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Image: Vicki L Beyer
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Jogashima: A seaside day trip from Tokyo

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By Vicki L Beyer

Tokyo residents and visitors to the city alike often seek a break from the urban jungle in the form of day trips out of the city. And what better respite can there be than a trip to the seaside? A fishing village and a rocky shoreline is an ideal escape: easy walks, fantastic scenery and fresh fish for lunch.

Jogashima, at the tip of Kanegawa Prefecture’s Miura Peninsula, less than two hours from the heart of Tokyo, is a perfect such getaway. The Miura Peninsula forms the western side of Tokyo Bay. While the convenient Keikyu train line has rendered much the peninsula within commuting distance to Yokohama and Tokyo, farther down the peninsula is more rural and remote. At the tip, life is dominated by farming and fishing.

The Keikyu line runs between Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station and Misakiguchi Station, toward the bottom of the Miura Peninsula. There is an express that makes the trip in just 75 minutes. From Misakiguchi, visitors can catch a bus to the fishing village of Misaki, just 15 minutes away. Check at the Keikyu office of your departing station, as the line regularly offers one or two day “free tickets” that provide a round trip train ride and unlimited use of Keikyu buses on the peninsula. These can be an economical, and convenient, option.

Misaki can be bustling or sleepy, depending on the day and time of your visit. In either case, the waterfront is the place to be. Various shops and eateries can be found facing the marina and in the labyrinth of narrow streets behind them. There’s always some quirky little shop to check out.

The marina is home to a number of fishing boats; along one arm is the Urari Market, a large marine center where visitors can peruse offerings of various fresh and frozen seafood. The principal catch is tuna, but there are plenty of other choices as well. Of course, the day is young, so making a purchase to take home is unlikely. You will have other opportunities.

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Misaki Port is home to a number of fishing boats. Image: Vicki L Beyer

Small ferries regularly run between the marina and Jogashima island, just a few minutes across the water. The bus service continues to the island via the Jogashima Ohashi bridge, but a stop at the marina and the short ferry ride is a much more atmospheric way to approach.

Once on the island, the serious exploration can begin. Follow the street lined with shops and restaurants straight south across the island to the shore, or meander along various walking paths to the right (the far western end of the island).

Getting lost along the way is part of the fun but Jogashima is a small island, so it’s impossible to get too lost.

Be sure to check out each restaurant along the way, in order to make an informed decision about lunch when you’re ready to eat. The restaurants lining this street, and the couple perched above the shoreline in the southwest, serve the freshest seafood (especially whitebait and tuna) and are the best meal options you will find.

If you’re into the various flavors of soft ice cream cones available in Japan, there is even a stand selling whitebait (shirasu) soft ice cream cones. It advertises the benefits of the extra calcium added by the whitebait.

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Whitebait soft ice cream cones are a special treat on the island. Image: Vicki L Beyer

Allow yourself a deviation to climb up to the Jogashima Lighthouse, perched high above the street of restaurants and shops. There has been a lighthouse on this spot since the 1870s. Not only is the lighthouse itself an interesting structure to study, its high vantage point offers expansive views.

The island’s southern shore, once you reach it, consists largely of black volcanic rock, washed by centuries, if not millennia, of wind and waves. Avid anglers find this a great place to put a line in.

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The Jogashima shoreline is also a popular fishing spot. Image: Vicki L Beyer

Explore the western tip of the island first, perhaps before lunch, since it is the closest and can be covered in the shortest time. In winter, when the skies are clear, it is often possible to see Mount Fuji in the distance.

Eventually, head east along the island’s southern shore. Scrambling along the rocky shoreline to enjoy the dramatic scenery is one of the highlights of a visit. You never know what you might find in the tide pools, or even tossed onto the rocks by the tide. This area is a busy sea lane.

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Stop to explore tide pools along the way. Image: Vicki L Beyer

For those who prefer an easier stroll, there is often shingle and even sand just a bit further inland.

As you head east down the coast, you will be drawn toward a keyhole of light in a rocky outcrop in the distance. This is Umanose (horseback) Cave. It isn’t so much a cave — although it probably once was — as an arch carved into the rocks by erosion. The aperture is about eight meters high and six meters wide. It is one of the most popular spots along the Jogashima shoreline, for obvious reasons. Visitors can walk up to it, but are not permitted to walk through it or across the top as it is deemed too dangerous.

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Umanose Cave is a keyhole in the rocks created by erosion. Image: Vicki L Beyer

Instead, there is a concrete staircase here to allow visitors to head up to the ridge above the “cave” and then continue on a well-groomed trail through the brush along the ridge top. It is signposted to show the distance to continue east or return to the western end of the island.

The eastern one-third of the island is parkland, known as Jogashima Park. It is home to a second, more modern lighthouse that not only helps ships find the entrance to Tokyo Bay but also warns them of dangerous rocks lurking in the shallow waters just offshore. The area of the park is a popular breeding ground for cormorants during the winter months.

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Jogashima Park and Awazaki Lighthouse dominate the eastern end of the island. Image: Vicki L Beyer

It is possible to see the southern part of the Boso Peninsula (Chiba) on the other side of Tokyo Bay from much of Jogashima Park. There are a few concrete paths through the rocks once the landscape permits walkers to descend from the ridge. If you decide to explore that far, add a couple of hours to your excursion. Unless you want to return through a rather ordinary residential area on the northern side of the island or hunt for the Hakushuhi-mae bus stop near the base of Jogashima Ohashi, returning along the same trail you came on is the best (and certainly a pleasant!) option.

Perhaps that whitebait ice cream is your reward for returning safely to the west end of the island!

The bus stop to catch the bus back to Misakiguchi station lies in a large parking lot area between the street of restaurants/shops and the ferry pier with two or three buses an hour, making it a simple matter to return to the city after this get-away.

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To find the bus stop, look for the vending machine that resembles a bus. Image: Vicki L Beyer

Vicki L Beyer, a regular Japan Today contributor, is a freelance travel writer who also blogs about experiencing Japan. Follow her blog at jigsaw-japan.com.

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