Atsumi Hanto; away from it all
Added In: Articles › Outdoors
Atsumi peninsula is the one half of the enclosing pincers that define Mikawa Bay (the other half being the Chita peninsular). The northern side of Atsumi faces Mikawa Bay, the southern side straight out onto the Pacific Ocean. While a part of Aichi prefecture, on a map it would seem more closely associated with neighbouring Shizuoka. From Nagoya the drive may seem a bit daunting, but help is at hand with a convenient car ferry.
Access to Atsumi from the sea means a drive down to Morozaki at the tip of the Chita peninsular (no traffic and it is a comfortable 45 minutes from Nagoya via the Chita expressway). The car ferry can accommodates 45 cars, and operates 5 times a day. The trip takes around 40 minutes and you get off at Irago, the opposite point on Atsumi peninsular. On the sea, traffic congestion, road signals, random lane changers all become a thing of the past, and it is one of the best ways to get down to the area.
The main attraction of Atsumi is of course the ocean. The Mikawa bay side is more sheltered and provides good swimming beaches. The Pacific Ocean side is an open coast (next stop the Marianas!), with a beautiful long, wide, sandy beach, backed by dunes. Given that more than 50% of Japan’s coastline is covered in concrete, this is a rare treat. This coast provides some of the best surfing to be had in the Chubu region. Particularly just after a typhoon you will see streams of cars, surfboards strapped to the roof, heading down to sample the big swells generated. As with any beach, be aware of your limits in the water. The beach is long and totally open; you should be aware that rips and strong currents can be generated, and you should know how to spot them.
If you are heading to the area for an overnight stay, three campgrounds are located within a 30-minute drive of Irago. The Nisaki campground on Nisaki beach (0531-25-0276) is further up into Mikawa Bay, with a very sheltered swimming beach ideal for children. The Ebima Outdoor Activity Center (http://www.city.tahara.aichi.jp/facility/f030.html) sits on the side of a low mountain overlooking the sea, with the tents sites terraced much like mountain paddy fields. Or National Park Resort Village Irago (http://www.qkamura.or.jp/irako) has both a hotel and a camping ground (2000 yen per night per site, or around 18000 yen for a cottage that sleeps 4 comfortably). Situated in a last pine grove, this ensures plenty of shade on those hot summer days.
One of the more popular activities in Atsumi is bicycling (see end of article for where to hire). The dedicated cycling road (i.e. no more dodging those dodgy Sunday drivers!) runs for 15km along the peninsular, from Irago harbour to Akabane on the Pacific coast. Bring a backpack and lunch, rent a bike and head off down the coast. Pull over wherever you feel like having a swim, or just a laze on the beach. If you are going to be spending more than a day on the peninsular and feel like some time out from the ocean, the Kinugasa nature trail (close by the Nisaki campground) takes you up Mt. Kinugasa where the views stretch across both coasts and out over to Chita. A 4-hour hike will take you over several other peaks, but bring plenty of water in the summer.
All in all not a bad place to spend a weekend or more over the hot summer months. Get out there and enjoy.
The car ferry from Morozaki to Irago is run by Meitetsu, fares and schedules on this website. http://www.meikaijo.co.jp/
Note that there is also a car ferry service from Irago to Toba in Mie prefecture; this would make a great extended holiday. http://www.isewanferry.co.jp
Atsumi Hanto is a part of Tahara Town, They have an extensive Japanese website at
http://www.taharakankou.gr.jp and general English information at http://www.taharakankou.gr.jp/english/index.html
You can rent bicycles at various locations in Irago from around 900 yen per day.
Irago Garden Hotel 0531-35-1500
National park resort villages Irago 0531-35-6411
Irago View Hotel 0531-35-6111
Irago crystal port 0531-35-6631