Hiking the Jogasaki Coast: Nature Study Course (Part 1 of 2)

South of Cape Kadowaki, the Jogasaki Picnical Hiking Course becomes the Jogasaki Nature Study Course. There’s no significant difference in the nature of the trail itself–the Nature Study Course is longer, and has a few more posted signs describing the natural features of the Jogasaki Coast, but aside from the extra length, the Nature Study Course isn’t really any more difficult than the Picnical.

The Nature Study Course follows the eastern coast of the Izu Peninsula

The first time I hiked Jogasaki, hiked both courses in a single afternoon–and I did the same this May, so this virtual hike picks up where the Picnical left off–just south of Cape Kadowaki. I’m splitting this virtual hike into two because of the length and beauty of the trail, as well as the number of interesting landmarks passed along the way.

Some of the nature on the nature trail…

Like the Picnical Course, the Nature Study course weaves in and out along the coast. The ocean is never too far away to hear, and lovely coastal breezes reach even the forested sections of the trail.

Ajisai in Bloom

Early summer is ajisai (hydrangea) season in Japan, and wild ones bloom beneath the trees all along the Nature Jogasaki Study trail.

Coffee Float and Tornado Potato – the lunch of champions…

About half an hour south of Cape Kadowaki, the trail emerges from the forest at the cliffside entrance to the New York Lamp Museum and Flower Park. (That’s really its name. I have no idea why.) I haven’t actually gone inside, but the museum/flower park has a cafe with a window and outdoor tables near the entrance, so it’s possible to get a snack, or lunch, without paying the entry fee for the park itself. I’d brought a lunch for the trail, so I opted for a coffee float with vanilla soft serve and a “tornado potato” (named for its spiral shape).

Surfer entering the water near Renchakuji, with Oshima on the horizon

After leaving the museum/flower park parking lot, the trail follows the road past a surfing center and up a flight of stairs to Renchakuji, a Buddhist temple built in honor of Nichiren, the Buddhist monk who founded the eponymous Nichiren Buddhist sect, after his exile to Izu in 1261–1263.

One of the halls at Renchakuji

Just past the temple, the coast juts outward, and it’s possible to catch one last glimpse of the lighthouse at Cape Kadowaki:

Cape Kadowaki (top of frame) and the New York Lamp Museum and Flower Park (left side, visible between the tree branches)

The trail then curls through the trees and down a short hillside before arriving at a jumble of rocks that leads to a semi-hidden cove. If you look, you can just see the surf crashing up on a portion of the shore in the picture below:

The “hidden cove”

The trail runs past the cove, but a short side branch leads down to the rocks, and it’s an easy hop-skip-jump over the boulders to the secluded cove–which is one of my favorite places on the trail to take a break and watch the sea.

An excellent place to watch the waves

In fact, I enjoy it enough that I built an extra half hour into the hike so I wouldn’t have to rush.

Same cove, different angle.

I can’t be the only one who knows about the spot–after all, it’s fairly visible from the trail–but I’ve never seen another person here.

One of the many clefts in the cliffs

The unique geological features of the coast include a number of deep, natural clefts, where fingers of magma ran into the sea, solidified, and fractured as more magma flowed across and over it.

The picture above shows one of the many places where the path curls up and around a cleft in the shoreline–still close enough to see and smell the ocean, but also a lovely forest trail.

Toshima from the Nature Study Course

And with this one last glimpse of Toshima through the trees, I’ll sign off for now…but the virtual hike continues in installment #2 of the Jogasaki Nature Study Course.