After Kanaya ryokan and before climbing mount Fuji, I spent one day in Shimoda, a small town located at the south of Izu peninsula. However it's not just another town on the coast, and you can get the feel from the train that leads there:
All those flourishes, special "black ship" series, are not only meant to be tacky! In july 1853, as the country had been isolated from the rest of the world because of the shogunate dictatorship for two and a half centuries, four black ships arrived in Japan...that was simply one of the major events in the country's history...which brought about the end of the shogunate and the entry into Meiji era.
The ships were leaded by commodore Perry who, after briefly displaying the ships' firepower, gave a polite but clear message: Japan had one year to open its harbors to trade with the occident, otherwise the American ships would come back...and use strength to impose their rule. Japan could not match America's military force and thus had to accept. The next year, when the black ships came back, a treaty was signed, ending 250 years of seclusion. What was good for the country proved really bad for the shogunate. By unconditionally accepting Perry's conditions, they showed their weakness and it eventually led them to be overwhelmed several years later...
There are many signs of those events displayed in the town:
I love that one:
"I have come here as a peacemaker"...They should add "and I brought my gun"...
But Shimoda is not only an exhibition of canons and statues scattered throughout the town, there's also an observatory point accessible via a cablecar, providing some nice views over the harbor:
This is the place from where the black ships were seen for the first time in 1853:
And in case you want to go to New york, no problem, it's displayed:
Life is so simple in Shimoda...
Besides, it's also a summer resort with a relaxing atmosphere:
And there are also many beaches! Of course, I couldn't miss my first opportunity to go to the sea in Japan. It was awesome, the temperature was perfect and, since it was the end of the high season, there were not too many people:
Neither could I miss the opportunity to have a black ship ride:
And after the sea, the hotel's onsen with another nice view:
Here's the view from my room:
What's funny is that every Japanese knows about 1853 and the black ships, but few are able to name Shimoda, even though the whole story took place there...