If you ask American fashion designer Cynthia Rowley about one of her greatest personal passions, she won’t hesitate to tell you: surfing. And while she tends to hone her skills close to home on the Long Island beaches of Montauk in New York, she has also brought her love for the sport to more farflung shores — in Japan.

It’s a favorite travel destination for both business reasons (she has 4 retail stores there, along with a presence in some major Japanese department stores and boutiques) and pleasure. “I love the country, I love the culture and I love the freedom in the way that people express themselves through fashion,” she explains.

A visit to the coastal town Kamakura several years ago was Rowley’s first encounter with Japanese surf culture, and it was unforgettable. “When I went there I couldn’t believe the amazing mix of Japanese and California surf culture,” she says. “You are surfing next to temples and shrines. And when you look up you see the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji.” Here, she describes some of the places she loved most in Kamakura, an easy one-hour train ride from Tokyo.

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