Summer is officially over in Japan, but the warm air still lingers in the southern coastal region, one-hour south of Tokyo. Despite the short distance and pleasant mid-twenty-degree temperature, city dwellers begin to seek out parks to relax and admire the blooming flowers. For travellers and locals, it’s a blissful time to hit the sand and catch the last of the sun’s rays in a serene environment.
During summer, the beachside area of Hayama becomes a hot spot for those who worship the sun and surf. While riding the bus along the coast, you’ll see surf boards strapped to the sides of push-bikes and an equal number of bikini-clad locals walking their dogs. The eclectic characters you’ll pass during the 20-minute journey will provide you an example of what’s to come. Stay on board until you reach Isshiki beach, for its where all types and ages claim a spot on the black sand. You’ll be surprised by the diversity of people you meet and the array of quirky beach equipment they’ve carted along with them. There’s everything from inflatable swans to marshmallow-looking sun beds dotted along the horizon. Isshiki beach is one of the few beaches in the area where you can roam freely with large uncovered tattoos.
From July to September, Hayama has a similar vibe to Melbourne’s St. Kilda beach. Wooden restaurants and bars are literally erected in the sand, inviting the bare-footed to enjoy a cocktail or canteen style meal before re-entering the water. Bar stools start filling around noon and the drinks continue to flow until midnight. Music from each open-air stall helps wanders determine where to settle; some feature live bands, while others enlist DJs to play dance music.
At the end of the season when the stalls are dismantled, locals comment on how amazing it is to see the town reform to a sleepy hollow. Dogs and fitness buffs reclaim the shoreline and everyone can go back to buying their bread and coffee without needing to queue. What’s commonly said to be most admirable, is the unspoiled view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day.
To get to Hayama, you’ll bypass a famous surf area called Kamakura. No matter the weather, you’ll see dozens of keen surfers riding small to medium waves close to shore. The ocean floor is largely free of coral and rocks, making it an excellent spot for beginners. It’s great to see so many female surfers riding the waves as well as teaching grommets to get up on longboards. Be prepared to walk home with fine black sand clinging to your calves and hanging around in your bag for days.
If you plan to spend a few days on the coast, I recommend visiting Enoshima Island. It’s roughly one-hour (by train) west of Kamakura, and you can get across by car or foot. The charming island has maintained many cultural and historical elements, while making modern adaptions to encourage tourism. There’s an observatory called the Sea Candle which becomes spectacularly lit at night and serves as a lighthouse for the ships. During the day, you can pay a small fee to go inside and get a great view over the bays of the Kamakura region. Most visitors speak highly of the seafood available to purchase straight from the fishmongers; alternatively, there are many high-quality restaurants to eat at, situated close to a popular shrine and large indoor aquarium.
- Take the train to Zushi Station (1 hour from center of Tokyo), then board the #6 bus from outside the station’s main exit. Ask the driver to let you off at Isshiki Beach or Sagami Bay.
- Watch how they make an octopus cracker on Enoshima Island and chow down the paper-thin crisp as your wander through the markets.
- Go and visit Kamakura’s Great Buddha, for it’s the second largest Buddha statue in Japan.
- Sit on Kamakura beach and watch the 45-minute long fireworks display held annually on the first weekend of October and mid-July.
Casey Hawkins grew up immersed in Australia’s sea, sun and surf culture. She first became a teacher because she was passionate about sharing ideas and experiences. Teaching has led her to explore some unique, remote locations and make friends with people from all walks of life. She is most passionate about learning and sharing their stories with others. Website: Nan’s Lucky Duck.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.