Quick Trip to Izu

I made a quick overnight trip to Izu recently to discuss an upcoming project, and I took advantage of the opportunity to visit friends and make new friends too.

First, I stopped off to see Keiu-san and Michiyo-san, who own and operate Dan's Dive Shop. They took wonderful care of me and a couple of friends during an extended dive trip in Izu a couple of years ago (meaning they were incredibly patient with us!).

keiu and michiyo

They're both veterans of the diving scene in Izu, and they seem to know just about everyone in the area. Keiu-san also has a species of basslet that he discovered named after him, Rabaulichthys suzukii.

I also met Yokota-san who runs a dive shop named Go To The Sea. Actually, I "met" Yokota-san virtually (via email) some time ago, when news of the recently discovered Maluku frogfish broke.


At that time, I sent him a few photos of the fish that I had received from Maluku Divers. Yokota-san is a die-hard frogfish maniac, and he was one of the first people in the world that I know of to point out that the Maluku frogfish probably belongs to the Histiophryne genus.

Yes, I know. If you're not a fish nut, this revelation probably doesn't mean much. But at the time, there was significant debate about how to ID the new frogfish. In case you're interested, DNA tests have subsequently been performed, with results to be announced shortly.

These days, Yokota-san is focusing his energies on ID-ing hermit crabs. He showed me a couple of albums filled with hermit crab images and IDs. I never realised how many different species there are.

And finally, I hooked up for a chat with Yamabe-san of PNG Japan and Shinohara-san of Sea Front. If you've read my blog posts before, you know I'm a big fan of PNG, so I've known Yamabe-san for some time. This was the first time I met Shinohara-san, however.

yamabe and shinohara

He's one of the pioneers of diving on the eastern side of the Izu peninsula, concentrating on the Futo area. He also takes people to Hatsushima, which is a small island just off the coast. I've never been there, but from photos and video he showed me, there's a lot of soft coral (I would've never imagined) and large schools of fish swarming around.

Of course, no trip is complete without good food. Keiu-san's family owns and operates one of the best known citrus gardens in this part of Japan, called Suzuki-en. If you find yourself in the Usami area of the Izu peninsula, it's worth dropping by to pick fruits yourself (which is much more fun than it sounds), or just buy some fresh fruits.

Just as I never realised how many different types of hermit crabs there are, I was amazed at the variety of citrus fruits at Suzuki-en. Apparently, one citrus fruit or another is in season from October to August, so there's only about a month each year when there's nothing ready to pick on the trees.

I love citrus fruits, so we stocked up (or more accurately, Keiu-san and Michiyo-san stocked us up).

And just before I left Izu, Shinohara-san took us to a small soba shop that's hidden away and nearly impossible to find, as it's run out of a small house. The noodles were seriously delicious, so everyone had seconds. But for a lack of time, I probably would've gone for thirds.