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.
You can reach Atami from one of Tokyo's two airports. From Narita Airport, 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 (¥7100) and 3 hours via local connection (¥4900).
From Haneda Airport, take a Keihin Kyuko line train to Shinagawa (¥400) for connection to the Shinkansen (1 hr 15 min, ¥4500 total). Alternatively you can take the Keikyu Line from Haneda to Yokohama via Keikyu-Kamata station (¥470) and change at Yokohama for the local JR Tokaido line (2 hours, ¥1750 total).
Atami is on the Tokaido Shinkansen main line, just 50 minutes from Tokyo (¥3570 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 (¥2960 unreserved seat) and Hamamatsu in 70 minutes (¥4930 unreserved seat).
Atami is also a stop on the regular Tokaido Line which runs from Tokyo (2 hours to Atami, ¥1890), Shizuoka (80 minutes, ¥1280) and Hamamatsu (2 hr 45 min, ¥2520).
With the exception of the Keihin Kyuko line, all train rides listed above are free with the Japan Rail Pass.
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.
The Tourist Information Center in the train station stocks little in the way of English brochures; the branch on the sea front, between the main Atami Sun Beach and the Marine Spa Atami, is a better bet.
There are two car hire companies directly across from the Train station: Toyota Rent-a-car 0557-81-0100. Nippon Rent-a-car 0557-82-4588 (both Japanese only).
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.
- 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. ¥1600.
- 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. Adults only. ¥1800 including return transfer on the Atami Ropeway.
Don't be fooled into thinking that the 'Hot Springs/Spas' 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.
This area does have several excellent onsen open to the public for a small fee.
- 1 Atami Marine Spa (マリンスパあたみ), 4-39 Wadahamaminamicho, ☏ .
- 2 Nikkotei (日航亭), 5-26 Kamijukucho (10 m uphill from the Ōyu Kanketsusen geyser), ☏ . Indoor & outdoor baths, sauna & relaxation room.
Atami is a popular day or weekend trip from Tokyo for scuba 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.
- Discovery Divers Tokyo, 6-25-26 Asamizodai (Sagamihara, Kanagawa 228-0828), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. English-speaking dive operation that offers dive tours in Atami.
- DiveZone Tokyo, ✉ email@example.com. Scuba diving to Atami and various other sites in Izu, Japan. PADI shop based in Tokyo. English, Dutch, French and Japanese.
- Mar Scuba Tokyo, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. English dive operator in the Tokyo area and offers fun dives and courses in Atami and the surrounding area.
- Japan Underwater Explorers. Recreational and technical dive club/service offering multi-lingual training and fun dive adventures.
- 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.