We’re visiting the southwest coast of Japan’s Izu Peninsula, where a warm ocean current called the Kuroshio provides an ideal climate for the flora carpeting the hills. Big hydrangea blooms make a colorful foreground for this view of Matsuzaki. In addition to its charming seaside setting, the quiet town boasts hot springs (try these in the mild winters, not the humid summers). Hundreds of the town’s buildings feature an eye-catching style of Japanese architecture: Namako-kabe combines latticework with slate tile, adding weatherproofing and fire resistance to homes and storehouses. Hungry after taking a soak and touring the neighborhood? Try the local sweet specialty—Sakuramochi.