Japanese Beaches – Your Complete Guide
Japan is perhaps not your first thought in summer beaches, but it certainly should be! We've compiled a list of 13 of the very best Japanese beaches, plus tips on how to enjoy your day to the max.
“On an island in the sun / We’ll be playing and having fun / And it makes me feel so fine.”
“Island in the Sun” by Weezer
Summer is here! It’s time to let loose and cool off at the beach. When people think about typical summer getaways, they often think of tropical Hawaii or the glamorous Mediterranean. Yes, these places are great and all, but Japan is also a world-class option for a beach break. This article aims to persuade you to consider Japan as your summer destination. We’ll provide a list of some of the best beaches the country has to offer, plus we’ll educate you on how best to prepare yourself for hitting them.
Things to Eat and Drink at a Japanese Beach
All of the food and drinks mentioned below can be found at beach vendors, convenience stores and supermarkets.
In Japan, watermelon is heavily associated with summer, renowned for its incredibly refreshing and cooling qualities. So much so, it has even had a beach game invented in its honour: “suika-wari.” The game is similar to hitting a Piñata with a stick or baseball bat. However, instead of a Piñata, a watermelon is used. Placed on a tarp, blindfolded participants then attempt to smash the fruit as best they can. Upon crushing the watermelon, players are rewarded with the juicy red “flesh” inside.
2. Soft Cream
Soft cream is Japanese ice cream, and it is literally the softest cream your mouth will ever come across. Like ice cream, soft cream is consumed during the summer to cool down. In addition to the cooling mechanism of soft cream, there are numerous unique flavors such as wasabi and squid ink for you to try. With a finite lifespan under the sun, be sure to eat your soft cream in a speedy fashion.
3. Kakigori (Shaved Ice)
The two main ingredients of this Japanese dessert are shaved ice and syrup. “That’s it?” you exclaim. You might think this dessert is basic, but you haven’t tried it in the heat of a Japanese summer. It’s like encountering an oasis in the Sahara. It will save you from heat exhaustion and kill you with diabetes at the same time.
4. Onigiri (Rice Ball)
Onigiri is to Japan what the sandwich is to the west: quick, easy, on-the-go food. An onigiri is a rice ball often with some sort of filling on the inside. Common fillings include salmon, tuna and mayo. Bought at a convenience store or made at home, this is a popular seaside snack.
There are tons of vendors at the beach selling a wide variety of seafood, including saba shioyaki (grilled salted mackerel), ikayaki (grilled squid), yaki-gaki (grilled oysters) and nama-gaki (raw oysters). They are fresh and delicious!
This carbonated beverage is unique to Japan. It is often compared to lemonade, however, this comparison does not do it justice. Not only is it refreshing in the summer, it is fun as well. Well, fun for a split second. In order to drink it, you must first push down on a marble at the mouth of the bottle, thus creating a fun “pop” sound. Afterwards, you will have access to the refreshing fizzy liquid within. Not only will you feel refreshed, you will be rewarded with a marble at the end of your drink. Double the fun!
There are only a few universal truths known to man. One of which is the unbeatably refreshing experience of an ice cold beer at the beach. No beach trip is complete without a beer, unless of course, you are under 20, then stick with ramune. After drinking a bottle of beer, the summer sun is no longer your enemy but your friend. You learn to bask in the awesome sensation that is the summer sun. But don’t forget your sunscreen!
Dehydration is a big concern during the summer. What better way to combat dehydration than with the essence of life that is water? We are 3/5 water, after all. A motto to stand by is, “drink, pee, no IV.”
Things to Bring to a Japanese Beach
Head to Japan’s mega-discount chain store, Don Quijote, for all your beach needs and more.
1. Sunscreen, Sunblock, Sun Protection Liquid
No matter where you are, the intensity of the sun is going to be the same for the most part. The sun does provide vitamin D, but too much vitamin D is not good. Everything in moderation. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you lather yourself up in sunscreen and protect yourself. Safety first, after all.
“The Japanese don’t wear sunglasses.” This sentiment is remarked surprisingly often by foreigners. Whether true or not, do not take your eyes for granted and wear sunglasses with UV protection.
3. Beach Towel or Tarp
No one likes to be sandy. Beach towels are your friends in combatting this. No more sandy bums for you! Do not be surprised if you see blue tarps at the beach. These tarps are often used at parks and beaches to sit on by industrious Japanese. In addition to being a barrier between your backside and the sand, these tarps are used in the “suika-wari” game mentioned earlier.
4. Towel or Hand Towel
Also, no one likes to be wet. Plus, you get sandier when you are wet. Wipe yourself dry with a towel. Problem solved. Often, you’ll see Japanese people with smaller towels because they like the compact nature of it. Small or big, it doesn’t matter. Just bring a towel.
5. Beach Umbrella
Most of the time, people in Japan access the beach on public transportation, a form of transport inconvenient for lugging around a beach umbrella. However, it is well worth it for when you take a nice snooze on the beach.
“Food, glorious food” (lyrics from the musical, Oliver). Food is certainly glorious. It is even more glorious at the beach in the summer sun. Be sure to pack food such as onigiri as vendors at the beach tend to hike up their prices. Also, bring your own watermelon to play “suika-wari.”
7. Cooler (or Portable Ice chest) Filled with Ramune, Beer, Water, Etc.
If you want cool drinks, bring a cooler. Again, crafty vendors tend to hike up the prices of cool drinks.
Top 13 Japanese Beaches
After your brief education on how to survive Japanese beaches, you are now a master of all things Japanese beaches. Pick your beach of choice and go forth to relax in the summer sun.
1. Yurigahama in Yoron-jima, Japan
Known for its pure white sand beaches, Yoron-jima (Yoron Island) is temptingly isolated from the rest of the world. Locals barely speak English but that doesn’t matter because silence is golden. Stand on the sandbar, Yurigahama, and let all your worries of the hustle and bustle of city life melt away.
Location: Yoron-jima, Oshima, Kagoshima
Directions: Fly from mainland Japan (Kagoshima or Okinawa) to Yoron-jima. There are also ferries from Kagoshima to Yoron-jima.
2. Hatenohama Beach in Kume-jima, Japan
This 7 km sandbar, located on Kume-jima (Kume Island), can only be accessed by specialist tour companies. It is well worth spending the money to get to this beautiful beach, though. Hatenohama beach is also a haven for snorkelers and scuba divers and those wanting to see Nemo and his family darting around in the water.
Location: Kume-jima, Shimajiri, Okinawa
Directions: Fly from mainland Japan (Naha) to Kume-jima. There are also ferries from Naha to Kume.
3. Toguchi No Hama Beach in Irabu-jima, Japan
This “soulless” beach is extremely gorgeous. “Soulless” doesn’t mean it lacks character; it means that not a soul will be in sight upon stepping onto Toguchi No Hama. Irabu-jima is not only home to this gorgeous beach, it is home to the longest toll-free bridge in Japan (Irabu Ohashi Bridge).
Location: Irabu-jima (Irabu Island), Miyako, Okinawa
Directions: Fly from Tokyo or Naha to Miyako-jima (Miyako Island). Then drive from Miyako-jima to Irabu-jima by way of Irabu Ohashi Bridge. Ferries are also available between Miyako-jima and Irabu-jima.
4. Nakanoshima Beach in Shimoji-jima Japan
With its gentle and calm tides, this beach is a popular snorkelling and scuba diving destination. With an abundance of tropical fish, it is a colorful and pretty underwater experience. Not too far away, there are two salt water ponds, Tori-ike, which are also extremely beautiful.
Location: Shimoji-jima (Shimoji Island), Miyako, Okinawa
Directions: Fly from Tokyo or Naha to Miyako-jima. Then drive from Miyako-jima to Shimoji-jima or take a ferry.
5. Kondoi Beach in Taketomi-jima, Japan
With scattered trees and a backdrop of greens, whites and blues, the scenery at Kondoi beach is simply amazing. As is the star-shaped sand, which in reality is the remains of tiny crustations. Kondoi beach is located on Taketomi-jima (Taketomi Island), which is also famed for its kuruma ebi (Japanese imperial pawn) farms. Therefore, be prepared to eat a lot of kuruma ebi.
Location: Taketomi-jima, Yaeyama, Okinawa
Directions: Fly from Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, or Taipei (Taiwan) to Ishigaki-jima (Ishigaki Island). Then take a 10-minute ferry ride from Ishigaki-jima to Taketomi-jima.
6. Nishihama Beach in Hateruma-jima, Japan
Nishihama beach is located on the southernmost Japanese island, Hateruma-jima (Hateruma Island). This makes nishihama beach the ideal location to lie on fine sand and gaze at the Southern Cross constellation at night. Be sure to try awamori (an alcoholic beverage unique only to Okinawa) while you laze about.
Location: Hateruma-jima, Yaeyama, Okinawa
Directions: Fly from Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, or Taipei (Taiwan) to Ishigaki-jima. Then take a 60-minute ferry ride from Ishigaki-jima to Hateruma-jima.
7. Aharen Beach in Tokashiki-jima, Japan
Sea turtles can sometimes be spotted at Aharen beach, thus making this a popular destination for snorkelers. This “virgin” beach, untouched by civilization for the most part, has incredible natural beauty.
Location: Tokashiki-jima (Tokashiki Island), Shimajiri, Okinawa
Directions: Take the ferry from Naha to Tokashiki-jima.
8. Nishibama Beach in Aka-jima, Japan
Nishibama beach is one of the more popular beaches on this list. However, don’t let that detract from its scenic white sand and clear waters. In addition to its beauty, there are several observatories within walking distance of the beach.
Location: Aka-jima (Aka Island), Shimajiri, Okinawa
Directions: Take a ferry from either Zamami or Naha to Aka-jima.
9. Kopepe Beach in Chichi-jima, Japan
There are many activities to be done on Kopepe beach, including but not limited to sea kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. This beach is not only fun but beautiful. If you are adventurous enough, you can also try the local cuisine of sea turtle, also featured in our “Weird Japanese Food” article.
Location: Chichi-jima, Ogasawara Islands, Tokyo
Directions: Take a 26-hour ship ride from mainland Tokyo to Chichijima.
10. Oarai Beach in Higashiibaraki, Japan
You don’t need to go all the way to Hiroshima to see Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, the famous floating shrine. Kamiiso No Torii on Orai beach is just as good. Also, try the local cuisine of monkfish; it’s like nothing you’ve ever tried before!
Location: Higashiibaraki, Ibaraki
Closest station: Orai station
Directions: Roughly 100 minutes from Tokyo Station to Orai station by rail.
11. Onjuku Beach in Isumi, Japan
A prince and princess on camels welcome you to the beach, stood atop 2 km of sand. These statues were inspired by the 1923 song “Tsuki No Sabaku” (Desert of the Moon). After trudging through the sand, you are rewarded with crystal blue waters.
Location: Isumi, Chiba
Closest station: Onjuku station
Directions: It takes about 80 minutes from Tokyo Station to Onjuku Station – using the Wakashio Line. It takes more than 120 minutes from Tokyo Station to Onjuku Station by local trains, but it is cheaper.
12. Yuigahama Beach in Kamakura, Japan
Although it’s not the best beach, it is one of the closest beaches to central Tokyo. Therefore, Yuigahama beach is very popular with Tokyoites in search of a good time. However, beware of birds. They are not shy in swooping down and stealing that chocolate bread in your hand.
Location: Kamakura, Kanagawa
Closest station: Yuigahama station
Directions: It takes more than 60 minutes to get to Yuigahama Station from Tokyo Station by rail.
13. Chirihama Nagisa Driveway in Hakui, Japan
This beach is like no other. Ever wanted to drive on a beach? Now, you can! Chirihama Nagisa Driveway is an 8 km drive, perfect for rolling down your windows and enjoying a lovely sea breeze rushing against your cheeks.
Location: Hakui, Ishikawa
Closest station: Hakui station
Directions: It takes more than 210 minutes from Nagoya station to Hakui station by train. It also takes about 240 minutes from Tokyo station to Hakui station by train.