Saying Goodbye to Shimoda
Our days in Shimoda, a port town on the eastern side of the Izu Peninsular ended way too fast. While we had enjoyed some time on the beaches, the aquarium and the seven waterfalls we had to move on to Heda, our next destination after a few days. Heda is another port town, located to the western side of the Izu cape.
Driving along Route 136
For our drive to Heda we had chosen the scenic route along the coast – Route 136. The road first wound itself through the lush green hills, mostly overgrown with forest and bamboo, before we reached the rocky coast to the west side of the peninsular. We stopped at a viewpoint to stretch our legs and stumbled onto a peculiar bell, which Jerome immediately tried to ring. We presume it came from a shipwreck but it was odd to find it in the middle of a viewpoint. The views from the point were spectacular and the coastline to the western side was even more rugged and unspoiled compared to the eastern coast from Atami to Shimoda with the large holiday resorts and sandy beaches.
In fact after we rounded the southern tip and drove on towards Heda we rarely passed another car and could see many abandoned buildings next to the road. At some point we noticed a derelict toll road, with overgrown barriers and booths on one of the junctions. It seemed like efforts to bring tourists to this side of the cape had failed and gave the area an eerie aura. Japan has many districts that were built up in the “bubble” during the 80s and 90s and these remnants of failed tourist efforts can often be found dotted around the more rural areas. I have always liked disused buildings and took this as a photo opportunity to the annoyance of the boys who had to wait around for me to capture the best shots.
The Coast off Dogashima
Access to this part of Izu is restricted to cars and a few buses, as the train only runs along the western side. This makes the area an ideal place for a trip away from the tourist crowds. Half way up the coast we stopped at Dogashima for another photo opportunity. Dogashima is famous for it dramatic stone formations, cliffs and caves that were created by the flow of lava from long past volcanic eruptions. The best way to admire these rock formations is by tour on one of the sightseeing boats from Dogashima port. Jerome thought the islands looked a bit like big teeth of a sea monster sticking of the sea.
Among the Flower Fields
Driving on, the road ascended and descended like a roller coaster along the rocky shoreline, past small fishing villages and amazing views. We stopped in one of the villages to get some snacks and drinks at one of the convenience stores. Leaving the store we noticed a vast field of sunflowers and another planted with lotus next to it. The sunflowers were in full bloom and the lotus still had some pink flowers poking between the large, round leaves but was mostly covered with the large green seedpods that looked like a head with hundreds of dark eyes. Dragonflies kept buzzing around our heads and the noise of the cicadas was ever present.
Our Arrival in Heda
Back in the cool air conditioned car we made good progress towards our accommodation near Heda. The guesthouse was owned by a retired English chap who had built the house, perched on a hill above the sea, a few years before. We received a warm welcome and were shown to our bedroom suite on the first floor with a little balcony. The panoramic views were incredible, the sea looked dark under the moody afternoon sky. We settled in and our host Bryan served us some coffee and sweets on the balcony outside. We talked about our trip so far and he gave us some recommendations for beaches and cafes nearby. Breakfast and dinner was included and therefore we did not need to worry too much about restaurants. Jerome liked his room and was also excited that Bryan offered him some racing games on the Xbox too.
Having spent most of the day in the car driving across the stunning Izu Peninsular, we wanted to spend some time on the beach and drove the short distance from the house to Heda port for an afternoon on Mihama Beach. Read about that in my following post….
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11 thoughts on “Heda, Japan | Family Drive from Shimoda to Heda Across the Stunning Izu Peninsular”
When I think of Japan I never think of empty roads and deserted buildings. Very interesting as usual.
Thank you! It’s hard to imagine that there might be empty roads in Japan but it just depends on where you are. W once drove through Kansai and didn’t see another car for about two hours… Sadly there are plenty of abandoned buildings everywhere, partly because no one wants to live in the countryside anymore.
Can you share the name / contact info of the place you stayed in Heda? We hope to do a similar tour with our kids and I am finding it difficult to find any accommodation on the west side other than fancy resorts. Thank you!
thanks for your message, it really is hard to find somewhere on the Izu peninsular that is not in a big hotel or resort.
We stayed with an English man who rented out a room in his lovely house, up in the hills with stunning sea views, just before Mihama beach.
I know his property isn’t listed on Airbnb anymore, I was looking to insert a link to his property when I wrote the post. I have emailed him on the contact he gave us during our stay and hope he still receives those emails. I will let you know in case I receive a reply.
Do you live in Tokyo? Or are you just exploring Japan?
Thank you! I really appreciate your help. We’re from Canada, coming to Japan in late October for three weeks, with our seven year old twins. There seem to be dozens of minshukus on the west coast but with no info and just Japanese tel. numbers. I can’t figure out how to find details / reviews and book them. Also so few air bnbs in that area. We want to spend 2-3 nights somewhere and travel by bus. Not sure where best to stay! Thanks for any advice. I really enjoy your blog!
That sounds like a great adventure for you and the kids. Japan is such an amazing country to visit, Jerome has always enjoyed his trips and still keeps wanting to go back…
I would advise to hire a car, although it is quite expensive but it makes your life a lot easier, especially when you have young children with you. The eastern coast of the Izu peninsula is well connected by trains but the west, even by bus quite tricky I could imagine although Japanese public transport is definitely among the best in the world.
The guesthouse owner emailed back and said he no longer rents out his room. Such a shame really, I have asked him if he could recommend somewhere else as an option.
We have previously not shied away from booking somewhere that is generally in Japanese. It is hard though if you only have a phone number, I can understand it might be akward to call.
Have a lovely weekend,
Thank you! You have been so helpful. I hope you don’t mind me asking 1 more question. If we do rent a car, which town would you recommend as a base for 3 nights…Dogashima, Heda, Shimoda, somewhere else? Somewhere nice to walk around with kids but also easy to access other parts of the peninsula. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time!!
After speaking with Chris, we would suggest Shimoda, considering that it is easier to access other parts of the peninsula and there are plenty of places you can explore in the area and slightly further afield, like the waterfalls. The onsen town where we stayed still had a very authentic charme, while Shimoda itself certainly is more of a tourist stop, mainly due to its train connection but at this time of year, when it’s beautiful to explore the forests 🍁🍂 rather than spend all day on the beach it might be the preferable option.
We really enjoyed Heda but it is a bit remote and can take a long time to get somewhere, it did feel very Japanese and apart from our host we were the only foreigners there, a big plus from our point of view.
Dogashima was quite touristy, although we didn’t spend any time there so I cannot really judge.
I did spot a lovely guesthouse in Heda, I will send you a link once I am back at my desktop and also found a ryokan that looked rather nice and I could well imagine staying there.
Wow. Thank you so much for your time and advice! I had booked a place in Nishiizu (Pension Surf Rider) because it was the only affordable option I found on the west coast that was walking distance to the ocean / restaurants etc. But no $ down, so I will compare to options in Shimoda. Seems like renting a car is the way to go. Thanks again! Now I am going to check out the rest of your blog and get ideas about other parts of the world. cheers!
No worries, you’re welcome. I do hope you wil have an amazing time in Japan. A promised I had a look at options for the area around Heda and found these two that looked quite like I could imagine staying there and weren’t too expensive, which unfortunately is not easy in Japan! This one is in Heda: http://greenbr.net this one in the mining town of and can also be booked through Agoda which makes life easier: http://www.toikan.com Both look family friendly although Japanese hotels and bnb’s generally are from our experience.
Have fun planning your trip and if other questions arise let me know…