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Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu, Atami or Ito 2018/11/30 07:38
Hi. Having had just an awesome time in our last (12th, I think) trip in late October, we are booked for a trip from about the 9th May to the 21st, entering and leaving from Narita.

we have gotten to the point where we try to stay out of the major cities and go to the touristy onsen towns, though the drawback is that after a full day there isnt much to do so it involves quite a bit of moving around. This time I'm hoping for 2 nights in each place except maybe Atami or Ito which I will get to in a moment.

So general plan is Tokyo overnight, Chichibu for 2 to relax, Karuizawa (to break up a longer trip) overnight, Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu for 2 nights, probably Nagano overnight (again to break up a longer trip), then Atami or Ito for 4 nights or 2 nights each, and maybe the last night at Enoshima. We like the onsen ryokans but after 8 kaiseki meals in 2 weeks in our last trip if I ever see another kaiseki set out I think I'll go into shock, so we are keen on places where you can eat something simple either in or out of the hotel instead.

Now questions :
Shibu v. Kusatsu. As a relax for a couple of days, does Shibu offer a bit more than Kusatsu? On pictures it looks nicer. I understand the kusatsu water is better but I'm not so sophisticated to know the difference, and we are more inclined to potter about and look at things with the occasional onsen rather than going bath to bath, so at this stage I am in Team Shibu. Are there restaurants in town where you can get dinner?;

Atami v. Ito. Now Ito looks a bit nicer from pictures as we dont really like cities and to some extent it might be more central as a base to pop around Izu. But I'm thinking of 4 days which is a long time in a quiet town, would Atami be better as a base?

As always, any feedback is appreciated.
by Lazy Pious (guest)  

Re: Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu, Atami or Ito 2018/12/1 09:54
As a relax for a couple of days, does Shibu offer a bit more than Kusatsu?

The town of Kusatsu has more to offer than the town of Shibu. It is more lively and has more dining and shopping options (and its waters are, indeed, much more exciting). On the other hand, Shibu has a lot of side trip options, such as the snow monkeys, Obuse, Shiga Kogen and even Nagano which can all be easily reached by bus or train. There is not as much to do around Kusatsu, especially for those who rely on public transportation. As for visual beauty, I think the towns are on equal terms.

Atami v. Ito. Now Ito looks a bit nicer from pictures

Personally I think that both towns are not particularly beautiful. I personally prefer Atami because the steep terrain it is built on makes it quite unique, and many lodgings have great views over the sea. The only nice area in Ito that I am aware of is the area around the Tokaikan. I remember the rest of the city center to be just a regular city.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu, Atami or Ito 2018/12/1 10:15
I stayed in Atami recently and toured the Izu Peninsula. Transportation-wise, Atami is convenient with a Shinkansen station and also a direct line to Mishima. I don't know what other towns you plan to visit, but one place I visited was Shuzenji Onsen, which if you travel by train you go through Mishima. Shuzenji Onsen is a quiet onsen town - there is not much else beside the onsen and a temple. If you just want to just relax in onsen, I would choose Shuzenji Onsen. I visited Ito and Shimoda also. Shimoda has some historical significance and it was lots more interesting than Ito and Atami. But Shimoda is almost at the tip of the penninsula and it is not a convenient location as a hub. I personally would want to re-visit Shimoda and Shuzenji Onsen, but not Atami and Ito. So, those are the trade-offs.
by edokko101 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu, Atami or Ito 2018/12/1 11:19
Cheers for that. It sounds as though Kusatsu is more what we are wanting and maybe a few days at Shimoda. I dont mind it being less convenient as a hub as we are only likely to go to one place a day.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu, Atami or Ito 2018/12/1 18:48
The Izu Peninsula is reasonably close to Tokyo but at times feels as though it's a world away from sometimes. I'm also lucky enough to have spent a significant amount of time at Ito and have travelled to Atami a couple of times (day trips).

Atami is an example of what happens to a town close to Tokyo when you mix onsen water with rampant over-tourism. The town itself is reasonably gritty but it does have more to do than Ito.

My main problem is one of my favorite locations to stay in Japan is located in Ito - K's House Ito Onsen which is a 100 year old property which is the destination in itself which is one of the cheapest accoms of it's type in Japan. Ito has a lot to see (within bus ride) which is quite fun. Note that I would not visit Atami or Ito if your going for high quality onsen water (Kusatsu has great water though!)

https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1140
https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1388

Note that Shuzenji is also quite picturesque and I do also like Shimoda

https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-948
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu, Atami or Ito 2018/12/1 20:19
For Izu peninsula I would recommend renting a car as transportation around the peninsula isnft very good. We once stayed in a wonderful (but very expensive) Ryokan close to Izu.

You can get reasonably well by train to Izu. But for transport inside the peninsula a car was worth it. You can rent it eg in Izu or Shimoda.

Regarding Shibu onsen , yes there are options to eat out. On the mainstreet there is a izakaya which serves one of the best karage I had in years. (I donft know about Kusatsu onsen). Note that all onsen in Shibu onsen are inside. No rotenburo at least not among the public ones. I had a private tub on the roof of my Ryokan which was nice but a bit hard to get all naked in February outside. Brrrrr but bliss once in the water. Also in the public onsen I found many of them way too hot. In one occasion I couldnft even put the tip of my toe inside the water fit more than a few secs. And I am generally fine up to at least 42 C. So no idea what the temperature there was, but it felt like at least 50 C.

Enjoy your soaks!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu, Atami or Ito 2018/12/2 06:39
Thanks for those links, mfedley, they are really handy. I havent been to yokahama either so I might try to work that in.

Thanks Likebike also for the tip on a rental car. It makes sense, though I've never driven in Japan, oddly enough.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shibu Onsen or Kusatsu, Atami or Ito 2018/12/2 19:45
Hi again. I have rejigged the plan which is essentially Tokyo (overnight) Chinchibu (2 nights) Kusatsu (2 nights) Karuizawa or Nagano overnight (probably Karuizawa as we want to stock up on sobacha), Atami (one night or two), Shuzenji (one night or two depending on Atami time) Shimoda (2 nights) Enoshima 1 night. I had hoped not to be moving around as much but we did similar in our recent trip and we had no regrets, though travelling with carry on sized luggage has its drawbacks as well as big conveniences.

Last question is really whether to spend 2 nights in Shuzenji and one at Atami or vice versa. We really dont like cities at all and I am leaning toward spending the longer time at Shuzenji. Is there enough to do in town to keep some relatively quiet travellers busy for a full day? I might end up skipping Atami altogether and just visiting it from another town, i.e. 3 nights in Shimoda or Shuzenji.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

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