THE BEACHES AND BEACH BARS OF SHONAN
Unless you live nearby don’t bother coming down here for an evening in these bars, which tend to close before they really get going, if they even manage to get that far. I’m told they used to stay open later, and Zushi’s bars once stayed open round the clock, which would have been worth seeing at least once, but now it’s lights out by 9 or 10pm.If however, you are down here on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night and are looking to kick on after the sun has gone down, the best advice I can give is to look for where the party is at and head there.
Crowds rarely just happen here out of nothing. Instead, bars tend to have planned events which may generate a crowd on that particular night. Walk over to the bar you partied at the previous weekend and you’d be likely to find it patronized by the proverbial two men and a dog.
Say though you are down at the beach in the middle of the week and you don’t want to go home, and there doesn’t seem to be a party? Well, you’d be best advised to apply your most friendly, cheerful and charming demeanor and you might be able to pull out a diamond after striking a rapport with a roguish and happy-go-lucky bar master, or perhaps one of the bar Sakura (perhaps 80% hello girl, 20% hostess) and you may have a night which you remember fondly as the months and years roll on. Asssuming you can even remember the night, which is certainly not guaranteed if you’ve probably been on it since the middle of the day.
Thus it’s hardly worth a review of all of the bars individually, so what you’ll get instead is a run-down of the pro’s and con’s of the four main beaches and included in that will be a smattering of information about the bars there:
What can you work with here?
Zushi is widely regarded as the most “foreign friendly” of the beaches which I guess is down to its proximity to the US Navy base at Yokosuka. Additionally, there are plenty of bars here with a gaijin behind it. By extension, it’s also regarded as having the greatest proportion of locals keen, or at least not disinterested in, “interacting” with foreigners, for the guy or gal on the lookout. On average, the locals on this beach are more likely to be older than college age than the others, imho.
The layout of this beach is also a little nicer than the others, again imho, with Zushi having about the right amount of sand between the water and the nearest source of purchasable alcohol. This pleasing helping of sand is also a marginally less appalling color than some of the others.
Of other small mercies, the bars themselves to be, on the whole, smaller and slightly more creatively designed than the abundance of functional beach houses you’re likely to find at Enoshima. Not that it means they are works of art, as you can see.
It is also the best bet for a crowd after sunset. There always seems to be some bar that has managed to run a successful party night if you’re down on the weekend. If you’re a guy and your lucks in, that bar will be Palequinho, a Brazilian themed beach bar that just happens to have a dance pole in the middle of it. From time to time girls come down here to party and put on a show. Mind you, it’s probably not something that would have Akon or T-Pain, or their lyrics writers, pulling out a pencil and scribbling down a few anguished lines from the bottom of their hearts professing love for strippers they can’t win in spite of his bottomless pockets of cheese. That’s because the girls here are usually much too nice to put on coquetry and are quite chatty when they aren’t on the poles.
Playing second fiddle on this front I suppose are a couple of foreign controlled Latin Bars run a few dancing parties. Most of you I’d imagine would be at quite a disadvantage compared to the weekend tango warriors who dominate these events, and you’d best shelve your drunken shuffle and “behind grind” that somehow occasionally delivers on the dark sinful floors of certain clubs in the city, but don’t look too morose and they’ll be happy to plonk down beside you talk at a table when they need a break.
Of the bars that do manage some for of reliability, there are three. My preferred is the Happy Go Lucky Bar, a largish, open, laid back establishment (well, as much as an establishment as a place that’s only allowed to open for two months can be…) on the right of the main entrance to the beach. It’s probably more a beach cafe than a beach bar, which may go some way to explaining why the place always seems reasonably busy, yet never heaving on a weekend night when they put a dj on. They do put some decent beach grub on though.
If you head over to the other end of the beach, by far the most prominent feature is the Otodama Sea Studio. This is more of a club than an actual beach bar, but it attracts performers decent enough to draw real crowds. I remain somewhat unconvinced that shunning the sun in favour of a big cavernous black box with a few hundred other sweaty people in the middle of the afternoon will enhance my experience, but there are plenty who are, as you can see below. Perhaps if you really like club music, and club girls/guys, and the beach, you can divide your time down here.
A bit further up Beach Saiko tends to look like a big box itself, although a more, for want of a considerably better term, “beachy” color. It does have a few good sized parties and usually draws something of a crowd, especially with the foam party they ran.
What could improve ?
The worst drawback, apart from the cursed ugliness afflicting all of these beaches, is that it’s a fair way from the station, 15 minutes one way, and more than 10 to the nearest bottle shop, which is a real pain when you are far from sober but not quite hammered enough to convince yourself to just head into the bars for the rest of the afternoon and evening, thus forsaking any budget you might have had coming down here. So unless they build a convenience store across the road or there’s a benevolent earthquake/tsunami that brings the beach closer to the station, I’d recommend you bring a cooler and pack it with plenty of drinks and ice on your initial walk down there.
How do you get there?
Despite it’s location at the far south of Kanto it’s not all that hard to get to Zushi. It just takes a while. You can get there directly on the from, Tokyo (¥890, 60 minutes), Shimbashi (¥780, 57 minutes), Shinagawa (¥690, 52 minutes) or even Chiba (¥1530, 103 minutes) or what the heck, Narita Airport (¥2210, 154 minutes) among others, if you’re that desperate on the Sobu Rapid- Yokosuka Line.
If you’re coming from West Tokyo, you can take the Shonan-Shinjuku Line directly from , Ikebukuro (¥1050, 70 minutes), Shinjuku ( ¥890, 64 minutes) , Shibuya (¥890, 59 minutes), and Ebisu (near enough to Shibuya) or as far away as Omiya (¥1380, 94 minutes) or Utsunomiya (¥2940, 173 minutes) if you happen to be teaching high school English up there or desperate to escape your in-laws during a long weekend up there.
Both these trains pass through Yokohama (¥330, 30 minutes) and Ofuna (¥160, 11 minutes)
If you’re a tightwad you can take the Keikyu private train line to Shin-Zushi Station from either Shinagawa (¥620, 51 minutes), the Keikyu Terminal at Kawasaki (¥410, 40 minutes), Yokohama (¥300, 33 minutes) or even from Haneda Airport (¥720, 67 minutes), which is cheaper although it will take you longer to get there.