Give yourself a treat: Follow in the footsteps of famous writers and artists such as the painter Yokoyama Taikan and the writers Yukio Mishima and Yasunari Kawabata (author of "The Izu Dancer"). To do so, just hop on a train to the old seaside resort of Atami on the Izu Peninsula just south of Tokyo.

There are a number of attractions to this small town of 40,000. You might want to stay a few nights at a traditional inn and enjoy the natural hot springs, brought to you by eons-old volcanic formations. But two places of particular interest are the garden and buildings of Kiunkaku, and the MOA Museum of Art.

Kiunkaku was built in 1919 as a bessou (country villa) by shipping magnate Shinya Uchida, who later sold it to Kaichiro Nezu, owner of railroads and benefactor of the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts in Tokyo's Shibuya district. Between the two of them, they produced a fine garden enclosed on four sides by an eclectic set of buildings that hark back to the Edo Period (1603-1867), with accents of Western-style buildings that reflect the tastes of the wealthy in an earlier era. In 1947, the property was converted into a ryokan (Japanese inn). Since 2000 it has been maintained as a cultural asset by the city of Atami and is open to the public.