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Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashi-Izu

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The Inatori district of Higashi-Izu, just two hours from Tokyo, boasts a unique tradition of hanging Hina Doll decorations, which can be viewed every year in early spring. Embark on a trip to Inatori to marvel at these displays and enjoy amazing local cuisine, ocean views, and hot springs.

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Inatori Onsen: The Birthplace of Hanging Hina Doll Decorations

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

Inatori Onsen is a hot spring town in Higashi-Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture. Reachable in about two hours from Tokyo, Inatori is famous for its traditional Festival of Hanging Hina Doll Decorations, held every year from January 20 until March 31. Amazing displays of handcrafted hanging decorations and Hina dolls are held at several venues throughout the city, including shrines and dining facilities.

If you want to go on a refreshing spring trip from Tokyo, Inatori Onsen is the ideal destination! This recommended itinerary includes visits to facilities displaying Hina Doll decorations, as well as dining facilities and hot spring ryokan.

7:57-10:12 -- Travel to Izu-Inatori Station from Tokyo

From Tokyo Station, take a Kodama Shinkansen on the Tokaido Line to Atami, where you'll be changing to a regular train heading toward Shimoda. Get off at Izu-Inatori Station. The whole trip takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and costs 5,610 yen.

We suggest leaving early in the morning, in order to spend as much time as possible exploring Inatori.

10:30-12:30 -- Tour Hanging Hina Doll Decoration Exhibits

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

The tradition of hanging Hina doll decorations started in the late Edo period (1603-1868). It was customary for wealthy families with daughters to create gorgeous displays of Hina dolls expressing their wishes for their daughters to grow healthy and happy.

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

The simple people of Inatori couldn't afford such lavish displays but, nevertheless, they wanted to express wishes for their children's happiness. So they started to craft small dolls out of pieces of cloth, which they hung on red strings and displayed in their homes. Nowadays, it's a local tradition to display these hanging doll decorations. This type of Hina doll display originates in Inatori and is the pride of the locals.

Every year, from January 20 until March 31, the famous hanging Hina doll displays can be seen at several venues throughout Inatori. We introduce three major ones below.

Inatori Cultural Park Hina Hall

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

The first place we suggest visiting is the Inatori Cultural Park Hina Hall (Bunka koen Hina no yakata). You'll be welcomed by an impressive display of beautiful hanging decorations surrounding Hina dolls.

Visitors receive pamphlets (available in English) with information on these traditional displays. You'll learn that each little doll has a particular significance; the peach-shaped decorations symbolize longevity and drive away evil spirits, the monkey-shaped ones protect from disasters, the pouch-shaped ones symbolize financial stability, and so on. All these cute handmade objects embody the parents' prayers for their daughters' happiness.

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

The Hina Hall is hosts various types of displays that show the locals' dedication and love for this beautiful tradition. In Japan, there are two other regions that have similar hanging Hina doll displays, namely Sakata in Yamagata Prefecture and Yanagawa in Fukuoka; visitors can see these on display, too, and delight in finding regional differences.

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

The facility offers a wide range of souvenirs themed around the Inatori Hina dolls - from hanging decorations to kits for making the decorations yourself, as well as tea (a famous product of Shizuoka), confections, and snacks produced locally.

Hina Hall Mukai-an

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

The Hina Hall Mukai-an can be reached in 10 minutes on foot from Izu-Inatori Station, or 17 minutes from the Inatori Cultural Park Hina Hall. This facility displays vintage Hina dolls and hanging decorations, including century-old ones from the Meiji (1868-1912) or late Edo periods (1603-1868).

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

Some of the exhibits belong to local families and have been handed down for generations. Such displays have a personal touch, being unlike any other decorations. They show the locals' creativity and ingenuity in crafting truly original ornaments.

Mukai-an is located on the seashore, near the port, and you'll be able to hear the soothing sound of the waves while enjoying the displays.

Staircase Hina Doll Display at Susanoo Shrine

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

Picture courtesy of Higashi-Izu Tourism Association

Susanoo Shrine is located uphill from Mukai-an and can be reached in less than 5 minutes on foot. During the festival period (*1), the 118 stone steps leading to the shrine are decorated with Hina dolls and hanging ornaments.

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

Picture courtesy of Higashi-Izu Tourism Association

The dolls are carefully stored each night and displayed during the day by volunteers. To reach the shrine, there is an alternative slope to the left of the main torii gate, so please don't try to take the stairs while the dolls are there!

This incredible display is truly unique and will surely become an unforgettable memory of Inatori.

*1... In 2021, the display at Susanoo Shrine will be held starting from February 20 until March 31.

13:00-14:00 -- Splendid Alfonsino Sushi Lunch at Uohachi Sushi

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

A port town, Inatori boasts a rich variety of seafood. Splendid alfonsino, in particular, is considered a local specialty. In fact, Inatori kinme is a local brand of splendid alfonsino caught in the waters between Inatori and Izu-Oshima Island. This fish tastes best in the winter and early spring months, so if you visit for the Hanging Hina Doll Decoration Festival, we strongly recommend enjoying sushi made with splendid alfonsino, or kinmedai sushi.

Uohachi Sushi is a restaurant specializing in splendid alfonsino cuisine, located right by the port of Inatori. If you order the sushi set (3,300 yen), you get an appetizer, a tasty soup made with splendid alfonsino and vegetables, and a generous portion of kinmedai sushi.

The splendid alfonsino sushi is absolutely scrumptious! The slices of fish topping the rice are large and have a smooth texture that allows you to fully enjoy the flavor of the fish. Made with fresh fish just brought in from the ocean, this might just be some of the best sushi you'll taste in Japan!

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

The interior of Uohachi Sushi is spacious, offering both counter and table seats. You can actually see the friendly sushi chefs at work over the counter. Like any establishment in Inatori, they also have traditional hanging ornaments on display.

14:00-17:00 -- Exploring Inatori

The Inatori district of Higashi-Izu is a treasure trove of beautiful sights and ocean views. Let's introduce a few recommended places and activities that you can enjoy while exploring the town on foot.

Korasshe: Local Products and Souvenirs

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

If you're looking for local specialties and products, stop by Korasshe, a shop handling vegetables, fruit, seafood, and other goods sold directly by the producers. Korasshe is located right by the port, in front of Higashi-Izu Town Hall.

Hachiman Shrine: Hanging Hina Doll Decorations

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

In the residential area by the port, you'll find the local Hachiman Shrine. The stone torii gates at the entrance date back to the Edo period (1603-1868) and the tranquil precincts of the shrine are full of charm.

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

During the early spring months, the Ema Hall of Hachiman Shrine hosts an original display of hanging Hina Doll decorations. This beautiful exhibit will make you feel how treasured this tradition is in the local community.

Fishing Boat Cruising

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

Picture courtesy of Higashi-Izu Tourism Association

A unique activity that you can enjoy in Inatori is fishing boat cruising. This 45-minute tour takes you along the shore of Higashi-Izu, including a nearby gulf with impressive 10-meter high stone structures that are considered a marvel of nature. Passengers ride on a local fishing boat and get a glimpse of local fishermen's lifestyle!

The cruise takes place every day with boats departing at 10:00, 11:00 12:00, 14:00, and 15:00. The departure point is the port area near Korasshe, right in front of Higashi-Izu Town Hall. If you're interested, make a reservation (Japanese) up to the day before your cruise date. On the day of, come to the fishing boat 15 minutes before departure time. The minimum number of passengers is four, and the maximum number is 12. The cruise fee is 3,300 yen/person.

Enjoy a Quiet Afternoon and the Sunset at the Port

Inatori is dotted with charming cafes where you can stop by for a break. We strongly recommend Jazz & Cafe Djarm12 due to its beautiful interior, tasty coffee and desserts, and excellent music.

When the sun goes down behind the mountain range northwest of Inatori, the sky turns purple and pink, its hues faithfully reflected by the ocean waters. Take a few minutes to enjoy this view in the tranquil area by Inatori Port.

After 17:00 -- Return to Tokyo or Stay Overnight in Inatori Onsen

Local trains heading to Atami leave every 30 after minutes 17:00. Change to a Shinkansen at Atami Station and you'll be back in Tokyo in about two hours.

Alternatively, consider staying overnight at a hot spring ryokan in Higashi-Izu.

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashi-Izu

Picture courtesy of Higashi-Izu Tourism Association

Inatori-Ginsuiso is a stylish ryokan where guests can enjoy exquisite kaiseki cuisine made with freshly caught seafood. The comfortable Japanese-style rooms have modern amenities. A matcha green tea service is available, so you can rest assured you'll have a truly immersive Japanese cultural experience.

The outdoor hot spring baths at Inatori-Ginsuiso are truly luxurious and allow guests to relax while enjoying the ocean and mountain views.

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

Picture courtesy of Higashi-Izu Tourism Association

Atagawa Prince Hotel, located in the Atagawa Onsen area of Higashi-Izu, is a great choice for hot spring lovers. The facility offers several types of hot spring baths, including outdoor baths, private baths, and sauna. The Japanese-style rooms are spacious and relaxing, giving guests the chance to enjoy the highest level of hospitality.

Every Girl's Dream! See Hanging Hina Doll Decorations in Higashiizu

Picture courtesy of Higashi-Izu Tourism Association

A wonderful feature of Higashiizu that can only be enjoyed by those who stay overnight is the Moon Road - a corridor of light stretching over the ocean's surface. This phenomenon can be enjoyed every month, on any night with a full moon.

Hina Doll Festival, Ocean Views, and Onsen! Visit Inatori in Spring

Inatori is the ideal destination for a relaxing trip to a tranquil town by the ocean. The century-old local traditions related to hanging Hina Doll decorations will surely leave a lasting impression; to enjoy them, visit Inatori in early spring, during the local Hina Doll Festival.

Inatori can also be enjoyed at any time of the year, thanks to its excellent hot springs and beautiful ocean views. A stroll through this charming port town will fill you with wonder and will undoubtedly become a lovely memory of your time in Japan.

To find other great places to visit in Higashi-Izu and Inatori, please check the official website of Higashi-Izu Tourism Association: https://www.e-izu.org/language/english.html

Route Summary
Tokyo Station → Izu-Inatori Station → Inatori Cultural Park Hina Hall → Hina Hall Mukai-an → Susanoo Shrine → Lunch at Uohachi Sushi → Souvenir shopping at Korasshe → Hachiman Shrine → Fishing Boat Cruise → Return to Tokyo or stay overnight

Expenses
Transportation: 11,220 yen
Lunch: 3,300 yen
Entrance fees: 500 yen
Fishing Boat Cruise: 3,300 yen

The writer visited these facilities on January 22, 2021.

Sponsored by Higashi-Izu Tourism Association

Written by

Web content editor and travel writer at MATCHA.

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