Tokyo is super-busy! And sometimes, you just need to escape the crowds for a few hours. If there’s one thing Tokyoites like to do when the sun comes out, it’s queue. On the recent fateful trip to see the Fuji moss, we even had to pre-queue queue to sit in a 2hr queue of traffic. It slowly sends you nuts after a while. So, a little day away from crowds was in order.
Just two hours down the Izu peninsula exists a little seaside town called Atami. We first went there back in October. It’s a sleepy place, with a slight Japan-does-Blackpool feel. Pachinko parlours replace the bookmakers and penny arcades; a ropeway up the mountain replaces the Pepsi ‘Big One’; swooping Japanese black kites replace the shitting seagulls; and the sun comes out!
A solitary tent on Atami beach. Japanese people don’t visit beaches until August. Beaches represent a small window of opportunity that doesn’t open until August. No fun at a beach must be had before, or after, this month. Thus, these people were swiftly moved on shortly afterwards. Bloody beach vagrants – the nerve.
However, crabbing is allowed, if accompanied by a responsible adult. Unfortunately, I’d left my tackle at home. And I wasn’t accompanied by a responsible adult.
Always worth knowing the escape route.
The coastguard was made redundant in a recent round of unexpected job losses. They were replaced with a cheaper, more kawaii, version. They put the tent up all by themselves too. Don’t be fooled by their cuteness. They could be vicious little bastards, as we soon witnessed when I decided to paddle in the sea. The lead dog even has a can of premium malts on the go.
Once recovered from my humiliation, we took the ropeway / cable car to the top of the hill. What a beautiful view!
The castle sits atop the hill and we were faced with a dilemma. Do we go in? Or do we sit and admire the castle, and buy some beers? I’m afraid to say our cultural side shied away, so the beers won us over. Well, it was roasting hot and we had just got to the top of the hill (so what if it was by cable car!).
After a cheeky beer sat in the sun, we returned back down to the harbour and saw a boat trip poised to leave. On we got….
Wow! There were fish out of every window. Big ones, little ones, colourful ones – all types. Maz was gobsmacked.
The boat proceeded to take a little round trip around the harbour. It was choppy and I could feel the Asahi sloshing around my stomach.
These birds were huge. Japanese black kites, I believe, if my bird knowledge is correct. I’m no expert, although I must confess to being an avid tit watcher.
Post-trip now, and a spot of fishing on the harbour.
We’d already passed this festival earlier in the day and had clocked the giant beer tent. It was so hot, a beer or two in the afternoon sunshine would do no harm whatsoever.
On stage….a calligraphy competition! Rocking it Atami, rocking it!
Fuck – that’s a HUGE plate of noodles. This photo doesn’t really convey just how big it was. It kept us going for about 3 days.
As we sat in the sun, drinking our beer, a local man on a nearby table saw us, came across, and plonked a load of chicken on the table for us. What a lovely fella. Random acts of kindness towards us happen quite frequently when we’re out and about. We’ve been given free champagne at the horse racing, free J-League tickets, free food. What next?
Well, Atami is a really lovely little seaside town. It has a castle with a view, a big hill with a cable car, and a festival with portion sizes the Americans would envy. Fun is allowed, but only at certain times of the year, or if you have a permit. A worthwhile day trip for sure.