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Japan may not come to mind when you think of a beach getaway. However, the country is full of sandy shorelines perfect for snorkeling, swimming, surfing, beachcombing, and sunbathing. As a current resident of Okinawa, I can’t stress enough how iconic this subtropical island is. If you truly want to make your Japan trip about the beach, a stay in Okinawa (often referred to as the “Hawaii of Japan”) is a must. However, if you are visiting Tokyo or Osaka, there are a number of great beach spots that are a train ride away.
From remote islands to beach destinations that are fairly close to Japan’s popular metropolitan areas, there is a sandy shore for you among these top beaches in Japan.
Why Come Here: Japan’s most popular beach destination with white sand, turquoise waters, and great snorkeling and diving spots.
If you’re seeking a true tropical beach getaway in Japan, then you’ll want to head to Okinawa. Okinawa is an island that sits 400 miles away from mainland Japan. However, don’t let the three-hour plane ride deter you from visiting this gem. There are a number of great beaches found all over the island. If you’re looking for a groomed beach with facilities, then check out Araha Beach, Sunset Beach, or Tropical Beach. If you want to snorkel or go paddleboarding, head to Hamahiga Beach or Zanpa Beach. Sea Glass Beach is a popular option for beachgoers looking to beachcomb for shells, sea pottery, and sea glass. Additionally, there are a number of beaches just a ferry or boat ride away on the neighboring islands too.
Why Come Here: Remote island location with great snorkeling and clear, blue waters.
Also referred to as the Bonin Islands, the Ogasawara Islands are a unique chain of islands off the coast of mainland Japan. Known for its incredible snorkeling, blue waters, and remote location, these islands are perfect for beach lovers looking for a secluded getaway. Since the Ogasawara Islands are so remote, there is only one weekly ferry that departs to the most inhabited islands in the chain (Chichijima and Hahajima) from Tokyo – and it’s a 24-hour boat ride. If you’re on the island of Chichijima, there is public transit that can take you to some of the best beaches, including Sakaiura Beach, Ogiura Beach, and Kominata Beach.
Why Come Here: Popular beach destination with snorkeling and soft sand that is only a 2-hour flight from Osaka.
As the largest island in the Satsunan island chain, Amami Oshima Island is a popular destination that is only a two-hour plane ride from Osaka and a 2.5-hour plane ride from Tokyo. Since this small island doesn’t have a well-connected public transit system, traveling by rental car is the best option here. Beach lovers may want to start out their beach getaway with a visit to Tomori Beach, which is close to the airport and is great for both sunbathing and snorkeling. If you’re looking to camp on a white sand beach, visit Yadoribama Beach. Snorkelers should visit Ohama Beach with its lively coral reef.
Why Come Here: Sandy shoreline surrounded by shops and restaurants that is reachable by train, bus, and plane.
Close to Japan’s largest island Honshu, Shikoku is a Japanese island that is reachable by train, bus, and plane. Home to the capital city of Kochi, many visitors flock here for a beach escape, as Kochi is home to Katsurahama Beach. The area around Katsurahama Beach is what draws travelers here, as the waters of Katsurahama Beach are too rough for swimming. However, walking the sandy shore and soaking up the coastal vibes is well worth a trip here. The beach area and its surrounding sites are encompassed in Katsurahama Park, where there are shops, restaurants, and shrines.
Why Come Here: A vibrant beach scene that is only an hour’s train ride away from Tokyo.
Beach lovers in Tokyo won’t have to travel too far to enjoy the beaches found in Kamakura. With just an hour’s train ride away, the sandy shores here make a great day trip for urbanites. Within Kamakura, there are actually a few beaches to choose from. The closest beach to Kamakura Station is Yuigahama Beach, which is only a 15-minute walk. However, Zaimokuza Beach is another popular option too. Due to their popularity, these beaches have facilities and plenty of sandy coastline to sunbathe and lounge. The swimming season is brief here, as it only runs for the two months of July and August. However, during this time, expect a vibrant beach scene, including shops, restaurants, and beach rentals.
Why Come Here: A scenic beach known for its green, calm waters and volcanic rock formations.
Found on the northeastern coast of Honshu, Jodogahama Beach is a breathtaking coastal area with clear, green waters and iconic, volcanic rocks jutting out of the sea. This picturesque beach location is known as one of the best swimming spots in the country. It is possible to travel to Iwate by train from Tokyo but keep in mind that it is a long journey that takes over six hours. Jodogahama Beach is part of the Sanriku Fukku National Park, where you can hike the scenic Michinoku Coastal Trail or visit the Miracle Pine Tree (the only tree left standing after the destructive 2011 tsunami).
Why Come Here: Small, tropical island with turquoise blue water that is only a cheap flight away from Okinawa’s main island.
If you’re visiting Okinawa and want to escape the crowded beaches on the popular Japanese island destination, then take a short flight to Miyako Island. Affordable flights make this island a feasible bucket list location for travelers already visiting Okinawa. Okinawa’s fourth largest island, Miyako Island, is a beach paradise with clear, turquoise waters that are great for snorkeling and swimming. Spend some time on the island’s largest beach, Yonaha Maehama Beach. If you’re looking for a scenic beach to explore, consider visiting Sunayama Beach with its arch-shaped rock formation.
Why Come Here: White sandy beach close to mountain hiking trails and natural hot springs.
Another popular beach destination for those visiting or living in Tokyo is the Izu Peninsula. Located in Shizuoka, this peninsula is only a few hours’ drive from the city. One of the best beaches to visit on the peninsula is Shirahama Beach, a white sand beach known for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing. Aside from the beach, Izu Peninsula is also home to a couple of onsens, including a natural hot spring onsen called Atami Onsen. When you aren’t soaking up the rays on the beach or the hot mineral waters in the onsen, take a hike on one of the trails within the mountains that surround the coastal waters.
Why Come Here: One of the longest sandy shorelines in Japan and also a great surf spot.
With over 35 miles of sandy shoreline, Kujukuri Beach in Chiba Prefecture is one of the longest beaches in the country. Accessible by car or train from Tokyo, this sandy coastline isn’t just for sunbathers and swimmers. Surfers regularly flock to the waters here, as some parts of the beach offer up major swells. No matter if you intend to surf, swim, or lounge on the sand, don’t miss out on exploring the area around Kujukuri Beach, which is littered with seafood restaurants and dive bars.