Umi no Hi (海の日) is a national holiday in Japan devised as a way to give thanks to what the ocean provides. Culturally, Japan heavily utilizes ocean critters, most noticeably as food. In any case, it is a nice excuse to get out and celebrate the beautiful ocean.
Umi (海) means sea and Hi (日) means day. No (の) is a possessive particle so Umi no Hi literally translates to Day of the Sea. Though English speakers would simply say Sea Day, or as it is also known, Marine Day.
Since Japan is an island country there are many beaches around the nation to visit, but here are a few accessible within an hour or two from Tokyo.
Odaiba is small artificial island well within metro Tokyo and is the considered an entertainment capital. This is also where the faux Statue of Liberty and the giant model Gundam live. You can also check out Krispy Kreme, if you’re working on that beach bod. Odaiba Beach hosts a lantern festival the night of Umi no Hi. Coincidentally, 2018 is the 150th anniversary of Tokyo’s renaming so this year they are celebrating that as well.
Previously Tokyo was called “Edo” but the name was changed in 1868 after the Emperor and his entourage moved there from Kyoto. Although Odaiba Beach is lovely and relatively easy to get to from Tokyo, swimming is forbidden. So save that boogie board and brand new bikini for the beaches listed below.
The beaches in Enoshima are probably the easiest to get to from Tokyo (other than Odaiba, of course). If you can make it to Shinjuku Station you can take a Romance Car all the way down the Odakyu line. The newest model, GSE, debuted just this spring. If you happen to be on one during a mealtime, a food and drink cart will pass by several times, much like on an airplane. Enoshima is also known for its large island shrine, but that is an exploration best saved for its own day. The city of Enoshima surrounds the Sakai River, so there are a lot of restaurants available overlooking the riverside.
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Yuigahama Beach, Kamakura
Kamakura is the train stop just before Zushi. There will not be English signs at the train stop, so you will have to listen carefully for the announcer to say Kamakura or look for these characters [かまくら] on the signs along the rail tracks. It is the most crowded beach in the Kanagawa Prefecture, so another sign you’ve arrived will be the masses of people departing the train. Yuigahama is a popular spot for surfing. If you want to venture further into the city and away from the beach, there is a famously large Buddha at the Kotoku-in temple, roughly a 15 minute walk north.
Best accessed by getting to Fujisawa Station first, which is a Romancecar stop. There won’t be English signs on this station, either. It is the last stop, though, so you will have to get off no matter what. Just look for the characters [ずし] written on the poles. Be warned, alcohol and tattoos aren’t allowed on this beach. Save the booze for the restaurants and cover-up those tats. There are lifeguards and koban patrolling the shores.
Isshiki Beach, Hayama
Isshiki is a lesser known beach 20 minutes from Zushi Station. It is not directly on a train line, instead you have to take a bus from the station. Once you leave the platform at Zushi Station, there will be signs at the station directing you to the bus line for Hayama. If you’re heading down that way already, let the plebs go on to Zushi Beach and hop onto the back of a bus and head further south to Hayama. Be sure to get off at the Sangaoka stop. The picturesque view inspires even the Emperor, who has a beachside villa there.