Beaches in Japan
Japan's most beautiful beaches, a must-see for your next visit to Japan
As Japan is an archipelago, its islands are surrounded by waters. Did you know the country boasts over 33,000 km of coastlines ? Whether it is on the main island, Honshu, or along the coast of one of Japan's 38 seaside prefectures (out of 47 !) across thousands of islands, you'll find a beach to go swimming at any given season. However, for a lot of people, Japan is far from being amongst the top popular destinations to visit for some beachside fun, despite having some of the best and most beautiful beaches on the planet.
With a unique variety of climates found across the country, Japan offers one of the best choice of beautiful landscapes in the world. From the white sand, crystal blue clear water beaches of Miyako island in Okinawa, to the wild and rocky coasts of the Izu peninsula, or the dreamy beach city of Shirahama, the seas and the ocean surrounding the Japanese archipelago are never far away. From sun-soaking at the beach in the latest popular trendy resort to exploring the Fuji Hakone Izu natural coast park just south of Tokyo, Japan truly has it all.
In Japanese culture, the sea is reserved for sea creatures and those who fish for them. Going out for a beach day with friends, sunbathing all day, playing beach volley or building sandcastles is a fairly recent pastime, and you will still only see a small part of the population, generally younger, enjoying the beach, being out by the water or swimming in the ocean.
In the land of the onsen, where it is natural for people to walk naked in front of strangers to enjoy the hot springs, the Japanese paradoxically remain modest on the beach and usually avoid the sun's rays as much as possible. Commonly quite pale, they tend to often keep their T-shirts on the beach. As white skin remains a symbol of beauty and purity deeply rooted into the Japanese spirit, sunbathing all day at the beach is not really a popular hobby in Japan.
The most beautiful beaches to go swimming in Japan:
An island country surrounded by water: between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean
On any Japanese island, you will never be further than 200 km from the coast. Even if a lot of seaside places are either rocky, inaccessible or urbanized due to lack of space inland, you can still enjoy breathtaking, beautiful beaches located across the archipelago. From the beach near the city to the great hidden spots you'll need to find on an island off the coast, Japan has more than enough beach for everyone.
The Tokyo Bay and its many beach spots, for example, are full of vacationers or Japanese weekenders during the summer season. There, you will be able to enjoy many popular leisure activities, as they are some of the busiest beaches: kayak, tubing, surfing and other water fun classics! But in general, apart from fishing boats, you will rarely be disturbed by yachts and other jet-skis. In Japan, zen is also found at the beach !
Travelling down to the south islands, you'll be able to relish in all kinds of underwater discovery. Swimming in the crystal clear waters of Okinawa, scuba-diving and snorkeling are an essential thing to do! Often dubbed the Hawaii of the Japanese, we recommend avoiding the Ryukyu archipelago (the islands that make up the Okinawa prefecture) during the summer season holidays - especially in August - because of the high amount of people visiting.
To fully enjoy the warm waters surrounding the white sand beaches of Okinawa, we advise going preferably at the end of spring season or the beginning of autumn. During either of those seasons, you'll be able to discover the tropical islands of Japan, arguably amongst the most beautiful places in the world, with much more peace of mind.
From popular and trendy ocean side resorts to understated hotels by the sea, Japan also offers great seaside places to visit to recharge your batteries in a marine environment, toes in the sand ! And with a beach near you located almost everywhere on the archipelago, you can travel to Japan for its beaches at any season, not only during the summer season. Even if you're visiting another of Japan's unmissable destinations, a must-see spot by the ocean is sometimes just a day trip away from the city. For example, the Chiba prefecture located just outside of Tokyo has some of the best and most popular beaches on the Honshu island. The famous beach town of Shirahama, in the Wakayama prefecture, is also just a train ride away from Kyoto & Osaka.
Beaches in Japan, an unexpected gem to visit
A central element to both Japan's international presence in the world and its isolation, it is thanks to the resources offered by the waters surrounding its islands that the country has been able to develop its economy. A public holiday is even celebrated nationwide to pay respect to the sea: Umi no Hi.
Between the Tokyo megalopolis, the impressive mountain ranges, the relaxing countryside, the virtuous onsen, the historic temples and shrines and all the other riches and destinations that Japan has to offer, going swimming at the beach understandably does not strike people as an obvious visit to add in their list of places to see when preparing a holiday in Japan.
But to discover breathtaking landscapes, unique fauna and flora and stretches of white sand that are lost in clear turquoise water, do not miss the Japanese beaches. The splendid Emerald Beach lagoon or the stunning Ishigaki island and its dreamy Kabira Bay area in Okinawa, the world famous surf spot of Shirahama Beach in the Shizuoka prefecture, or even Jodogahama Beach and its volcanic rocky landscapes in the Tohoku region... Japan entirely deserves its spot on the list of the best island destinations to go swimming and soak in the sun.
Okinawa, not the only beach spot in Japan
As Japanese beaches are already not appreciated to their full extent by some travelers, most of the spotlight for the best beach destinations lands on the Okinawa islands. However, as you've now read, many hidden coast gems and great finds are located across the country. Of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn't add the pristine, blue crystal clear waters and mile-long white sand beaches of the Okinawa prefecture to your bucket list, but make sure you also consider a visit to other great beach spots along the Japan coast !
Thanks to the country's unique geography, spanning over 3,000 km north to south, you don't have to stick to the summer season to go swimming Japanese-style. If you're wondering when is the best season to head to the beach, to enjoy the sea or the ocean in Japan, there are many options available. For example, while the Okinawa islands may seem like an obvious summer destination, it is best appreciated outside of peak travel season. Not only because of the amount of people, but for the weather as well ! The south beaches get hot and humid in the summer, while other great beach spots in the northern area of Japan offer a much more balanced climate and offset the heat. On the other hand, the southern prefectures can be a good option to visit to make the most out of the more clement seasons. Indeed, they get warmer earlier and stay hot later in the season, allowing you to enjoy the beach for the majority of the year !
If you were thinking of sticking to Tokyo for your next visit to Japan, we're sure you're now planning a beach day to discover the great Japanese seaside sceneries for a much-needed getaway by the water !
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