Archery, in a volcano?
I thought it was some kind of joke when I first heard about it, or a translation mistake. Images of arrows flying over fiery lava flashed through my mind as I tried to understand what my friend was proposing we do.
It turned out to be true, aside from the fiery lava part. Mt. Omuro (大室山, おおむろやま) is a dormant volcano rising about 580 meters above sea level on the east side of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture. It has a large, grass-covered crater with several standard targets to bring out your inner Robin Hood, or Katniss Everdeen, or well, whomever, as the case may be.
On my first visit, a couple friends and I took a bus from Izu-Kogen station and after barely making it to the mountain before everything closed for the day, we quickly paid for our lift tickets. Upon arriving at the summit, we went straight to the archery rental shop to get our bows and arrows. The staff only speaks Japanese (at least that was the case the two times I’ve been there), and our Japanese was quite minimal at the time, but somehow we managed to sort everything out and we were given a brief tutorial on how to use the bow correctly. Then off we went to navigate our way down the steep and somewhat uneven stairs, past a small shrine and women teetering on heels, to the crater.
There are several targets in the crater, placed about 10 meters or so apart. The two times I have gone it wasn’t crowded at all, but if it’s busy you might have to wait until other aspiring archers finish. Somewhat surprisingly, no one was supervising the two times I went, so the pressure is on to make sure your arrows don’t veer off onto the path of another person.
The rental fee (1000 yen/person) covers one hour, so you can shoot to your heart’s content. For 60 minutes, anyway. You get five arrows so you have to retrieve them after your turn, and if your aim isn’t spectacular, you’ll probably spend some time combing the hillside in search of your arrows (a small fee is charged for lost arrows).
For those who prefer to stick to safer activities, you might enjoy a pleasant walk around the mountain’s summit, with clear views of the ocean and surrounding green hills and blue peaks that go on as far as you can see. On a clear day, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji and the southern Alps.
Mt. Omuro also has the obligatory gift and snack shops. Various types of flowers bloom at different times of the year, and I do remember seeing a paraglider or two on my visits.
Keep in mind though, when the place closes, everything in the area shuts down. The first time I was there, as soon as it was closing time, doors shut instantly, the lift promptly shut down, and visitors and staff cleared out within minutes, leaving my friends and I standing alone at the bus stop, realizing we had to wait an hour for the bus with nothing to do (the buses are infrequent at this time), or start walking back to the train station, hoping to meet a bus along the way. We chose the latter, and it’s a long walk back to the station.
March 16 to September 30: 9 am to 5:15 pm
October 1 to March 5: 9 am to 4:15 pm
March 6 to March 15: 9 am to 4:45 pm
Round Trip Lift Ticket: Adults (Junior high students and up), 500 yen; Children over 4, 250 yen
Archery: 1000 yen/person for one hour or 1600 yen total for two people who take turns with same equipment.
Access via Public Transportation
From Tokyo, you can take the Limited Express Odoriko (just over two hours) directly to Izu-Kogen Station (伊豆高原駅, いずこうげんえき). Or, you can take the Odoriko or any train down the coast to Izu Kogen from Atami Station (熱海駅, あたみえき) in Shizuoka prefecture. Keep in mind you may need to make a transfer depending on what train you get on.
Once you reach Izu-Kogen, you’ll want to get on the bus heading for the cactus park (シャボテン公園). Buses leave about twice an hour, but only until around 7 pm. It’s about a 25 minute bus ride. Alternatively, you can also take a 35 to 40 minute bus ride from Ito Station (伊東駅, いとうえき). Buses leave once an hour until around 5 pm. Get off the bus at the cactus park stop (シャボテン公園). Bus routes are run by Tokai Bus.
If you have a travel tip or question you’d like to see addressed in this column, drop me a line at email@example.com
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