June 25, 2020

Heavenly Hayama

Found near the historical area of Kamakura, Hayama is a posh, seaside retreat that is popular with Tokyoites during the humid months of summer.

A lunch plate at a cafe along the beach in Hayama

Hey there reader! Welcome back to another round of off the beaten path travel. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the beachside town of Hayama. Located southeast of the ever-popular tourist area of Kamakura on the Miura Peninsula, Hayama is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of its north-western neighbor. In fact, if I had to describe this seaside hamlet to an overseas visitor, I would have to assert that it is quite literally the antithesis of tourism. Put simply, this is the type of spot that appeals to people who are sick of sightseeing.

Now, given that I write about traveling in Japan, you might be wondering why I would even bother to recommend a location that is not well suited to tourism. Here, you need to understand that there are areas like Kyoto that cater well to sightseeing (meaning frequenting attraction after attraction). On the other hand though, there are also spots like Hayama that are more suited to travelers enjoying extended stints in Japan. For example, whenever my close buddy’s family visits for weeks at a time, they always end up spending a great deal of time enjoying Hayama.

At the same time as it caters to a slower style of travel, Hayama is also the perfect getaway for Tokyo’s expat community. While many of the other beach towns within the vicinity of the capital become awfully packed during the beastly hot summer months, Hayama somehow has managed to escape this fate. Though situated but a mere stone’s throw away from the regularly crowded Zushi Beach, Hayama’s coastline is often far more low key. As such, it’s a welcome reprieve from the drunken beachside madness that occurs only a few kilometers north.

Of course, as I’ll detail below, there’s actually a fair bit of quaint attractions to see in this area as well. As a result, Hayama is the perfect combination of beat chill time and leisurely strolling. While not logistically sound as a hub for your travels (outside of visits to Kamakura and Enoshima that is), Hayama is a wonderful locale for relaxing and unwinding. If you want to experience Japan but aren’t looking to aggressively hop from landmark to landmark, consider spending a few nights in Hayama. Your adrenal glands will thank you for the dramatic drop in stress levels!

Getting to Hayama

One of Hayama’s many beaches during the summer months

Given its proximity to Tokyo, it should come as no surprise that the trek down is not a big deal. All you’ll need to do is take either the Yokosuka Line or the Shonan-Shinjuku Line to Zushi Station. As can be seen by digging around in the ever-helpful Hyperdia, this trip can be done in less than an hour. Once you arrive, you can either elect to hoof it over to Hayama or take one of the buses. While the schedules aren’t all too hard to decipher if you don’t speak a lick of Japanese, buses can be a major sticking point for overseas visitors. Alas, the town of Hayma lacks any railway access so you’ll just need to deal.

While I suspect Zushi Station will be the most convenient stop, travelers also have the option of going to Zushi-Hayama Station on the Keikyu Zushi Line. Basically, this train terminus can be found adjacent to JR’s Zushi Station meaning that it is a solid alternative should the Keikyu Zushi Line prove to have better connections. Either way, you’ll find stops for buses heading to Hayama directly outside both Zushi Station and Zushi-Hayama Station.

What to See in Hayama

Morito-kaigan with Morito Shrine’s middle-of-the-ocean torii gate barely visable

Hayama is essentially an attraction unto itself. Unlike other locations where you’d visit to experience a specific spot, Hayama’s allure is the area itself. That said, there are a host of interesting allures to check out while you’re in town. In no real particular order, the following list is what I would consider to be some of the choice venues…

  • Morito Kaigan
    Offering a killer view of Enoshima and Mt. Fuji on clear days, this strip of coastline is a popular spot to watch the sunset. Though peppered with a number of volcanic rock formations, Morito Kaigan does have a stretch of sandy beach too. Additionally, here you’ll also find Hayama Marina too. Often noted to be Japan’s first leisure marina, this posh complex is a hopping center for sailing and other marine sports. Inside, you’ll find a number of amusing shops and yummy restaurants. Moreover, this marina also features a art gallery and a hair salon.
  • Morito Daimyojin Shrine
    Regularly considered to be a “power spot” (a site of spiritual significance) by Japanese people, Morito Daimyojin Shrine is a great add on to a visit to Morito Kaigan. The shrine was founded in the 12th century though the current structures are nowhere near that old. Should you pay a visit to Morito Daimyojin Shrine, be sure not to miss the site’s picturesque torii gate. This can be found on a strip of rock that pokes out from the sea. If you don’t mind going for a dip, you can actually swim out to the torii.
  • Ajisai Park
    Are you visiting during June? Well, despite it being the rainy season in Japan you absolutely MUST visit this hidden gem. You see, the regularly scheduled downpours give rise to some of the most heavenly hydrangeas that you’ll ever see. These days, it’s becoming more and more common knowledge and this has led to overcrowding at spots like Kamakura’s Meigetsu-in. Luckily though, at this park in Hayama, you’ll have no such worry. In fact, chances are high that you’ll have Hayama’s hydrangeas all to yourself!
  • Isshiki Kaigan
    This one-kilometer-long stretch of volcanic remnants boasts a beach that has waters far more pristine than other nearby alternatives. What really makes this spot notable though is that there is an imperial villa located here. While not open to the public, this fact alone should highlight just how lovely Hayama is. While I cannot verify it, I’ve heard it mentioned that the presence of the imperial villa is what initially caused Hayama to become a popular destination for Tokyo’s well-to-do crowd.
  • Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Modern Art in Hayama
    What beachside town would be complete without some form of art museum? Though indeed a mouthful to say, the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Modern Art in Hayama is a must visit for cultural connoisseurs. You’ll find it north of Isshiki Kaigan next to Hayama Shiosai Park (which is also worth perusing if you like traditional Japanese gardens).

In addition to all of these points of interest, know that Hayama is also dotted with a number of charming cafes. Many of these shops serve up some delicious grub so definitely plan on popping into whichever cafe tickles your fancy for lunch!

Attractions Near Hayama

The famous Kotoku-in Daibutsu in Kanagawa Prefecture’s historic Kamakura

Given that Hayama is located but a few kilometers from Kamakura, it makes for a good home base for exploring the ancient military capital. All you need to do is head back to Zushi Station and take the train one stop over to Kamakura Station. Similarly, Enoshima is also a logistically sound choice too though the trek there from Hayama is a bit more involved. Should you have a set of wheels, or are down to rent a car though, the journey is a lot less complex. What’s more, the drive along the coastline is quite lovely too.

In addition to the above recommendations, know too that you can alternatively head south and explore what else the Miura Peninsula has to offer. Though definitely deserving its own piece, this rarely visited slice of Japan will require access to a vehicle as the trains only run as far as Misakiguchi Station. Unless you’re keen to divine arcane bus schedules, skip this suggestion if you don’t have access to an automobile.

Finally, note that Hayama is not located all too far from Yokosuka and its infamous navy base. While you’ll need to cross the interior of the Miura Peninsula, this isn’t all too challenging if you can snag yourself a car. Because of this, Hayama is a great spot for families visiting their enlisted relatives stationed at Yokosuka.