When I proposed last week to a New Zealander ryugakusei friend that we hit the beach on Saturday, she responded with an emphatic “no.” The beaches around Tokyo have a reputation for being dirty, and this girl had already made up her mind that she could never swim there. However, after talking to a friend who is a longtime foreign resident of Tokyo, she came around to the idea, provided we went to Zushi, which is apparently the cleanest beach in the area (a statement I cannot verify at all). After ribbing her for declining my beach invitation then turning around and inviting me to go the beach two days later, I agreed to go, and our Saturday beach adventure was on.
“This is like spring break,” my American friend remarked as we arrived at the beach. I could see where he was coming from. Lined with shops selling overpriced food, bottles of corona, beach chair rentals, and massages, Zushi is home to an eclectic crowd. I spotted Japanese “bros,” (or “yarou” as my Japanese friend called them) “gyaru,” (tan, artificially blonde Japanese women with long fingernails) older men wearing thong-like swimsuits, wind-surfers, men who appeared to play football for the University of Miami, one man with circular nipple piercings that looked like they were made of tinfoil, Brazilian women wearing skimpy Brazilian bikinis, Japanese women wearing skimpy Brazilian bikinis, and other foreigners too numerous and varied to describe here. Many people set up tents and canopies to protect from the wind, and the Brazilians even marked their area with a Brazilian flag. In a country where both tans and tattoos are rare, there was no shortage of either on the part of both Japanese and foreigners. It felt like someone had scooped handfuls of people from beaches across the world and dropped them off in Zushi, creating a strange cultural mishmash and above that an energetic beach atmosphere. While there were some children playing at the beach, they were far outnumbered by the scores of adults drinking and chilling with friends new and old.
Unfortunately, the beach was a bit more on the “shelly” side than I had hoped, but the absence of pristine sand did not dissuade us from enjoying ourselves. On the contrary, my friends and I had a great time eating, drinking, swimming, sun-bathing, and generally enjoying the eclectic scene. The water itself was not dirty and I found it to be extremely pleasant.
Exhausted from the hot Japanese sun, my group decided to call it quits in the late afternoon. As we packed up to leave, I got the vibe that the fairly chill beach would soon transition into an all out-party. A group of American-looking dudes in RVCA shirts and snapback hats longboarded past us on our way out:
Longboarder Guy: “Where are you guys from?”
American Friend: “San Diego!”
Longboarder Guy: “Party!”
It was a fitting end to a fun day at the beach.