SHONAN BEACH-BAR CRAWL

Waving goodbye to the city

by Ben Stubbings

The sound of waves lapping on the shore. The cool sea breeze. Beautiful people wearing very few clothes. Overdressed cocktails. What better way could there be to while away a hot summer’s day than a beach-bar crawl along Shonan Bay?

The beaches of Shonan — running from Chigasaki to Hayama and only an hour southwest by train from the capital — are home to scores of beach houses in the summer, each staffed with workers desperate to part you from your hard-earned cash in the hope that their business can break even by the end of August.

Shonan is a popular destination for hordes of Tokyo residents hoping to escape the metropolis for a day, which — be warned — can mean heaving beaches at weekends and on holidays.

With so many umi no ie, or beach houses, vying for business, the choice is bewildering. So here is the pick of the bunch from four of the bay’s top beaches.

Hayama

The best beach of the lot has to be Hayama’s Isshiki, not just due to the quality of the sand and the beach houses, but also because of the relaxed attitude of the locals. A large number of foreigners have made Hayama their home and you’ll find more English speakers and bilingual menus here than anywhere else in Shonan. Isshiki is also the most “mixed” beach, where you’ll see local families, bands of Tokyoites and glamorous Western hostesses.

Umigoya Mana (www.umigoya.net) is a friendly Southeast Asian-style beach house with a tent for live music acts. Check out their program of water-sport activities — an ideal way to work up an appetite before an Italian breakfast and a Aussie Coopers beer next door at the European-style Umigoya Annex.

Next up is a new arrival at Isshiki — Ginza Lamp 1933 (blogs.yahoo.co.jp/funayagenroku) — an upmarket establishment run by a Ginza watering hole of the same name. Lamp lists as its major selling point its hotel-standard professional barmen and cook, so have a hamburger and a mojito here to get the most out of Lamp. Ladies who have ever had to suffer the indignity of using the stinky public beach toilets at Isshiki should appreciate the effort that has gone into installing high-tech loos in Lamp.

Our last stop on Isshiki is the perennially popular Blue Moon (www.bluemoonhayama.net), now in its 10th summer. Blue Moon is sticking to the formula that has proved so successful throughout the last decade; excellent, healthy organic food and drink, a chilled-out atmosphere and welcoming staff. We try not to get too comfy here — there are still three more beaches to visit.

Hayama’s Morito Beach is worth a visit for just one reason: Oasis. Like Tsujido Beach’s Sputnik and Isshiki’s Blue Moon, Oasis (www.oasis-jahnodebeach.jp) is something of a local legend, and it just keeps on getting more popular with punters to the point that the staff don’t like the bar to be publicized. However, after seeing high-profile stars like buxom TV idol Megumi down here last summer, it’s fair to say Oasis is Shonan’s worst-kept secret, which justifies its place on this list.

Zushi

Unlike the understated Hayama beaches, Zushi Beach is peppered with a large number of beach houses varying starkly in terms of quality. With more chaff than wheat on offer, at least four establishments along this strip are worthy of a mention.

First off, try some South American food and sweat off some calories at Aloha Latino (www.oasis-latino.jp), which offers dancing classes and live Latin and Hawaiian music nights. If that gets you in the mood for a jig, next door is Otodama Sea Studio (www.otodama-beach.com), a live house seemingly plucked from Tokyo and plonked in the middle of the beach.

Next up, mention The Japan Times and claim a free drink from Tanaka-san at the Indonesian-style Terima Kasih beach house. Food specialities here are nasi goreng, mie goreng and the Okinawan dish goya champuru, and a bottle of Bintang beer will set you back a mere 500 yen.

Finally, right at the end of the beach is Field & Sea, a two-deck bar that often hosts DJs playing dance music — until the generator packs up. With cheap drinks and a relaxed atmosphere, Field & Sea is worth making the effort to visit. In a hectic hour here just last week, punters witnessed beach wrestling matches, a swimming guitarist, a group of girls comparing their curves and, erm, a few other unpublishable things. For some reason, Field & Sea just seems to be the place to come if you want to see weird stuff happen.

Kamakura

A far cry from the famed temples and shrines of this former capital, Kamakura’s coastal strip is a fairly commercial affair, although the big boys with the big sponsors haven’t completely taken over the beaches — yet.

A welcome new kid on the block, halfway along Zaimokuza Beach, is Day Dreamer’s Deck (www.ddd-web.jp), run by Kamakura’s lively Tipitina music bar. Every weekend “d3″ hosts live music in a range of genres.

At nearby Chuo Beach is Asia (www.kamakura-asia.com), a beach house now in its sixth summer that grows in size and popularity each year. This time, in addition to the barbie, table soccer and hammocks, Asia has an air-conditioned VIP lounge you can rent by the hour.

Over the bridge on Yuigahama Beach is Little Thailand, a collection of Thai food stalls circling the central Solar Bar. This wildly popular little piece of Southeast Asia has become such a feature of the Kamakura beach scene in the last few years that it’s now hard to imagine Yuigahama without it.

If Chinese food is more to your taste, try the Quick China Resort a bit further up the beach.

One for the road? If you still have the strength to crawl across the street that runs beside Yuigahama Beach, a perfect last stop for a drink is Magokoro (www.magokoroworld.jp), where you can treat yourself to a hemp beer, wine or curry. If you’ve had a tipple in all 13 beach houses on the way here, you certainly deserve it.

If, however, after a day of hard drinking you decide it would be a great idea to carry on to Fujisawa’s Enoshima Beach, you may have a drink problem.

* * * * *

Events in the Shonan area

Hayama

Wednesday, Aug. 2
Unchaka at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Thursday, Aug. 3
Goki release party at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Friday, Aug. 4
Naoito & The Sun Goes (Latin/jazz/funk) at Blue Moon

Saturday, Aug. 5
“Sunset Live” Baku (didgeridoo) & Kiyoshi Suzuki (karimba etc.) at Blue Moon from 6 p.m. (1,000 yen)

Sunday, Aug. 6
Kicell (folk/dub) at Blue Moon from 6:30 p.m. (1,000 yen)
Mela Hula at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)
Tamutamu (acoustic reggae) at Umigoya Mana

Monday, Aug. 7
PJ & friends and Jah KSK at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Wednesday, Aug. 9
“Arabian Night” (Barbie Mako, Zizu, Suran etc.; belly dancer: Motoka) at Umigoya Mana

Friday, Aug. 11
The Sun Goes (Latin/jazz/funk) from 7 p.m. at Blue Moon
Keison & P-suke at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)
ChiyoTia (vocalist, percussionist) at Umigoya Mana

Saturday, Aug. 12
“Blue Moon Time” at Blue Moon
Tomoko Kuwae “Tsukiyomi Tabi vol. 27″ (live acoustic music) at Umigoya Mana

Sunday, Aug. 13
Maapai at Blue Moon from 6:30 p.m.
Umezu-san & Boots Boys at Umigoya Mana
Hikigatari & P-suke at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Tuesday, Aug. 15
“Bon” dancing on Morito Beach

Wednesday, Aug. 16
Masato Minami at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Thursday, Aug. 17
Gasse Quartet at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Friday, Aug. 18
Goro & Mishaal (belly dancer) at Blue Moon
Magician Carl at Oasis (donation)

Saturday, Aug. 19
“Sun Goddess” — DJs: Jazzysport Crew (experimental/hip-hop/jazz); dance performance: Stax Groove; sport performance: UFC Jazzysport, Lus e Sembra, Kel — at Blue Moon 12-8 p.m.
Hideaki Konno at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Sunday, Aug. 20
“Bob Marley Songs Day” at Oasis from 7 p.m. (1,000 yen; book before Thursday 10 at counter/by phone)
Ema & Esoh at Blue Moon from 7 p.m. (2,000 yen with one drink)

Tuesday, Aug. 22
Indians at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Wednesday, Aug. 23
Keyco at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Friday, 25
“Blue Moon Time” at Blue Moon
Masaji Otsuka at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Saturday, Aug. 26
Yasukatsu Oshima at Blue Moon
Masaji Otsuka at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Monday, Aug. 28
Sakura at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Tuesday, Aug. 29
Oasis Band ’06 at Oasis from 7 p.m. (donation)

Zushi

Tuesday, Aug. 1
Seattle Recess, SunBar at Otodama Sea Studio from 6:30 p.m. (advance/1 drink: 1,500 yen; door/1 drink 2,000 yen)

Wednesday, Aug. 2
“Beach Stream Cruise” (live: Jazztronic, Lava, Alpha, Limelight; fire dancing: Kazoku; percussion: Hamano) at Otodama Sea Studio from 4 p.m. (advance/1 drink: 2,000 yen; door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Thursday, Aug. 3
“Sweety” (DJs: Kogushi, C; live: Delta Force, Brave Warrior, Forest; dancer: Baby S) at Otodama Sea Studio from 1 p.m. (advance/1 drink 1,000 yen, door/1 drink 1,500 yen)

Friday, Aug. 4
Rolly at Otodama Sea Studio from 5 p.m. (advance/1 drink 3,500 yen, door/1 drink 4,000 yen)

Saturday, Aug. 5
“Beats & Beach” (Vajuwaju, Phunkaponic, DJ Miho) at Aloha Latino 5:30-9 p.m (1,000 yen)
“JJ Carnival” (Earthlings, Barbi, Jive One Family, B:ridge Style, Repatriations; DJs: Yuta Kitajima, Massucha; MC: Benzaiten & Jah Liv Band) at Otodama Sea Studio from 3 p.m. (advance/1 drink: 2,500 yen, door/1 drink: 3,000 yen)

Sunday, Aug. 6
Shinichi Osawa (Mondo Grosso) and Masatoshi Uemura (Bonjour Records) at Otodama Sea Studio from 5 p.m. (advance/1 drink 3,000 yen, door/1 drink 3,500 yen)
“Carlos Garcia Beach Salsa Party” at Aloha Latino — DJ Sayaka from 5:30 p.m., Salsa class by Garcia at 7 p.m., DJ Sayaka 8-9 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 7
“Sound Wave ’06″ (Takacha, SOFFet, Soundland, Kimaguren) at Otodama Sea Studio from 5:30 p.m. (advance/1 drink 2,500 yen, door/1 drink 3,000)

Tuesday, Aug. 8
“Roots of Route” (Likkle Mai, Frisco, Tuff Session, Freeasy Beats; sound: Homerun, Microwave) at Otodama Sea Studio from 3 p.m. (advance/1 drink 2,000 yen, door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Wednesday, Aug. 9
Mur Mur, JiLL-Decoy Association at Otodama Sea Studio (advance/1 drink 2,000 yen, door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Thursday, Aug. 10
Toyo Hito & J.A.M. at Otodama Sea Studio from 6 p.m. (advance/1 drink 4,000 yen, door/1 drink 4,500 yen)

Friday, Aug. 11
Clammbon and Rei Harakami at Otodama Sea Studio from 6 p.m. (advance/1 drink 4,000 yen, door/1 drink 4,500 yen)

Saturday, Aug. 12
Makohei Dojima & Hikigatari Yo-King at Otodama Sea Studio from 5 p.m. (advance/1 drink 4,000 yen, door/1 drink 4,500 yen)
Trio Puro Karibe (from Cuba) at Aloha Latino — DJs from 5:30 p.m., performance at 7 p.m., DJs 8:15-9 p.m. (advance 1,500 yen, on day 2,000 yen)

Sunday, Aug. 13
“Axe Samba Festa 2006″ (Tamanko Buko, Brazilian samba dancers; DJs: Hitoshi Nakahara, Willie Whopper of Banca, Alexandre Fujita of Bem Brasil, EDU) at Aloha Latino — DJs from 3 p.m., performance from 5:30 p.m. (3,000 yen)
“Green Dom T.M.G. 7th Anniversary” (Ozrosaurus, E.D.O., H-Man, Metis, Arare, Counter Agent, Bumbu-Mt, Toyo, Nextyle; dancers: Kiyo & Kamekame Usagidan; sound: Human Crest; DJ: 8-Man) at Otodama Sea Studio from 1 p.m. (advance/1 drink 2,500 yen, door/1 drink 3,000 yen)

Monday, Aug. 14
“Yokoyoko Splush” (Big Ron, South Crew, Jack Da Ripper, Fight Club, Crazy-K; DJs: Take-Funk, Dakira, Gaku; Sound: K.O.B.) at Otodama Sea Studio from 1 p.m. (advance/1 drink 1,500 yen, door/1 drink 2,000 yen)

Tuesday, Aug. 15
“Bay Bridge Special” (DJs: Watarai, Ue, Kenta, Amari, Hirasaka, Gori, Rui-J; live: Three Nation, Maya) at Otodama Sea Studio from 2 p.m. (advance/1 drink 2,000 yen, door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Thursday, Aug. 17
“Ragga Ragga Band Showcase Vol. 1″ (Munehiro, Goki, Daisen, Stoned Rockers; Sound: Murder One) at Otodama Sea Studio from 5 p.m. (advance or door with flyer/1 drink 2,000 yen, door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Friday, Aug. 18
Balanca (samba, pagode) at Aloha Latino — DJs 5:30 p.m., dance class 6-6:45 p.m., performance 7 p.m., DJs 8:15-9 p.m. (2,000 yen)
Bird at Otodama Sea Studio from 6 p.m. (advance/1 drink 4,000 yen, door/1 drink 4,500 yen)

Saturday, Aug. 19
“Riko Salsa Beach Party” (inc. dance lesson) at Aloha Latino, 3:30-9 p.m. (1,500 yen)
Baby Boo at Otodama Sea Studio from 5 p.m. (advance/1 drink 3,000 yen, door/1 drink 3,500 yen)

Sunday, Aug. 20
“Passion Latina” (Masayo and band; DJ: Tommy) at Aloha Latino — DJs at 5:30 p.m., dance class 7 p.m., DJs 8-9 p.m. (advance 1,500 yen, on day 2,000 yen)
Miyuki Hatakeyama and Hands of Creation at Otodama Sea Studio from 5 p.m. (advance/1 drink 3,500 yen, door/1 drink 4,000)

Tuesday, Aug. 22
“Endless Summer Groove” (Ryozy Matsuda, Three Nation, Life Earth, Hi-D, The Phanky OKstra, Jamosa, Jinshu Koshoku) at Otodama Sea Studio from 3 p.m. (advance/1 drink 2,000 yen, door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Wednesday, Aug. 23
“Ragga Ragga Band Showcase Vol. 2″ (Moomin, Yo Yo-C, Stoned Rockers; sound: Infinity16) at Otodama Sea Studio (advance or door with flyer/1 drink: 2,000 yen, door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Friday, Aug. 25
Bird at Otodama Sea Studio at 6 p.m. (advance/1 drink 4,000 yen, door/1 drink 4,500 yen)

Saturday, Aug. 26
“Tom’s Beach Salsa Party” (dance show: Borune Cherries; DJ: Sayaka) at Aloha Latino — DJ at 5 p.m., dance class 6 p.m., DJ at 7 p.m., performance at 8 p.m., DJ 8:15-9 p.m. (advance 1,000 yen, on day 1,500 yen)
Orange Pekoe at Otodama Sea Studio from 5 p.m. (advance/1 drink 3,500 yen, door/1 drink 4,000 yen)

Sunday, Aug. 27
Hidenori Mukai “Acoustic & Electric” at Otodama Sea Studio from 4:30 p.m. (advance/1 drink 3,500, door/1 drink 4,000 yen)

Monday, Aug. 28
“Slow Music On The Beach” (Kiyofumi Ono, Miniature Tripplanet, Otona Mode, Kao) at Otodama Sea Studio from 4:30 p.m. (advance/1 drink 2,000, door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Tuesday, Aug. 29
Spinner B-ill, Freeasy Beats, Keito Blow, Yohey Okamoto, Asia Sunrise at Otodama Sea Studio from 3 p.m. (advance or flyer on door/1 drink 2,000 yen, door/1 drink 2,500 yen)

Wednesday, Aug. 30
“Wipe Out” (Ryo the Skywalker; sound: Sunset, Burst Rise, Both Wings, Raw Quality, Marshall Law) at Otodama Sea Studio from 1 p.m. (advance or flyer on door/1 drink 2,500, door/1 drink 3,000 yen)

Kamakura

Friday, Aug. 4
Oh-sama (rock) at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)
Flamenco dance event (dancers, guitarist, singer) at Beach House Asia from 8 p.m. (2,000 yen)

Saturday, Aug. 5
Sachiko & Katz at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Sunday, Aug. 6
Salty Hiroshi (ragtime) at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Thursday, Aug. 10
Kamakura Fireworks Display from 7 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 11
Satoshi Okubo at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Saturday, Aug. 12
Mooney (bar music) at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Monday, Aug. 14
Fujida & Miracletones (laid-back ’70s rock) at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Tuesday, Aug. 15
“Laula Vol. 5″ at Beach House Asia from 6:30 p.m. (2,000 yen)

Wednesday, Aug. 16
Toshikatsu Utsumi (acoustic blues) at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Friday, Aug. 18
Gen Nagahara (Okinawan style), Takashi Hirayasu (djembe) at Beach House Asia from 6 p.m. (no charge)
Shame (rock) at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Sunday, Aug. 20
Testriders (acoustic surf rock) at Beach House Asia

Friday, Aug. 25
“No Border Memories” (DJs: Inoken, Sakuma, Kou) at Beach House Asia 12-9 p.m. (2,000 yen)
Chinta Oba at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Saturday, Aug. 26
Shy (acoustic guitarist from Okinawa) at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

Sunday, Aug. 27
“Sunset Groove ’06″ at Day Dreamer’s Deck (donation)

* * * * *

How to get there:

Hayama

Illegal parking here provokes the ire of local residents every summer, so check the Web sites and arrive early to find a space or consider using trains and buses. In fact, across the whole of the bay the beach roads tend to be congested and parking scarce, particularly at weekends, so public transport is by far the best option.

Hayama lacks a train station, so you need to take a 20-minute bus ride to get to Hayama Isshiki Kaigan (or about 10 minutes to Morito Kaigan) from JR Zushi Station, which is on the Yokosuka Line. Buses to Hayama leave frequently from stop No. 3 outside the station’s only exit.

Zushi

From JR Zushi Station on the Yokosuka Line, it’s a 15-minute walk from the only exit to the beach. Alternatively, board a bus from stop No. 3 outside the station and get off at the fourth stop, Fujimibashi, and the beach is visible from here.

Kamakura

To get to the seafront, take the Yokosuka Line to JR Kamakura Station and walk 20 minutes down the main drag, Wakamiya Oji, away from the city’s main shrine, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. If you’re feeling lazy, change at JR Kamakura to the one-track Enoden (Odakyu Enoshima Dentetsu) Line and get off at Yuigahama, the second stop, instead. The Yuigahama, Chuo and Zaimokuza beaches run west to east in a continuous strip.

To get straight from JR Kamakura station to Magokoro, change to the Enoden Line and alight at Hase, home of Kamakura’s Big Buddha, and follow the directions on the huge advertisement for Magokoro on the train platform by the exit.