The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

The Real Life Izu Peninsula and Birthday Camping, Seaside-style: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ 2, Part III

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart” –Confucius

While Rin was denied the opportunity to camp in and explore Izu Peninsula during the New Year’s, circumstances have shifted, allowing Rin to accompany the Outdoors Activity Club to the Izu Peninsula for the biggest camping adventure seen in Yuru Camp△. Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島, Hepburn Izu-hantō) was formed from Philippine Sea Plate, Okhotsk Plate and Amurian Plate meeting in a triple junction, creating intense tectonic activity that results in volcanism and frequent earthquakes. Izu Peninsula is home to a number of fictional series; Amanchu is set on Izu’s eastern edge, and Koji Suzuki’s The Ring (along with the film adaptation) uses Izu’s remote but stunning natural beauty as the backdrop for a series of terrifying events. Although perhaps iconic for its setting in The Ring, the actual Izu Peninsula possesses none of the terror – it is a prefecture famous for its hot springs and natural features, which drives tourism, as well as wasabi production. With a population of some four hundred and seventy-three thousand people, and covering an area of 1421.24 km², it is here that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club have their grandest experience yet, which has spanned three whole episodes so far. While Izu itself has a surface area nearly six times larger than the largest search space I’ve looked at for Yuru Camp△, the mountainous topography, narrow coastal roads and limited pathing options, together with the fact that Yuru Camp△ 2 has been very kind with showing routes and destinations, has meant that for this location hunt, finding the exact places that Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi, Ena, Minami and Akari visit has presented no trouble at all. With virtually every spot well-covered by Google Maps, it became trivially easy to tread along the same paths and marvel at the same sights that this close-knit group of friends experiences on their adventures when the information in Yuru Camp△ 2 is so complete, and the Oculus Quest’s capabilities are used to further augment the rate at which things can be found. Using the full immersion that the Oculus Quest provides, the peninsula’s beauty is apparent as I travelled along the virtual representation of Izu’s coastal highways and mountain trails. In this post, then, the aim is simple enough: as with previous location hunts, my aim is to share the locations seen in Yuru Camp△ 2, and provide an adequate amount of detail so that folks can appreciate the effort than went into Yuru Camp△ 2. I am aware that location hunting with Yuru Camp△ is a popular activity; I do hope that this post is able to help folks find what they seek, and perhaps, even use this post as a starting point for planning out their own trip to Izu Peninsula.

  • I’ll open with a stretch of road Rin travels along during the first leg of her Izu Peninsula tour and assure readers that most of the remaining destinations in this post will be more exciting than various stretches of road. To share a bit of a story for fun: when I was younger, 半島 always gave me trouble: it translates directly to “peninsula”, but breaking the word apart, 半 (jyutping bun3, Hepburn han) means “half”, and 島 (jyutping dou2, Hepburn with the on’yomi reading) is island. Hence, my interpretation of 半島 was “half-island”. When I first visited Hong Kong at the age of four, the reading of Kowloon Peninsula (九龍半島, jyutping gau2 lung4 bun3 dou2) would always confuse me, since Kowloon wasn’t an island by any definition, and I struggled with the idea of what a “half-island” was until learning it was equivalent to a Peninsula.

  • While Rin’s soaking up a variety of geospots around the northwestern side of Izu, the Outdoor Activities Club travels down route 414 from Yamanashi into the heart of Izu, passing along the Michi-no-eki Amagi-goe roadside stop. There’s a small market here, Amagi Wasabi no Sato,  that the the Outdoor Activities Club stop by to get some wasabi ice cream: because of Izu’s climate and soil, the peninsula is well-suited for growing wasabi plants, and there’s actually a small field by the shop that grows wasabi. Visitors can even pick wasabi for themselves here; while the Outdoor Activities Club don’t see many geospots on their first leg of the journey, wasabi is an integral part of the Izu experience, so I felt that such a visit would be a reasonable tradeoff.

  • Fourteen minutes and 10.4 kilometres south of Amagi Wasabi no Sato is the Kawazu Nandaru Spiral Bridge, a feat of engineering that was completed in 1982 in order to ascend a steep mountain passage where building switchbacks was not possible. Because of the tight turn, the speed limit here is restricted to 30 km/h, and the total road distance this spiral bridge covers is 1100 metres to accommodate for a 45 metre elevation difference between road surfaces. As Yuru Camp△ 2 indicates, it’s certainly a fun experience for drivers and passengers alike.

  • While Chiaki and the others are riding the Kawazu Nandaru Spiral Bridge, Rin visits Ryugu Sea Cave, which is located a stone’s throw (7.1 kilometres down the shortest route, totalling about 12 minutes) from their rendezvous point. The Izu Peninsula isn’t particularly large, but Yuru Camp△ 2 demonstrates that there’s no shortage of natural attractions and local specialties to check out; it’s taken a full three episodes to even scratch the surface, and there’s still a few more spots Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club have on their itinerary for their last day. In this location hunt post, I’ve opted to show locations in order simply to keep things consistent.

  • At the parking lot for Ryugu Sea Cave, the shadows cast by the morning light shroud half of this frame in shadows. At this hour in the morning, Rin has the entire place to herself: only her moped is visible from this position, and to the left is the Healing Dragon, a small rental bungalow that acts as accommodation for visitors. It is across the street from Ryugu Park and features a full kitchen, barbeque pit and a washing machine. However, in order to make use of these facilities, one must register for a Healing Dragon membership, which is 1000 Yen per person.

  • As Rin discovers, the Ryugu Sea Cave is absolutely beautiful: originally an enclosed cave, the terrain above collapsed, creating a forty-metre wide opening that allows for the cavern to be fully illuminated. From the sky, Ryugu Sea Cave looks like heart, and so, is counted as a power spot, a place where nature is especially sublime and wondrous, sufficiently to recharge one’s spirits, hence the moniker. There are equivalent spots here in Canada: Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Maritime provinces, have especially beautiful coasts, and the Bay of Fundy’s features are world-famous for their beauty.

  • After Rin meets up with everyone, the group heads on over to Shimoda’s Ra-Maru, a restaurant that serves some of what locals consider to be the best burger this side of Japan: their iconic Shimoda burgers comes with a gigantic slice of camembert cheese on top of the regular cheese slice, which, in conjunction with the sauce and generous helping of fried Alfonsino, is said to create a flavour experience that’s out of this world. While the burgers themselves are 1100 Yen (about 12.59 CAD), a full meal with a drink and side of fries or onion rings costs 1500 Yen (17.17 CAD). On the topic of burgers, I have mentioned that I am a bit of a burger connoisseur (although not to the same extent as poutine!), and my favourite burgers combine ingredients that play well together and super-combine for a veritable flavour explosion.

  • If and when I’m asked, the best burger in town for me is Kilkenny’s “Stuffed Bacon Cheddar” burger, a mouth-watering tower of bacon and cheddar cooked into the half-pound patty, paired with a fried egg, mango avocado salsa and back bacon. With this being said, I don’t see it on their menu anymore, and it’s been some four years since I’ve visited Kilkenny’s, so it is possible that the burger has been retired from the menu. Back in this location hunt, I’ve taken a few steps back here to show Ra-Maru from a different angle, to include the remainder of the building, which also houses a tourist centre, museum and seafood restaurant. Just visible in both the real life and anime incarnations are concrete pillars: the main floor is used as a dedicated parking space that Minami and Rin make use of, chosen for its proximity to Ra-Maru: the services and amenities here make this a solid place to act as a starting point for exploring Shimoda and its surroundings.

  • After lunch, the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin head into town to pick up ingredients for dinner. They pass over the Inouzawa River on Route 135: here, the cables for the Shimoda Ropeway, a cable car that takes visitors to an observation deck 156 metres up. The cable car runs every quarter hour and takes three-and-a-half minute one way; the sights up here are supposed to be great, especially when flowers are blooming, and there’s also a Buddhist shrine at the top of the mountain (Aizendo), but this isn’t a part of the Outdoor Activities Club or Rin’s itinerary.

  • Instead, for groceries, the group swings by MaxValu by Aeon. As the sign out front indicates, this supermarket is open twenty-four hours a day and has a solid selection of fruits and vegetables, everything that Aoi and Nadeshiko need to whip up their evening meal for their first night. In Yuru Camp△ 2, the store is called MaxPower, but otherwise, matches its real-world equivalent right down to the “open 24 hours” sign out front. However, it appears they’ve swapped out the Mister Donut place for what looks like a substitution for Starbucks. Incidentally, donuts are very popular in Japan, to the point where the only country on earth with both a larger number of donut shops and donuts consumed per capita is my homeland, Canada.

  • Manpo is a seafood restaurant and market rolled into one, being the place that the group stops at to pick up seafood for their evening meal. Located seven minutes (3.5 kilometres) east of MaxValu Izushimoda by car, Manpo (Manpuku in-show) is not mentioned by name in Yuru Camp△ 2, but finding it proved unexpectedly straightforward: I knew that Minami and the others had a short car trip between the MaxValu and Manpo. Further to this, Manpo was located prior to the group’s stop at Cape Tsumeki. Doing a search for seafood restaurants in the area quickly narrowed down the candidate locations, and Manpo was a perfect match. Visitors typically do as the gentleman does, sitting down to enjoy the charcoal-grilled seafood and excellent service. Minami is tempted to join, but ultimately, her students persuade her to keep going.

  • I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Google Street View extended down to the foot paths at Cape Tsumeki, a geospot renowned for its narcissus flowers and tranquil beaches. In March, Nadeshiko and the others won’t be able to see the narcissus flowers, and it’s a little too early for swimming, but the landscape remains inviting for a walk. With Street View available to me, I dropped onto the path on the grassy plains and traced it to Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s first stop, Tsumekizaki Lighthouse.

  • Tsumekizaki Lighthouse is perched at the edge of a cliff, creating a scene that’s simultaneously beautiful and melancholy: it does feel like the edge of the world here. A short way from the lighthouse are a collection of hexagonal rocks called the Tsumezaki Columnar Joints. Reminiscent of Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, volcanic activity caused the formation of columnar basalts, which form their distinct hexagonal patterns when thick lava flows cool quickly, causing vertical fractures to form. While exploring Cape Tsumeki, Minami learns that camping on the beaches here is actually prohibited.

  • With Cape Tsumeki done, and their problem of finding a new campsite solved, the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin head next to the Hosono Plateau. Like Manpo, finding this distinct-looking tunnel carved into the cliff adjacent to the coast initially seemed a daunting task, since I’d have to trace through some 17.5 kilometres of coast to find it, but as it turns out, traits in the landscape allowed me to locate this spot without too much difficulty. Google Street View shows that the drive along route 135 would be an immensely enjoyable one, and I am immediately reminded of Taiwan’s Provincial Highway 11, which travels along the island’s eastern edge between Taitung and Hualien and had similarly stunning views where the coastal highway would hug sheer cliffs that dropped into the ocean below.

  • The narrow coastal highway widens by the time it reaches Kawazu, a town located in a valley. This town will serve as an important intersection when the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin return here on their second day, but with their destination, they pass through the town and head for Inatori, which is where the road leading to Hosono Plateau is located. Here, a faint haze can be seen in Yuru Camp△ 2, and more impressively, Google Street View displays smoke in roughly the same spot. It is not lost on me that C-Station could have thoroughly researched most of their locations with Google Street View alone if they so chose: the amount of detail is impressive, and equipped with the Oculus Quest, I was able to replicate the drives with near-perfect accuracy to what Yuru Camp△ 2 presented.

  • Here, the Outdoors Activity Club and Rin reach Hosono Plateau Tree House Village, a delightful campground located a short 3.8 kilometres north of Inatori. Featuring actual tree-houses and nestled in a forest, visitors report that this campground is a particularly pleasant one. The managers are very attentive, the facilities are well-maintained, and the location makes it suited for stargazing. Not shown in Yuru Camp△ is the fact there’s a golf course adjacent to the Tree House Village.

  • This segment of the drive reminds me a great deal of Bragg Creek, a hamlet half an hour west of the city situated at the confluence between the creek the hamlet is named after and the Elbow River. Bragg Creek boasts to have the freshest air this side of Alberta, and is located in a forested area. As Minami and Rin travel down this road, the vegetation thins, and soon, the forests give way to wide open fields.

  • The grassy plains of Hosono Highland are located just a few hundred metres from the Tree House Village: the area is evidently windy, as there is a wind farm just on the hill. Known as Kawazu Wind Farm, this installation belongs to Eurus Energy, a Japanese company dedicated to clean energy production with wind and solar farms in five continents. Kawazu entered operations in May 2015 and generates 16.7 MW of energy. Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s final destination lies close to the wind farms, being the Mount Musujiyama trail that takes viewers right to the summit in fifteen minutes. Because Google Street View doesn’t extend far enough, I’ve chosen not to provide screenshots of the view from the summit.

  • The general rule for my posts are that I can only showcase locations retrieved from Google Street View or Google Places: this is to remain as faithful as possible to my Oculus Quest-only searches: for the foreseeable future, I would not count it a responsible decision to put boots on the ground for the sake of a few more photos and comparisons, and to be as fair as possible to readers, I’ve restricted my location hunts to what is available to everyone. Here, I’ve fast forwarded a little, after the group prepares to head to their campsite. According to Google Maps, to reach this spot, one will need to undergo a 44.5 kilometre drive that cuts across Izu’s mountains along route 15 on a lonely road. The intersection above is indeed located two kilometres from their destination, in the town of Nishiizu.

  • After Minami gives the girls the go-ahead to find an onsen (on the condition that it be nearby and close to the campsite so Rin doesn’t freeze or fall asleep from the drive), the group stops at Dōgashima. There are three hotels here home to onsen, making it easy to determine that Seiryu Hotel is where the girls go to unwind after a long day’s drive. With beautiful views from each room (in addition to the bath) and friendly staff, Seiryu Hotel accommodates English speakers and is located mere minutes away from Dōgashima, as well as the Sanshirō Island Tombolo. From here, Camp Koganezaki is an eleven minute (eight kilometre) drive to the north. I’ve got no comparisons of Camp Koganezaki simply because by the time Rin and the others arrive, it’s dark (and darkness makes it difficult to really pick out details in comparative screenshots).

  • Instead, I will jump ahead to Sawada Park, which is located on the northern side of Nishiizu and offers a gorgeous view of the sea. The smooth rocks at the edge of the parking lot are reminiscent of the hoodoos in Southern Alberta and were presumably formed by erosion. However, the scenery isn’t the main attraction: there’s an open-air bath here that costs 600 Yen for adults. While the baths are tiny, only allowing four to five occupants at a time in their calcium and sodium sulfate waters, the view is unmatched: in March and September, the sunset lines up perfectly with the baths, creating a one-of-a-kind experience. When Rin arrives in the morning, it’s much too early for such a treat, but in exchange, she’s early enough to have the whole place to herself.

  • Google Street View does offer viewers a chance to climb onto the footpath at Sawada Park and check things out for themselves, which was a fantastic experience within the Oculus Quest: I was able to drop myself to the same spot Rin passes through without any difficulty. It is amazing that some places do have complete Google Street View coverage, whether they be smaller parks or the interior of museums: Indoor Street View has made it possible for me to explore locations that would otherwise require an in-person visit, and it was with such coverage that I was able to get the images needed for Tsukuba’s JAXA Space Centre Exhibition Hall for my Koisuru Asteroid location hunt. I do note that while the technology exists, there is no substitute for being there in person: I imagine that this technology is primary intended to give visitors an idea of a spot’s layout and help out in planning out group excursions.

  • For brunch the next morning, Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club hit Dōgashima Dining Hall, a seafood restaurant just north of Nishiizu, twelve minutes south of Camp Koganezaki. Despite its unassuming appearance, Dōgashima Dining Hall has a pleasant atmosphere and delicious fare: the fish is supposed to be amazing. When I watched the twelfth episode of Yuru Camp△ 2, I hadn’t bothered to locate this restaurant, but now that I’ve found it, I can identify what everyone has. It appears that Aoi ordered the 俺のぶっかけ丼 (Hepburn ore no bukkake donburi), a delicious rice bowl with sashimi and egg. Minami’s gone with the 地魚刺身定食 (Hepburn jizakana sashimi teishoku, literally “Local fish sashimi set meal”). Akari is seen eating tokoroten (a sort of jelly made from seaweed); Dōgashima Dining Hall offers all-you-can-eat tokoroten with every meal, serving it with either black honey or vinegar and soy sauce.

  • Dōgashima itself has a striking coastline, and here, the group visits the hiking trail surrounding the Dōgashima Sea Cave: similar to Ryugu Sea Cave, erosion and weathering eventually caused a segment of the land to sink and collapse into the caverns below. While Chiaki mentions it’d be nice to hop right in to cool off during the summer, and Rin counters that there’s probably no way out. In reality canoe tours are offered, allowing one to actually get into the flooded caverns below to see the natural skylight. There’s a dock near the parking lot where visitors can register for the cave tour. While Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club don’t do such a tour, they do make use of the hiking trail to take in the unique scenery at Dōgashima.

  • Sanshirō Island displaces the onsen-enjoying capybaras as the most long-awaited destination for Akari: it’s located ten minutes north of Dōgashima on foot (totally 650 metres of road distance), and this island chain consists of three islands (Denbei, Nakano, Okinose and Taka). While there are no grilled meat vendors here per Aoi’s suggestion, the site is incredibly beautiful, and at low tide, enough of the water recedes so that one could walk to the islands without getting their feet wet. I imagine that Akari and the others arrived a little before the tide was lowest (one hour before and one hour after low tide), so they ditch their shoes and wade across. As Yuru Camp△ 2 states, the islands are so-named because depending on the perspective, there are either three or four islands.

  • With the list of geospots to visit for the day finished, the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin head back into Nishiizu to pick up some ingredients at Food Store Aoki, which is located right beside Nishina River. Rin and Minami had actually passed by Aoki earlier en route to Seiryu Hotel, so it makes sense for the group to swing by here for groceries. Visitors note that while things are a little pricier here, the quality and selection is solid, so the Outdoor Activities Club have no trouble finding the materials they need to whip up an impressive birthday dinner for Aoi and Nadeshiko at Aoki before heading off for their final destination of the day: Darumayama-Kogen Campground.

  • The route that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club take to reach the campground is the same one that Google Maps recommends: they travel back up Route 136 past Camp Koganezaki and make a right onto Route 410. This particular crosswalk is located near a fork between the Ugusu and Ohisasu rivers – it is quite unremarkable save for the fact that it took a little bit of effort to locate. In this location hunt for Yuru Camp△ 2, I’ve chosen not to go with too many road shots because there’s also a considerable number of attractions to highlight. With this being said, the attractions and stops are generally easy to find, since they’re named after their real-world counterparts or offer identifying characteristics. Conversely, various stretches of road require a bit more patience to find and may not always allow for the most exciting of remarks to be made.

  • With this being said, every location for a location hunt post, I’ve found independently using only Google Maps, Google Street View and the Places API, plus a handful of computer vision techniques that are available to me. The reason for not delving further into pilgrimages on Japanese SNS for interior shots and the like is because those experiences aren’t always readily accessible for folks overseas: the aim of these Oculus Quest powered location hunt posts is to provide starting points that readers can check out straightaway. Thus, the only rule I have is that my location hunts must be something readers can also access. Here, Rin and Minami ascend a switchback, passing by Nishi-Amagi Plateau Branch House, a guesthouse that is known for its soft-serve ice cream and soba.

  • The West Izu Skyline is a stretch of road that cuts across the highlands and that offers unparalleled views: Izu also has the Izu Skyline, a toll road located to the east. Both roads are frequented by folks looking for a phenomenal drive or cycling adventure. Before setting off, Minami asks Rin to be careful and not be too distracted by the scenery – this is a known problem for drivers, and on the road trips I’ve done, I usually have another driver so we can take turns driving and checking out the scenery. Of course, when there are sights that call for it, sometimes, it’s a better idea to stop and really take a closer look. This particular spot on the road, facing south, is located quite close to the Nishi-Amagi Plateau Branch House, and I found it simply by following the West Izu Skyline a ways, using the curvature of the road and the Oculus Quest’s ability to let me look around in 360º to confirm I’d found the spot. I realise that the Google Street View version of the West Izu Skyline doesn’t have the road markings seen in Yuru Camp△ 2 – the latter clearly denote one-way traffic and no passing, whereas in the Street View images, I get the impression that one can change lanes.

  • I’ll conclude this post with a view from Darumayama Observatory, located just half a kilometre from the Daruyama-Kogen Campground. This marks the end of the twelfth episode’s travels, as the remainder of the day is dedicated to preparations ahead of Aoi and Nadeshiko’s birthday. As Yuru Camp△ 2 shows, Mount Fuji can easily be spotted from this viewpoint. While I’d originally intended to write this post after the finale to showcase all of the locations of Yuru Camp△ 2, the revelation that there’d be a thirteenth episode in conjunction with the large number of spots visited during Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s excursion to the Izu Peninsula meant it made more sense to cover off some of the locations now before their number made writing a post too daunting. With this done, I plan on writing one final location hunt post for Yuru Camp△ 2 once the finale is in the books to check off any remaining locations, as well as some sights in and around the Minobu valley to round out the season.

With this latest set of locations in the books, I think that readers now have enough information to draft out a complete Yuru Camp△ 2 tour: attesting to Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club maturing, the scope and scale of their travels has increased considerably since Yuru Camp△. Whereas Yuru Camp△‘s settings remained largely within Yamanashi and Nagano, oftentimes within the range of mass transit options, Yuru Camp△ 2 represents a much bolder series of adventures that requires more extensive planning, and perhaps private transportation to make reaching said locations easier. While such a trip is not the most responsible decision I could make right now, I will note that the Oculus Quest has again come through here; several locations in Yuru Camp△ 2‘s final third were found by capitalising on the 360º view that a VR headset offers. With Yuru Camp△ 2 providing the locations Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club visits, the key attractions were found without difficulty, and the superior spatial awareness that VR provides meant being able to very easily travel up and down a stretch of road to find nearby spots that were unnamed in the anime. In this way, from the segment of road travelling through a cave, to the restaurant that everyone stops for sashimi at and even the shop where Minami picks up a spiny lobster, each and every spot within this post was located without difficulty. Having now fielded the Oculus Quest on no fewer than seven location hunts, I finally feel like I’ve gotten proper use out of the complementary headset that I received from F8 2019. For the longest time, the Oculus Quest sat unused because VR still felt like a very niche function, being more of a novelty than a practicality. However, after demonstrating the Oculus Quest’s versatility with the Houkago Teibou Nisshi location hunt, it’s become evident that this headset’s very much become an indispensable part of my anime location hunting arsenal: while I lack familiarity with locations in Japan as a resident would and do not possess a strong enough command of the Japanese language to hunt for locations with the same speed as a local, advanced technology has certainly helped to close this gap, enough for me to hopefully have created a post that is interesting and useful for readers.

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