Tokyo is famous for many things, but beaches are not among them. However, outside the city there are thriving beach areas in Kanagawa, Chiba and Shizuoka prefectures. It would be a bestseller to call these world-class places – go to Okinawa for that – but if you are in the capital and its surroundings in the summer and want to surf, there are many great options.
There are quiet local and very popular beaches; quiet coves for family holidays and reefs for surfers. The peak of summer falls in July and August, when many beaches have temporary houses, festivals and fireworks are held. Keep in mind that the Japanese sun is very strong! Many locals wear hats or hide under beach umbrellas.
These are the seven best beaches within a two-hour drive from Tokyo.
Enjoy surfing with a view of Mount Fuji at Zaimokuza Beach, Kanagawa
Although Kamakura is only an hour by train from Tokyo, this coastal city with the laid-back vibe of a California surfer seems far away. Of Kamakura’s five beaches, Yuigahama is the most popular and the first to be reached on foot from the train station; it can also be incredibly crowded, especially on weekends. To get more space, keep walking towards the Zaimokusa, a wide strip of sand facing the usually soft water. On clear days, look to the east for a stunning view of Mount Fuji.
The easiest beach to reach from Tokyo is Katase Higashihama Beach, Kanagawa
If you don’t have much time, head to Katase Higashihama, near Enoshima Island. This place, located a few minutes walk from the train station, has a more relaxed attitude towards tattoos, alcohol and pets, and also offers a wide range of services, including toilets, showers, rental of chairs and umbrellas, parking, shops and restaurants. It’s not the most beautiful place because the dark sand looks a bit like cigarette ash, but it’s almost invisible because of all the beach umbrellas. Katase Higashihama is especially popular among teenagers and students in Tokyo.
Ishiki Beach in Kanagawa is a great place to relax
The beautiful Ishiki Beach is just a 15-minute bus ride from the lively Zushi area. It is clearly quieter here than in the surrounding areas, largely due to the rock formations and vegetation that create a coastal enclave. The fact that there is no direct rail connection gives Ishiki Beach a more local look. Visitors come to relax by the water, spreading towels to sunbathe or read in silence. Temporary structures are installed every summer to meet their needs.
The best beach for surfers is Onjuku Beach, Chiba
Head southeast to Onjuku Beach in Chiba and visit a surfer’s paradise. The crescent-shaped beach hosts carnivals and national surfing competitions every year, thanks to the waves that almost always break.
Beach houses and rental outlets offer all the necessary equipment, including surfboards, bodybuilding boards, rowing boards and wetsuits. As a bonus, the beach itself is charming, with powdery sand and bright blue water.
Zushi Beach in Kanagawa has a great cafe culture and the best windsurfing
Zushi Beach is extremely popular for all types of beach holidays, and for those who need to stop to refuel with caffeine (or just play spectator), the good news is that the coast is dotted with cafes, bars and restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the event. Take a look at the vegan cafe Beach Muffin, specializing in delicious handmade pastries. At the other end of the beach, next to the marina, there is one of the best places for windsurfing near Tokyo.
Sunny Atami Beach in Shizuoka – the best beach in the evenings
For those who want to extend their stay on the beach, the fun at Atami San Beach does not end after dark. This palm-lined sandy beach is illuminated with blue light every sunset until 10 pm, and in summer fireworks are regularly arranged here, which add color to the spectacle. The events gather large crowds of people, creating a festive atmosphere without smoke – smoking is prohibited here.
Take a walk along the beautiful coast of South Beach, Kanagawa
As for walking, the South Beach in Chigasaki is a feast for the eyes at any time of the year. The South Beach Memorial is a well-known venue for weddings and photo shoots, and a walk will take pedestrians to many restaurants and small businesses along the coast. From the beach, you can see Enoshima Island to the east, Mount Fuji to the west, and large rock formations, including Willow Eboshi, a hat-shaped rock, ahead. In summer, the beach hosts many fireworks and other events, which makes it a great place to observe people.
Be sure to observe Japanese beach etiquette
There is an official season on the beaches of Japan, which usually coincides with the summer school holidays, from mid-July to August. During this time, umi-no-ie – “beach houses” will be placed on popular beaches such as Katase Higashihama, where you can rent umbrellas and deck chairs, as well as sell drinks and not very tasty food. This also happens when rescuers are present. However, visiting in the off-season is still possible, and that’s when the beaches are most deserted.
Most beaches have public toilets and showers that are open all year round. If there are no huts nearby, there is usually a mini-market where you can buy the necessary supplies. Japanese beaches are usually clean, despite the absence of garbage cans: sunbathers collect their garbage and take it home, and visitors should do the same.
Follow the tickets to learn about the individual rules of the beach, such as restrictions on swimming, noise or alcohol consumption. Nudity is strictly prohibited. There is a ban on visible tattoos on the beaches of Kamakura and Zushi.
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