I decided since I wouldn’t be traveling internationally during the summer breaks, I would take the time to explore locally. So a few weeks after summer vacation started, I searched for locations in Japan that were local, calm, by the water, great views,and had some history to it.
Enter: Izu Peninsula
The Izu Peninsula is a peninsula located in Shizuoka prefecture, which is located southwest of Tokyo. I actually had the opportunity to take the bullet train down to Atami and it reminded me of Amtrak haha. ‘Twas cute!
I originally wanted to stay on one of the Izu islands that’s near the peninsula, but due to costs, lack of lodgings, and other circumstances, I changed my mind. Thankfully, I noticed an ad for this 100-year old inn and onsen that now serves as a hostel during my research. Being that I love history and was presented with an opportunity to stay and exist within a space that is culturally, architecturally different than what I’m used to, I booked my reservation for K’s House in Ito.
I knocked off many firsts with this visit! I had never been to an onsen, which is a hot spring, and I had never stayed in a hostel. I’ll admit I didn’t do much thorough research before booking the reservation, so I had no idea what I was in store for. Fortunately, this hostel seems to be one of the best in Japan and it’s a sort of a chain (they have locations in Hakone, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and more) hostel. All of the staff were English speaking, everything was CLEAN and well kept.
The ryokan is right off a river, with views of the tree-lined path along the river. The sea and beach is one block away and the whole town is surrounded by mountains. The mountains here are my favorite!
Hopefully you guys aren’t as clueless as me when it comes to the whole onsen experience in Japan. I imagined the onsen experience to be more like a pool experience. Like, you pop into the bath, chill out, wade in the water a bit. I had no idea that the public bath experience was legit the only option to cleanse your body!
So what happens is before you step into the bath, you have to wash your body (and maybe hair if your hair-washing process doesn’t take a few hours like mine does). By this time, you will have already removed your clothes all of them and only have a towel with you. Being that the shower section is located right near the other women bathing, you are provided with a stool, upon which you will sit and wash yourself (to avoid splashing).
Now the idea that I would have to sit in a public bath naked with strangers is already a little alarming, but the fact I would have to wash my body in front of them is even more daunting! I understand it’s just a cultural difference and no one would really care because it’s so normal.
Nevertheless, I passed on that experience. I punked out!
K’s House graciously offers private baths, so I was able to wash and relax on muggy summer nights a few steps from my room without all the awkwardness. Maybe next time I’ll give it a try. . .
My intentions on coming down to Ito was to explore a different area in my new home, but I honestly just relaxed for the few days I was here and it was everything that I needed. It was an amazing and calm experience and I would definitely recommend anyone who wishes to travel down to Izu peninsula to give K’s House a try!
I know I’ll definitely keep K’s House in mind during my Japan travels. I have been side-eyeing Kyoto for my next adventure. . .