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Located near the tip of the Izu peninsula, this sleepy waterfront town is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Japan’s big city life.

Shimoda was of central importance during the 1850s, when Commodore Perry landed his black ships and negotiated with Japan’s government to end its isolationist policy. There’s a street named after the commodore that’s well worth a visit. Catch great views from any of the parks on the hills surrounding the city.

The scale of the city makes it easy to walk about. Try staying at a Japanese inn (ryokan), which includes dinner, breakfast and usually a hot spring on the first floor. Reserve a weekday stay for lower rates.

The area is also known for scuba diving, but expect to pay higher than usual rates for gear and air. Neighboring beaches are a favorite with local surfers.

Special train service directly from Tokyo Station is available, but only at limited times. Local trains can take well over three hours. However, on-board snack carts are stocked with sandwiches, sushi and a beer tap, so no worries!

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