I lost count of the number of times I have travelled to this part of Shizuoka but probably at least 30 times in the past 10 years. Whenever the weather forecast says it’s going to be a beautiful sunny day, my first instinct is to make a day trip to this area.
Nothing beats seeing Mt Fuji unveil herself as we drive along the Tomei highway. Especially during this time of the year, you see her with the snow-capped top, which is almost the default image of Mt Fuji.
I will share some of my favourite stop-overs for this kind of day trip and it has never failed to disappoint even after repeating the same itinerary so many times.
We rented a car and started our journey from Tokyo at 8am. It is a 2 to 2.5-hour ride using the Tomei highway. Depending on your luck, there may be slight or heavy traffic jams along with some parts of the journey, but I think even with jams, we managed to get to our first stop under 3 hours.
You want to get that fresh fish bowl at super affordable cost? Then it’s a no-brainer to visit the restaurants at Numazu Port. Among all those restaurants, there’s only one that we will visit all the time.
Uogashi maruten (魚河岸 丸天)
This restaurant started as a soba restaurant in 1966, and eventually evolves into the seafood restaurant as we know today. Serving the local fish delicacies, you will definitely get more than what you are paying for. If you are like me who loves raw whitebait (shirasu), then this is the place to go.
I don’t think I have seen English menus for this restaurant but their selling dishes come with pictures so it will help with the ordering. They do get crowded for a long time around lunchtime, so if you can go just before 11am, I think there should be no waiting.
Numazu Minato Shinsenkan
In the same area, you can enjoy some shopping for local foodstuffs and snacks too. You can enjoy some “good BGM” playing in the mall to promote this beautiful area too. LOL!
Compared to 10 years ago, we see more tourists visiting this place in recent years probably due to more TV exposures and the power of anime. (Maybe because of the song too!?)
There is a shop we really like to visit and order their fried deep-sea fish called greeneye (mehikari). In recent 2-3 years, it has become an otaku-haven mostly for fans of this anime called “LoveLive“. I guess probably Numazu was featured in one of the anime episodes that attracted a lot of fans to visit. Good marketing!?
While you are still in the same area, you can also pay 1,200 JPY per pax for a 30-minute cruise around the bay area.
You can enjoy some up-close and personal feeding time with the seagulls if you just buy a pack of Calbee prawn crackers. It’s amazing how these seagulls will fly very close to the ferry but never enter the deck.
Numazu Deepsea Aquarium
It makes sense to have a deepsea aquarium here since it’s located at Suruga Bay. At 2500 metres, Suruga Bay is the deepest bay in Japan. It also has a rare collection of coelacanth exhibits, which are considered as living fossils.
Gotemba Premium Outlets
Gotemba Premium Outlets is where you can shop with a world-class view of Mt Fuji. Opened in 2000, featuring over 200 stores from luxury brands to household brands, for shoppers, you can literally spend a whole day here in their East and West zones.
Guess what? They are opening a South zone and a new hotel with hot springs in spring 2020. Not only more shopping but they also want you to stay there and shop for days. 😛
Unagi – a must-try in Mishima
Here in Mishima, there’s a very famous and popular unagi restaurant called Sakuraya. You can smell them grilling the eel from a distance away. I always wonder why it tastes so different from the other restaurants. Apparently the secret lies in the waters from Mt Fuji. (Sorry the site is in Japanese only…)
They are open from 11:00 to 20:00 but usually, we go there for dinner which starts at 17:30. It is recommended to make a reservation since they will close once they run out of the eel. I guess if you can go first thing in the morning, no reservation will be fine too.
Other interesting stop-overs
If you are driving, you can also stop-over at 2 other places to have a look at the local foodstuffs and also eat at their restaurants.
One is Izu – Mura no eki (伊豆・村の駅) where you can buy vegetables, fruits, fishes and meat from the local farmers. We love the vegetables here since they are always so fresh and priced reasonably.
Another is the Panorama Park where you can take the ropeway to the mountain top to enjoy a good view of Mt Fuji and the surrounding landscape of Izu. Even though we didn’t go this time, it’s definitely recommended to visit!
We returned to Tokyo around 8pm after getting a lot of power charge from Mt Fuji, good air, good water, and good food. I’m sure we will be back again around Spring next year!