4 Must-Try Experiences In Atami | CoolJapan

The laidback city of Atami, about 1.5 hours from Tokyo, is popular for its many hot spring resorts, with the luxurious Soki Atami being the latest addition. Opened in November 2020, this contemporary ryokan is situated within the coastal town of Koarashicho and is surrounded by panoramic views of Atami Bay. Each of the 54 well-appointed rooms comes with its own private hot spring bath as well as all the creature comforts you’ll need for a relaxing stay.

Apart from Soki, you can also enjoy other types of hot spring experiences in Atami, including the 1,300-year-old Izusan Onsen, considered to be one of Japan’s three great onsens, as well as Ryori Ryokan Nagisa-kan, which offers eight different themed baths.

In between all that therapeutic soaking, make time to explore the sights and sounds of this charming town.

Visit the “ancient” Atami Castle

Perched high on a mountain overlooking Atami, this castle mimics the style of castles built during the Momoyama period (1568-1600) but was actually built relatively recently in 1959. Despite its lack of a storied past, this modern-day castle continues to attract tourists with its permanent exhibition about the different castles in Japan. Guests are also invited to dress up in Edo Period costumes and try their hand at solving Japanese riddles. The castle is also a prime viewing spot to catch unblocked views of the Atami Fireworks Display, held several times throughout the year. Check this website for the latest fireworks schedule.

Admire the beautiful former holiday residence of a shipping magnate

If you like a peek into yesteryear Japan, don’t miss out on visiting Kiunkaku, built in 1919 by a shipping tycoon as his private villa. In 1947, the property was transformed into a ryokan where it continued to serve guests until 1999. During the various time periods, Kiunkaku has undergone several facelifts, with different rooms and even additional buildings added. Today, the complex is an oddly attractive blend of Japanese architecture with European-influenced interior design, including an opulent Roman-style tiled bath with stained glass windows. At the heart of the sprawling complex is a beautifully landscaped garden, complete with cobbled paths for an idyllic stroll.

Catch a traditional performance at the Atami Geigi Kenban Kaburenjo

While there are many pop culture references surrounding geigi (or geisha), not many people truly understand the art of being a geisha. With a history that dates back to roughly the 18th century, geisha are female professional performers skilled in traditional Japanese arts such as singing, dancing and playing the shamisen. Atami is renowned to have one of the best geigi districts in the country, thanks to the Imperial Villa being constructed there in 1888, drawing businessmen and traders from far and wide. At the Atami Geigi Kenban Kaburenjo, you get to watch geigi perform the traditional Yumemachi Odori Hananomai (Flower Dance) as well as enjoy a post-performance chat with the artists.

Go on a deep blue adventure

Scuba junkies will love exploring the Izu Peninsula, which is teeming with vibrant coral reefs and a wide variety of tropical and cold-water fish. The more adventurous divers can also take part in cave diving and shipwreck exploration, including the wreck of Asahi Maru, known locally as the “Chinsen” (wreck). This 120m-long cargo vessel sunk some 30 years ago during a typhoon, dragging two tugboats down with it. The “Chinsen” is one of the few shipwrecks off Honshu Island that is accessible to divers and offers up-close encounters with varied marine life such as moray eels, stonefish, spider crabs and plenty of nudibranchs.

(Cover photo from: Atami City)