5 Great Beaches in Japan
I doubt many in Europe or America would associate Japan with beach holidays — it is per-haps a long way to travel when there are other beach destinations closer to home.
Yet the beach scene in Japan is excellent, with many unique coastal features and marine life to marvel at, and activities to enjoy. Wherever your Japan travel takes you, there's bound to be a beach somewhere nearby to make your visit even more memorable, if only for a day trip.
Onna Beach Resort (Okinawa)
Without doubt, Japan’s southernmost islands offer the best beaches, and the best sunshine. Sub-tropical Okinawa is the largest of these islands with some of the best white sand beaches and coral reefs in the world, and a distinct culture all its own.
Onna, located on the West side of the island, offers the complete Okinawa holiday experience, with resort hotels, white sands, stunning coastal capes and caves, scuba-diving, snorkeling, and whale watching, as well as inland nature tours and kayaking.
Yonaha-Maehama Beach (Miyakojima)
For the more adventurous sun-seeker, a little over half-way between Okinawa and Taiwan lies the island paradise of Miyakojima. Here you will find Yonaha Maehama beach, rightly famed for pristine white sands, coral reefs teeming with exotic marine life, as well as for the seclusion and excellent snorkeling it offers. There are smaller islands off-shore too, many connected by bridges, as well as capes, wetlands and sugar cane fields to explore.
Shirahama Beach (Izu)
Closer to Tokyo, the Izu Peninsula is an area of rare natural splendour that has long been popular with Tokyoites for short breaks or day trips. With its white sands, Shirahama beach offers sun-lovers and surfers alike a wide range of facilities and eateries, all easily reached from the capital by bus or train.
Katase Higashihama Beach (Kamakura and Enoshima)
One of the closest beaches to Tokyo, Katase Higashihama at Enoshima, attracts huge numbers of sunbathers, swimmers and surfers every summer. Enoshima offers other attractions too, such as the Enoshima-jinja shrine, a park, caves and views of Mt. Fuji from the observation tower on clear days. And of course there is the nearby giant Buddha at Kamakura to visit.
Tottori Sand Dunes (Tottori)
Although sometimes called Japan's desert, the Tottori Sand Dunes are not actually a desert at all. Located on the Sea of Japan coast, where summer temperatures tend to be a few degrees cooler, it is a popular area with Japanese families seeking respite from muggy city tempera-tures. For this reason, the expansive dunes are well served with facilities such as beach huts, showers and changing rooms. There is very little else locally of interest apart from the rolling Mars-by-the-Sea landscape, but activities as diverse as camel riding, paragliding and sand-boarding are available. The Tottori Sand Dunes offer one of the stranger beach holiday expe-riences in Japan, as well as bleak and moody off-season solitude for those who want it.
Japanese film buffs might recognise the area as the location of the 1964 film noir adaptation of Abe Kobo's novel 'Woman in the Dunes.’
Naturally, there are many more beaches to enjoy in Japan, but visitors are advised to check online in advance for any restrictions or possible hazards. Nudity is prohibited in all but a very small number of locations, along with alcohol consumption. Some resort beaches may also prohibit exposed tattoos, so always check well ahead what you can or can't do. And don't forget to take a good sun-screen lotion!