Summer in Japan brings to mind beaches and barbecues, ice cold drinks, and festivals and fireworks. If you are in Japan over the hottest months of the year, consider visiting a nearby beach to experience how the locals spend their summer. For those in or around Tokyo, the Shonan Coast is especially popular during the summer due to its relative proximity to the metropolis. A visit to the beach could be combined with nearby Kamakura or Enoshima to maximise your sightseeing day out.

This summer's Chotto Zeitaku visit brings me to Hayama, a beach town just an hour south of Tokyo. The closest train station into the district is Zushi on the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line or the JR Yokosuka Line, and from there, regular buses provide access into Hayama. The two main beaches of Isshiki and Morito are popular with standup paddlers and sunbathers, and during the summer season, temporary beach huts provide beachgoers with cool drinks, food and rental beach paraphernalia.

Hayama is not as well-known on the tourist map compared to places like Kamakura and Enoshima, and consequently, less crowded compared to the other two places. Despite being close these historical and cultural tourist destinations, the district made me feel like I wasn't in Japan at all. Being there in the summer, the sleepy, quiet beach town with narrow coastal streets could easily pass off as being in the tropics.

I had my bicycle with me for this trip which was very convenient for exploring the district. However, many of the places are within walking distance from either one of the beaches and it is not uncommon to see beachgoers in their swimwear walking along the street.

The smaller crowd at Hayama was a definite welcome, but what made me fall in love with the area was the relaxed and laid-back atmosphere of locals and out-of-towners going about their day. In addition to spending some time lying on the beach, I also went in search for places to take the heat off. I found tiny shops that offered warm conversation and coffee, others that curated domestic produce and products, and prime locations to while away the long summer days.

I started the day at a cute brunch joint and ended it watching the sunset, making it an almost perfect day at the beach. The icing on the cake for me was the fireworks display just after sun set. As it turned out, it was the annual Kamakura Fireworks Festival and I was in an excellent spot to view the performance. There were so many more things I wanted to do which would require spending the night. This only means I will have to go back another time to complete my Hayama wishlist.