“Bandai” is the name of this area, home to Mt. Bandai, and Atami comes from Atami Onsen in Shizuoka Prefecture, the hometown of Ito Sukenaga, a lord of this area. He was a retainer of Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199), the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, and became the lord here after the Oshu War (1189). Though the area is far from the sea and nestled in mountains, the place was named “Atami,” meaning “hot sea,” which indicates hot springs were already discovered like those of famous Atami Onsen in Shizuoka.
This hot spring has a legend. There was a beautiful girl named Hagihime in Kyoto about 800 years ago, who suffered from an incurable disease. One day, she received a prophecy from Cetaka (Fudo Myoo) that she would recover from her illness if she went northeast and soaked in a sacred hot spring on the riverside of the 500th river from Kyoto. She started to head for the northeast and finally arrived at Bandai Atami Onsen, overcoming a lot of obstacles along the way. Thanks to the water, her illness fully recovered. According to this legend, the hot springs are renowned as a “beauty hot springs” and Hagihime Matsuri festival is held every August. The name of the Ioi River, which means the 500th river, is also from this legend.
For sightseeing, visit Nihon Kimono Bunka Museum, where kimonos from the 17th to early 20th centuries are on display. Roughly situated in the middle of Fukushima Prefecture, the location is convenient to visit other sightseeing places in the prefecture.
Tokyo Station -> 1 h 25 min by Tohoku Shinkansen -> Koriyama Station -> 13 min by rapid train on the JR Banetsu Sai Line -> Bandai Atami Station
Bandai Atami Onsen Ryokan Kyodo Kumiai
Visiting Tsuruga-jo Castle and Ouchijuku in the Aizu area and enjoying in the nature of Ura Bandai are also recommended.