Japan Surf Spots

Although Japan is a relatively small country compared to say, Australia or the U.S A, it still does have quite a few surfable points and can sometimes pull out world class waves.

The area’s mentioned below are just a small sample of the variety of surfbreaks that can be found throughout Japan.

The main concentration of surfing activity is around the Chiba, Shonan and Shizuoka areas, although as of late almost every spot in Japan is crowded with surfers on the weekends.

Okinawa and Islands

A tropical island chain right at the bottom of Japan, these islands can deliver the goods for the surfer looking to find a bit of the indo experience in Japan. Needing the right swell direction to work, it is a fickle place, but when it does get the right swell, indo class waves can be found. Mostly sharp coral reef breaks – when it’s on – definately not for novices.

With a tropical climate, surfers enjoy warm water most of the year with great views of the F-16’s flying overhead from the U.S military base located on Okinawa.

The main island of Naha is a good place to start, but a trip out to one of the many islands in the area is definately a worthwhile experience.

Crowd Factor 35
Wave Quality 70

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Short Sleeve Steamer

Shonan

Located a little further south of Chiba, Shonan mixes the city with the surf and attracts quite a crowd due to it’s accesibility.

Consisting mostly of beachbreaks, Shonan can get quite good but is usually smaller in size than it’s neighbour Chiba. Best season is August thru October when the typhoons come through.

Get started around the Enoshima area and work your way up to Kamakura.

Crowd Factor 90
Wave Quality 60

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Long Sleeve Steamer

Shizuoka

Shizuoka has a kind of Shonan feel to it, but only more laid back and rural. Still, with the beach and city mix, Shizuoka can get quiet crowded.

Mostly beachbreaks dominate this area, and like Shonan is usually small except when the typhoons start to roll on in. Then the action starts happening.

Shizuoka is located further south of Shonan and has pretty much the same if not slightly better wave quality.

Crowd Factor 75
Wave Quality 60

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Long Sleeve Steamer

The Japan Sea

The Japan Sea is known for its classic winter barrels and boy, can it get cold. Winter storms passing through the Japan Sea whip up some huge waves for the mad crew who like to brave the cold.

Summer, although not a good season for this area can sometimes bring swell. Beautiful scenery and clean water make this area a great place to visit even if there are no waves.

Best season is from December – April. Snowfalls are common in the winter so bring your booties and gloves!

Crowd Factor 50
Wave Quality 70

Summer : Short John
Winter : Dry Suit

Ibaraki

This coast is full of wind turbines, so you can bet there’ll always be a bit of wind around most days.Best to get in early before the wind picks up.

Quite a lot of longborders frequent this area, so if you’re on a shortboard, be prepared to wait for your waves. Onuki is a great break for beginners.

Mostly beach breaks along this part of the coast, but there are also a few rare reef gems to be found if you’re keen to go looking for them.

Crowd Factor 40
Wave Quality 50

Summer : Short John
Winter : Dry Suit

Niijima

Niijimia is one of the island in the Izu Island chain. Niijima offers some great beach break waves when the time is right – especially during the summer months, when it is invaded by hordes of young party animal Japanese guys and girls looking for a good time away from the mainland.

You can be guaranteed to score some great little offshore barrels when this place fires up.

Best wave direction is from the south. Best access to the Island is to get a cheap flight from Haneda Airport.

Crowd Factor 35
Wave Quality 80

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Short Sleeve Steamer

Sendai

Sendai has a long surfing history the area is famous for some excellent surf breaks.

Most areas have small fun waves up to overhead. If there are no waves, you can always head into the city for a bit of action.

As this area is getting further north, winter days can be bitterly cold and you’ll need a dry suit for some of the coldest days.

Crowd Factor 50
Wave Quality 60

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Dry Suit

Chiba

Consistant, powerful beach breaks and thundering reefs make this area a mecca among surfers in Japan. Chiba also is the home of a number of contest sites including ASP events held every year.

Consistant is the word when describing Chiba and you can almost always be guaranteed a decent wave as well as a decent crowd here. Best season is August thru October when the typhoons come through.

Gets pretty crowded though with the weekend crew from Tokyo and surrounding areas. Depending on which part of Tokyo you start from, a 1 – 2 hour drive on the freeways will get you there. Just head south from Tokyo and make sure to stop off at Disneyland on the way!

Crowd Factor 75
Wave Quality 90

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Long Sleeve Steamer

Kyushu

Kyushu is a surfers paradise with golden sandy beaches along with some consistant reef breaks. The crowd is also a lot thinner than the breaks of Chiba, Shonan and Wakayama and summer brings powerful swells to this scenic area.

If you want quality beachbreaks without the city crowds, then Kyushu is the place for you. If there’s no swell around, you can always head on down to the “SEA GAYA” complex in Miyazaki that has a 2-3 foot sucky wavepool break that’ll cure any lack of surf blues.

Don’t know if they’ll let you take in a surfboard, but you can always rent a bodyboard.

Crowd Factor 50
Wave Quality 80

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Short Sleeve Steamer

Fukushima

Fukushima has consistant waves throughout most of the year.

Don’t forget to bring your wetty though as the water temp in winter is very cold.

Choose from a variety of reef and beach breaks.Locals can tend to be a bit agro sometimes.

Access from Tokyo is quiet easy, therefore sometimes this area can get very crowded – especially with weekend warriors.

Crowd Factor 50
Wave Quality 60

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Dry Suit

Wakayama

Wakayama on a good day can provide some of the best surfing in Japan. Overshadowed by the Chiba and Shikoku areas, Wakayama has always catered for the Osaka crews keen on finding a secluded wave. Reef breaks dominate this peninsular and a lot of the time you can find a good uncrowded wave.

Needs a decent swell to produce anything worth puttin’ on a wettie, but you can usually find some surf around in the summer time. GOBO: A two hour drive from Osaka will get you to the main surf area of Gobo, while heading further south gives you less of the crowds and picks up more of the swell. ISONOURA: Stay away from Isonoura on those summer weekends! I’ve seen a crowd of at least 700 people on a beach no longer than 1 km accross! Heavy Stuff!! However during the occasional fall/winter swell, the crowds are only a fraction of that. During July and August, the beach is divided into a surfing area (to the right of the main gate, beyond the lifeguard tower) and a bodyboarding/swimming area (to thye left of the tower) from 8 AM-5 PM.

Crowd Factor 90
Wave Quality 60

Summer : Boardies
Winter : Long Sleeve Steamer

Hokkaido

Too cold for the average weekend warrior to surf up here, but if you are a keen madman there are some waves to be found, especially in Summer, when the locals come out to defrost.

There’s not really a large surfing population up there as most of the action is on the mountains.

There are a few hardcore locals who brave the cold temperatures and are pretty laid back towards visitors to the area.

Watch out for the bergs!

Summer : Spring Suit
Winter : Dry Suit – Hoodie – Gloves – Boots

Crowd Factor 10
Wave Quality 50