphere of Shimoda so unique.

I came in May, and despite it being the quiet season for travel, I would argue it is the best time. Not too hot like the summer, less busy with travellers, and has so much to offer. I had the opportunity to go to two different matsuri (festivals): the Kurofune Matsuri or Black Ship Festival!, and the Ajisai Matsuri or Hydrangea Festival. The Sakura Matsuri or Cherry Blossom Festival is actually in February here on Izu! I obviously missed it, but if you are keen, you could spend February here for the sakura season, and then travel to another place for April and get another sakura season! Two in a row! That would be fun!

Surfing is a major part of the Shimoda lifestyle. Every day there are people in the water, and locals have grown up surfing, with old surfing legends who have retired and now relax here. Whether you are watching or participating, surfing in Shimoda is awesome! Spring has been the best time for me. As a complete beginner, I learned how to surf here by renting a board from my wonderful hosts and practising at Ohama-Maiso beach. The smaller days were perfect for a newbie like me, but when the bigger swells came, I loved to watch the skills of all the local surfers out on the water.

Surfing isn’t the only thing to do in Shimoda. I have spent my free days walking along the coastline on beautiful hikes, like Cape Tarai and the Jogasaki Coast, and snorkelling on the more protected beaches. I got to explore a remote wasabi farm in the town over (Kawazu). I also went on a drive to Cape Aioi to watch the sunset with my newfound friends and co-workers.

Day-to-day, I went to local restaurants, shared mochi ice cream with the local obaasan, and bought fresh fruits and veggies at the numerous honesty veggie stalls throughout the town. If you like running, I ran a loop through the forest and down along the coast in the mornings. The birdsong, waves, and empty side street were some of my favourite parts of my day.

After everything, I would say Shimoda, and this small part of Izu is something so special. It feels honest, simple, and peaceful (except for the Kurofune Matsuri! It is the biggest festival of the year!). People are relaxed here, and everyone has a garden. Being in the countryside, it feels like time flows differently; it moves with the weather and the sun. After staying as long as I have, I will say Shimoda has a special place in my heart.

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