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  • Vol.45 SHONAN Lifestyle Interview ~The appeal of Manazuru, one of Japan's most popular diving destinations, easily accessible from central Tokyo.~

Let us introduce you to the sea town of Manazuru. Manazuru Town is easily accessible from central Tokyo, only a 90 minutes train ride, and you arrive at one of the best diving spots in Japan.
We asked Ms. Misuzu Okamoto, a gold medalist in the world championships of freediving, about the appeal of Manazuru.

How did you get involved with the Manazuru area?

Ms. Okamoto
Actually, I could not swim until I was an adult, but I started freediving in 2003 after participating in a freediving club in Manazuru.
I started commuting to Manazuru by train from Chiba, where I lived at the time, and before I knew it, nearly 20 years had passed. Along with my diving activities, I gradually spent more and more time in Manazuru, and in 2021, I moved my base of living to Manazuru.

What are the features and highlights of diving in Manazuru?

Ms. Okamoto
The best part is the crazy depth of the sea! Manazuru has deep waters suitable for diving close to land, and diving can be enjoyed just a few minutes by boat from the harbor. Furthermore, I believe that Manazuru is the only place in Japan where such a wonderful diving environment can be found within walking distance from the station. It is also nice that you can come here from Tokyo without having to change trains.
Manazuru's underwater environment also has unique topography and rocky areas, and a variety of fish can be seen depending on the season.

What do you recommend for sightseeing in Manazuru?

Ms. Okamoto
The forests of Manazuru Peninsula Nature Park spread around "Cape Manazuru" at the tip of Manazuru Peninsula. This area is protected by people in the fishing industry and other locals as a fish-breeding forest and is home to camphor trees and black pines over 300 years old. When tired from diving, people rest their bodies here and absorb fresh oxygen throughout their bodies to regain energy.
Manazuru is also home to many atmospheric townscapes with a sense of history. There is "Seto-michi," narrow alleyways between houses that are popular to explore as you stroll among the stairs and slopes of the town while taking in the scenery of its streets and stone walls.
Of course, you should also try out the fresh sashimi and all the other delicious seafood when you come to Manazuru.

What are some less known spots of Manazuru?

Ms. Okamoto
Pizza Shokudo KENNY in front of Manazuru Station is one of my favorite places because of the homey atmosphere and unique menu featuring dishes such as dried fish pizza and shirasu (whitebait) salt ice cream.
Another favorite is ORIBAR, a "hataori (weaving)" studio. In the traditional building, time seems to pass slowly, making it a very relaxing space. Inside the store, there is a large weaving machine, and you can see carpets made from old denim that has been reborn into a beautiful woven blue sea.
Also, from the second floor up the stairs, you can enjoy a wonderful view of Manazuru that makes you feel like you're standing on the horizon line.

What kind of place is Manazuru to you?

Ms. Okamoto
Manazuru is a small town with a wide variety of people. Because of this, whenever I think of trying something new, hints and advice seem to appear out of nowhere. I have the feeling that the emotional distance between people is very close, and thanks to this, I learn a lot from the people I meet. Sometimes I even encounter hints that make me rethink my own values. In that sense, Manazuru is a place where I can focus and immerse myself in what I want to do.

What diving centers, including Manazuru, do you recommend in the area?

Ms. Okamoto
The Iwa Diving Center is located on the Iwa Coast, a 15-minute walk from Manazuru Station; Kotogahama Diving Center is located on Kotogahama beach in the Manazuru Peninsula; Fukuura Diving Service is located on the coast of Fukuura in Yugawara Town. Those are a few that I recommend. In the Manazuru area, there are many diving centers, and the instructors know the local sea well and can thus provide safe diving according to weather and sea conditions.

How would you like to be involved with Manazuru in the future?

Ms. Okamoto
I first encountered Manazuru through freediving, and I am currently the tourism ambassador for Manazuru Town. Therefore, I would like to give back to Manazuru through freediving activities. I hope to contribute to the region by holding freediving competitions in Manazuru and by increasing the number of people who enjoy diving.
I have also heard that many people decide to move to Manazuru after being exposed to its warm people and flourishing environment, so I would like more people to know about all the charms of Manazuru.
A trial living experience is available in Manazuru, so if you are interested, feel free to give it a try!

Purna Freediving School, run by Ms. Misuzu Okamoto
https://www.mimidive.net


Manazuru Pizza Restaurant KENNY
https://feelshonan.jp/en/gourmet/5316


ORIBAR ~ORIBA
https://www.instagram.com/oribarba/


Manazuru Town "Trial Migration Experience
https://www.town.manazuru.kanagawa.jp/soshiki/kikaku/senryakusuishin/1187.html


Manazuru Peninsula Nature Park
https://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/docs/f4y/hakone/manazuru.html


Seto Michi and Beauty Town Walking Course in Manazuru Town
https://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/osirase/0602/kenseipj/file/walking/63.pdf


There are 1 beach point and 4 boat points around the diving center...more read
https://www.iwadive.com/

Yugawara · Manazuru IWA Diving center

We are located in the Manazuru Peninsula in the Kanagawa Prefecture...more read
https://kotogahama.jimdofree.com

Yugawara · Manazuru Kotogahama Diving Center

Fukuura Diving Service is located on the west side of Manazuru...more read
https://fukuura-ds.jimdofree.com

Yugawara · Manazuru Fukuura Diving service