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 Brian 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 Brian offered him some racing games on the Xbox too.
Having spent most of the day in the car we wanted to spend some time on the beach and drove the short distance from the house to Heda port for an afternoon on the beach. Read about that in my following post….