I had a few days of 'independent travel' time in Japan before going to a big, full-on conference, so I wanted to make sure I get over the jetlag and also have some relaxation time before that. I was utterly clueless and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what on earth to do in a country I know nothing about, in the middle of the typhoon season when it is unbearably hot and humid (for some of us anyway). An old school friend recommended a nice resort in the south of the Izu peninsula, where I am headed today : ) But my flight into Narita arrived too late to make it all the way there on day one. So, I studied that map and figured out that the first major train stop on the way to the resort in the town of Atami. It's a straightforward journey, first on the Narita Express to Shinagawa. You can buy the tickets at Narita, there is a counter as soon as you exit customs, and staff here speak good English. If you say you want to go to Shinagawa, they will give you a seat reservation in one of the front carriages on the express, because these are separated from the rest of the train at Tokyo station. On the journey to Atami, it is a good idea to avpid Tokyo station and to make the transfer at the much smaller Shinagawa station instead, hence this recommendation. At Shinagawa, there will be several 'Kodama' trains that are headed to Shin-Osaka and that stop at Atami. In total, the trip will take about 2 hours including train changes etc. Atami itself is nothing much to write home about (although there are some interesting and accessible sights e.g. the Museum of Art, located on top of a hill with excellent views and some nice Japanse art)...but it is a good spot to get ready for the rest of your Japanese adventure as it is easily reached from Narita. Everything here is very well-organised and safe, although dining does seem to finish a bit too early in the evening (ca. 9 pm, apart from greasy spoon places which are OK for atmosphere and fine for food really, on a one-off basis). I feel I got really lucky in booking a room in the Micuras hotel, which is right by the seafront and about 5 minutes taxi ride from the train station. The best thing about the hotel is that it gives you a mini 'onsen' experience as it has really lovely mini spa that is included in room price. You get to experience the hot Japanese bath without too much confusion (although beware: the bathing code does call for scrupulous cleanliness and nudity among members of your own sex - no swim suits allowed!). The women's bathing area is on the 8th and the men's on the 13th - totally segregated. The water pressure in the showers is the strongest I have ever experienced - my hair never felt this clean before! The trick is to spend just the right time in the hot water pool that overlooks the seafront - too long is a bit disastrous as the water is really hot. But when you need to recover and chill, there is a gorgeous relaxation area just above the baths, with a machine for unlimited cold and hot drinks. There is a treatments spa, which is a bit pricey, but I really enjoyed an hour-long aromatherapy massage. Dinner here is tasty but you do need to book in advance and you should not arrive in a state of starvation as the Japanese portions are not very big for Western appetite (for gluttons like me anyway). The staff are extremely helpful and polite, but their English is quite limited. But my attitude at this stage is that everything about Japan is interesting and fun, and I don't require too much interpretation, just enjoying it all : ) So, in summary, Micuras is a top spot for getting over your jetlag - recommend strongly for one or two nights.
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- Also Known As:
- Micuras Hotel Atami
- Micuras Resort Atami