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.
Address: Wada-cho 6-17, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
Address: Chuo-cho 17-13, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
TEL: +81 (0)557-073-055
Address: Nishiyama-cho 43-1, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
TEL: +81 (0)557-82-2241
Address: Chuo-cho 7–4, Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture
Traveler: Charles Glover > More Info
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...
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!