The first thing that springs to mind when you think of Japan is probably not ‘beach holiday’ or ‘surfing mecca’, but this little group of islands facing the Pacific has a lot to offer.
- Chiba and Shonan – You’ll find consistant, powerful beachbreaks, but also big crowds at the weekend as people flock out of Tokyo to the coast.
- Shikoku – The lesser-populated of Japan’s four main islands, Tokushima Prefecture’s southern coast and neighbouring Koichi have decent waves, Ikumi beach is the one to head for.
- Kyushu – Perhaps I’m biased as it’s home stomping ground, but the varied coastline of this island is surfer’s paradise. Try Karatsu in Saga Prefecture, or Koigaura beach in Miyazaki Prefecture. Quality beachbreaks without the city crowds.
- Okinawa – You can’t really say anything bad against a set of tropical islands and Okinawa offers the perfect indo experience to surfers in Japan, though beware of the sharp coral reef!
Catching some rays…
For those that like to take it easy there are plenty of sandy beaches on which to rest those tired sight-seeing legs. Beaches around the surf spots of Kyushu and Okinawa have a lot to offer sun worshippers, but for short trips from major cities try these:
- Shirahama – A beautiful white sandy beach in Wakayama Prefecture. From Osaka it’s 2 hours on the JR Kii line using your Japan Rail Pass. Although packed in July and August it will literally be deserted outside these months as beach season is ‘officially’ over (and Japanese play by the rules).
- Izu-Hanto – 100km southwest of Tokyo this penninsula has many great beaches and spectacular onsen overlooking the Pacific.
- Izu-Shoto – A chain of submerged volcanic islands stretching out 300km into the Pacific, the nearest are easily reached from Tokyo for a weekend break. With camping, deserted white sandy beaches and sea-gazing onsen what’s not to love?
Fit in a day or 2 of beachside fun while you’re in Japan, with your Japan Rail Pass you can easily navigate the rail system to find the perfect spot of sand.
photo Takashi Kiso