Warm to the mild port city of Numazu

Located just 100 km from Tokyo, the city of Numazu, in Shizuoka Prefecture, is less than an hour’s ride away on the Hikari bullet train. Numazu merged with a neighboring city in April and today has a population total of over 211,000 and a land area of 187.1 sq. km.

Blessed by a mild climate and abundant nature, this city has beautiful ports and sweeping shorelines that are accentuated by a magnificent, dynamic view of Mount Fuji beyond. Loads of fresh seafood are caught every day from surrounding waters, prepared as superb sushi and “kaisen” seafood dishes and served at popular, famous restaurants dotting Numazu Harbor. The warm weather also contributes to the cultivation of a wide variety of produce, such as the city’s famous mandarin oranges and Japanese tea that are shipped throughout the nation.

Representative of places of interest, View-O is recommended to those seeking to get an aerial view of the entire city and the surrounding landscape. As one of the largest water gates in Japan, View-O links the port of Numazu with the outer sea, protecting the populated 50-hectare area from tsunami. The 360-degree panoramic view from this 30-meter observatory is truly spectacular, offering glimpses of Mount Ashitaka, Mount Fuji, the Southern Alps down to the city of Shimizu on a clear day, the steep peaks of Hakone and the Numazu Alps, the Ganyudo shore just below, as well as Osezaki Cape, located on the tip of Suruga Bay.

Another location ideal for walking or jogging is the Senbon Matsubara (Forest of One Thousand Pine Trees), a natural pine forest park. It was renowned in the Edo Period, around 400 years ago, as the best scenic spot along the Tokaido Route, which linked Nihonbashi in the capital city of Edo (today’s Tokyo) with the old capital city of Kyoto. The natural combination of pine trees, Mount Fuji and the setting sun beyond the sea is breathtakingly beautiful.

Mount Kanuki, popular as a casual hiking spot, is a 193-meter mountain located southeast of Numazu City. The view from the observatory at the summit of the mountain is enchanting, especially in spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The pink haze surrounding the five-storied pagoda, as well as the view of the city, Mount Fuji and the Southern Alps, is truly photogenic. Also rich in wildlife, this is an ideal location for bird-watching.

Another place of interest is Awashima Marine Park, the aquarium located on Awashima Island. An overhead ropeway shuttles visitors to and from the park, which has dolphin and sea lion shows.

A popular facility, especially among families with children, is Mito Sea Paradise. The dynamic dolphin shows even feature sea otters, seals and killer whales, jumping and performing according to the shrill whistles of the trainers, with the whales giving the trainers rides on their backs.

As a regular autumn event, the Japan Arts Festival in Numazu 2005 will be held from Oct. 1 until Nov. 17 at the historic Numazu Goyotei Memorial Park (Numazu Imperial Villa Park), comprising the Imperial villa built in 1893 for Emperor Taisho and the Nishi Fuzoku-tei, its west wing building. The Imperial villa has been open to the public since 1970.

The Goyotei noh stage will be decorated with bamboo installations arranged Sogetsu-style, adding aesthetic beauty to the profound classical theater. On the night of Oct. 4, the noh play “Kurama Tengu” will be performed on the stage, featuring Japan’s representative noh actor, Rokuro Umemiya. Tickets are available by calling (055) 964-1300.

During the festival, shows of kimono from the Imperial era, as well as of the 12-layered “juni-hitoe” kimono and decorative long-sleeved “furisode” kimono, will also be held Oct. 1, featuring local women as models. The world-famous Jia Peng Fang and the soothing, echoing sound of his two-stringed Chinese violin will fill the hearts of the audience at his concert Oct. 3.

On Oct. 7, Kuniko Fukushima will give a special concert with a “suikin-kutsu,” the century-old water drainage mechanism placed beside washing basins in Japanese gardens, which gives a distinctively clear, healing sound.

For more information, call the Numazu Tourist Information Center at (055) 964-1300.