By Sandra Isaka
I shall begin this entry, not as a joyous account of our time spent in the onsen (hot spring) town of Atami, but more so, pointing out what I thought to be a fair few faults, none of which lessened the enjoyment of our time there it must be said! So why did we even go? Atami is super easy to reach on the Tokkaido Line and if you rush out of work on a Friday evening, you can be at the beach for dinner! It is a shame that this beach town is what it is.
For a famous onsen town, it is bizarrely neglected and forgotten about. I actually felt unnerved walking trough the streets. Our hotel was a block back from the main Sunbeach but, to access it, you had to climb some stairs up an alleyway and walk past a large, disused car park. It was all quite surreal.
We arrived in the evening around 8pm and you would have expected a few places to be open to serve food and entertain the visitors, but no. It was so quiet, it was hard to believe that there was a massive festival about to happen to celebrate 'Marine Day' (Umi no Hi, 海の日), save for the banging on the taiko drums by some of the locals on the streets. Thankfully, this was a pleasant, rhythmic sound and I am a fan of the great Japanese drum!
The beach itself is OK... there is sand, it isn't black (not too much), but the water isn't clear either! I am a fussy beach-er and I like my tropical paradises a bit too much!!
Let's talk about reasons TO visit Atami:
1) Atami is a famous onsen town in Shizuoka prefecture and at the beginning of the Izu Peninsula. If you are staying at one of the many lovely-looking onsen ryokans, you will have little need to venture out to the quiet town outside as food is usually provided.
2) There are a couple of shopping ginzas, although, out of the few shops that were open, there was only dried fish on sale.
3) The Atami landmarks near our hotel - the Sunbeach, 400 meters of dark sandy beach, with parasols to rent for the day too.
4) We found a Hawaiian restaurant, called 'Halekai'. They had all the usual offerings from Hawaii and I think they provided us with the real holiday vibe each night, making us forget the raw vibe outside.
5) Boats can take you out on diving tours from Atami.
Hotel Grand View Atami
We used booking.com and stayed at what sounded like a decent place. Walking there from the station was not the six minutes stated on the description, nor was the location grand, nor the view anything even visible. The rooms however, were basically a converted studio apartment, so it was a spacious tatami matted room with everything you needed, including hob (and wine opener!) if you wanted to cook.
HOWEVER, reviews had all complained about the breakfast there, and I will give the hotel its dues - for 500 Yen, you get a mixture of Japanese / French(ish) breakfast and to be honest, who can really complain about that! The oranges were the freshest I had eaten in a while and there were none left for the other guests when they came down. I might even go so far as to stay I would stay there again, although I would have to go back to Atami first and that I cannot be sure of!
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