An integral part of the pleasure of travelling in Japan is the food.
Izu, for example, is famous for fresh seafood, as fishing is one of the primary pillars of the regional economy and society. Fresh fish and other marine products are available each day, which means awesome sashimi, sushi and other traditional Japanese seafood dishes.
Perhaps less well-known outside the country is the long-standing noodle tradition in Japan.
You may have heard of soba noodles, which are made out of buckwheat, and you might have even had some.
But store-bought dried soba (or even worse, the sad soggy stuff they serve on some airlines) is to the real stuff what pre-packaged, mass-produced white bread is to piping-hot, fresh-from-the-oven French bread.
Not to be a culinary snob, but there's just no comparison to the real thing.
Here in Izu, Shinohara-san took me to a well-kept secret...a soba place that's tucked away in a residential neighborhood, inside a normal house. The family who lives there serves lunch five days a week...and the soba noodles are out-of-this-world delicious.
Even better, it's inexpensive. For somewhere between 800 and 1000 Yen, depending on what you order, you get fresh soba plus side dishes...more than enough to satisfy even big eaters like me.
The best part though, is that the restaurant is completely off the tourist map, which means there are usually people there but it's never swamped, the food is always terrific, and the people there remember you.