Heda is a small town located on the western coast of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture. I picked this location quite randomly as a part of my interest in exploring the western coast of the the Izu Peninsula after having spent quite a lot of time exploring the eastern coast. Knowing the town was a little remote, I chose to make it an overnight visit and booked to stay at Nishiizu Koyoi Onsen, a charming ryokan overlooking the Suruga Bay. As always there were so many beautiful discoveries along the way.
The trip from Tokyo took me just over 3 hours by train and bus including transfers. It was a lovely journey, particularly from Shuzenji to Heda on a quiet local bus that wound its way through the hills with beautiful views overlooking the sea. On a number of occasions I wished I could have asked the driver to stop for photo opportunities! The bus arrived in Heda around 4pm and I was met by a lovely lady from the ryokan in a hotel shuttle bus. From there it was less than 5 minutes to the ryokan.
Nishiizu Koyoi Onsen
Coming from a hospitality background, I was quite impressed by the service upon my arrival. After a long trip there is nothing better than being greeted warmly. Check in paperwork was a breeze with a hot towel and a cup of green tea whilst overlooking the magnificent sea views. What’s more I was also informed that I could put my name down for the private bath experience overlooking the sea! This certainly put a smile on my face, and to my delight, I was able to get in right around the sunset time. As if this wasn’t enough, I was also offered some local umeshu, a Japanese plum liqueur which added to my joy!
Following my checkin, I was guided to my room and the lady kindly showed me the location of the private baths as well as the public bath areas. The room was great, and also came with a beautiful view overlooking the sea.
It wasn’t long before it was bath time! I slipped into my yukata and headed up the hallway to the private baths. It all felt very luxurious having a bathroom and change area to myself, but my biggest “wow” came when I opened the door to the outside and saw my private “tub” and shower area with a breathtaking view overlooking the sea. As I took it all in, I was again reminded that taking a bath in Japan is not just “taking a bath”! It is about the whole 6 sensory experience – the sight and sound of the ocean, the fresh cool air with a hint of salt, the heavenly warmth of the water as I sunk into the tub, and the joy of my spirit as I let out an “ahhhh” with a huge smile on my face!
The sunset timing could not have been more perfect. As a result, this bath will go down as my best sunset onsen experiences to date.
The only slight drawback was that technically the private baths with the sea views are only regular hot water, rather than genuine hot spring water which is offered in the public bath.
After dinner I tried out the public bath area to soak in the minerals. The water was good, but the facilities were quite old. Regardless though, I slept very well that night!
Another day of adventure
The next morning, I skipped the public bath as I was lucky enough to get a reservation for a bath experience in the second private bath. Again, it was a very special experience, this time overlooking the blue sea in the early morning light.
After breakfast I then headed off for a walk down the hill and along the beach toward Mihama Peninsula. I was looking forward to the magnificent views of Mt Fuji that the town is known for but unfortunately on the day it was not to be. Regardless, I enjoyed the wander around the quiet village learning about the ship building history and the spider crabs that the town is renowned for.
Upon returning from my walk, I checked out and inquired about how I could further explore the western coast of the Izu Peninsula. As the area is quite remote, it turned out that the best option was by car, but luckily I was able to catch one of the few local buses that took me down to Toi, another onsen town approximately 30 minutes south of Heda.
The trip down the coast was really beautiful as the bus meandered along the winding coastal roads through the hills and rural landscape. Again though, I wished I had a hire car as it would have given me much more flexibility to stop and take pictures.
Unfortunately, I did not have much time to explore the famous Toi gold mine or the local onsens. I was however lucky enough to enjoy the beautiful Toi sakura. Toi is blessed with many varieties of sakura, including one of the earliest blooming cherry blossoms in Japan which flowers from the end of January to early February.
All too soon, it was time to hop on another local bus from Toi back to Shuzenji and then take the train home to Tokyo. I definitely loved exploring the western coast of Izu Peninsula and will certainly return again one day, most likely with a car to savour the experience just that little bit more!
From Tokyo, take the Kodama Shinkansen to Mishima (53 minutes) and transfer to the local Sunzu line to Shuzenji (37 minutes). From Shuzenji station transfer to the local bus service bound for Heda (approximately 50 minutes)