Atami, located in the east part of Shizuoka Prefecture, is a hot spring heaven at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Easy to access by shinkansen from Tokyo (35 minutes) and Nagoya (90 minutes), Atami is a suitable destination for both day trips and overnight stays. If you’re an art aficionado or lover of the outdoors, don’t miss this outstanding hot spring town with its many museums and family-friendly activities! Read on for an introduction to 10 of the best things to do in Atami.
1. Atami Onsen
When visiting Atami, its famous onsen are not to be missed. The town is one of Japan’s most well-known hot spring resorts, discharging approximately 16,600 liters of onsen water per minute, 90% of which is high-temperature (42°C or higher) and with an average temperature of 63°C. The number of hot springs in Atami exceeds 500, and the high salt content of the hot springs nourishes the skin and enhances its moisturizing effect. It is said to be effective in treating sensitivity to cold as well as neuralgia. Historically, Atami Onsen has been loved by generations, and there is a record that Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Edo shogunate, visited Atami with his daughters to be cured for his ailments. Today, Atami is lined with hotels and inns that continue to entertain guests with their excellent hot springs and supreme cuisine with fish and seafood from Atami’s waters.
2. Atami Sun Beach
Blue skies, white sand and colorful parasols… With a great location only 5 minutes from JR Atami Station by bus, Atami Sun Beach is a wonderful beach that attracts many tourists from all over Japan every summer. At night, a light show created by a world-renowned designer illuminates the beach, so even after dark you can enjoy spectacular scenery. If you love sandy beaches, definitely give Atami Sun Beach a go this summer.
3. Kinomiya Shrine
Kinomiya Shrine in Atami is the main shrine of 44 Kinomiya shrines scattered throughout Japan. It is said that Tamuramaro Sakanoue, a general in the early Heian period, prayed at this shrine before battles, and people from all over Japan come to this shrine to pray even today. Within the grounds of the shrine is a 2,000-year-old camphor tree which is considered sacred. The camphor tree is also designated as a national natural treasure and was recognized as the second largest tree in Japan in 2012. Due to the presence of this tree, Kinomiya Shrine is also famous as a power spot that brings blessings of health and longevity. How about rejuvenating your mind and body in the sacred atmosphere of Kinomiya Shrine during your visit to Atami?
4. MOA Museum of Art
The attractions of Atami do not end with hot springs and nature. If you’re an art lover, we highly recommend Atami’s MOA Museum of Art. This museum has a collection of about 3,500 pieces of oriental art, including national treasures and important cultural objects. The main attraction here is Korin Ogata’s masterpiece, “紅白梅図屏風” (Red and White Plum Blossoms), which is on display for a limited time only. There is a restaurant and café inside the MOA Museum of Art which serves up delicious cakes and Japanese food, making it a perfect place to take a break after viewing the many works of art.
5. Atami Castle
The large castle towering above town is Atami Castle. This castle, taking up one basement floor and six floors above ground, was actually only modeled after a Japanese castle, and is not an actual historical building. Inside the castle there are spots where visitors can dress up in Edo era costumes and take pictures. Atami Castle is also known as a cherry blossom viewing spot in spring, but can be enjoyed throughout the year and offers a panoramic view of Atami Fireworks Festival in summer. The view from the keep of Atami Castle, built 100 meters above sea level, is truly spectacular and will make you feel like a feudal lord!
Hatsushima is the only inhabited island in Shizuoka Prefecture, located in Sagami Bay off the coast of Izu Peninsula. Blessed with a mild climate and warm ocean currents flowing from the south, this island is home to tropical plants such as hibiscus and bougainvillea, and delicious fish such as yellowtail and greater amberjack roam its waters. Near Hatsushima Port is a dining area run by the island’s fishermen where you can taste dishes made from fresh local seafood. If you want to enjoy Hatsushima to the fullest, try staying at a private home and experience the islanders’ kindness and hospitality.
7. Atami Trick Art Museum
Right next to Atami Castle is a mysterious building with a painting of a dolphin and an apple: this is the Atami Trick Art Museum. Once inside, you will find a lot of captivating trick art. If you stand or pose in a specific way, it will look like you are about to be eaten by a shark or attacked by a large gorilla! You can take pictures inside the museum which are great for social media and serve as the perfect memory of a fun day. Don’t miss out on this museum after visiting Atami Castle!
8. Atami Ropeway
Board a nostalgic-looking gondola and let the ropeway whisk you from Atami Port to the summit of Mt. Hachiman in only 3 minutes. Atami Ropeway takes you to Aijo Cape Observatory located at the top of the mountain from where you can take in the spectacular vistas of Atami and the beautiful sea below. Ice cream and drinks are sold near the observatory, so take a break and enjoy the view!
9. Akao Herb and Rose Garden
Akao Herb and Rose Garden, which covers an expansive area of approximately 200,000 square meters, is home to 4,000 roses of 600 different species as well as a wide variety of other plants. When roses are in bloom, the entire area is filled with their delightful scent, attracting many tourists every year. Not only can visitors enjoy the greenery, they can also use the footbath to relieve their tired feet after a full day of walking around. At the herb workshop, visitors can make their own original herb goods. Herbal soaps and perfumes are available at the workshop as well and make for perfect souvenirs.
The last attraction to be introduced here is Kiunkaku, a villa built in 1919 and once hailed as one of the “Three Great Villas of Atami”. It was reborn as a ryokan in 1947 and has been loved by many famous Japanese writers, including Junichiro Tanizaki, Osamu Dazai and Naoya Shiga. Today, it is carefully preserved as a cultural asset of Atami City and is open to the public. The interior design, a fusion of Western, Chinese and Japanese styles, is truly gorgeous. The coffee shop corner, based on the bar area from when the building served as a ryokan, offers Kiunkaku’s original coffee. The coffee is exceptionally delicious and pairs perfectly with enjoying the traditional and prestigious atmosphere of the century-old building.
Where to stay in Atami
Atami is a beautiful place and is perfect for a weekend getaway or even just a one night stay. However there are so many great options when it comes to staying in either a hotel or traditional Ryokan in Atami that it can be hard to choose. But don’t worry, we have narrowed it down for you and picked three of our favorite places.
Uminohana is an amazing traditional Japanese ryokan that offers great food, service and amazing onsen with views of the crystal clear Atami coast.
2. Hotel ACAO
This hotel is right on the water with various different indoor and outdoor onsen to choose from, as well as fun outdoor spots where you can kick back, relax and enjoy the view.
3. Shin Kadoya
Shin Kadoya is another traditional Japanese ryokan with garden views, private outdoor onsen with great views and is great if you want to experience the real Japan.
Although Atami is often associated mostly with hot springs, it’s actually one of the most popular leisure spots in Japan and has a wide variety of activities. We recommend spending the day enjoying outdoor activities, savor Atami’s delicious seafood in the evening and then round off the day with a relaxing hot spring bath before bed. There are many other fun activities in addition to the ones from our list of the 10 best things to do in Atami, so check the official tourism website or local tour operators for the latest information.
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Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education of Japan and got her Master’s degree in March, 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.
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