Utsumi!

Long considered to be a garbage strewn patch of ojisan-infected sand, Utsumi Beach has cleaned up its act. So if you are looking for a hot place to cool down this summer hitch a ride to Chita-hanto

Some of Japan’s best beaches – as long you don’t mind a nice view of a nuclear power station – are in Fukui Prefecture, 2-3 hours drive from Nagoya. They are covered in beautiful white sand, which is a great complement to the clear, clean water of the Japan Sea. Of course, to get a parking spot and a spot on the beach, you’ll have to extricate yourself from your sweat-soaked futon at about 5am, then call your friends to wake them up, then get a car then… the list goes on.

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For those who can’t manage to give enough of a fuck to visit Fuckui, there’s always Utsumi right here in Aichi. Taking a car is optional; the one hour air-conditioned train ride is a great way to see the endless miles of dull, flat, boring concrete that make up most of Aichi while drinking your favorite combination of beers, chuhai, and anything else you can scavenge from a conbini at 7am on a Sunday.

Arriving at Utsumi, the beach is about a ten minute walk in the coastal direction (hint: it’s the one away from the hills). You’ll pass a gas station, MOS Burger, and conbini and BOOM! Ocean.

The earlier this month (July) you visit the better; the beach tends to get packed like crazy in the one month or so period between Marine Day (July 20) and whenever the jellyfish show up (mid-late August).

Things to do at Utsumi
(Chidorigahama Beach):

• Renting a parasol (a smart person word for sun umbrella) and beach mat is a good idea. The person working there will drill a hole for your parasol wherever you’d like it. Most places don’t require you to return the goods when you’re done, but it’s worth asking. (Cost: ~¥2000 for the day)

• Swim. Go out further to get to cooler water, which you’ll probably want to do in July. Closer to the shore tends to be quite warm as it is shallow; that’s what I choose to believe, anyway.

• Nanpa Nanpa Nanpa

• If you’d like some food or drinks and don’t want to visit one of the many beach bars (look for one with indoor seating and air-con!), there are two conbinis in the area, a 7-11 by MOS Burger, which didn’t sell booze during the 2013 summer season, and a Lawson a little bit further away that did. I’ll leave figuring out which one I recommend going to as an exercise to the reader.

• The various car parks around the area have showers that cost about ¥100 for five minutes or so of sweet, sweet fresh water. You don’t have to park your car there to use them; just get your salty, sunburnt butt in line. If you have nice manners, you could ask the old Japanese person attending the car park if you’re allowed to use their showers, but it’s OK. Trust me.

And that’s your beach day! Even if Utsumi isn’t going to get into any (desirable) National Geographic lists, it’s passable when you consider the alternative is sweating into oblivion back in fetid Nagoya on a humid summer’s day. Enjoy!

Getting to Utsumi:

By Car
Utsumi is about an hour’s drive from Nagoya. Take the Nagoya Expressway south then merge onto the Chita Hanto Road. Follow this to the Chita Hanto IC, then get off and follow Prefectural Route 52 all the way to the beach. Parking costs around ¥1500.

By Train
Take a Meitetsu Rapid Limited or Limited Express on the Chita New Line from Nagoya or Kanayama bound for Utsumi all the way to the end. One leaves every half an hour-ish. You could take a slower train, but then you’ll have to change trains at some point along the way, which is a process fraught with danger (not really, but it can be a PITA).

The train ride takes an hour and is a nice way to enjoy some beverages while the scenery goes past in a gray blur that eventually changes to a green blur. Just hope you’re on one with a toilet. Train tickets cost a little over ¥1000.

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