The Historical Port of Shimoda in Japan

Shimoda Japan Guide

Shimoda Japan History

The city of Shimoda in Japan may be considered as one of the most important historical sites in the country. This is due to the fact that all that has happened in its ports may have laid out the future of Japan. For instance, had the US ships of Commodore Perry skip the ports of Shimoda, the Japanese may have taken much longer to be westernized.

It is in the ports of Shimoda that negotiations had been done to allow or not allow a western country to trade with the locals. Had the Japanese government decline the offer, the country maybe really different nowadays.


By 663highland (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Westernization of Japan was an important indication of change. A conservative country starting to appreciate the wonders of foreign technology and knowledge – the Japanese was not happy at first. However, they have seen the effects that the Japanese had on the system.

Shimoda Japan Map

The port city of Shimoda is a part of the Shizuoka prefecture in Japan. It belongs to the Chubu region of the Honshu island of Japan. Its total land area is about 104 square km and has a total population of about 22,000 people.

This city is located in the east portion of the island and is closest to the Pacific Ocean. It is also located on the Izu Peninsula and is home to a multitude of paradise-like beaches. This had made it a great travel destination for summer and spring. A lot of people enjoy surfing in its beaches, swimming in the clear waters, and simply enjoying the warmth of the sun. Going to the beach is a definite change from the busy environment of major cities such as Tokyo.

Shimoda Japan Weather

The climate in Shimoda is generally temperate which means that it still experiences four different seasons in the year. On the other hand, the temperature in this place is much warmer compared to other parts of Japan. The yearly average temperature in Shimoda is roughly about 15 degrees Celsius. The city is also quite humid which means that the weather in the area is almost always rainy. Light drizzles are common occurrences especially during the months of June until October.

Getting around Shimoda Japan

Shimoda Japan Hotels

There are different kinds of accommodation available in Shimoda, there are modern luxury hotels, onsens, traditional ryokans, and even 19th-century styled-inns in the city. For instance, one of the most popular 4-star hotels in Shimoda would be the Shimoda Tokyu Hotel. Onsens and ryokans usually offer traditional Japanese accommodation. Rooms usually have tatami flooring and futons for sleeping.

It is said that it is much harder to book a room in a ryokan rather than a typical hotel room. This is due to the fact that people are after the authenticity of the experience. Booking a hotel room comes with ease but is generally just a typical experience. However, booking a room in a Japanese ryokan is sure to provide an experience travelers will not forget.


User: (WT-shared) Shoestring at wts wikivoyage [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Nearest Airport Shimoda Japan

There are a number of airports within the area that makes it quite easy to access. For instance the Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport is the nearest international airport to Shimoda Japan. It is roughly 71 kilometers away from the city center. For domestic flights, the Oshima airport is the nearest airport which s about 40 km away from the city center. Both airports can be accessed via train or bus, depending on the location a traveler wishes to lodge.

Shimoda Japan Movie Theater

There are a number of movie theaters all over Shimoda which provide entertainment to its locals. Since the city had become an extension of a US society, it is without a doubt that individuals living in the area were significantly affected. The presence of a US consulate has improved systems in Japan that there are some individuals who are not comfortable with the change. Today, movie theaters are a popular go-to place for entertainment.

Super View Odoriko

The Super View Odoriko is a part of the JR East company. It is a limited express which serves the southwestern side of Tokyo. The Super View Odoriko is like a deluxe train that takes individuals all around the Izu peninsula. It is not a subway rail so it boasts of the scenic landscapes or “super views” that can be seen during the trip. Interestingly, the sightseeing aspect of traveling is the main selling point of the Superview Odoriko.

Must eat: Shimoda Japan Restaurants


Since the Shimoda city is located on the Izu peninsula, it is without a doubt that seafood is a popular local delicacy. The Gorosaya restaurant is the best place to enjoy such great food. One of the menu favorites would be the poached kinmeda which is a type of golden eye snapper and the sashimi. The freshness of the food is the selling point of the Gorosaya.


Soba is also a popular must-eat in Shimoda and the best place to enjoy it would be in Ishitsukasobaya. They serve differently flavored soba in this restaurant, ranging from the cold kinds to the warm brothy kinds. There are also different meat toppings available where fried seafood and tempura are the favorites. Side dishes have been reported to be great as well. The restaurant is located in an old property making the entire dining experience charming and traditional. The property features tatami mats and lowered tables.


Unagi don is a popular local delicacy in Shimoda. This is a kind of grilled eel rice topping which is served on lacquered bowls. The sticky rice is delicious and sweet topped with the contrasting flavors of fishy and salty grilled eel. The best place to eat the unagi don would be in Ogawaya in Shimoda. The place is charming yet small, which is why it is important to have a reservation beforehand. The place is easily crowded and the queues to the food usually become long especially during dinnertime.

Shimoda Japan things to do

Shimoda Japan Beaches

Tatadohama Beach

Surf lovers enjoy going to the Tatadohama beach during the month of August every year. It is the time of year when the winds are strong enough to create tall, surf-worthy waves. Just like other beaches in the area, the sand is white and the water is clear.

On the other hand, compared to other beaches around the region the Tatadohama beach is quite crowded. It is difficult to get a good spot set up camp because of the number of people that flock to this beach every year. Around the area, there are also traditional ryokans that offer open-air baths which is enjoyable even in the warm weather.

Shirahama Beach

One of the most popular beaches in Shimoda would be the Shirahama beach off the Izu Peninsula. This place is well-loved by beachgoers because of its clean white sand, and pristine waters. A lot of travelers enjoy the sun and the sand, especially during the swimming seasons of July and August. It is also a popular destination for surf-lovers because of the impressive waves during the swimming season.

There are certain years that the swimming season can start as early as May when the temperatures start to rise early. There are also certain times during the last decade when the swimming season lasted as long as September.

Fumihiko Ueno [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

People who go to this place can rent cabanas, tents, and even cottages. There are hotels and inns for overnight stays. When the surf season and the swim season is near, food stalls and souvenir shops start to sprout around the area. The Shirahama beach can be accessed via bus to the Shirahama Kaigan from the Izukyu-Shimoda Station

Ryugu Park

This is probably one of the farthest tourist attractions from the city center of Shimoda, but it is worth every minute of the drive. This is due to the fact that the Ryugu park will surely give a one-of-a-kind experience.

The special highlight of everyone’s trip to Ryugu would be the collapsed sea cave. This is a cavity in the sea whose roof eroded due to the water. The opening of the cave is about 50 meters in diameter and the cavity extends a significant distance inward.

Inside the cave is some shallow water that is great for a short cool dip. While inside, visitors can enjoy the lapilli colored walls which twinkle when the lights reflect on the water. Visitors also enjoy going to the Ryugu cave because of the awesome trek it involves. The best part about this tourist attraction is that admission is definitely free!

Shimoda Floating Aquarium

The Shimoda Floating aquarium is a circular structure which is built on piers across the water. It is called a ‘floating’ aquarium because it is built over water and supported by piles to the sea floor. When the tide is high, it would look as if the building is literally floating on water. There is a pedestrian bridge from the shore to the entrance of the aquarium.

There are sea lion shows, dolphin performances, and even otter interactions. What the aquarium boasts about most of all is that it has a large water tank that is home to more than 200 species of sea life. Admission fee to the aquarium costs about 2,000 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for children. It can be accessed via a 15-minute walk from Shirahama beach.

Temples and Shrines

Ryosenji Temple

This temple is one of the most historical temples in all of Shimoda. It may be small but it had a gigantic role in the history of the world. This was where the Harris Treaty was signed in 1858. There was a time when Japan had closed off its borders against foreign traders and had limited their foreign policies on trade. This was during the Tokugawa Shogunate era. The only western country that Japan had a diplomatic and commercial agreement with was the Dutch.

On the other hand, in the late 1800s, ships of Commodore Perry arrived in the ports of Japan and demanded a diplomatic relationship with Japan. It was through the Harris Treaty that the two countries formed an agreement regarding a diplomatic and commercial relationship with each other. The Harris treaty officially allowed the US to export its products to Japan and vice versa. Because of such a history, the main hall of the Ryosenji temple had been considered as a National Historic Site.

Gyokusenji Temple

Just like the Ryosenji temple, the Gyokusenji temple also played an important role in the Westernization of Japan. The main halls of this temple served as the first US consulate in the country. This was the home of Harris, the first US consulate in Japan, even before the Harris treaty was signed. After the Harris treaty was signed, US nationals are slowly allowed entry and residence in Japan.

The Gyokusenji temple is also considered as an important site in history which is why it was given a National Historic Site title. Along the complex of the temple is a small museum dedicated to the life and works of Townsend Harris.

Historical Sites

Perry’s Black Ships

Along the port of Shimoda in the Izu Peninsula lies the models of the ‘black ships’ of Commodore Perry. He was the first US citizen to successfully request an audience to discuss the possibility of opening Japanese ports to US traders. At first he was declined, however, a year later he came back with a larger fleet of warships. These warships are known as ‘kurofune’ or black ships by the Japanese. Commodore Perry had used this to intimidate the Japanese shogunate and to push for his request once again.

Fumihiko Ueno [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

He became successful that in 1854, the Shimoda Treaty was signed. This was an agreement to allow the two ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to be open to US ships for trade and commerce. The model of black ships all over the region is a clear indication of how important his actions were to the future of world history.