Hop on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen at Tokyo Station and in just 50 minutes you’ll find yourself pulling up at the seaside town of Atami. A favorite among wealthy domestic travelers for centuries, today Atami attracts a wider demographic with visitors from far and wide rocking up in the fishing town to appreciate views over the neighboring ocean, relax in natural hot springs, and join the local festivities at one of the city’s monthly festivals.
Translating to “hot sea”, Atami has been celebrated for its natural hot springs since its creation hundreds of years ago. Located along the eastern coast at the base of Izu Peninsula, the city sits among volcanic hills in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park which are to thank for the natural warming of the area’s subterranean water. Preserving the heritage and traditions of the city, old and new buildings alike are home to the must-visit onsen hot springs whether it’s a public bath or your own private natural spring water bath in an old ryokan.
Hot springs aren’t the only cause for celebration in this pocket-sized city with the ever popular Atami Fireworks Festival bringing the city to life with a bang more than 10 times a year. Taking place throughout the four seasons, the festival is a colorful concoction of lively inebriated locals, food stalls, and, of course, some of the nation’s most impressive firework displays that are set off from Atami Bay which stretches along the coastal side of Atami over the Sagami-nada Sea to the east.
As well as its far-stretching bay, Atami is home to many more sunbather friendly beaches including Atami Sun Beach which is perfect for soaking up some rays or enjoying the calm sea. Despite the lack of waves, Atami’s bordering waters welcome in an abundance of fresh fish that are caught by local fishers and served up in restaurants all over town in every form whether you like your fish as raw sushi, lightly grilled or deliciously fried. The relaxed vibes are in no way limited to the beach thanks to the city’s tranquil streets that allow for visitors to saunter from the city’s spiritual temples to art museums and all the way up to Atami Castle which overlooks the city. This easy trip from Tokyo can easily fill up two or three days of travels before heading further down Izu’s coast.