The Best Unique Diving in Japan: Skydiving and Pearl Diving
Usually, when people say diving, what comes to mind is Scuba diving or the kind of diving they do in the Olympics. Contrary to this notion, there are more types of diving in the world aside from the ones mentioned above. Focusing on the ones that can be done in Japan, specifically the Skydiving and Pearl Diving, it is definitely worth the time to know more about these two. Hopefully, after reading this article, more people would know of and try these unique diving activities for their trip.
Skydiving, in general, is a pretty tricky thing to commit to. This is not only because of the natural danger that comes along with doing this but also because of the scarcity of dependable agencies that organize and manage these skydives. No sane person would say yes to jump off a plane to plummet down with only a parachute if they weren’t sure that they would come out of it alive. Good thing the Skydiving club in Japan has been doing it for years now and there has been nothing but great reviews about it so it hints that this place can be trusted compared to the rest.
This Skydiving club in Japan is called the Tokyo Skydiving Club and deceivingly enough, they may be called the Tokyo Skydiving club but they actually meet up in a private airfield in Saitama called the Honda Airport. This area can be reached via bus from Okegawa, Kawagoe, or Honkawagoe stations. Obviously, it can also be reached via car but it is recommended to commute so that you would have less to worry about, which in that case would be the car you would be leaving behind. This club is handled by people who are fluent in English and Japanese so language is less likely to be a barrier between you guys. People interested in this would have to make reservations about a week or more before the desired date of the jump because there is a lot to be done prior to the actual jump. You can search for their page to booked a dive with them easily. The prices may have changed already but from reviews, a basic tandem jump would cost around 32000 yen. A tandem jump with a hand camera would cost around 40000 yen and a tandem jump with a cameraman would cost 48000 yen. Whichever package divers wish to take, rest assured that it will be an experience you will treasure for the rest of your life.
If falling from the sky is not something you have on your bucket list, maybe the next type of unique diving that can be done in Japan would be more interesting for you. This diving is called Pearl Diving and it might not be what you’re expecting because the tourist isn’t the one involved in looking for pearls in the ocean. This might make some wonder why this place is even referred but judging from the reviews of this spot, it would not be something to miss.
Pearl Diving is a sacred tradition in Japan that can only be done by qualified women. The technique and skills required to do such a task are passed down from generation to generation and it is this historical connection that makes it worth going to. Think of it as going to the museum if you will. Except instead of seeing historical artifacts and imitations of people and animals from before, you would be witnessing the living art which is Pearl Diving. It used to be just that but nowadays, there is also a large complex with an actual museum of pearls and it’s a great place to learn things about pearls like how they are cultivated and the history behind it. Of course, along with the gathering of the pearls, one may also find a pearl shop here for gifts and other souvenirs. If that has caught your attention, then you might want to go to the Mikimoto Pearl Island in Toba because this is where you can experience the Pearl Diving activities. This place never closes so it is practically open all throughout the year. Getting here is also easy because travelers would only need to ride a train to Toba city and it would be walking distance from the station.
Diving near Tokyo and Scuba Diving in Okinawa
Japan is surrounded by water so scuba diving is definitely something to try considering all the views to see underwater. In line with that, there are a lot of different scuba spots divers can go to when in Tokyo or Okinawa. One of the most talked about dive spots near Tokyo is called the Chichijima, which is also known as the Galapagos of the Orient.
It is by the Ogasawara Islands and sadly, there is only one way to get to this island. Adventurers would need to take a 25.5-hour ferry ride from Takeshiba Sanbashi in Tokyo. The Ferry going there also only travels once a week so plan ahead if you wish to hit up this dive spot. Divers should also be aware that these ferry rides usually stop in the month of January for maintenance purposes so go before or after that month. You should also avoid seasons wherein the weather could be a problem since the only choice of transport is the sea. The things you will see in the dive in Chichijima are the several wildlife that inhabits the waters of this area. If this isn’t what you want to explore, there is also another location on this island that would allow divers to explore a shipwreck and this location is called the Sakaiura Beach. This beach is easy to get to because it is only a 5-minute walk from the Sakaiura Kaigan bus stop. The shipwreck you will see here dates back to the Second World War so it is something special to see. A thing to take note of is that these dive spots are so close to the water that the restaurants in these areas are able to get the freshest seafood so make sure to hit some of them up.
Another diving spot near Tokyo would be the Izu Peninsula. It is 100 miles south of Tokyo and this place has waters as visible until depths of 80 feet. It is here that you will see colorful soft corals as well as the rocky outcrops and boulders that usually come along with these corals. Izu is accessible from Tokyo via train which will take under two hours of travel. From the station, taxis and local trains would be the mode of transport to ideally take. The time of your visit to this place may depend on what kind of weather you would want. During summer and early autumn, the water here reached temperatures of 80 degrees while during the winter, temperatures drop to the 50-degree range. Either way, diving is done by tourists all year-round for this location.
If you’ve seen these spots or want to see what else Japan has to offer in terms of diving, then Okinawa would be the place to go to. Okinawa is known for many things like their luxurious hotels, the Kerama Islands, and much more. To add to that long list of recognitions for Okinawa, there are also the wonderful dive spots to be found around its area. Reviews say that Okinawa is a better place to dive compared to the rest because the water here is warmer and clearer so it is easier to see the marine life and gorgeous views the underwater offers its divers.
Marine life to see when diving
Jumping right into it, there is the Miyako Island which is popularly known because of the clear ocean and the animals you get to swim with like the sea turtle. This island also has beautiful coral reefs wherein you would see fishes like clown fish and many more. The edge that this dive spot has is the caves and tunnels that divers go through as they explore what lies in the water. The mix of extremely clear waters and Nature’s caves and tunnels give its divers an experience that they can treasure for a very long time. Getting to this island can only be done via plane with about 20 flights from Naha and one direct flight from Tokyo every day.
As said earlier, Okinawa has many other dive spots that are unique in its own way. The Kouri Island is a perfect example of this because it offers views that are not really nature focused but more of history focused. This is so because what you dive into is a wreck of an American submarine called the USS Emons. Sources say that this submarine sunk because it was hit by five kamikaze planes and eventually the Americans themselves sunk it to stop Japanese forces from getting a hold of their tech. The divers for this dive spot need to be at an intermediate level of diving because it is a 34 to 46-meter dive which is a depth that is not for beginners. Traveling to Kouri Island needs no plane or boat. Since the Kouri Bridge has constructed in 2005, this place has been popularly accessible via car. This also means that a bus ride to this place is possible. The nearest main city from this place is the Kunigami District so you may take a train to Naha then find a bus or rent a car to drive to Kourijima.
If sites of World War II artifacts and Nature’s caves and tunnels don’t attract you, there is still another destination in Okinawa that gives a different diving experience to its divers. This is the Yonaguni Island. Alongside the hammerheads sharks to be seen while scuba diving in this course, this place is also where you can see Yonaguni’s famous underwater stone structure which has been getting attention because of the mystery behind it. It is mysterious because this structure looks like ruins of a sunken city but as far as Japanese archaeologists are concerned, they say that it is a natural structure. Nonetheless, it is a great thing to see and dive into because of its uniqueness. Reviews say that the best time to go to this place is from the month of November to May because this is when the weather is usually the best for dives. Travelers can get to Yonaguni via plane through a 1-hour flight from Naha Airport. This flight is available every day so it is very accessible. The other option of transportation to this site is via ferry which would take 4.5 hours from Ishigaki Island and that ferry travels twice a week.
The Best Scuba Diving in Japan: Diving into Ishigaki Island
Judging from the discussed locations, Japan definitely has a lot to offer in terms of diving. But despite all dive spots that have been discussed, the dive spot people call “A Paradise for Divers” has yet to be shared with you. This place is known as the Ishigaki Island and it is, based on reviews, the best of the best. The waters that surround this island are filled with marine life and the clearest waters you will ever see in your life. Alongside having some of the best dive spots, this place is also where you can find one of the best diving centers in Japan. This center is the Prime Scuba Ishigaki Diving Center. It is so good to the point that its Day Tour was rated as the top tours to take from the 84 tours offered on this island. This Day tour would take divers to the different dive spots around the Island like the Manta Scramble, Osaki Hanagoi Reef, Kabira Bay, and many more.
Since this island has a lot of spots for diving, t helps to talk about the most popular ones to slim down the list of places you might want to go to starting with the Manta Scramble. As its name suggests, this is the dive spot where the famous Manta Rays can be seen and swam with. It is one of the main dive spots, going as deep as 10 meters with rocks and coral heads surrounding it. Swimming and diving through this spot are said to make you feel like you are part of an artwork in motion because of the beauty you would witness here.
The next best spot would be the Osaki Hanagoi Reef. This place takes its name from the fish that can be found here called the anthias fish, which is hanagoi in Japanese. It is a sloping dive spot so more and more colorful fishes and corals are seen as you head deeper and deeper. The best thing about this spot is that there is almost no current so it is a suitable dive spot even for the newest of divers. January would be the best time to head over to this spot because this is when a unique fish called the cuttlefish comes to lay its eggs in the corals.
Getting to Ishigaki Island has become easier since 2003 because that is when the Ishigaki Island’s airport was opened. A flight from Tokyo to this destination would take about 3.5 hours and to move around the island, travelers can rent a car next to the airport worth 3000 yen for 12 hours.