advertisement

Whereas Atami is popular for its seaside setting, Shuzenji Onsen is Izu Peninsula's most famous mountain spa. Nestled in a valley and straddling both sides of a river, it has a history stretching back more than 1,200 years, when one of Japan's most revered figures in Japanese Buddhism, Kobo Daishi, discovered a hot spring here and founded Shuzenji Temple. Today, Shuzenji, home to some 16,000 residents, is a small mountain village easily navigated on foot. Most people come for a night or two, staying in a ryokan, soaking in restorative hot-spring baths, strolling along the town's narrow streets to a few historic sights, and feasting on meals featuring local cuisine. Along with Shuzenji Temple, there are several historic sites tied to the Minamoto clan, who established a shogunate government in Kamakura in the 12th century.