Shizuoka: Port city two hours outside Tokyo offers great views of Fuji
American personnel stationed in Tokyo are used to seeing Mount Fuji — the massive volcano that towers over the city.
But those who haven’t been to Shizuoka — a port city of 3.7 million that’s a two-hour drive or train ride south of the Japanese capital — haven’t seen the best views of Fuji.
From the Nihondaira — a piece of high ground on the seaward fringe of Shizuoka — Fuji looks twice as tall and ten times larger than it does from Tokyo.
That’s because you can see the massive base of the 12,388-foot mountain, which seems to extend all the way to the sea.
Shizuoka is renowned for its oranges, strawberries, green tea and maguro (tuna).
Japan’s greatest shogun — Tokugawa Ieyasu — was buried near the Nihondaira at a shinto shrine called Kunozan Tosho-gu.
His spirit is supposed to still live at the 400-year-old shrine, which stands on a hilltop with spectacular views of the coastline.
The shrine can be reached in two ways.
Energetic visitors can hike up the Kunozan — the hill that the shrine is built on. It takes about 40 minutes to get there from the foot of the hill via 1,159 stone steps.
Others can ride the Shizuoka Railways Nihondaira Ropeway from the Nihondaira, where there’s a free car park and several restaurants.
Kashi-no Ichi market is a one-minute walk from JR Shimizu Station East exit. The Nihondaira can be reached by riding the Shizuoka-Nihondaira-sen bus for 35 minutes from JR Shizuoka Station.
Kunozan Tosho-gu entry costs 500 yen for adults and 200 yen for children. Entrance to the shrine and its museum costs 800 yen for adults and 300 yen for children. A return trip on the ropeway costs 1000 yen for adults, with discounted rates for students and children.
A popular place to eat lunch or dinner is the waterfront, where there are numerous sushi and sashimi restaurants next door to the Kashi-no Ichi market where freshly landed fish are sold.
The Kunozan Tosho-gu English language website: www.toshogu.or.jp/english/index.html