Summer is finally here in Tokyo and that can only mean one thing – it’s time to ditch the city and head for the beach! Whether your calling is the sands of Kujukuri Hama or the waves of Enoshima, the shore is the place to be. To help you get your bearings, let us give you the lowdown on the local types of human wildlife you’re sure to find as you pursue the perfect suntan.
THE OBASAN VAMPIRE
Not everyone likes the sun. But that’s not going to stop the obasans [aunties] of Japan from setting foot on the sand. Sunscreen might be enough protection from solar rays for most people, but only an outfit that completely covers every inch of skin is enough for these beach-goers. And of course that’s in addition to sunglasses, thick gloves, a parasol, and a head visor that resembles something you’d expect to find sitting next to a welding torch.
THE PERFECT GYARU
Many believed that Gyarus – the spray tanned, neon clad, teenage girls who used to hang out on Shibuya’s streets – were a thing of the past. Since their nineties peak the numbers of gyarus in town has waned. But every summer they emerge to occupy Tokyo’s beaches. For a month the world is once again awash with orange-hued girls wearing garish candy colours and unfathomably high platform shoes and then – poof – they are gone, leaving you to wonder if it was all a summer mirage.
BEACH HUT OJISAN
Of all the things you were prepared to do when you came to the beach, taking off your shoes to enter a house was probably not one of them. But not following Mr Beach Hut’s rules means no access to the hut. And that means no access to the many wondrous types of equipment found within. Nice showers, lockers, and home comforts that will put your permanent abode to shame await under the watchful gaze of the most tanned man you will ever see in your life.
DIVE-BOMBING BIRDS OF DEATH
Okay, so these aren’t human. But if you’re a human and you’re heading to the surf you will want to know what these things are. So you can stay the hell away from them. The seagulls at the beach of any other country can’t hold a candle to these bloodthirsty avian emissaries of doom that have the potential to ruin the day (and eye) of any unsuspecting beach-goer that happens to get in their line of fire.
MILITARY MUSCLE MAN
He’s big. He’s strong. He’s got some very macho tattoos. And he just wants some time to relax after a stressful week of getting yelled at by his superiors. The day you see him is a rare one when he doesn’t have to get up at 0500 hours, and he’s determined to make the most of his valuable R&R time. You’re probably best to respect that.
THE OVER-PREPARED AND YET UNDER-FULFILLED FAMILY
You thought you’d be OK with just a towel and a bottle of suntan lotion, but this particular type of family knows better. In addition to the usual assortment of beach floats, snacks, and changes of clothes they’ve also brought along a modular tent complete with kitchenette and sleeping space for ten. The only downside is that, after folding everything out, unwrapping every food item, and finally getting the portable BBQ to start, it’s time to go home
(Written by Benjamin Boas/Time Out Tokyo)
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