A long-time getaway for Tokyo’s upper classes, the beaches of Hayama offer a refined take on the Shonan scene.
Hayama is located on the bottom side of the Miura Peninsula, between the cities of Zushi and Yokosuka. This quiet seaside community has been a popular home for actors, businessmen, and wealthy expats, but it might be best known as being the site of one of the Imperial Villas.
Although the two main beaches of Hayama, Isshiki Kaigan and Morito Kaigan, are not as easily reached as some of the more popular spots along the Shonan Coast like Kamakura, Enoshima, or Chigasaki, these tranquil, picturesque coastal getaways are well worth the extra effort to visit for a day trip from the city. For a bit of culture along the way, you can visit the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Modern Art in Hayama, and during the peak of summer, the afternoons and evenings pick up with their own lively atmosphere, thanks to a variety of beach houses dotting the shoreline.
Isshiki Kaigan is a one-kilometer stretch of volcanic grey beach. The water here is far cleaner than the water at other Shonan beaches, and the generally calm water makes it an ideal spot for families with young children. At the far eastern end of the beach is a grassy knoll that is an ideal place to catch the afternoon breeze and sunset—but beware of swooping tombi (kites) if you plan to picnic there!
The “umi no ie,” or beach bar/restaurants, offer a less raucous vibe than the norm, but the DJ sets and live performances can provide plenty of pleasant surprises. Most also feature paid showers and locker services.
The sunsets from Isshiki can be breathtaking, as the beach faces west and you can see the sun set over Sagami Bay. If you are lucky and skies are clear, you may be able to see Mount Fuji across the bay.
Morito Kaigan is the home of Morito Shrine, whose signature bright orange torii overlook Sagami Bay located on the rocks hundreds of meters out to sea. The beach in front of the shrine is quite narrow but fairly popular for people having BBQs, possibly because you can drive almost the entire way to the beach.
For a better swim, cross the arched foot bridge over the river, heading back in the direction of Zushi and you are on Morito (Swimming) Beach which is sandy and probably a more suitable place for a dip than the rocky point of Morito Kaigan.
Both spots are known for their friendly locals, especially to visitors who understand how to get into the spirit of the local culture. For city dwellers, the breaths of fresh sea air that the Hayama area provides create an excellent atmosphere to decompress and soak in the scenic coastal setting.
How to get there:
Isshiki Kaigan: Take the Yokosuka Line (Shinagawa or Shimbashi) or the Shonan-Shinjuku Line (Shinjuku or Ikebukuro) to Zushi Station. (approx. 50 min from Shinagawa to Zushi). From Zushi Station, take a Keikyu Bus towards Hayama and get off at Isshiki Kaigan (approx. 15 min)
Morito Kaigan: (Shown here on the map) Same as getting to Isshiki from Tokyo, but take a Keikyu Bus to Morito Kaigan (approx. 20-25 min during peak time).
—Text and pictures by Glen Young