A daytrip visit to Hatsushima.

SoraNews24 HQ is located in central Tokyo, and we love being situated in the center of such a huge, exciting city. But even we sometimes feel like we need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, and occasionally we’ll daydream about spending for a day or two relaxing on a beautiful island, napping in a hammock in the shade of a palm tree, sipping tropical drinks, and being soothed by the gentle sea breeze and the sound of the waves.

And you know what? There’s an island where you can do all that, and if you time your transfers right, you could be there in only an hour and a half after leaving downtown Tokyo.

Hatsushima is an island in Shizuoka Prefecture, which can be accessed by ferry boats that leave from the port of the city of Atami. Atami Station, it just so happens, is a stop on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen line. The bullet train ride from Tokyo Station to Atami takes about 40 minutes. From Atami Station to the port is another 15 minutes by bus, and from there the ferry will whisk you out into Sagami Bay, arriving at Hatsushima in 30 minutes, for a total of 85 minutes on the three vehicles.

Ferries leave Atami about once an hour between 7:30 a.m. and 5:20 p.m., and sail in the opposite direction (Hatsushima to Atami) between 8 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Round-trip tickets cost just 2,800 yen (US$18), and prior reservations aren’t required, so you can even go on the spur of the moment if the mood strikes you and the ferry isn’t full (our ship had space for 868 passengers).

Hatsushima is part of Atami, but after you set sail from Atami Port, you won’t be seeing any more skyscrapers, because Hatsushima only has about 200 full-time residents. What you will be seeing a lot of, though, are lemons, since the island is said to be the first place in Japan where lemons were cultivated, thanks to its warm, subtropical climate.

▼ The “Welcome to Hatsushima” sign.

Hatsushima isn’t a big island. With a circumference of just four kilometers (2.5 miles), you can get around pretty easily on foot, and along a section of the coast is a row of restaurants run by local fishermen and their families.

Feeling refreshed and invigorated by the island atmosphere, we kept walking along the shoreline, passing by a popular photo spot, Hatsushma’s lemon-yellow mailbox.

About 15 minutes after getting off the boat, we arrived at PICA Hatsushima.

PICA Hatsushima bills itself as an “outdoor resort.” In addition to cottages for overnight stays, they also have a pool, open-air bath with view of the sea, and kids’ athletic/obstacle courses. There’s also the R-Asia area, a park/garden which non-guests of the resort can access for 950 yen that has a cafe and relaxation spaces.

Having worked up a thirst during our walk, we ordered a “lemon squash,” as Japan calls citrusy soda soft drinks…

…and since we were hungry too, we also got a Hatsushima Burger.

The blue bun is definitely eye-catching, but this sandwich is no slouch in the flavor department either. The star ingredient here is the fried saba (mackerel), which is made even more delicious when combined with the tart notes from the lemon slice.

▼ The cafe exterior

Also in the garden is a rustically picturesque giant swing

…another great photo spot in the Lemon Gate

…and some living island history, with this lemon tree that’s over 60 years old.

After leaving the garden, we decided to go check out the view from Hatsushima’s lighthouse.

At 16 meters (52 feet) high, it’s just tall enough to make us feel healthy for walking the spiraling staircase up to the top, where you can enjoy an unobstructed 360-degreee view. On clear days, you can see as far as Mt. Fuji, and the Miura Peninsula over to the east in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Since we still had some time before catching our boat back to Atami Port, we took a quick detour to visit Hatsuki Shrine, which was founded all the way back in the 14th century, and is still a place of worship for Hatsushima’s residents today.

Though it feels a million miles away from Tokyo in terms of atmosphere, Hatsuhima actually is a very doable day trip from Japan’s capital city. That said, with how much we enjoyed our time there, we imagine spending the night would be even better, especially since the island also has spots for scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing, but that’s a daydream we’re going to have to save for another day.

Related: Hatsushima official website, Atami/Hatsushima ferry schedule, PICA Hatsushima
Photos © SoraNews24
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