Ito Onsen in Shizuoka is a lovely onsen resort town that can be reached using the cool Super Odoriko train, from Tokyo Station. Ito Onsen is on the Izu Hanto (peninsula), famous for onsen (hot springs) and seafood. The train has extra large windows, which overlooks Tokyo Bay in Shizuoka (left side of the train going and right side returning to Tokyo).
Shizuoka has many seaside onsen resort towns. Atami is popular and has many options. Ito Onsen was on our radar as it is just beyond Atami and is known for having yasukute oishii ryokan, cheap and delicious ryokan. There are also many higaeri onsen, hot springs that you can use without staying overnight.
It is the first train that I have been on with beer on tap and plenty of beer-friendly snacks. In Japan this often means dried squid or processed cheese sandwiched between seafood flattened into a sheet.
If you have small kids, this is also the only train I have been on that has a play room. Be sure to ask to get your seats near the kids room. Our kid played the whole ride going and coming. It’s Japan, so of course, the kids take off their shoes when they go into the room.
We stayed at the Ito Garden Hotel, which had a simple rotenburo (outdoor onsen) and a small kids’ room with toys. It’s not a big selection of toys, but was suitable for a six-year old. There was also a small library of children’s books in Japanese and English. The hotel is up on the mountainside and we had a room that overlooked the city and the bay.
Dinner, served in a separate room, included steamed abalone, local sashimi, and some grilled meat. While guests are dining someone goes to your room to pull out the futons.
Traditional Japanese breakfast to start the day. Local seafood & sea vegetables (hijiki and funori) highlight the menu. There is a vending machine in the hotel if you need your coffee. It was not a luxurious hotel, but simple and the food was good and plentiful.
We spent the day exploring the city of Ito which is on the bay. There is a black sand beach and in the summer it is popular. There are many shops selling himono (butterflied and air-dried seafood) and some shops are even drying seafood in front of the shop.
There is a sculpture garden on the beach which is a great spot to look over the water and to climb on some of the sculptures.
For lunch I highly recommend Fujiichi (est. 1945). The first floor is a fishmonger and the second floor is a casual restaurant. Each table has its own barbecue, which makes any meal more fun. The table gets hot, so a good excuse to have an ice-cold beer. We ordered Pacific mackerel and squid that was served raw so that we could grill it ourselves. It’s a small shop and very popular, so time your visit around the main 12 noon lunch time (when the restaurant was packed).
There are a few pedestrian shōtengai, arcades with many small shops selling omiyage (souvenirs), sweets, and the local green tea. Shizuoka is one of the famous tea regions in Japan.
One of the shōtengai, Yu no Hana Dōri 湯の花通り, has a large souvenir shop, Izu Guricha, selling local tea. In one corner is a small shop selling soft-serve ice cream, including a sundae topped with sweetened chestnuts, azuki beans, mochi, and kinpaku (gold sheet). Shizuoka-ken, Itō-shi, Shishido, 1 Chome−2, 静岡県伊東市猪戸１丁目２ー１
Nearby is Binya Coffee with an in-house roaster. Shishido 1-5-35
We loved our two days in Ito Onsen and I look forward to coming back.