EVER get the feeling on a road trip that you’re driving round and round in circles? If you’re touring Japan it may be more than just a feeling.
The Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge, built from one mountainside to another, is unique – a double spiral that drops 45 metres (147 feet).
Think of the spiral car park ramps you nervously negotiate in shopping centres back home, then supersize them.
You’ll find it on Highway 414, heading north from the hot spring resorts of the Izu peninsula towards Tokyo.
It was the only way for traffic to get down the mountainside into the valley because it was simply too steep for any other solution.
Happily, there’s a 30 kph speed limit and you’ll certainly stick to it, not least because your passengers will have wonderful views.
It’s one of the highlights of a new four-day campervan tour put together by Tourism Shizuoka Japan and rental company Dream Drive.
The itinerary showcases the sights of Shizuoka, from majestic Mount Fuji and picture postcard countryside to dramatic coastlines and traditional towns.
Steeped in history, the prefecture is home to a wide variety of hot springs and produces some of country’s best food and drink.
Travelling by campervan allows visitors to move from place to place in their own space without constantly packing and unpacking, giving more time to explore the best that Shizuoka has to offer.
Departing from Dream Drive’s Tokyo depot just 90 minutes from Shizuoka, highlights of the four-day itinerary include:
Day One: A visit to hot spring resort Kyukamura Fuji is followed by scenic stops at Tanuki Lake with views of Mount Fuji.
And don’t miss the Shiraito Falls, where you’ll find a 150-metre stretch of cascading volcanic water.
Day Two: The Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre boasts interactive exhibits, an observatory deck with a great view of the mountain, a virtual Fuji hike, movie theatre and more.
Take time, too, to visit the ancient Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha shrine, and take in impressive mountainous roadside views.
Day Three: Visit Shuzenji, one of the oldest hot spring resort towns on the Izu Peninsula, exploring the Shuzenji Temple and taking a stroll down the Katsura River’s bamboo forest path.
Then take a dramatic drive on the West Izu Skyline, a winding road that offers panoramic views of countryside below.
Day Four: Waking to ocean views, take in the dramatic stone formations and coastal cliffs of Dogashima before visiting the mesmerising Kawazu Seven Waterfalls.
Then head back to Tokyo via the Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge.
Full details of the Shizuoka itinerary, with tips on where to camp, local food and attractions, can be found on Dream Drive’s website. As always, check the latest Covid travel advice.
Images by Dream Drive, who offer five different custom-designed campervans, from the compact Kago which sleeps up to two adults, to the Kuma, which sleeps two adults and two children.
They can be hired from 12,900 JPY (around £88) per night plus a one-off cleaning fee of 3,500 JPY (£24) per hire and include linens, cooking and eating equipment. See dreamdrive.life/
When travel to the region resumes there’s a 10% discount on all hire bookings made using the code ‘SHIZUOKA’.
For more information on Shizuoka, visit: exploreshizuoka.com