If you want a day trip or a short overnight stay to escape the metropolis that is Tokyo, then Atami (located in Shizokuka, Izu Peninsula) is the right place for you.
Time travel back to 1980’s Japan by visiting Atami
Atami was renowned for its entertainment industry and nightlife filled with fancy meals and Geisha. However, many businesses had to quite literally pack up, due to tourists choosing alternative holiday destinations. You can definitely witness the evaporated scenes in Atami today. The once bustling town is now a deserted wasteland filled with many rustic elements. It looks ripe for gentrification soon which is why it’s important to visit now, before its charm is lost.
Atami Castle is one of the most popular destinations but not because of the castle itself. If you take the ropeway up to the castle for 600 JPY you can look out from the viewpoint and be surrounded by the amazing panoramic picture of Sagami Bay.
The castle was only built in the 1950’s, and almost has a plasticky tacky feel to it shedding light on one of the seedy aspects that’s been left behind. However, it’s a safe haven and surprisingly good place to learn about the Edo period as you can dress up in period costumes and play modern day ball games.
Overall, the design and structure of the castle was underwhelming compared to most castles in Japan but it’s definitely worth it for the view. Interestingly though, to get to Atami castle you do have to go through the entrance of the sex museum which is called ‘Hihokan – Adult Museum’. If you have time, give it a visit!
Kosawa no Yu
Atami is literally built on a volcano so there are many gaps for the hot volcanic steam to escape through. ‘Kosawa no Yu’ is one of 7 historical hot springs in Atami. Why not boil an egg for lunch or for a light snack? This tradition is called Onsen Tamago.
To do this, you can buy some eggs from a local convenience store. Start by putting the eggs in the provided metal basket and close using the wooden lid. I was advised by a local that 7 minutes is the perfect amount of time to allow the eggs to boil.
Once the time is up, use the metal pliers to take the eggs out as they will be extremely hot. Make sure to wash them under the cold water – crack them open and enjoy. Don’t forget to add the salt!
Atami offers many opportunities to visit volcanic hot springs. If you’re visiting for a short get away or just a day trip and wish to feel spiritually cleansed here are some of the best Onsens below.
- Ryori Ryokan Nagisa-kan – (open air to which you can enjoy with the presence of the sea).
- Hot Spring Inn, Mikan No Ki – (renowned for its waters healing powers to assist with muscle pain, and to give you beautiful skin).
- Tsukinosumika Atami Jyurkau Hotel – (very good location which has indoor and outdoor baths).
- Yamadayu – (very old traditional Onsen with pale pink rustic tiles, perfect for your Instagram photos).
- Atami Korakuen – ( has spectacular views of Sagami Bay especially by night, and doesn’t use chemicals when cleaning the hot spring but uses electricity instead).
These Onsens welcome all guests and shouldn’t be a problem if you’re just visiting for the day, just make sure to check beforehand. Prices also vary depending on whether you chose a public or private Onsen. There are also many foot Onsens dotted around Atami which are perfect for a quick dip.
Atami Sun Beach
Of course Atami Sun Beach is a favoured destination along the Izu coastline. This is a hot spot during the summer months for many local families, it’s also a great place to visit all year round as it’s relatively clean and has clear water. It’s a great way to spend a day or even a couple of hours after a long day of sight-seeing.
Atami beach is the perfect way to relax. As it only stretches around 400m everything you need is literally on your doorstep including convenience stores, restaurants and the marina. The beach is also a very short walk from Atami Station.
How to get there
The fastest option is to take the Kodama Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station which takes approximately 40 minutes costing 4070 JPY. You can also take the limited express JR Odoriko Line which takes just under 1 hour and a half for 3,260 JPY.
What to do there
Whichever season you plan to visit Atami there are countless things to do. “Did you visit the Sex Museum?”. Be ready for this question as it’s a renowned joke in Japanese culture as the seedy museum is located directly next to the ‘traditional’ Castle.
How to get around
Atami is a very small town, so most things are accessible by foot. However, there are very also cheap buses which you can view here and of course the ropeway which you can view here which can assist with getting up to the castle.
Atami is certainly a secret gem if you’re keen to visit a non-touristy seaside area in Shizokuka. The eerie feeling of emptiness is very soothing in contrast to the lightning speed pace of downtown Tokyo.