While Japan may not immediately jump to mind when thinking of the world’s top surf spots, the recent debut of surfing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics ushered in a new surge of enthusiasm surrounding the sport. With a flourishing surf culture that grows in popularity every year, Japan’s 18,486 miles of coastline offer plenty of opportunities for surfers to hit the waves.
During the 2020 Olympics, surfing competitions were held on Tsurigasaki beach in Chiba prefecture. Known for its high-quality surf and convenient placement just 40 miles east of Tokyo, Tsurigasaki is one of the most well-known surf spots in all of Japan. Throughout Chiba, the best waves arrive from August through October during typhoon season, but decent waves can be enjoyed all year long. Popular amongst both amateurs and pros, more than 600,000 surfers visit Chiba beaches each year.
Stretching 55 miles alongside the eastern coast of southern Japan, the Nichinan coast is known for its subtropical climate that keeps waves coming all year long. Check out Aoshima Beach, which has mellow waters suitable for beginners, as well as Kisakihama Beach north of Miyazaki city, which features a big, open beach break and consistent surf most of the year.
Regarded by some as the best surf in all of Japan, Tokushima prefecture in the Shikoku region is home to the Kaifu river mouth, otherwise known as the “Japanese pipeline”. Nicknamed after the “Banzai pipeline” in Hawaii, the Kaifu river mouth is a hazardous, but exceptional surfing spot reserved for experienced surfers. During typhoon season, which typically lasts from June to November in the area, the heavy rainfall leads to massive swells that break against accumulated sandbanks to form waves. Each swell can last from a few hours up to a few days and there are at least 20 each season. Due to its temperamental nature and the river current, the Japanese pipeline can be dangerous, but it’s an unmissable wave for seasoned surfers.
About the author:
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.