Beyond the City: Japan's Top Beach Destinations

by Nana Young

Your summer itinerary in Japan is incomplete without plans to visit popular beaches in the country. There’s so much to enjoy at the coastline, and we’ll reveal all the best spots, sights, and activities in this travel guide.


The view of Mt. Fuji and Enoshima in Shonan, stunning beach

When people say Japan is an “island nation,” they do not mean that it’s one massive island. In fact, the country is a collection of many islands. Only about 430 of Japan's 14,125 islands are home to people.

Separated by the Seto Inland Sea, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku are the four main islands due to their large sizes and populations. Together, they form a massive coastline that connects to the Pacific Ocean on the east side and to the Sea of Japan (and East China Sea) on the west side. This coastline, along with those of the hundreds of other smaller islands surrounding the mainland, is responsible for creating pristine beaches in Japan.

The country’s numerous stunning coastal escapes are popular destinations for both local and foreign tourists, especially during the summer. Besides their obvious beauty, the diversity of these beaches makes them all the more intriguing. It seems like the beaches in each region take on a unique personality of their own. From the white sand beaches of Okinawa to the scenic coves in mainland Japan, there is no shortage of options for you and your loved ones!

Does Japan Have Beaches? Unveiling Japan’s Coastal Charm

Summer sky and beautiful turquoise waters beach of Okinawa, scenic beauty

Yes, Japan has beaches—about 1,250 of them, in fact. The country boasts some of the best beach destinations in the world, thanks to its varied and extensive coastline. Compared to the rest of the world, Japan has the sixth-longest coastline. It extends to 29,751 km or 18,486 miles. The only countries with a longer coastline are the Philippines, Russia, Indonesia, Norway, and Canada, in ascending order.

There is a myth that most beaches in Japan are artificial or man-made. We’re happy to bust this myth. While there are a few man-made beaches in Japan, the majority of them are completely natural. It has all the coastal resources it needs to have more than enough natural beaches.

These beaches are beautiful and bountiful enough to accommodate the population. Most of them are swimmable, especially from July to August. They tend to have varying swimming seasons in the North and South, so be sure to ask around. And in case you’re wondering if you can surf a beach in Japan, the answer is yes!

The beaches also provide different kinds of facilities, including lifeguards, changing rooms, showers, toilets, beach huts, and rental shops.

Exploring the Best Beaches in Japan

We understand that it’s hard to make a solid choice out of over a thousand beach options, so we’re here to help. Our team compiled a curated list of the top 4 beaches across Japan, including both popular and hidden gems. Enjoy!

1. Furuzamami Beach: An Extensive Coastline Facing the Blue Sea

A distant view of Furuzamami Beach blue waters of Zamami Island in Okinawa,Japan

This beach is the most popular tourist destination on Zamami Island, located a short ferry ride away from Okinawa Main Island. It has a two-star Michelin rating and is famous for its large size. The beach is over 3 kilometers long, so you never have to worry about not finding enough space. Its white sandy shore faces the magnificent Kerama Blue, a popular colored sea in the region. Visit from 11 am to 3 pm to see it when the colors are most stunning. You can swim (during swimming season) or book snorkeling tours. The available facilities consist of rental shops, toilets, showers, and change rooms.

2. Jodogahama Beach: The Scenic Paradise of Miyako City

A view of "Jodogahama" in summer, famous beach located in Iwate Prefecture, Japan.

Jodogahama Beach is located on the outskirts of Miyako City, Iwate. Note that it’s not on Miyako Island. You can easily take a 20- to 30-minute bus ride from the city to the actual beach. Jodogahama Beach is unique for its stunning white pebble shoreline, view of rocky islands, and calm waters. The beach is also called “Pure Land Beach” because of how much it resembles the Buddhist concept of eternal paradise. Jodogahama is a vibrant swimming spot, especially during the summer months. It has a rest house where swimmers can change, shower, or use the toilet. The rest house also contains a retail shop where you can buy souvenirs and a dining hall for your evening meals. Other popular attractions on Jodogahama Beach are a coastline museum, walking trails, a fishery museum, and boat cruises through caves.

3. Odaiba Beach: Tokyo’s Artificial Beach

Odaiba Beach

Odaiba Beach is only 800 meters long, but it’s one of the most famous tourist spots in the Tokyo area. It’s a man-made beach that exists as part of the Odaiba Seaside Park. The park is accessible by train (on the Shinkotsu Yurikamome Line) and by water bus (from Asakusa). If you’re familiar with the Tokyo area, you may have noticed that most of the beaches associated with it are outside its perimeter. Hence, Odaiba is the only beach that’s actually in Tokyo. Although no one is allowed to bathe or fish in the water, Odaiba is a popular place for engaging in watersport activities. It hosts countless sporting events all year, including beach volleyball, windsurfing, sailing, and marathon contests. Amidst all the activities, Odaiba Beach remains a great place to relax or go for a walk. It contains shopping malls, toilets, and showers.

4. Shirahama Beach: Home of Crystal Clear and Clean Waters

Shirahama Beach, Wakayama, Japan. Expect spectacular sunsets, white sand and blue waters

Izu Peninsula may be famous for its abundance of beaches and onsen (hot springs), but none of these hotspots compare to Shirahama Beach, the jewel of the peninsula. You can get to the beach via train, bus, or taxi. The beach is made up of white, delicate sand dunes with clear waters. It’s a fantastic place to enjoy a good swim in the months after July. However, the large crowd at the 800-meter beach may not be for everyone. If that’s the case for you, you should consider visiting the neighboring sister beach called Shirahama Chuo Beach. It’s off the beaten path and offers a quieter environment. Walk up the coast to find it.

Tropical Getaways: The Best Beaches of Okinawa

landscape of Naminoue Shrine in Okinawa

Okinawa Prefecture has the best beaches in Japan. They’re renowned for their tropical or warm climate, crystal-clear waters, and white sand. Although most beaches in Okinawa are open from March to October, the best time to swim in the waters is from late May to late November. However, you must remain mindful of strong currents and poisonous Habu jellyfish.

The best beach in Okinawa is arguably Furuzamami Beach. We discussed it earlier in this post. For now, let’s explore some of the other top beaches in Okinawa Prefecture.

  1. Maehama Beach: Also called Yonaha Maehama Beach, this spot has the whitest sand in the country. With a length of 7 km, it’s a great place for families to spend the day diving and swimming.

  2. Naminoue Beach: Enjoyable, accessible, and safe, Naminoue Beach is an awesome beach to visit with kids. It’s also a good place to sunbathe and relax.

  3. Nishihama Beach: Located in a rather remote part of the region, Nishihama Beach has one of the calmest waters you’ll find in Japan.

  4. Emerald Beach: This man-made beach is named after the color of its waters, which appear greenish-blue. It has separate zones for relaxing, swimming, and sightseeing.

Beach Towns in Japan: Coastal Living and Local Culture

Chiba Boso peninsula full of local restaurants and beach huts

Japanese beach towns are coastal areas with access to the ocean or sea, one or more beaches, and several facilities to cater to visitors and tourists. There are many beach towns on Okinawa Main Island, some of which are under the ownership of large resort and hotel companies. The companies provide ample accommodation to people who frequent the beaches.

Most of the buildings near the coastline of a beach town are commercial. Besides accommodation, beach towns also offer transportation to and from popular beaches. Also, they often have shops next to the tourist hubs. The entire atmosphere of a beach town is upbeat and laid-back, helping visitors to relax more easily. Others, such as those on Ishigaki Island, offer hiking and jungle-related activities.

There are many other beach towns in Japan known for their vibrant local culture and hospitality. Chichijima (Ogasawara Islands), Enoshima, Shimoda, Odaiba, and Boso Peninsula have some of the best beach towns in the country.

Japan’s Hidden Beach Gems: Off the Beaten Path

Tropical beach paradise and clear blue water of coral reef lagoon, Amami Oshima Island of the Satsunan Islands, Kagoshima, Japan

Popular beach spots are often famous for their beauty, facilities, and the presence of fun activities like snorkeling, swimming, and diving. However, there’s something to be said for the tranquility you will get by venturing away from the usual tourist spots. But if you’re looking for less-known beaches, it’s best to avoid Okinawa altogether. The region is the most famous coastal area in the country and most of its beaches are filled with crowds.

One perfect example of a hidden beach gem is Amami Oshima. Located in Kagoshima Prefecture, you’ll find it by heading north of Okinawa. Amami Oshima is way less crowded than the average Okinawa beach. Although the Izu Peninsula has several famous beaches, if you head to the southwestern part of a beach town called Shimoda, you’ll find many smaller, hidden beaches. Shimoda is only a 2- to 3-hour train ride from Tokyo. Once you arrive, you can take the local bus to the southwest part of town.

Surf’s Up: Surfing Spots Across Japan’s Coastline

Sacred ground of surfing in Japan, Kamakura, Shonan Sea

Whether you’re a novice looking to try something exciting or an expert surfer in search of a challenge, you can easily find suitable beaches for surfing in Japan. Many enthusiasts consider Isonoura Beach to be a surfer’s paradise. The beach is located in Wakayama Prefecture on Honshu’s main island and is the most popular surfing destination in the entire Kansai region. Isonoura is famous for having favorable surfing conditions all year round. During the summer, both swimmers and surfers visit Isonoura but they are separated to avoid accidental collisions.

Another awesome surfing spot is Shonan Beach in Kanagawa Prefecture. The waves at the beach fluctuate a lot. However, you can go there during typhoon season because the wind swells have been extended. You can apply the same method to Aoshima Beach in Miyazaki. The beach town has a vibrant local surf culture, making it the place to be if you want to surf.

Romantic Beach Escapes in Japan

Unspoiled coastline and pristine turquoise waters of Okinawa, a popular travel destination in Japan

Most people would agree that no curated list of romantic getaways would be complete without mentioning a beach. If you’re in Japan with your spouse or romantic partner, beaches are the perfect romantic getaway. Every year, thousands of couples visit Okinawa to revel in its clear waters and white sandy beaches. Many of these hot spots offer secluded spots for couples to have their precious moments. You and your loved one can spend time at the white sand beach watching the sunset side-by-side. In the evening, you can find the nearest restaurant or join other couples at the beachside dining session. There’ll surely be a resort hotel in the beach town where you two can spend the night.

The Most Beautiful Beaches in Japan

Japan Shikoku Kagawa Mitoyo Chichibugahama beach sunset view

The most beautiful beaches in Japan are Kikugahama Beach, Jodogahama Beach, Sunayama Beach, Katsurahama Beach, Shimamui Beach, Chichibugahama Beach, and Maehama Beach. Visit any of those stunning beaches during your stay in Japan if sightseeing is your goal. They have their fair share of fun activities and luxurious facilities, but nothing beats their natural beauty. From turquoise-colored waters amidst rocky horizons to flowing white sand and rugged cliffs, the natural splendor is hard to find elsewhere. Don’t forget to take a pair of binoculars to magnify the scenic wonders of the area and your camera to capture the picturesque beaches forever. There’s even more to explore by diving or snorkelling, including the magnificent marine life and coral reefs.

Beach Festivals and Seasonal Events in Japan

The night view of many lanterns glowing on the beach in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan.

Every year, there are seasonal events and festivals that take place on Japanese beaches. These occasions range from simple surfing competitions to peculiar rituals like the Naked Festival of Aoshima Shrine. In this event, more than 400 adults gather at the beach next to the Aoshima Shrine in their loincloths. They undergo a purification ceremony to cleanse their bodies and souls before heading to the shrine.

Other types of Japanese matsuri or festivals that take place at the beach may involve fireworks or the lighting of thousands of lanterns. Watersports are also a common occurrence at the beach. All of these events serve to showcase the local traditions, art, music, and cuisine. If you find yourself in a beach town, feel free to join in on the fun and festivities when you can.

Conservation Efforts at Japanese Beaches

State of local activities at sea

Most beaches are naturally occurring; hence, they can remain beautiful and clean without human intervention. However, humans leaving garbage on the shores could pose a threat to the environment and marine life. The Japanese government and organizations in charge of the beaches are promoting projects that limit the throwing of debris on the shores. Most visitors are encouraged to pick up after themselves, as the beaches don’t offer garbage cans. Recent initiatives also strive to preserve marine life, such as the projects protecting loggerhead sea turtles from poaching, habitat pollution, and hatching complications.


Bokksu's Snack Box Subscription: Summer in Okinawa

Whether you explore Japan’s beaches alone or with others, you can have endless fun swimming, surfing, diving, and sightseeing. Take note of the popular beaches we mentioned in this post and visit them whenever you get the chance.

You can explore the seaside life of Japan in other ways. One of them is through regional specialty snacks and sweets from Japan. Get a Bokksu Snack Box Subscription today and we’ll send you a box filled with delicious treats every month. Get a taste of Okinawa island life! We’ve curated July’s snack box with treats made by Okinawan local artisans and inspired by tropical flavors.

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