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Tue, Jun. 26, 2018 ATAMI:THE SPA REVIVAL
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Atami, in Shizuoka prefecture, is one of Japan's leading hot spring resorts and is only 45 minutes from Tokyo. The city, which has been a resort for hundreds of years, has seen hard times. Tourism was down from the 1990s to 2011. However, in recent years it has been showing miraculous recovery, and the city is regaining its vibrancy. On Journeys in Japan, American actor Charles Glover gets a sense of Atami through its enterprising residents-some running veteran establishments and others turning to innovation to secure their future. He experiences, and shares, why Atami continues to delight visitors.

Atami Sekitei
Atami Sekitei
This refined ryokan inn, operating for half a century, boasts beautiful gardens, private hot spring baths, a Noh stage and quintessential Japanese hospitality.
Address: Wada-cho 6-17, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
TEL:+81 (0)557-83-2841
Atami Ginza shopping street
Atami Ginza shopping street
This street, chockablock with shops, pubs and restaurants, was buzzing in the postwar years. Many buildings from the time remain lending the area a nostalgic Showa period ambiance. It's five minutes by car from Atami station.
Atami Geigi Kenban (Atami Geisha Exchange Theater)
Atami Geigi Kenban (Atami Geisha Exchange Theater)
Geisha song and dance performances are held at this theater on weekends.
Address: Chuo-cho 17-13, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
TEL:+81 (0)557-81-3575
Hoshino resorts RISONARE Atami
Hoshino resorts RISONARE Atami
This hotel, overlooking the ocean, opened in 2011 to provide a playful and luxurious experience for young couples and families. Address: Minaguchi-cho 2-13-1, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
TEL: +81 (0)557-073-055
Atami Ocean Firework Display
Atami Ocean Firework Display
A historic fireworks display commenced in 1952. It is held as Atami specialty more than 10 times throughout the year as well as summer.
Kinomiya Shrine
Kinomiya Shrine
One of Japan's foremost power spots. They have the largest tree in Honshu.
Address: Nishiyama-cho 43-1, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
TEL: +81 (0)557-82-2241
Japanese sweete shop Tokiwagi
Japanese sweete shop Tokiwagi
This traditional Japanese-style confectionery store was established in 1918. The founder commissioned carpenters specializing in temple and shrine architecture to build this attractive structure. Address: Ginza-cho 14-1, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
TEL:+81 (0)557-81-2228
Heiwa Dori shopping arcade
Heiwa Dori shopping arcade
Stroll along this street to discover souvenirs, culinary delights and a hot spring designed for your hands. Leading from Atami Station, it's the gateway to sightseeing.
Kamatsuru dried fish store
Kamatsuru dried fish store
This himono (dried fish) shop has been around since the Edo period (1603-1868) and is one of the few still completing all production in Atami. Address: Ginza-cho 10-18, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
TEL:+81 (0)557-81-2172
Murakoshi fish store
Murakoshi fish store
This fish shop along the Itokawa River, famous for its cherry trees, has been in business for forty years.
Address: Chuo-cho 7–4, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
From Tokyo to Atami, it takes 50 minutes by Shinkansen bullet train.
Travel Log

Traveler: Charles Glover > More Info


Occupation:actor, narrator

Length of residence in Japan:27 years

Reason:I first came after being a Peace Corps volunteer (in Micronesia) as an English teacher. I thought I would stay for a year or two...

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> Tomonoura: The Old Folks and The Sea

Jewel by the sea - Atami

Growing up I was lucky enough to travel a fair bit in the summer time. We would pack up our station wagon, start our own journey and explore a new place. I guess the excitement of seeing new places came early in my life. When I heard we were going to Atami for our program I was excited because I realized that I didn't really know the resort town. I had only briefly seen it from the window of a bullet train. Atami has some truly special and unique things that still have me thinking about it.

Atami was once a thriving resort area but it went through some hard times. The resilience of its people is clear. They have adapted unused areas in creative ways, from abandoned buildings being used for movie sets to a pachinko parlor becoming a very comfy new age guesthouse.

Looking around Atami I kept thinking of the French Riviera and more specifically the country of Monaco. Steep mountains rushing to clear ocean waters with tall buildings sprouting up, taking root in the precious land between. To be sure there are some chic hotels that have a very modern, cutting-edge appeal. Imagine a "beach area bar" suspended 12 stories up, complete with deck chairs and white sand to sink your feet into. Bliss.

There are also traditional ryokan inns that boast impeccable Japanese service and of course soothing hot spring baths to help you forget about everything.

What struck me the most was the blend of civilization and nature. The rugged coastline extending south is breathtaking-cliffs rising vertically, several hundred meters from the ocean, seemingly defying gravity. The ocean below them is some of the clearest water you will find in mainland Japan. Not surprisingly it is home to delicious seafood that I could not get enough of.

Atami is very special to be sure. A location is in a way, a living place and Atami has endured, adapted and is starting to thrive again and we are the ones who can enjoy that. It is surprisingly convenient, a mere 40 minutes from Tokyo (via bullet train). Abundant nature, traditional and chic resorts, hot springs and, oh...I almost forget, they have fireworks, year-round! 18 times in 2018, and they will launch them even if it rains. Who could ask for more? A wonderful new place for you to explore!

Inside Story

Atsushi Takase

I love that the city has a story. Atami is one of those once flourishing resorts that has fallen on hard times. But it survived and is even more exciting now. It's rare to see a faded resort rebound so successfully. That's what makes this city so special. I hope you enjoyed the show. I know Charles did.
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