The Cheapo Tokyo Beach Trip

Chris Kirkland

On the beach near Tokyo As a reward for scrimping and saving, every good cheapo deserves a beach break once in a while, and the Tokyo area has plenty of suitable options for just that. Donut-float-and-sandal-clad cheapos can find themselves at one of Tokyo’s nearest beaches in just over an hour ride on the train. The closest beaches of note to Tokyo are Zushi (and Hayama), Enoshima, Kamakura and Miurakaigan.

enoshima - beach trips tokyo
Enoshima, not such a nice beach, but an interesting island to explore. | Photo by Elena Gurzhiy used under CC

Tip #1 Buy provisions away from the beach

Quite predictably, prices for provisions from the cafes and bars on the beach are usually not so cheapo friendly. While none are luxuriously expensive, you’re still likely to pay 1,000 yen for a fairly average lunch. You can save your hard-earned yen and pick up a bento on the way. In Zushi, there’s plenty of choices on the walk from the station to the beach—but of course the spendthrift within you knows it’s probably best to pick something up before you set off from Tokyo (bonus cheapo points if you make it a half-price bento) Quite often you’ll see people doing a BBQ on the beach. This is a good cheapo idea, both in terms of saving costs by bringing your own food, plus the not having to pay prohibitive fees just to light the coals (as is often the case in the BBQ-able parks around Tokyo).

Tip #2 Getting there – pick your trains carefully

Depending on which route you take to the beach, you could easily end up paying an extra 600 yen. Avoid the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, sure it’s 10 minutes faster but will cost you an extra 50% over the Tokyu Line option listed below. Here are routes to the four beaches (see Tip #4 for bus instructions from Zushi -> Hayama)

BeachRouteTimeCost (one way)
ZushiShibuya: Tokyu Toyoko Line -> Yokohama: JR Yokosuka Line -> Zushi63mins610 yen
EnoshimaShinjuku: Odakyu Line -> Fujisawa: Odakyu Enoshima Line -> Katase-Enoshima64mins630 yen
KamakuraShibuya: Tokyu Toyoko Line -> Yokohama: JR Yokosuka Line -> Kamakura58mins610 yen
MiurakaiganShinagawa: Keikyu Line -> Miurakaigan68mins860 yen

Tip #3 Don’t stop going just because “officially” summer has ended

tokyo beach - kamakura beach
Kamakura Beach

Despite the 25-35 degree Celsius temperatures running all the way from May to October it seems that summer (un?)officially starts mid-July and ends on the last day of August. And consequently hardly anyone goes to the beach outside the mid-July to end of August period! Every year my mind is always blown as to the stark contrast between the last weekend in August and the first weekend in September—August utterly rammed, September a sparse sprinkling of beach goers, yet the weather is exactly the same. And the same goes for April, May and June (before summer has officially started). I gather “umi no hi” (Marine Day, the third Monday in July) usually marks the start of the summer (and the end of the rainy season), but I urge you to pay no heed to dates or customs and just go to the beach when the weather and mood suits. After August and before July, you’ll basically have the place to yourself.

Tip #4 Hayama is the nicest beach

tokyo beach hayama
Hayama Beach | Photo by midorisyu used under CC

Enoshima and Zushi get ridiculously crowded on the weekends, even the weekdays are pretty rammed. It’s worth taking the extra 20 minutes to take the bus from Zushi to Hayama, where you can actually see some of the sand between the sun-bathing bodies, it is far more secluded, there’s shady trees, and *gasp* actually some grass areas too. Even the Emperor has a beach-side residence there. To get to Hayama from Zushi Station, take bus 12 (from bus stop 3) heading to Hayama (葉山), get off at at Isshikikaigan, (一色海岸) just before Hayama, and then you walk through some narrow lanes down to the beach. Second choice for me would be Kamakura. While the beach itself is fairly standard, it makes a great day out if you combine beach with a visit to some of the Kamakura ‘sights’ and surrounding hills. Apart from these top two choices, Zushi is probably next choice for me, Enoshima has an interesting island (which you can read about here), but the beach experience isn’t that nice. And Miurakaigan makes a less-crowded alternative (plus it’s a spot for kite-surfing). And don’t forget to wear sunscreen! 

This article was first published in July 2012 and updated in June 2016.

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15 Responses to “The Cheapo Tokyo Beach Trip”

  1. Zoomtokyo

    Is this a brand-new site? It looks jolly good. 

    I’ve tried to go outside the OFFICIAL BEACH SEASON, in September. Bad idea. Zushi was strewn with the debris from the demolished beach houses, including metal pipes and other industrial trash! There are no litter bins or routine  garbage pickups, so the beaches tend to get really dirty outside the OFFICIAL BEACH SEASON. The locals rabbit on about the poisonous jellyfish that purportedly infest the waters  outside the OFFICIAL BEACH SEASON, but who knows.  
    Mind you, the last time I went was over five years ago, so maybe the local authorities have gotten their act together since.  

  2. Zoomtokyo

    Is this a brand-new site? It looks jolly good. 

    I’ve tried to go outside the OFFICIAL BEACH SEASON, in September. Bad idea. Zushi was strewn with the debris from the demolished beach houses, including metal pipes and other industrial trash! There are no litter bins or routine  garbage pickups, so the beaches tend to get really dirty outside the OFFICIAL BEACH SEASON. The locals rabbit on about the poisonous jellyfish that purportedly infest the waters  outside the OFFICIAL BEACH SEASON, but who knows.  
    Mind you, the last time I went was over five years ago, so maybe the local authorities have gotten their act together since.  

  3. mrkirkland

    Glad you like the new look 🙂

    Thanks for the comment.

    Well, at least I can vouch for Hayama, Kamakura and Miurakaigan being nice and clean in September in the last few years. Plus all beaches have been fine before the OFFICAL BEACH SEASON. So maybe the local authorities have cleaned up their act?

    For Jelly fish, I’ve heard this said too, but there’s Jelly fish in the sea in August too – I’ve been stung several times (and funnily enough only in August!).

  4. mrkirkland

    Glad you like the new look 🙂

    Thanks for the comment.

    Well, at least I can vouch for Hayama, Kamakura and Miurakaigan being nice and clean in September in the last few years. Plus all beaches have been fine before the OFFICAL BEACH SEASON. So maybe the local authorities have cleaned up their act?

    For Jelly fish, I’ve heard this said too, but there’s Jelly fish in the sea in August too – I’ve been stung several times (and funnily enough only in August!).

  5. Nice article!

    Do you know the price for renting a beach veranda and BBQ grill?
    Can you do this on sight or do you have to book?

    Cheers!

  6. Nice article!

    Do you know the price for renting a beach veranda and BBQ grill?
    Can you do this on sight or do you have to book?

    Cheers!

  7. Nice blog, I like the Hayama beach, Which is really very beautiful beach, I am excited for take a visit of the Hayama beach. The information are really good about the Hayama beach.

  8. Frank Saffery

    I second ZoomTokyo’s point, once went there on perhaps the 7th of September and the beach was horrid covered in industrial style debris and it had 3 or 4 large JCB’s moving things around. I also recently went to Yokohama and saw a huge amount of Jellyfish however not being a marine biologist I have no idea if they sting or not, although like a child and a hot fire I really wanted to find out.

    Finally this seems to be missing the one thing every Tokyoite needs – cheap booze. I personally always stock up on a crate of cans from YaMaYa before heading over to Zushi or Enoshima as its a damn site cheaper than Combini prices.

    Also even though you are in Japan I always like to keep my valuables safe if I can as well you cant trust everybody. Now the lockers are 300Yen most of the time and sell out fast. So what I tend to do is wash an empty sun-cream bottle out and put all my valuables in that.

  9. Ken Osecon

    I went to hayama beach a few days ago, there is no place to shower after swimming :(.

    • mrkirkland

      I think some of the beach shacks have showers during in the summer (July + August). Kamakura has beach showers all year round.

  10. Can you double-check your information about barbecue-ing? Most of the sites I’ve visited regarding rules on barbecue-ing says that due to the Fire Protection Act or something, barbecue isn’t allowed.

    Anyways nice tip about Hayama. We’ll check it out.

    • mrkirkland

      I’m pretty sure it’s allowed on the Hayama beaches see: http://www.town.hayama.lg.jp/tanoshimu/kankou/rule.html

      It just say these rules: no BBQ’s with open fires, don’t leave rubbish and don’t distrub other people.

      However, Zushi it’s not allowed (perhaps a new rule though, I saw some BBQ’s here a few years back).

      • Thanks for the follow-up! We ended up on Miurakaigan last weekend and ended up not barbecue-ing at all (since the beach with the BBQ is a good 10-min walk, and we’ve already set up on a good spot). But I’ll keep this in mind next time. I really wanted to go to Hayama, but no one listens to me lol.

        For Zushi, I think they set up new rules because of unruly people being, well, unruly. Last I’ve heard, about two years ago two yakuza members got on a stabbing fight, so tattoos were outlawed.


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