Ike Village Walking Tour
Category: Japanese Culture, Local Experience
About the tour
Discover the spirit and culture of Japan by visiting a Japanese village.
Welcome to the picturesque village of Ike, a hidden gem located on the Izu peninsula. This 2-1/2 hour walking tour is perfect for those seeking an authentic, off the beaten path experience in Japan.
As you wander through the streets and gardens of Ike, you will gain a unique insight into the daily life and culture of a typical Japanese village. Ike is not an intentionally restored tourist village but rather a real community of working and retired people who take pride in their well-tended vegetable gardens, community centers, and ancient temples and shrines.
One of the highlights of this tour is a visit to Ryukeiin, a 16th-century Buddhist temple founded by a wandering priest who converted the dragon lord of a nearby pond to Buddhism. The temple’s name, which means “Dragon Temple,” is a nod to this legend, and the temple itself is adorned with exquisite traditional artwork and architecture that reflect the deep spiritual traditions of Japan. The visit features a retelling of that legendary tale in English.
You will also visit two Shinto shrines dedicated to the water god and the mountain god, respectively. You’ll learn the proper way to enter the torii gate, wash your hands, and ‘visit’ with the local deities. Local shrines like these are a testament to the enduring importance of Shintoism in Japanese culture and offer a fascinating glimpse into the country’s religious heritage.
As we stroll through the streets of Ike, we’ll pass by the many well-tended vegetable gardens that residents use not only for themselves, but also to give away to neighbors and friends in order to maintain important bonds. Sometimes you’ll see people chatting with each other, kids playing outside, and farmers working in their plots. Your guide will tell you about the significance of historical monuments, roadside statues, and grave markers that have been thoughtfully preserved to remind us of our connection to the past. You will learn about the village’s history, resilience, and strong sense of community identity that has helped it weather the challenges of time. You will gain a deep appreciation for the values of harmony, respect, and mutual support that underpin Japanese society and culture.
This tour is designed for those who want to immerse themselves in Japanese culture, away from the tourist crowds. You will come away from this experience with a deeper understanding of the unique charms and cultural richness of rural Japan. At the end of the tour, you’ll have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of life in a small Japanese community and how that shapes Japanese culture in general.
Our Ike walking tour is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of an authentic, contemporary Japanese village while still being able to fit in other activities in their Japan itinerary. It’s an easy side trip between Tokyo and Kyoto, and even possible as a day trip from Tokyo. So, come and join us on this unforgettable journey through the heart of Ike Village!
Times: Morning tour (9:30-12:00) | Afternoon tour (2:00-4:30pm)
Days: Thursday-Monday (closed Tuesday & Wednesday)
Cost: $125 per person (minimum 2 people, maximum 6 people per tour)
Difficulty: Easy/moderate – this is a roughly 3 kilometer walk along a flat landscape.
*The course is 90% wheelchair accessible.
- Please make sure you have read and understand what the tour is about. Contact us with any questions.
- Check the CALENDAR for available dates and times.
- Fill out and submit the RESERVATION FORM.
- You’ll receive a confirmation and payment link.
- Please pay within 48 hours to reserve your requested time.
- You must pay in advance to join a tour. This is non-negotiable.
- Cancellation policy: We will refund 100% of your payment up to 5 days before the tour, 3-4 days – 50%, less than 48 hours – no refund.
For those coming by train: Your guide will meet you at Izu Kogen train station. Turn right after you pass through the only exit, and walk out to the taxi stand.
Groups larger than 3 people will need to take a taxi and pay the taxi driver.
* Japanese law does not allow a private guide to include this price in a tour.
If you are coming by car, then we’ll meet at Ike Community Center:
475-2 Ike, Itō, Shizuoka 413-0234, Japan
6 thoughts on “Ike Village Walking Tour”
I joined Jimmy for a walking tour of a small village in Ito city called Ike. Ike is a small, quiet place with a lovely atmosphere. The tour lasted about two and a half hours and was planned well, including the route and time for taking breaks.
There were many things that I learned about Japanese culture and history thanks to the tour. For example, I learned about why Ike is called “pond” and why there is no longer a pond there. The most interesting part of the tour was the story about the Ryukeiin temple and how it was founded.
Jimmy and the residents of Ike were very kind and friendly. I really recommend visiting if you have a chance.
Thank you for your comments, Kyle. I really enjoyed having you join the tour.
Your questions and observations made me realize that you know a lot about Japan. The Ike Village Tour is designed for both first time and seasoned visitors to Japan, so I’m very happy to know that you learned something new.
The founding of the Ryukeiin Temple is shrouded in folklore, but there’s a fair amount of historical fact too. It’s humbling to think that people have continuously lived in Ike for more than 2,000 years.
Hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Japan, and I hope this experience helped you see a little deeper into Japanese culture and thinking.
Please visit Ito again. You are always welcome!
I did a tour of Ike village, I loved seeing the local temple and hearing the story of Ake Ushi (red cow)! We also learned the history of the village and delved into Japanese culture too. The tour was a nice pace and it was easy to make our way around the area. Jimmy’s knowledge of the village and Japanese folklore is very impressive. The residents of the village are extremely kind and the surrounding nature provided plenty of photo opportunities. Lovely weather too!
Jimmy took us on a tour of Ike village in Ito. We were able to see a few local cultural sites like the local temple and shrine. Jimmy was very knowledgeable about the area and the history! The tour had light walking on clear paths so I think this tour would be easy enough for those with mobility issues. The most difficult part was taking off my boots to enter the temple. Our group met some locals and they were very kind. I highly recommend if you’re interested in the culture and history of the area.
I joined the Ike Village tour with 5 friends. I have never joined an English tour in Japan so I was interested to see what this one had to offer. The tour guide, Jimmy (a native English speaker), was very friendly and sociable. He was attentive to everyone’s inquiries during the tour and kept conversations flowing naturally. I never felt rushed by him, which is perfect for people who like taking lots of pictures.
Now, onto the tour location. The village of Ike was pleasant. Ike is a small, quiet village on the east side of the Izu Peninsula. The tour was on a sunny, yet windy mid-December morning. Mostly everything was outdoors except for a portion of the tour where we entered a local temple. Because of the size and layout of the village, the tour is leisurely paced and not physically strenuous. There are some portions of the town with some stairs and gravelly terrain, so keep that in mind.
I think this tour is suitable for travelers who are new to Japanese culture and would like a glimpse into the life of an everyday Japanese village. You’ll be able to learn a variety of information, such as temple customs and the history of Ike. Unlike some villages in Japan that have preserved or recreated the architectural style of a particular time period, at this village, you’ll view a village that is changing with the times.
I recently joined Jimmy on a tour of the charming village that is the village of Ike. Upon meeting, Jimmy’s personable character instantly put my tourmates and I in good spirits. The tour consisted of visits to several locations, the first and my personal favorite being the Ryukeiin temple. The importance this temple holds for the local community could be instantly understood as we arrived and were greeted by a group of people of all ages who were taking a lunch break from what appeared to be a communal clean-up of the grounds. Jimmy being a familiar face, kindly introduced us to some locals who were excited to see a group touring their beloved village. Jimmy’s detailed recounting of the temple’s history in combination with his captivating retelling of the ‘Akaushi’ folk tale surrounding the temple elevated the experience of seeing this beautiful temple from one of artistic admiration alone to one where the spirit of the place could be felt and appreciated.
Along our walk from one location to the next, there were a number of unmanned stands selling local fresh produce such as oranges and permissions which I took full advantage of. Another highlight of the tour for me was the visit to a locally treasured Shinto shrine where Jimmy expertly guided us through the motions involved in praying there. The walk from one location to the next was never strenuous and adequate time was given at each location for photo-taking which made the tour feel leisurely and never rushed.