Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on August 2011
With glorious beach days on the agenda, the Shonan coast is an ever more appealing retreat from the stifling stone saunas of Tokyo and Yokohama. Against the picture-postcard backdrop of the sun setting behind Mt. Fuji, this stretch of coast’s eating and drinking spots demand consideration and relaxation. Here’s our in-the-know rundown.
- Surf Surf shops along the coast of Chigasaki, Enoshima and Kamakura offer two-hour surf lessons for around ¥5,000. For those already confident in the water, hire a board for around ¥3,000.
- Enoshima beach bars Throughout July and August the Kugenuma shore in Enoshima is lined with umi no ie—temporary beach bars—with music and inebriated sun-worshippers spilling from each one. A more relaxed ambience can be found at bars scattered all the way along the coast.
- Bicycle Rent a two-wheeler from Kamakura station for a couple of hours (¥850); a good way to explore the coast, the sights of Kamakura, or both.
- Enoshima Island This tiny island is linked to Sagami Bay by a long bridge, which you can walk or cycle across. On the island you’ll find a lighthouse, intriguing shrines, caves, seafood restaurants and souvenir shops, set among rugged scenery.
- Kamakura Kamakura was the capital of Japan from 1185 until 1333, which explains the countless temples and shrines. Grab a map from the JR station tourist information and spend a few hours exploring. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Zeniarai Benten are well worth a visit.
- Daibutsu This statue of the Great Buddha sits in the grounds of Kotokuin temple of Hase in Kamakura. Various buildings housing the statue were destroyed by storms in the 14th and 15th centuries and finally washed away by a tsunami, after which it was sensibly decided to keep the Buddha open to the elements.
Australian celebrity chef Bill Granger’s Shonan restaurant has a prime spot overlooking the renowned surf beach of Shichirigahama. Sit out on the restaurant’s balcony for an ocean view as you eat, or settle into the bright spacious interior. Stylish whitewashed wood and brick are complimented by woven rugs and a mosaic bar. The menu contains offerings for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Try the ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter (¥1,400), perhaps accompanied by one of their fresh fruit smoothies (¥700).
2F Weekend House Alley, 1-1-1 Shichirigahama, Kamakura. Tel: 0467-33-1778. Open Sun-Thu 8am-10pm (LO 9pm), Fri-Sat 8am-11pm (LO food 9pm, drink 10pm). Nearest stn: Shichirigahama. www.bills-jp.net
Set back from the beach road, Double Doors is a white, wooden-terraced seaside house with a view of the ocean and a laidback vibe. The bright interior is effortless beach-hut style with whitewashed walls, mismatched furniture and art on display, all set to a surf-rock and blues soundtrack. Mouthwatering aromas drifting from the open kitchen intensify anticipation. The menu consists of pizza, pasta, salads and indulgent desserts, all beautifully presented. Expect to pay ¥1,000-¥1,600 for a main meal. From the extensive list of hot drinks, wine and cocktails, the sangria is a standout.
2-2-2, Shichirigahama, Higashi Kamakura. Tel: 0467-33-1593. Open daily 11am-11pm. Nearest stn: Shichirigahama. www.doubledoors.jp
Mowa Kitchen Studio and Café
Off the main tourist track through Kamakura but surprisingly close to the station, you’ll find this intimate restaurant and bar. A few small tables, a tatami space and a wine bar fill this stylishly simple modern eatery that incorporates traditional Japanese features. The menu is only in Japanese but the friendly staff speak English and are able to help. Bean curry, beef stew and pizza (almost all under ¥1,000) are all on the menu but Mowa also specializes in healthy vegetarian cuisine. Recommended are the Kamakura vegetables, complimented by garlic-anchovy and yuzu and miso dips.
Yuigahama 1-1-10, Kamakura. Tel: 0467-22-1414. Open Fri-Sun 11am-10pm. Nearest stn: Kamakura. www.mowa-kamakura.net
Exceptional Italian food, great wine, attentive staff and a warm, buzzy ambience make this a restaurant I keep going back to. Prima is a short walk from the station, in a small alley parallel to the main shopping street Komachi. The décor is stylish with a wall of wine-bottles, blackboard and wooden surfaces, and the chef can be seen cooking in an open kitchen. A summer evening breeze drifts from the open front as I tuck into a cheese selection complimented by honey, a far-from-dull green salad, and tomato with red shrimp spaghetti. Expect to pay ¥1,000-¥1,500 for each main dish. A glass of red or white wine starts at ¥600, with sparkling wine from ¥650.
2-8-23, Komachi, Kamakura. Tel: 0467-81-5380. Open daily 11:30am-3pm (LO 2pm), 5:30-11pm (LO 10pm), closed Wed. Nearest stn: Kamakura.
This restaurant is a taste of effortless Chigasaki surf style with an Italian influence. The décor is bright and warm with cheese boxes and wine bottles lining the walls and a well-chosen soundtrack. By day, try a cup of the gourmet coffee that they pride themselves on along with one of their luxurious cheesecakes while flicking through their collection of English books and magazines. By night, candles on each table give the restaurant a relaxed feel. Italian and some Spanish fare is on offer (¥500-¥1,150), along with a long list of cocktails and wine. During happy hour a glass of wine is just ¥300, which works nicely with the outstanding cheese platter.
1-4-16-101, Tomoe, Chigasaki. Tel: 0467-82-9981. Open daily: 11:30am-11pm, closed Tue. Nearest stn: Chigasaki. www.southerly.co.jp
This beachside eatery is a new establishment from popular counterpart Free Culture in Fujisawa. While the Fujisawa bar is suited to late-night drinking with friends, the Chigasaki restaurant is ideal for romantic dining with a sea view. On warm nights you can sit outside on the large terrace. On colder nights stay inside with the laidback soundtrack and soft chairs in a well-designed interior, ceiling-to-floor glass doors giving a panoramic view of the ocean. The lunch menu includes pasta (¥1,500), macrobiotic dishes (¥1,500) and grilled meat or fish (¥1,800). The evening menu is à la carte, with prices ranging from ¥700-¥1,650. I had the raw octopus with spicy cold tomato salsa, which I would definitely go back for.
4F Southern Beach Hills, Chigasaki. Tel: 0467-84-8442. Open daily 11am-11pm. Nearest stn: Chigasaki. http://party-animal.oops.jp
Just a minute away from the coastal side of Chigasaki station is this lively Hawaiian-style restaurant and bar. Jammin’ is great for a meal during the week or drinks at the weekend when the bar comes to life. Open onto the street and separated by a wall of potted plants, the restaurant is decked out with Hawaiian features, tropical flora and surf memorabilia. The international cuisine takes inspiration from Hawaii, Southeast Asia, India, Jamaica and Mexico. The food is priced between ¥800 and ¥1,300, with drinks around ¥500. Exhibitions and live music events are held regularly (live music cover charge ¥2,000).
1-1-15 Tomoe, Chigasaki. Tel: 0467-57-1129. Open daily 11:45am-midnight, lunch 11:45am-4pm, dinner 5pm-midnight (LO food 11pm, drink 11:30pm) closed Wed. Nearest stn: Chigasaki. http://homepage3.nifty.com/jamming
OliOli café and bar
With the port on one side and the beach on the other, OliOli makes a retreat from the humid summer. You can sit out on the balcony but the superior view is from inside where large windows look over the port and towards Enoshima island. This bright, minimalist space has Thai and Hawaiian features (including music) and a relaxed, surf vibe. Thai curries, salads, pizza, pasta and fresh baked-bread sandwiches, with fillings such as three bean and tuna, are all on the menu, priced around ¥1,000. Beers, cocktails, juices and coffees cost about ¥500/¥600. If you need a sugar fix, the ice cream and waffles could be it.
2-20-25, Katase, Enoshima. Tel: 0466-27-2727. Open Tue-Thu 11:30am-10pm (LO 9pm), Fri-Sun 11:30am-midnight (LO 11pm), closed Mon. Nearest stn: Katase Enoshima.
Koya is a wooden portside building, with a natural, earthy interior. The restaurant is in the traditional Japanese style with wooden beams, natural timber tables and a covered veranda with stunning views. A panorama of the stretch of water leading from the port below to Enoshima Island is laid out before you. As you wait, the cooks prepare the freshest seafood possible in the open kitchen. I had the rice bowl set with shirasu sashimi (Enoshima’s speciality), miso soup and pickles, priced at ¥1,260. For fresh, tasty food with an inspiring view this restaurant is a winner.
2-20-12, Katase, Enoshima. Tel: 0466-29-5875. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm (LO 2.30pm), Sat-Sun 8am-5pm (LO 4:30pm), closed first Wed and first Thu. Nearest stn: Katase Enoshima. http://enoshima-koya.com
The Shonan area, centered around Enoshima along the coast of Sagami Bay, lies just 50km southwest of Tokyo. It usually refers to the beach areas around Oiso, Hiratsuka, Chigasaki, Kamakura and Hayama, and pulls in plenty of musicians, artists and wanderers from across Japan, attracted by its laid-back atmosphere.
It also draws plenty of surfers.
The bay’s shape and south-facing location mean that most swells struggle to hit these Shonan beaches with any significant power. Japan’s predominantly easterly swells—which create consistent waves for exposed stretches of Chiba and other sunrise-facing coasts—lose a great deal of their power before hitting the shores.
This certainly doesn’t reduce the number of surfers in the water, though. Long boarding here is a joy. The rush of riding small waves amid the surrounding mountain spectacle is a true wonder.
Though it could be said that these slight waves suit a mellower longboard style, just watching the local shortboarders ripping up peeling inches is also a sight to be appreciated.
When summer comes to Shonan, so do the typhoons. Twenty or thirty super low-pressure systems can surge up from the southwest or southeast and pump swells into the gaping bay. These days are a real joy for board-lovers. The waves can come and go within a matter of hours. Sometimes, a typhoon hanging off the coast to the south will provide constant powerful waves for days.
Summer here is boardshort surfing, sunshine and a thriving beach culture that’s wonderful, wacky and unique. A mélange of freaky day trippers bring their fashion chic to the ocean, mixing it up with the locals beachside all day and on into the evening at the funky umi-no-ie, or beach huts, that dot the sand and light up the area with music, dancing and cocktails after the sun sets.
Beyond Enoshima, east past the ancient capital of Kamakura, lie numerous stretches of reefs. When the swells prevail, some truly awesome waves can be found breaking in much clearer water, in much more traditional Japanese surrounds.
In such a densely populated place where so many people live so closely and yet so harmoniously together, it’s a wonder that this reality extends into the water. Even with such crowds in the ocean, the waves can be ridden and shared. In the Shonan area, the aloha spirit of surfing is truly alive.
- Chigasaki: From Tokyo take the JR Tokaido line for one hour to reach Chigasaki. From Yokohama the journey takes 30 minutes.
- Kamakura: From Tokyo the JR Yokosuka line takes under an hour to reach Kamakura, and half this time from Yokohama.
- Enoshima: Take the JR Tokaido line to Fujisawa. From there Enoshima is a seven-minute ride away on the Odakyu-Enoshima line.
- Shichirigahama: Walk from Enoshima and Kamakura, or take the Enoshima Dentetsu line to small stations along the coast, including Shichirigahama.