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The sweet secrets of Shizuoka

With many visitors popping by only to visit Fuji-san on a day tour, the majority of Shizuoka Prefecture is an area of Japan that is overlooked by international tourists. Such short visits to this area do a disservice to the traveller, especially if he or she is wishing to discover a more authentic and, dare I say it, more delicious side of Japan. Many guidebooks will tell you how this region of Japan is famous for seafood and if you do eat seafood you’ll thoroughly enjoy some of the freshest seafood in all of Japan here. However, after spending four days exploring the gastronomy of Shizuoka, I’ve found that the true hidden beauty of the prefecture lies within its sweet treats.

Hidden in the Amagi Mountains are some of the finest and certainly the most fun culinary delights of Shizuoka Prefecture. This is where the first sweet treats are hidden away just waiting to be discovered.

Chaki Chaki, Izu

5-1 Yoshina, Izu, Shizuoka 410-3208

Nestled on the Yoshina River is the wonderful, hidden world of Chaki Chaki. An architecturally designed mindful cafe that boasts the most delicate wagashi (traditional sweets often served with tea) that I’ve ever set my eyes on. Each wagashi is lovingly made by hand and reflects the season that it was made in, so you’ll never know what wagashi will be on offer for you to enjoy with a cup of green tea, matcha or even the Chaki Chaki special blend of coffee. Now, you may think that you need to follow the traditional Japanese way of only enjoying wagashi to celebrate a special occasion, but in my experience enjoying the wagashi on the terrace at Chaki Chaki while listening to the Yoshina River flow by is special occasion enough.

Travellers tip – If you have the time to plan your trip to Chaki Chaki well in advance then I would highly recommend that you book yourself in for a wagashi making lesson. These are extremely rare and book out in advance, but without a doubt hand making your own wagashi will become one of your most talked about experiences in Japan.

Pikiniki, Izu

2860-2 Yugashima, Izu, Shizuoka 410-3206, Japan

Have you ever wanted to enjoy a romantic picnic with gourmet food and Melbourne style coffee, all whilst being hidden amongst the mountain trees? Welcome to Pikiniki. Not only a fun name to say but an establishment offering a truly delightful afternoon of fun and frivolity. If the weather is playing nice then you can grab yourself a picnic blanket, order your lunch and sit out below the trees to enjoy the fresh mountain air. In the case of fresh mountain showers, you can also sit inside the funky cafe space and enjoy the fine food.

Travellers tip – Pikiniki serves Allpress coffee and has some of the friendliest cafe staff you’ll ever meet. There aren’t a lot of accommodation options on this side of the Amagi Mountains but just a short walk from Pikiniki is a delightful hostel as well as a bus stop.

Visit the Wasabi Fields at Joren Falls

It would be remiss of me to not mention the green glorious waterfalls, flowing fresh delicate water down to the wasabi fields at Joren Falls. Joren Falls is a must see stop in the Izu Peninsula. After a careful walk down the slippery steps, past the coal BBQ cooking freshly caught fish, you’ll enter an area of serenity and wasabi. With so much greenery you’ll be dreaming of wasabi for days to come. Now, you might be wondering why I’m suggesting that you go to a wasabi field as we’re talking about the secret sweet treats of Shizuoka but this area combines the wonders of freshly harvested wasabi with ice cream.

Travellers tip – You may have to trust my judgment on this one but trust me when I say wasabi ice cream is a must try when visiting this region of Japan. I had only ever tried what I now know is stale wasabi. Freshly ground wasabi, stirred into rich creamy ice cream is a mouth-watering experience that’s definitely worth a try. You can also grind the wasabi yourself, making the ice cream as hot or mild as you want.

Chagama, Shizuoka City

2 Chome-10-7 Takajo, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka, 420-0839, Japan

Did you even go to Japan if you didn’t drink an inordinate amount of green tea or blow your budget on amazingly rare matcha? Now I’m here to confess that I don’t have a huge love of matcha or green tea, however this last spot on my list of sweet secrets of Shizuoka is the one place that changed the way I drink my tea. Chagama is hidden in plain sight down a residential street in Shizuoka City. This isn’t exactly the easiest place to find and you really will be going off the tourist trail to explore this world of tea-licious wonder. The sweet treat here that should be on your to eat list is the shaved ice. A double delight that showcases rare Shizuoka tea in two styles – green tea and hojicha.

Travellers tip – Hojicha is a lightly roasted, slightly caramel tasting delicious take on the traditional Japanese green tea. Commonly served to children due to its lower caffeine it is an absolute wonder in any of the three styles – served as part of the shaved ice treat, a traditional tea leaf drink (served both hot and cold) or my new favourite style – as a creamy latte. Sadly I didn’t capture any photos of my hojicha latte.

Why visit Shizuoka?

There are so many adventures in Shizuoka that it was rather difficult for me to decide on which to actually share with you. Whether you are a Japanese foodie adventurer, a mountain biker or someone like me, who loves to mix all the adventures, Shizuoka has a little something to offer all travellers. If you are planning on visiting Shizuoka Prefecture I would suggest that you allow at least 3 days to visit, preferably more if you want to explore the Amagi Mountains. There is a lot to see and do in Shizuoka and the cities along the coast offer a lot for anyone, from the gourmet food traveller to the active outdoor adventurer. My trip there wasn’t long enough to pop on a bike and explore the green tea fields, but that would be the cherry on top of your sweet adventure there!

Getting around

Shizuoka is rather easy to explore. This area is an affordable and easy shinkansen ride from Tokyo or Osaka/Kyoto on the Tokaido line. There are many trains each day so you won’t have too much trouble but I would suggest that you visit a JR ticket window to reserve a seat and to ensure that you are booked onto the right train. With Tokyo being only a 90min train ride away you’ll find that there are quite a few travellers who commute to the city for work each day, and some of the trains run express between the larger cities only.

Jean is one half of the coffee loving, adventure travel couple, ‘Traveling Honeybird.’ Australia-based, you’ll commonly find Jean & James enjoying a latte on a mountain top, hiking the mountain to discover rare culinary delights.