Kazuhiro Shiraishi, 66, is a guest-house manager in the Izu-kogen Highlands, a famous resort area on the Izu Peninsula of Shizuoka Prefecture. Looking out onto the Pacific Ocean, and just 90 minutes by train from Tokyo, Izu has a warm climate all year round and a gorgeous coastline dotted with open-air hot springs. Shiraishi has been working for Izu's hotels and ryokan (traditional guest houses) since age 22, and few can beat his knowledge of the region. Always full of enthusiasm to share the beauty of the area, he enjoys taking visitors to scenic spots where the prettiest flowers happen to be in full bloom.

The beauty of living in Izu is being able to visit a different hot spring every day. Yesterday I was sitting in a rotenburo (outdoor bath) that is actually in the ocean, but still has hot spring water. How magical is that? We have many of these types of hot springs on the coast. A few days ago, I drove up a mountain and soaked in a hot spring set on the side of the stream. There were huge trees around me and birds chirping.

Spending a night in Tokyo doesn't need to be expensive. I enjoy staying at a manga kissa (manga cafe) when I go to Tokyo. These cafes allow people to read comics all night, but we can also take a nap if we want to. They are the best spots to discover new things; to see what young people are interested in now. Plus they are cheaper than a hotel and more fun. They even have showers!