Once a high end onsen resort with beautiful view of the seaside and stunning village spreading in the steep lush green sides of some small mountains, like many other onsen destinations Atami has been transformed into a sad village with too many horrible onsen ryokans that are now falling appart, a pitiful shopping street that goes dark before 18:00 and to complete the picture the seaside bears the scar of a highway. Between conviency and cheap development for Atami was the top destination for honey moon in the 50's and 60's, it is still possible to enjoy Atami and a bit of its past grandeur or rather simple luxury and beauty. A few beautiful villas old and new nested in the winding roads up the hills and a few exclusive hotels still exist. A few of the country residences built in the first half of the 20's century can be visited, and a Hoshino resorts have made some tremendous effort to recreate some of the past atmosphere.
Using both a Japanese and a western building, that used to be a library, they have created a nice secluded space that is large enough to forget a bit about the ugliness of the rest of the city. A steep stair goes up the hill from the library passing by the two onsen bathes and end in the Japanese building. Climbing up one can enjoy the sound of the waves and the wind in the giant camphor trees. Except for onsen and a bit of local food degustation there is strictly nithing to do in Atami, at least for the moment. The only worth seeing museum being closed for renovation for several years, and not opening until 2017... Swimming requires a bit of a drive, and there might be some hiking trails but unfortunately we couldn't try them because of the rain. There is a beautiful drive through the pass that goes up to Hakone.
But somehow, walking through the deserted streets at night has something really magic, some kind of Midnight in Paris or a magic hour, when your imagination can just make up anything.