Atami means "hot ocean". The town has been a popular hot spring resort since the 8th century and is ranked as one of Japan's Three Great Hot Springs (三大温泉 Sandaionsen). These days the coastline is heavily developed and covered in "identikit" concrete hotels, but in summer the sandy beach is popular.
Mokichi Okada (岡田茂吉 Okada Mokichi, 1882-1955) was a multimillionaire and the founder of the Church of World Messianity. According to his official biography, Okada made his fortune in the jewelry business. Okada claimed to have received a special revelation from God in 1926, leading him to found a new religion in 1935 to spread the teachings, aiming for nothing less than a new civilization based the transmission of the diving spirit, natural farming and appreciation for beauty and art. In 1945 he also started the construction of a second sacred grounds, “Zuiunkyô,” in Atami. Much of Okada's extensive art collection is now housed in the MOA Museum of Art in Atami.
Since COVID Atami seems to be just a pale shadow of its former self with barely any public onsen left, but mainly spa hotels catering for guests.
- 1 Atami Information Centre (train station). Daily 09:00–18:00. The Tourist Information Center in the train station stocks little in the way of English brochures.
- 2 Atami City Tourist Association (sea front). Daily 09:00–17:00. This branch on the sea front, between the main Atami Sun Beach and the Marine Spa Atami, is a better bet than the one near the station.
You can reach Atami from one of Tokyo's two airports.
From Narita Airport (NRT IATA), take the Narita Express train to Shinagawa, then transfer to either a Shinkansen Kodama or Hikari train or a Tokaido Line local train. It is 2 hours via Shinkansen connection (¥7,430) and 3 hours via local connection (¥5,140).
From Haneda Airport (HND IATA), take a Keikyu train to Shinagawa (¥300) for connection to the Shinkansen (1 hr 15 min, ¥4,040 total). Alternatively you can take the Keikyu Line from Haneda to Yokohama via Keikyu-Kamata station (¥370) and change at Yokohama for the local JR Tokaido line (2 hours, ¥1,710 total).
Atami is on the Tokaido Shinkansen main line, just 50 minutes from Tokyo (¥3,740 for an unreserved seat). All Kodama trains stop at Atami, and a select number of Hikari stop there as well.
Kodama trains make the run to Atami from Shizuoka in 40 minutes (¥3,100 unreserved seat) and Hamamatsu in 70 minutes (¥5,170 unreserved seat).
Atami is also a stop on the regular Tokaido Line which runs from Tokyo (2 hours to Atami, ¥1,980), Shizuoka (80 minutes, ¥1,340) and Hamamatsu (2 hr 45 min, ¥2,640). Alternatively, take the cheaper Odakyu Line from Shinjuku (Tokyo) to Odawara (¥910) and continue with the Tokaido Line from there (¥420).
With the exception of the Keikyu line, all train rides listed above are free with the Japan Rail Pass.
From the north-east, Atami can be reached by National Highway 135 (about 23 km from Odawara station). From the west, use National Highway 136 and Prefectural Road 11 from Mishima (about 24 km).
Atami's city center is fairly compact, but buses connect the train station to the MOA Museum of Art via a veritable hillside of ume trees (bus no.4, blossoms in March) and several other points of interest.
The YuYu Bus, a tourist bus, links the main attractions including the Atami Castle. ¥800.
By rental car
There are two car hire companies directly across from the Train station (both Japanese only):
- Toyota Rent-a-car 0557-81-0100
- Nippon Rent-a-car 0557-82-4588
- 1 MOA Museum of Art (MOA美術館) (an 8-minute bus ride from JR Atami Station), ☏ . F-W 09:30–16:30. Opened in 1982 to house some of the collection of spiritual leader Mokichi Okada (see box), the displays here run the gamut from Japanese calligraphy to Tang-dynasty pottery, with a roomful of Matisse, a tea room covered in gold leaf and Socialist-realist bronze sculptures thrown in for flavor. But there's a uniting thread to it all, as according to Okada, "Art must meet three conditions: it must be true, it must be good, and it must be beautiful." No falsehood, evil, or ugliness; no death, no old age, no sickness; no sorrow, no hate, no pain, no lust. The overall effect is a little eerie, but beautiful just the same and well worth a visit. The entrance to the museum is particularly striking. ¥1,600.
- 2 Atami Hihokan (熱海秘宝館), ☏ . If lolling about in hot water has gotten you all hot and bothered, this overpriced erotic museum will fan the flames a bit. Nearly every Japanese hot spring town used to have one of these, but they've very much an endangered species now and this is one of the few left in the entire country. Adults only. ¥1,800 including return transfer on the Atami Ropeway.
- Scuba diving – Atami is a popular day or weekend trip from Tokyo for diving, largely due to its proximity to the city (40 minutes by Shinkansen). Sites feature some spectacular soft corals and sea life including nudibranchs, moray eels, and octopus. Atami also has one of the only divable wrecks in mainland Japan. Visibility can be poor during certain times of year, but it peaks toward the end of the summer/early fall.
Hot springs and onsen
Don't be fooled into thinking that the "hot springs" on the town map are onsen baths — they are literally locations where the hot volcanic water pumps up from the ground. Some even have geysers! There is, however, a free foot-bath directly outside the train station that runs up until the evening. A conveniently placed vending machine sells towels lest you forgot yours.
- 1 Public Foot Bath (Ieyasu-no-yu). Free.
- 2 Atami Marine Spa (マリンスパあたみ), 4-39 Wadahamaminamicho, ☏ . ¥1,010–1,360.
- 3 Ekimae Onsen Yokujō (near the railway station), ☏ . Daily 14:00-21:00, closed W. A smaller and unspectacular onsen mostly frequented by locals. ¥500.
- 4 Nikkotei (日航亭), 5-26 Kamijukucho (10 m uphill from the Ōyu Kanketsusen geyser), ☏ . 09:00–18:00. Indoor & outdoor baths, sauna & relaxation room. ¥1,100.
- 1 Maxvalu Express. 07:00-23:30. Great supermarket with a good choice including fruits and reduced meals in the evening. Its larger sibbling further west is quite expensive though.
Supposedly, the Atami fish stores are very good, and you will also find the best and freshest sushi nearby. They start as early as 07:00.
- 1 Cafe RoCA (カフェロカ), ☏ . Th-Tu 11:30-18:00, W 11:30-00:00. Serves up Scandinavian food and is a good way to learn about what's going on in town.
- 2 Mon (モン). An Italian restaurant with pizza and spaghetti.
3-4 hostels are available in Atami, check Booking.com.
- 1 Kinjōkan (金城館), 10-33 Showacho, ☏ . The glitzily named Golden Palace Hotel was the top place in town in the 1980s but has remained firmly stuck there ever since, with gaudy chandeliers and miles of brown plush. On the plus side, there's a full range of spa and pool facilities and a beautiful little garden too. Rooms for two from ¥15,900 and up, up and away.
|Routes through Atami|
|Nagoya ← Mishima ←||W E||→ Odawara → Shin-Yokohama → Tokyo|
|Shizuoka ← Mishima ←||W E||→ Odawara → Tokyo|
|Odawara ←||E S||→ Itō → Shimoda|