How do you say "gnarly" in Japanese? Taste the killer waves in Kamakura to find out.
SKYSCRAPERS, SUMO, SUSHI—AND SURFING? TOKYO IS A CITY OF SURPRISES, none more unexpected than the idyllic surf scene that lies just beyond its hustle and bustle. Just over an hour from the urban maelstrom of neon lights, packed intersections and madcap crowds is the atmospheric seaside town of Kamakura, a.k.a. the Hamptons of Tokyo. Set against a lush backdrop of rugged green mountains, the ancient capital is home to a serene abundance of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. But the main reason to visit is the sea. Hop on a bicycle at Kamakura station and make a beeline for Okuda Style Surfing (Tel: 81-467-23-8284; www.padobo.com), a quaint surf shop set on an atmospheric lane lined with wooden houses and temples. Rent a board and head next door to Turtoise (Tel: 81-467-25-6661; www.turtoisestore.com) for a rainbow-hued T-shirt, de rigueur for that Japanese surfer-chic look. After a day in the water, join the locals at Aloha Cuba (Tel: 81-467-22-5970) for a postsurf shower, beer and burger. Or relax at one of the makeshift bars that line the sand in the steamy summer months. Take in the fabulous sunset, with Mount Fuji on the horizon—and neither a skyscraper nor salaryman in sight (except that one in the distance, paddling out for one last wave). —Danielle Demetriou
Take the JR Yokosuka line from Tokyo Station, or buy a JR Kamakura Enoshima Free Kippu, a rail pass allowing for a round-trip ticket and free access to coastal monorails (www.jreast.co.jp).
Follow the smell of fresh-baked bread through the vegetable market to Paradise Alley for a take-away picnic. For dinner, head to Bill’s, celebrity chef Bill Granger’s first restaurant outside his native Australia (Tel: 81-467-33-1778; www.bills-jp.net).
Pick up aromatherapy potions and teas from Heartsease (Tel: 81-467-23-8240) and natural linen jackets and bags from nui-nui 1st (Tel: 81-467-22-6463) next door. For hip surf gear, visit the beach-front boutiques at Weekend House Alley.
Can’t face the last train back to Tokyo? Check into Scapes, a small, sleek design hotel by the sea (Tel: 81-468-77-5730; www.scapes.jp).