If you couldn’t go back to your country for Christmas and New Years and are in Tokyo during the holiday season, I highly recommend that you take a quick day trip or maybe an overnight trip to Atami 熱海市. Atami is located on the east coast of the Izu Peninsula in the Shizuoka 静岡県 prefecture. Atami literally means hot ocean in English and it makes sense as the city is made up of partially submerged volcanic formations on the edge of Sagami Bay. Atami is less than an hour from Tokyo and offers beautiful views of the sea, many sightseeing spots and onsens. Izu is famous for being a romantic place for couples to enjoy the sunsets and beaches, and boy, it is true! I am sure I was the only solo traveler in the entire Izu peninsula!

I stayed in Atami for one night, and tried to visit as many paces as possible during my two-day stay. I went there over the Christmas weekend, hence,  it was full of families and couples. I started my day early as like most small towns in Japan, everything closes around 6pm. Even the convenience stores close at 8pm!
Well, I did many things and visited many places but here the 5 best things to do in Atami:

1. Take photos at Coeda House in Akao Herb and Rose Garden アカオハーブ&ローズガーデン

Akao Herb & Rose Garden is a beautiful garden on top of a hill that overlooks the ocean. There are 12 themed gardens with rapeseed, cherry blossoms, tulips and of course, roses! I didn’t see many flowers there in this cold weather – yet the place looked magical with remains of autumn colors. Akao Herb and Rose Garden was the first garden in Japan to be awarded the “Excellent Garden Award” by the World Rose Federation. And the best part of that garden was Coeda House, a coffee shop on the top of the hill, offering several rose-themed desserts and drinks. It is a cozy cafe with large windows, offering magnificent view of the ocean. It is a Insta-famous spot to take photos with Pacific in the background!
Akao Herb and Rose Garden アカオハーブ&ローズガーデン


Akao Herb and Rose Garden アカオハーブ&ローズガーデン


coeda house atami


2. Visit Atami castle 熱海城

Atami Castle was built-in 1959 on top of a mountain overlooking the city of Atami. It has an observation deck on the sixth floor, where you can enjoy the panoramic views of Atami and the neighbouring islands. You can get a great view of the fireworks festivals which is held multiple times during the year. Atami Castle is also famous for cherry blossoms during early Spring. Additionally, you can also enjoy foot baths and dress up in Edo period costumes there. There is a small museum inside the castle and a trick art museum next to the castle. It is a good place to get a gist of various aspects of Japanese culture!

3. Watch sunset at Atami Sun Beach 熱海 サンビーチ

Atami Sun Beach is a clear water beach with white sand and is very popular during the Japan’s short six weeks summer season. Since the beach is sheltered, it does not have large waves like other Pacific Coast beaches, making it an ideal place for children to swim and families to relax.  I didn’t go near the water as it was cold, however, there were several couples and children who were inside the water. Really brave of them, all I can say!


4. Shop for omiyage at Nakamise and Heiwadori shopping streets

Another thing you can do in Atami is to end your journey by shopping in Nakamise and Heiwadori shopping streets, just in front of Atami Station. There are souvenir shops, restaurants and cute cafes, some even founded in 60s and 70s. These shopping streets are like other Japanese shopping streets in traditional towns or near temples, offering very unique Japanese omiyage. Some shops sell dried fish, which, Atami is famous for. I bought a couple of interesting looking snacks, cute socks and key rings etc. from there. It was fun to take a stroll and munch on some local food. In-fact, I got to try the famous gold leaf ice cream there!


5. Absorb nature in the Japanese garden at Kiunkaku きうんかく

Kiunkaku was built-in 1919 by a shipping magnate to serve as his private villa during the Tasei-era. In 1947 the property became a ryokan where it served famous celebrities and authors. Kiunkaku is owned by Atami City since 1999 and has been preserved as a cultural property. You can enter the building, see some guest rooms, and walk around the beautiful Japanese garden situated in center of the complex. You can also enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms, plum blossoms, as well as the autumn foliage there. Additionally, there is a traditional tea room, where you can enjoy a cup of tea or two!
Japanese garden at Kiunkaku きうんかく Vivalahighstreet

6. Stay at a ryokan

Atami is mainly an onsen town. There are numerous Japanese style hotels or ryokans there. Small and big, some with onsens, some without, and some with rooms with private onsen. Hotel prices are high on weekends and Japanese holidays as Tokyoites escape to Atami to enjoy Japan’s favorite pastime of visiting onsens. I got a last-minute deal at a small family run ryokan. The best part of my stay was the view of Pacific Ocean from my balcony, and I guess most ryokans and hotels in Atami will have the same breathtaking view!


Atami is 40 minutes from Shinagawa station by Kodama shinkansen and costs Yen 4190 for reserved seat.

Once in Atami you can either walk, take taxi or use buses. There is a special bus called Yo-yo loop buse which stops at all major tourist spots. A one-day pass costs 700 and you can use the bus any number of times!

Honestly, most of the towns and cities in Japan look quite similar to me. That is why, Atami was a pleasant surprise! It has a very different vibe, very unique, beautiful and peaceful. Head over to Atami during your new year holidays!