Numazu Guide Shizuoka
Numazu Guide Shizuoka: Numazu is a city of about 200,000 inhabitants located at the north-western end of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture.
- Numazu Hotels
- Numazu Historical Remains
- Senbon Matsubara
- Numazu Port Gate
- Numazu Port Town
- Fish Restaurants
- Harbor Sunset
- Fishmarket Taproom
- Ganyudo Ferryboat
- Places to stay in and around Numazu City
- How to get to Numazu
- Japan City Guides
Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture 沼津 静岡県
Numazu with Mount Fuji in the background, Shizuoka Prefecture
Numazu is a city of about 200,000 inhabitants located at the north-western end of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture.
On its seaside, the city straddles Suruga Bay which in turn opens up to the Pacific Ocean. Mount Fuji is 30 km north of Numazu but on clear days the iconic mountain seems to tower just beyond the city limits.
Numazu can easily be reached from Tokyo using the Kodama trains of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line running between Tokyo and Osaka, though for the last leg of the trip you have to change to a local train at Mishima Station.
The Tomei and Shin Tomei Expressways pass through the northern suburbs of the city, offering easy access for motorists.
Mount Fuji seen between buildings in downtown Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture
Most of the city's attractions as well as the majority of its hotels are located south of JR Numazu Station, on a sort of peninsula bordered to the east by the Kano River and to the west and south by Suruga Bay. The peninsula stretches for about 2 km south from JR Numazu Station and ends at Numazu Port.
The main hotel area of Numazu is close to the South Exit of the train station. While there are a number of old, cheap low-rise hotels, it is definitely worth trawling through online booking sites for better options.
Especially off-season you will find amazingly low prices for the high-rise hotels along the banks of the Kano River, offering grand views over the city towards Mount Fuji and Suruga Bay.
I visited Numazu in November. That is definitely off-season but on the other hand, a time with usually very clear sky. I had great views from my spacious 11th floor room at the River Side Hotel towards the changing hues of snow-covered Fuji during sunset and sunrise for very little more than then the rates charged by the nearby budget hotels.
Mount Fuji seen behind the pine trees of the Senbon Matsubara, Numazu
Numazu Historical Remains
The central area of Numazu burned down in a large fire in 1926, it was devastated again by American aerial bombing in July 1945. Therefore, don't expect many historical buildings in the inner city.
A historical marker along with a few original stones documents that the grounds the River Side Hotel stands on what were in ancient times the grounds of Numazu Castle.
The castle served to protect one of the crucial river crossings of the old Tokaido, the main road between Edo (today's Tokyo) and the then Imperial City of Kyoto.
Close to the hotel, a small street is marked as having been originally part of the Tokaido, leading not only towards the river crossing but also forming the center of a pleasure quarter serving Tokaido travelers.
Today, all you can see there are parking attendants guiding delivery vans out of the back exits of the surrounding hotels.
Woodprint image of Numazu as post town on the Tokaido highway in Edo Times
While it might need quite a bit of imagination and the help of historic woodprints to appreciate Numazu in its role as one of the most important post towns along the Tokaido, the Senbon Matsubara is both historic and quite alive today.
Senbon Matsubara, sometimes also called Senbonhama Park, translates as "Thousand Pine Tree Forest".
The forest park does in fact consist today of 300,000 pine trees and is runs all along the western shore of urban Numazu, starting to the south close to Numazu Port.
The pine tree park follows the bend of the Suruga Bay Beach and is separated from the beach by a very popular walkway / bicycle path. On clear days, Mount Fuji towers right behind the top of the trees.
With the park comes a historical tale. Pine trees had been growing there for thousands of years but they were cut down during a clan war in the late 16th century.
With the trees gone, seawater frequently flooded the farmers' fields behind the coast, ruining their harvests.
Zoyo Shonin, a Buddhist monk who was also the founder of nearby Jounji Temple (in 1580), took the task on himself and began to plant pine saplings to regrow the coastal forest. One by one, he planted tree after tree. The locals quickly understood the purpose of his endeavor and joined him in his efforts.
Today, you can see a small sculpture of Zoyo Shonin planting a tree at Jounji Temple. You pass by the temple when walking to Senbon Matsubara from inner city Numazu.
Sculpture of Zoyo Shonin planting a pine tree, Jounji Temple, Numazu
Numazu Port Gate
To the south, the Senbon Matsubara and with it the Suruga Bay Promenade stretch almost all the way to Numazu Port.
Already from far away, you can spot the huge water gate at the seaside entrance to the harbor.
Dubbed the Water Gate View-O, the gate is Japan's largest flood protection gate, aimed at keeping tsunami and typhoon waves out of the harbor.
The gate features a large observation desk, providing views towards Mount Fuji as well as far out to the sea. Admission is 100 yen.
Parts of the heavy machinery inside the gate are visible, the machinery that will lower a thick metal wall down to sea level in order to keep dangerous ocean waves out of the harbor in times of peril.
Water Gate, Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture
Numazu Port Town
Numazu Port does occasionally serve large freighters, usually ships picking up scrap metal from the scrap yards nearby.
Mostly, however, it is a fishing harbor bringing in the catches from the rich fishing grounds right out on Suruga Bay, Japan's deepest bay.
Adjacent to the harbor is the Numazu Fish Market. Fish auctions, including the bidding on fresh tuna, take place on weekdays starting at 5 am in the morning. A second floor balcony makes it possible for visitors to observe the auctions. The commercial market closes down in mid-morning.
At that time, however, the fish restaurants and fish market style stores geared towards casual visitors open.
Fish restaurant street, Numazu Port, Shizuoka Prefecture
Numazu Harbor, Shizuoka Prefecture
There are some restaurants serving fresh fish on the second floor of the market building. Though the market itself is active only in the morning, those restaurants stay open all day.
The streets close to the harbor are lined with fish restaurants, serving fresh catches from the Suruga Bay. The bay is famous for its horse mackerel, chicken grunt, whitebait and the tiny sakura shrimp. All of them and much more you will find in the restaurants, though some of the fish are only available during their respective seasons.
At street market stalls, you can find, luck provided, some rather rare delicacies to take home. Like, say, whole tuna heads, already cooked in a heavy sauce. Sure, there are lots of bones but there is also a lot of delicious meat coming with them.
The Minato Shinsenkan is a market mall right next to the harbor. It features both seafood shops as well as restaurants. If you want to dine with a grand view straight out to the harbor, the Shinsenkan is the place. The mall closes at 4 pm however, so unfortunately, you can't have a sunset dinner there with the sun setting beyond the harbor.
Sunset is a very special time at Numazu Harbor. The geography of the port, jutting out into Suruga Bay, means that you will see the sun going down over the water - a rare sight on the east coast of Japan.
But it is not only that. You can see the sun disappearing into the ocean framed by the huge Water Gate. If you are lucky, a ship will travel in or out of port at the same time. It is an unforgettable view.
Fishmarket Taproom, Numazu
If you would like a really good craft beer in a friendly, lively bar after sunset, head over to the Fishmarket Taproom, right next to the harbor.
Opened in 2000, the bar was the first drinking outlet for Baird Beer, a micro brewery established by American Bryan Baird.
Presently, Baird has opened other Taprooms for his brews in Tokyo's Harajuku, Takadanobaba and other fancy locations but the one in Numazu remains the original.
Sunset behind the Water Gate, Numazu
The Kano River is a fairly wide river flowing through central Numazu. Its mouth is right next to the Numazu Fish Market Building.
The Kano River Banks make for a good walk from the Numazu Station area to Numazu Port - on the opposite side of town from the Senbon Matsubara.
In certain seasons of the year, you can also make that trip on the Ganyudo Ferryboat. The Ganyudo Ferryboat is a tiny boat, operated by volunteers dressed up as ferrymen from the Edo Period. The trip costs only 100 yen per person and it is a very pleasurable ride offering great views towards the city and Mount Fuji.
The most difficult part of the ride might be finding the boarding locations. The northern end of the ferry is just west of Ayumi Bridge (close to the River Side Hotel) in downtown Numazu. It is marked by nothing but a small blue flag on the embankment on the western side of the river.
The southern end, close to the Fish Market Building, is a bit easier to spot: besides the same blue flag, there is a table, there are two benches and a laminated boat schedule posted on a wooden board in the marshes off the Kano Riverbank walkway.
No staff is positioned at either location. The boat arrives, takes passengers and leaves. It takes a little scouting finding the departure spots. However, the ride is certainly worth the effort.
Places to stay
Numazu has a wide range of places to stay, from cheap hostels to high class hotels and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns).
These include the Daiwa Roynet Hotel Numazu, a three-star hotel, the three star Numazu Grand Hotel very close to the station, the Ermou Regency, also three star near the city hall east of the station and Cocochee Hotel also near to Numazu Station.
Sanco Inn is another good value hotel near the station.
Ganyudo Ferry arriving near Numazu Port, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture
Access - Getting to Numazu
From Tokyo Station, take the Kodama Shinkansen to Mishima Station, change there to the JR Tokaido Local Line. Numazu is only one stop from Mishima Station.
There is a small tourist information counter inside Numazu Station. Make sure to pick up the very informative free visitor booklet. It lists all major attractions and gives opening times etc. The booklet is available in English, among a number of other languages.
Numazu has a very informative tourist information website in English.
Operating between Ayumi Bridge and Numazu Port from late March to late May, middle of September to late November.
Operating days: Saturday, Sunday, public holidays
Operating hours: 9 am to 5 pm in March, April, May, September and October, 9 am to 4 pm in November.
Capacity: 12 persons
Fee (one way): adults 100 yen, elementary school students (age 6 to 12) 50 yen.
Tel: 055 931 1395 (Numazu Ganyudo Fishery Cooperative) and 055 934 4746 (Numazu City Office, Tourism and Exchange Division).
The delightful port of Heda can be reached from Numazu.
Numazu manhole cover, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture