Submitted by whetunui on Fri, 08/20/2010 - 21:36
Has anyone surfed in Japan ? I am not going on a trip but have heard that there are some fairly epic places to go and was wondering wether anyone has had some experience there. What is it like ? What are the Japanese surfers like ?
Yeah mate, I was over in Japan for a couple of years, I was based around Tokyo and there was some good places to surf around Chiba - but thats where all the Tokyo surfers went so it was very crowded.
I went to an island called Niijima which is a nights boat ride from Tokyo. Clear clean water and good surf, not many people around. But I have heard in summer holidays (august) it gets very busy with the college crowd, bad for the crowds in the water but good out of the water...
I stayed at the free camp ground near the beach, only three other tents there, very quiet and a great place.
Miyazaki area is meant to be great.
Make no mistake, the Japanses can surf well, and in local areas it is tough to get a wave.
There is a lot of coastline in Japan and if you stay away from the city surf areas you should find some great uncrowded waves.
I heard Chiba was good - but crowded due to the closeness to Tokyo. I also heard that Kyushu is beautiful and has some good surf.
Japans not a place most people think of in when talking about surfing but it makes sense when you look at the coastline.
My mate said the same about the crowds and general quality of the locals, apparently they are not all cruzy mellow types either.
I heard the swell gets ridiculous in the Typhoon season too.
Fortune favors the brave
I currently live in Japan. I`m not close to Tokyo so get reasonably uncrowded waves where I am. We can have epic surf here, world class and lots of breaks to suit all skill levels. I live in Northern Ibaraki prefecture and you wont find too much info on the place because people like to keep it that way. There are some pretty localised spots here, but as a gaijin (foreigner) if you can surf pretty well, show a little respect, and smile, you`ll go a long way and will generally be warmly accepted. Of course like everywhere, you get the odd cock-head, but you can say that about back home too (Goldie for me).
Summer water temps are nice, springy or boardies, winter is hard work, 5mm rubber, 5mm booties and gloves and a hood- no exception. Water temp bottoms out at about 6 deg and often it snows on the beach. But if you`re into snowboarding, Japan rocks and is half the price of home.
Pros? Good waves, reasonably consistent, cheap, friendly (to a degree) and Japanese women are smokin` hot.
Cons? Ugly, cement `tetrapods` everywhere, rubbish- the J`s are by far the worlds worst litterers and in winter, mind numbingly cold.
I have lived near Osaka and in Tokyo and Chiba. Tokyo was a bit of a commute to Chiba or Shonan but you can easily get to both options on the train if you are keen. I used to get off and hitch if I needed to move around. On some occasions I would be able to snag a rid back to to Tokyo. When I was living in Chiba I was based between Onjuku and Ohara which was pretty central for trips up and down the coast. Plenty of good setups - mainly beachies - but also some good reefs and points as well. Crowds are a problem - I used to work on the weekends to avoid the worst of it.
I would travel north through Ibaraki heading towards Sendai as well. Further you get from the big population centres the less crowded it gets. Had some great waves up that way but the water was freezing! The whole coast is exposed to Typhoon summer/autumn swells and Winter north swells as well
Shonan has some great setups (alot of good reefs) but the crowds are even worse here. Train access is great though. I don't think I ever went the there in a car - it would take too long.
There are some great setups around Osaka as well. Just jump on the train when the swell is running and get off when you see some waves. I have no idea where I was I surfed but it was a great spot. With a car though I don't think you could beat the Shikoku river mouths.
A friend of mine lives in Kyushu and I would love to get there. A lot of good options.
One of the wierdest spots I surfed was in the Japan Sea (between China, Korea and Japan). Apparently good in winter but pretty consistent all year round. All spots we hit on the road trip had waves - not great quality but punchy none-the-less. From what the locals told me and the photos I saw the place could really turn on - many of the places were only accessible by boat though. The crew I met on this coast were a great buch of guys - many of them monks! And could these surfing monks drink!
All in all, I had a great time surfing in Japan. Acceptance takes time as it does anywhere but most the local crew were I lived were good people. There were one or two who insisted on dropping in on me and any other local guy younger than them for that matter(age based heirarchy is very important in Japan - even in supposedly break-away groups like surfers) but this was the exception rather than the rule. See out the heavier spots (there are quite a few even in Chiba) and this will reduce the crowd factor.
Thanks for the replies fellas. Surfing with monks, smokin women... it makes me want to go. I had no idea the Japanese are litterers though, I went to Japan when I was younger with my parents and remember the place being spotless.
And what is a Tetrapod ?
A tetrapod is a giant, usually assymetrical cement block that can weigh up to 50 tons. The Japanese are addicted to cementing their coastline with them as they have been spoonfed from birth that mother nature is their enemy. Watch any Youtube vids of surfing in Japan and you will see them, hence all beaches look the same in Japan from Okinawa to Hokkaido. It`s been scientifically proven that they do more damage than good, but the tetrapod industry is worth billions and props up pollies with bribes from construction companies who in turn award these companies with more contracts to cement the coast. The pollies are rewarded with seats on the companies boards upon retirement from the ministry, more contracts are awarded and the cycle continues while Japans previous, once stunning coastline is buried under cement and more and more surfers and fisherman are compressed into even smaller usable areas. I love Japan but this is one aspect of Japan I truly despise. It is environmental vandalism on a huge scale.
The Japanese have a word `shouganai` which roughly means `there`s nothing you can do about it`.
But, yes the surf is good, the food awesome, it`s safe, fun, quirky, interesting and there`s lots to do out of the water as well. I stand by my comment in contrast to your childhood memories though, the Japanese in general are terrible litterers.
Zen you didn't tell us about this fun looking wave :D
Have you surfed it?
Drone Surfing Footage JAPAN TOKUSHIMA KAIFU River from enigamid on Vimeo.
sweet set up...
Jamie Byrne surfed it at 10 feet with 5 others / Byrning Spears site.
Looooong way from me.
Think this might be the wave Dane, Conner Coffin, Kolohe surfed and didnt exactly endear themselves to anyone down there. Dont quote me on that though, just hearsay.