Heading out to enjoy a day by a breezy, sandy shoreline is one of the most common options someone would take for going on a vacation or just a short trip to relax. Because Japan is an archipelago, it’s packed full of different kinds of beaches for everyone to enjoy.
What makes the difference between Japan’s many beaches are where they’re located, because temperatures vary throughout the country. Northern Japan sees the coldest temperatures as its the farthest away from the equator, while the islands on the southernmost part of the archipelago face a warmer, tropical climate that is most enjoyable for those who want to go for a dip in the water.
Swimming In Japan’s Beaches: It’s A Seasonal Activity
No matter where you are in Japan, rest assured that there is a beach that is accessible. However, whether that beach is one you can swim in depends on where you are, and what time of the year it is. August is the hottest and finest month to go. If it’s January, even Okinawa’s temperatures hit 18 degrees Celsius at its warmest, which doesn’t make for a comfortable temperature to swim.
Distance-wise, if you’re in a busy metropolis, then an oasis-type getaway may be more of a plane ride away or at least a long train ride. Otherwise, Japan has some beaches that you may visit and take a stroll in, but are otherwise not allowed to swim in. One of them is found in Tokyo.
The Best Beaches in Japan Near Tokyo
Being the capital of Japan and booming with business and all sorts of activity, Tokyo faces an increasing problem with population density. Real estate is so precious because it is in such high demand, that citizens who reside in the inner city must learn how to make do with tight quarters. This can be quite stressful, so it’s important to get away occasionally and enjoy beach. Luckily, there are some beaches near Tokyo that can provide a perfect place for one to take that much-needed break.
If you’re not looking for a swim, and just want to walk along a sandy shore and enjoy the sun setting against a panoramic view of Tokyo, then Odaiba Beach is an accessible and satisfying option. Found in Central Tokyo, Odaiba Beach is indeed artificial, as the sand here was taken from Izu Islands. The walkable coast is only roughly less than a kilometer long (800 meters), and it isn’t too far from the city for an afternoon breather. Here, you can enjoy beach sports (volleyball, frisbee) and go sunbathing, if the weather is amenable. Although you’re not allowed to fully immerse yourself in the water and swim, you can at least dip your toes on the edge of the coast.
The other option in Central Tokyo would be Kasai Kaihin Park Beach, which is not artificially made and is 117 meters long. Here, there is a larger chance that you will be allowed to swim, as the government is taking measures to clean up the water and give the indulgence of swimming to the people around Tokyo. It’s found within the Kansai Rinkai Park and is near the Kasai Rinkai Aquarium.
Outside of Central Tokyo, there are at least 20 beaches for you to choose, depending on your preferences. Where exactly in Tokyo are you staying, and how far you’re willing to go just for a swim? The answer to that will give you your options. Those in the Kanagawa Prefecture get to enjoy beaches along the Shonan Coast, which include Kamakura Beaches, Enoshima Beaches, etcetera. Miura Peninsula holds Zushi Beach, Morito Beach, and Isshiki Beach. Other general areas to look at for great beach spots include the Izu Peninsula, Boso Peninsula, and Ibaraki.
If You Find Yourself in Kyoto, Here Are the Best Beaches Near That Area
The sad news is, Kyoto has no area that faces the ocean. It is a large inland area nestled in between places like Shiga, Nantan, Kameoka, Muko, Ujitawara, etcetera. So, getting to an actual beach, you will have to travel north to Maizuru or Fukui.
As for the city of Kyoto, it is near Lake Biwa, which is a massive lake which offers many resources to Kyoto. People use it for their water supply, fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities. Instead of heading north or south to go for a dip, residents of Kyoto don’t mind heading to the beaches around Lake Biwa.
Your Next Best Bets - Omimaiko Beach and Makino Sunny Beach
What are the popular beaches in Lake Biwa? One of them is Omimaiko beach. Although it technically does not look out towards an open ocean, Lake Biwa is so enormous, and the sand around it is so fine, that it totally passes for a pristine beach.
In Omaimaiko beach, you can camp out, go for a swim, and enjoy the open air and relaxing scene available right at the heart of Kyoto. To get there, head to the Kyoto Station, and take the Biwa line. Get off at the Omimaiko station – from there, the beach takes five-minutes walk away. Each trip from Kyoto Station will cost you around 670 JPY and will take around a quarter of an hour.
A little north of Lake Biwa is Makino Sunny Beach, which is a lot quieter and less visited than Omimako beach. If you opt to come here, you may want to bring extra food, materials, and equipment (barbecue grills, tents), as amenities are scarce, and the environment is rawer.
Beaches Around Osaka
As you can see with areas around Kansai, they aren’t exactly abundant with beaches. Those who live in Osaka and are craving the beach don’t have many options to select from. Luckily enough, Japan has a great transportation system that makes them easy to access in other districts.
In Osaka itself, there are two decent beaches. There’s Nishikinohama beach in Osaka’s Kaizuka city, and then there’s Tarui Southern Beach in Sennan city, Osaka. The first one, Nishikinohama, also called “Nishiki”, is a beach whose name translates to “two colors”, as the green waters of the ocean contrast with the whiteness of the sand. Feel free to swim or start up a barbecue session here.
In Tarui Southern Beach, which is notoriously close to the Kansai Airport, the waters are a deep blue and overlook a city landscape. Here, many people play beach soccer, go windsurfing, and have a hand at fishing. Another great plus about this beach is that it’s near civilization, with malls and facility outlets (shower and toilet stalls, shops) very nearby.
Other beaches that you’ll want to consider if you’re around Osaka are Suma in Kobe, Isonoura, and Shirahama in Wakayama. Suma beach is the beach that you want to go to if you’re out to party. At night come the raves, DJ’s, alcohol, and the works. It’s not as clean as other beaches may be, like Shirahama or Isonoura. Isonoura is an active, semi-crowded, and fun beach that may not be the best pick if you want some peace and quiet, while Shirahama has great hot springs (great for colder months) and has a lot of different attractions (rock formations, museums, amusement parks) that are very convenient to be near if you’re on vacation with kids.
Great Beach Choices That Are in Honshu; Mainland Japan
So, you’re around Honshu, and you don’t mind making long train trips, but you don’t really want to leave the island via ferry or plane. There is still a great array of beaches for you to go, one of them already being the previously mentioned Shirahama Beach in Kumano. The name “Shirahama Beach” is redundant, as the word “Shirahama” already means “White Beach” in Japanese. Its shoreline boasts of pure white sand and aqua blue water, facing the Pacific Ocean.
Other beaches around Honshu that are worthy of mentioning are Tatadohama beach in Izu, Oarai beach in Ibaraki, Hayama-Isshiki beach in Kanagawa, and Onjuku beach in Chiba. Each beach has something unique about it. Hayama-Isshiki beach is surrounded by nature and is incredibly peaceful, so much so that film students love using it as a location for their set. Oarai beach has a stunning view of a Shinto shrine right by the water. In Onjuku beach, you can ride a camel along the coast. Lastly, Tatodahama is a quaint spot that also offers a serene view, and not that big a crowd.
All these beaches are just a few hours and train rides away from Tokyo (as your reference point) and can be easily visited if you have the time and money.
Okinawa: A Blissful Island in Southern Japan Full of Beaches
Down where the weather is more comfortable and suitable for swimming for most of the year is where you’ll find the paradise that is Okinawa. Because it’s a giant island (along with a collection of other islands) that is in the sweet spot of humidity and warmth, the resorts here are abundant. The beach you end up in often relies on which hotel or resort you rent a room in.
Beaches in Okinawa are accessible from Naha. Those that are free of admission include Manza Beach, Emerald Beach, Zampa beach, and Sunset Beach. You may have to pay for parking. For beaches that have amenities that are maintained, you may be asked to pay a fee. These beaches are Moon Beach (500 yen per person), and Okuma Beach (750 yen per person). If you’re interested in viewing underwater life, consider snorkeling for free in Cape Maeda (if you’re parking a car, pay up 100 yen) or Odo Kaigan.
The prime time to enjoy Okinawa’s gorgeous beaches is during Japan’s summer season, which in this area, can be stretched from around May until October. If you can stand the cooler weather, such as temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius, then you’d be fine with swimming during fall or even winter.
Visit A Beach in The Warmer Kyushu Region of Japan
With a climate not as cool as Honshu, yet not as humid as Okinawa is Japan’s southwesternmost island of Kyushu. If you want to swim around this island’s warm waters, consider going to Keya Beach, with fluffy sand and clean water. Another white sand beach whose coast is known to measure quite long compared to others in the Fukuoka Prefecture is Obaru Beach. There’s also the slightly smaller cove of Fukae Beach and the artificial beach that is Seaside Momochi Kaihin Koen as your other beach destination possibilities.
Which Are the Best Beaches to Surf In?
Japan is used to big waves – that’s where the word “tsunami” comes from. There are beaches around Japan that are true gems when it comes to surfing spots. The top three beaches where you can catch top-notch waves include Ichiyumi Point in Miyazaki. Another is Chiba Wada in Ohada, where you’ll probably find many surfers already there. Lastly, Amami Oshima in Kagoshima reportedly has almost-pipeline waves.
Other great beaches to try surfing are Hasaki Beach, Tatadohama beach, Kugenuma Beach, Katakai Beach, and Onjuku Beach.
Encircle the Beaches You Plan to Visit In Japan on A Map
People coming to Japan for different reasons. While most people come to experience its unique culture and technologically advanced cities, others come to Japan for some fun under the sun beside the sea. This includes trips to beaches for the sake of relaxing, snorkeling, diving, sports activities, surfing, and so much more.
If you are still deciding on which beach should go, it helps to make list of those beaches and encircle where they are around the map of Japan. This way, you get to research and assess which beaches are nearest each other and how far they are from accommodations, thus giving you more efficient hotel choices that allow you to explore more coasts with ease. Doing this also helps you visualize your itinerary for your coming trip, as you can decide which airport to take to get there. Japan does have many islands, and it may take an extra airplane trip or ferry ride to access them.