By Peter Sidell
Following the logic of the road, from JR Atami Station, I walked down towards the sea. I knew, eventually, I would reach the marina. I wanted to explore Atami a bit on foot. I didn’t have a map with me or any particular objectives. Like flowing water, I allowed my feet to be carried away wherever the road and paths would lead me.
At the shotengai (shopping arcade), there were already a growing crowd of tourists, both local and foreign. I heard Chinese spoken everywhere. Many of them were ‘food tasting’ using toothpicks offered by shop-staff; others were looking at menu boards; there were also some young people who had already started drinking beer in cans and eating foods on skewers.
I was not hungry. My breakfast at the hotel was more than sufficient. The winter weather in this part of the country was relatively milder than where I live in Yokohama.
I strolled down the meandering road. It took about twenty minutes to arrive at the Spa Marina Atami. It was about 9.30 in morning and the yacht harbour was relatively quiet. I was the early bird, so I thought. Walking closer to the half-moon view-deck, I noticed I wasn’t the earliest bird – dozens of seagulls had been perched on the edges of the view-deck rails.
I have always been fascinated by the seagulls’ friendliness; I went nearer and started to film them with my old smartphone. They never complained.
At the nearby Atami Yuransen San Remo( 熱海遊覧船) sightseeing ship (where you can go on a 30-minute cruise in Sagami Bay for Y1200), hundreds of seagulls had been circling around the ship, diving every now and then for small fish.
In the distance, you could see the summit of Hachimanyama; not far from it is the Atami Castle which was built in 1959.
On my way back, I walked up along Ito River. And to my good luck, the Atami sakura had just started to bloom.
On foot, Atami has a lot of things to offer to the patient traveler.
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I have a little garden: slightly bigger than the forehead of a cat. I grow herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, and mint, and lemon grass, and lavender, and basil. Occasionally, I cook for myself. Sometimes, my Japanese wife and my daughter like my cooking. I come from the Philippines – it is said that there are more than seven thousand islands but I do not own one. I’d love to, though. I always carry a camera with me – in my walks, journeys, and wanderings. Most of the time, I’m home – staring at Fujisan and writing something.