Atami is located in the far eastern corner of Shizuoka Prefecture at the northern end of Izu Peninsula. It is a traditional fishing town famous for its hot springs. They say, it’s dramatic hillside location is reminiscent of Naples but real estate development has robbed it of its charm. Though, if you have a day or two, it should be on your itinerary apart from the other popular destinations near Tokyo, like Hakone, Kamakura & Nikko.
If you plan to spend the day sightseeing. The Yu-Yu bus is a great way to tour Atami where you purchase a day pass (¥800), and ride at will. You’ll receive an illustrated map with a timetable. There are two loops : the “Nishikigaura / Baien (Plum Garden)” which is the main Atami city loop, and the “MOA Museum of Art / Mt. Izu Shrine” route. All 33 stops in the combined two loops are at tourist points of interest.
One has to visit the hilltop MOA Museum of Art which houses an excellent collection of Japanese and Chinese pottery and paintings, dating back to more than 1000 years and also includes a lot of national treasures & much of the extensive art collection of eccentric multi-millionaire and religious leader Mokichi Okada. There is a serene tea garden set among Japanese maple and bubbling brooks. Almost stealing the show is MOA’s grandiose entrance, with escalators leading up 200m past ceilings that glow in changing neon colors. (pictures can be seen in my post “let there be light” ). Atami Tourist Office, on the right as you exit Atami Station, has discount tickets to MOA for ¥1400. You can get buses to MOA from platform 8 outside Atami Station (¥170, eight minutes). http://www.moaart.or.jp/en/
Sun Beach is an artificial beach but is popular in summer. It is an attractive sight in the evening, with its sands illuminated by colored floodlights. The road along the beach has a lot of fountains & sculptures one of which is the famous O-miya & Kan-ichi statue. A brief background can be read here ~ http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/07/21/voices/atami-make-statue-jilted-gent-kicking-girl-shes/
The castle & sex museum are not worth the price though the view of Atami from the castle is impressive. Visiting the “Kinomiya” shrine with the 2000 year old giant camphor tree is worth it & if you walk around the tree (it’s the only way to appreciate the massive trunk) your life will be extended by a year. The additional life is a bonus ! Another place to stop by is the “Kiunkaku” which is a luxury lodge and garden with Japanese and Western architecture constructed in 1919, and was frequented by the literati and dignitaries of the day. Though it no longer operates as a lodge, it is a popular location for shooting period dramas, and is open to the public as an open walk through museum.
If you plan to hang around, Ito-en Hotel is just a stones throw away from the station. It is well-priced at ¥7800 with comfortable rooms and includes a breakfast buffet & dinner buffet with as much beer as you can drink ! Honestly, one can’t beat the deal they offer.
Getting there from Shinjuku Station take the Odakyu Line Express – ¥880 to Odawara (87 min), then transfer to the JR East Tokaido line to Atami – ¥410 (24 min).
Getting there from Tokyo Station – Japan Railways Limited Express “Odoriko”, takes 1 hr 20 mins. The “Super View Odoriko” limited express, has a raised floor & windows extending to the ceiling for a better view, is available for an extra ¥200-300. Costs ¥3,030.
– Japan Railways Tokaido Shinkansen (Bullet Train) “Kodama”, takes 52 mins. Costs ¥4,080.
For more info. check out the Atami City Official Website ~ http://www.city.atami.shizuoka.jp.e.tt.hp.transer.com/