The central region is centered on Shizuoka City, a city of excellent convenience where you can enjoy shopping and delicious food options in the city center. To the north lie the unexplored areas of Oku-oi and the southern Japanese Alps, while the west is home to the Makinohara Plain with its vast stretches of tea plantations. The region is dotted with areas that retain the unique atmosphere of a historical post town along the old Tokaido Highway, as well as spots associated with the Tokugawa family, so you can enjoy a trip to feel the history and culture of the early modern period. If you board the Suruga Bay Ferry, which connects the Port of Shimizu to Toi Port in western Izu Peninsula, you will be able to enjoy a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji from the sea.
In terms of the food and drink, the region is well-known for its Shizuoka Tea, but its ports also boast an abundant variety of excellent seafood, such as the tuna and bonito caught along the Suruga Bay coast and hauled into the Port of Shimizu and Yaizu Port, the sakura shrimp of Yui Port, and the whitebait from Mochimune Port. The central region is a place to be enjoyed with all five senses. Read on to learn about some of its highlights.
When visiting the central region, the tourist attractions you cannot afford to miss are Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, Nihondaira Yume Terrace, and Miho no Matsubara all to be found within the borders of Shizuoka City.
Kunozan Toshogu Shrine was built by the second Tokugawa shogun Hidetada in accordance with his father Ieyasu’s will. The lacquered, colorfully resplendent shrine built in the Gongenzukuri style has been designated a national treasure.
Located in the scenic Nihondaira area that once took first place in a competition for the top 100 sightseeing destinations in Japan, Nihondaira Yume Terrace is a great spot for viewing Mt. Fuji and the 360-degree observation deck offers panoramic views of Mt. Fuji, Suruga Bay, Shizuoka City and the distant southern Alps. In addition to the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine and Nihondaira Yume Terrace, Nihondaira is also home to other popular destinations such as Nihondaira Zoo and Nippondaira Hotel, from which you can see Mt. Fuji.
Miho no Matsubara is famous for its scenic beauty where you can capture stunning views of Mt. Fuji over the sea. The superb scenery created by the green of the pine forests, the white waves lapping against the shore, and the blue of the sea have long fascinated people, and have even been depicted in ukiyo-e woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige.
S-Pulse Dream Plaza is also a great place to visit. It includes many unique shops, museums and other attractions, such as Chibi Maruko-chan Land, featuring the popular cartoon character; Shimizu Sushi Yokocho, with its many sushi restaurants; souvenir shops; the Shimizu Canned Market; the Ramune Museum; and the Shimizu Sushi Museum. With its mini-amusement park Shimizu Marina Circus, it is a commercial complex for the whole family to enjoy.
Up in the mountains, Oku-oi Kojo Station and the Bridge of Dreams suspension bridge in Kawanehon-cho Town are popular as instagrammable spots. Kawanehon-cho is known for its hot springs and Kawane Tea. A great way to get there is to take the steam locomotive operated by the Oigawa Railway. The “Kojo” in Oku-oi Kojo Station means “on a lake,” and as the name suggests, Oku-oi Kojo Station is a train station that “floats” above a lake. Get off at the station and walk along the railroad tracks while looking at surrounding mountains and the dam lake below. Before you know it, you will find yourself relaxing in body and soul, soothed by the untrodden nature around you. The Bridge of Dreams in the Sumatakyo Gorge is a much talked-about tourist destination, once selected by Trip Advisor among the world’s “top 10 suspension bridges you have to walk across before you die.” The view of the mountains, the emerald green water from the lake, and the interweaving colors of fresh, green foliage and autumn leaves is truly something to behold.
If you visit the Makinohara Plain, a major producer of Shizuoka Tea and home of the Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport, you absolutely must go and view the vast tea plantations. The endless green carpet of tea plantations shows the original landscape of Japan itself. It is also worth paying a visit to the tea-themed facilities where special products from Shizuoka Prefecture are available for purchase, such as the Tea Museum, Shizuoka; Grinpia Makinohara; and Gyokuro no Sato.
The central region is home to two of the leading fishing ports in Japan, the Port of Shimizu and Yaizu Port, so when you visit, you must try the tuna and bonito. You can go on a gourmet tour of places like S-Pulse Dream Plaza, Shimizu Kashi no Ichi market, and Yaizu Fish Center, and try a variety of lunch options such as the kaisendon rice bowl topped with fresh seafood and the magurodon rice bowl topped with tuna. Local processed products such as kurohanpen fish cakes and dried bonito flakes work great as gift souvenirs.
Furthermore, in all the world, sakura shrimp can only be caught in the waters of Taiwan and Suruga Bay, and they are brought to shore in Shizuoka Prefecture at Yui Port and Yaizu Oikawa Port. The exquisite, crispy sakura shrimp kakiage tempura is a gourmet specialty of the central region that you must try at least once. During the fishing seasons of spring and fall, it is also possible to taste raw sakura shrimp – something that’s only possible in its place of origin.
If you are planning to spend one or more nights in Shizuoka City, you should try Shizuoka Oden, which is available in many Japanese-style izakaya bars in Aoba Oden Alley, Aoba Yokocho and elsewhere in the city. Shizuoka Oden is gaining popularity as an affordable yet tasty delicacy. Its distinctive taste comes from the black broth enriched with beef sinews simmered in soy sauce and the powdered toppings made from sardine flakes and dried seaweed powder.
If you visit the central region, you should also drop by a tea cafe, where you can enjoy a beautiful cup of Shizuoka Tea with a side of tea sweets. You can try Shizuoka Tea sweets at any of the fashionable tea cafes that can be found all over Shizuoka Prefecture, the tea capital of Japan, including Nanaya, whose wildly popular Matcha gelato is said to be the most intensely flavored Matcha ice cream in the world, and Maruzen Tea Roastery, which is run by a tea wholesaler that has been in business for over 70 years.
Popular gift souvenirs from the central region include the traditional Shizuoka sweets Abekawa Mochi and Kuroyakko, the bonito-based snack Bari Katsuo-kun, the Sakura Ebino Mai rice crackers made with Sakura shrimp, and the cream-filled Marifuku Daifuku Mochi from the tea wholesaler Gashoan.