Shimoda: white sandy beaches, transparent ocean & history

Mayo Harry | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Shimoda is a little port town located in Izu. 140km away from Tokyo, it takes about three hours by public transport to reach. You can take the direct express train from Tokyo Station: the coastal scenery of the Tokyo outskirts from the train is breathtaking. The access is not that convenient; however, if you were tired from the intensity of Tokyo, visiting Shimoda is a great escape option. Shimoda offers a beautiful clear marine blue ocean with unusual rock formations and white sandy beaches! It also has a pretty historical townscape and a public foot onsen (hot spring). You might need more than an overnight stay to soak up the nature and authentic energy of this gorgeous little town of Izu.

©iStock/Sean Pavone

At the end of the Edo era, when Japan came to an end of the isolation policy and was about to make a significant shift to the opening of the country, Shimoda appeared in the first act of history. In 1854, the U.S. Navy led by Admiral Perry, arrived at Shimoda Port, which was a wind-up port, on a black ship under the Japan-US Treaty of Amity. There are some tourist spots in Shimoda that are related to this big historical event.

White sandy beaches in Shimoda


Shimoda offers several beaches with beautiful white sand and an ocean with outstanding transparency. You can swim, snorkel, surf, and scuba dive or just enjoy sunbathing. There are two main beaches with easy public access from the station. There are shower/toilet facilities and some eateries and convenient stores around. These main beaches' peak season is from July to the end of August.


If you prefer less clouded beaches, you can find smaller gorgeous isolated beaches where locals hang out on the south side of Shimoda. Some beaches have local bus access; however, it is typical of them to function with a limited timetable. These beaches do not offer showers and toilet facilities, and no convenient stores can be found around, so be prepared. Enjoy exploring the coastline of Shimoda and find your favorite beach.


Historical Perry Road

©iStock/Sean Pavone

"Perry Road" is the road where Admiral Perry, who arrived at Shimoda Port at the end of the Edo Period, marched towards the Ryosenji temple to conclude the Japan-US Shimoda Treaty. The length of Perry Road is about 700m, and it spreads along the Hiraname river. It is a beautiful atmospheric road with rows of willows and cobblestones, and the scenery with a gas lamp gives an exotic feeling. These old folk buildings were built between the end of the Edo and Taisho era.  Many of these old buildings made of latticed pattern wall and built with local Izu stones, make the Perry Road extra unique.

Sacred Shirahama Shirne on the coastal cliff


The official name of Shirahama Shrine is the 'Ikona Hibiki Shrine,' and its history dates back 2400 years ago. It is popular among women as a power spot for marriage and bringing good luck on partnership. This Shrine is located right next to the very popular white sandy beach of Shirahama. On the left and right of the beautiful hall of worship, sacred trees rise towards the sky. One of the holy trees there is called "Yakushi no Kashiwa Shin": it is believed to be a sacred tree that gives life and extend people's lifespan. The appearance of the red torii gate on the Shirahama coast facing the blue sky and sea is outstanding on Instagram, for sure. It is also popular as the best spot to watch the first sunrise in Shimoda, especially on New Years Day.

Ryugu Cave, work of nature in Shimoda


The mysterious cave called "Ryugu Cave" is a work of art on earth completed by the erosion of waves over the years. Ryugu Cave means "dragon palace." It can be found in the Touji area of Shimoda. You can enjoy the shimmering light of the emerald green sea and the sound of the waves echoing quietly at Ryugu Cave. This little hideaway is relatively free on weekdays after the summer beach season, so if you want to soak the energy of this natural wonder in peace, visiting it on offseason is highly recommended.

Shimoda is getting more and more popular recently with oversea visitors. Shimoda’s interesting history and beautiful white sand beaches will fascinate you. If you are a beach lover, Shimoda is no doubt, one of the must-visit beaches in Japan. It will surprise you with this high quality maintained beaches and transparent ocean that can be found not so far from Tokyo.

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