In the middle of Izu Peninsula south of Tokyo is the onsen town of Shuzenji, named after a temple founded 1200 years ago by Kobo Daishi (Kukai). He also reputedly founded the oldest hot-spring in the town by striking a rock with an iron bar. It was a getaway favoured by artists and intellectuals in the 19th century including Natsume Soseki. Soseki came to Shuzenji to recover from a bout of gastric ulcers. The first food he had after his long illness was rice porridge, called kayu, which moved him to write the haiku:
The taste of kayu
My insides drip with spring
Shuzenji though now exists mainly to service busloads of tourists.
Entrance to Shuzenji Temple, founded in 807 AD:
Ryokan hotels line the river:
Although it doesn’t have much to recommend it apart from the onsens, it can be a pleasant place to stroll around in the Autumn with a small bamboo forest: