Now that travel is difficult because of coronavirus COVID-19, I remembered my trip to Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture. I wanted to go to Shimoda, also known as Pallet Town in Pokemon, but it was too far. I thought to myself that because Atami is also in the Izu Peninsula and that Atami (熱海) means “hot sea”, it would be a good vacation destination. I was not disappointed.
Arriving in Atami
I arrive in Atami by bullet train. It looks like a beautiful seaside town. My feet are asleep. Because I already know of a footbath at Atami station, I head there. It is the footbath of Ieyasu. According to legend, it was the favourite footbath of the Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa. I notice something peculiar next to the bath: a towel dispenser. How convenient! I don’t have a small towel with which to dry my feet. I insert a 100-yen coin in the dispenser and chose my towel. I remove my socks and dip my feet in the hot water. It is so hot I think I will burn my feet. After resting, I take my bags and head for the guesthouse I’d be staying at.
California Meets New Hampshire
I always get lost when traveling. I enter the name of the guesthouse in Google maps and follow the itinerary the application suggests. I walk through the market and look at all the souvenirs for sale. Atami is known for Himono (干物), dried fish. On the way, I buy a dried, grilled squid.
As I walk down the road, I notice the palm trees and the tall green hills. I couldn’t help but think of San Francisco, California. Many small shops and houses reminded me of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. I went there when I was a teen on vacation. Although many sites were reminiscent of the United States, the Japanese signs (with English and Japanese words written in Latin script for show) remind me that I’m in Japan.
It is almost noon and I’m feeling hungry.
Atami Seafood City
Atami is known for its seafood. I scan all the restaurants near the Ginza shopping district and everything looks so tasty. The choice, in the end, was quite easy: all restaurants are full. Just when I’m about to leave a tiny diner after being tired of waiting, the owner calls me and lets me know of the seat that had just been made available. The recommended dish is a bowl of rice with sashimi and shrimp. As I am eating, Noriyuki Makihara’s Mokoinanteshinai (I don’t love you anymore), a 90s love song my students parodied, starts playing on the radio. Atami was indeed once a lovers’ destination.
To be continued…
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