AQUA WORLD(in Japanese)
Aquarium Marinepia Nihonkai (Japanese)
Awashima Marine Park (Japanese) Awashima
Aomori Prefectual Asamushi Aquarium (Japanese) Aomori
Ashizuri Aquarium Ashizuri
*Enoshima Aquarium (in Japanese only)
Futami Sea Paradise (Japanese) Futami
*Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (English, Japanese) A seaside leisure park in Yokohama with lots of rides and a surfcoaster that goes over the sea. Very popular with Japanese families.
Hakone-en Suizokan is a very popular spot for families visiting Kanagawa’s tourist spots who may stay at Hakone-en resort’s cottages for rental, pools and a nature park for kiddy nature activities like tree-climbing.
Hekinan Seaside Aquarium and Hekinan City Museum of Maritime Science(Japanese) in Aichi Prefecture
Hokkaido Marine Park (Japanese with access info in English) in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido.
Izu Mito Sea Paradise (Japanese only) Mito
***Kaiyukan Aquarium, in Osaka City. One of the largest aquariums in the world, based on Dr Lovelock’s the Gaia Hypothesis theme
Kamo Aquarium (Japanese)
*Kamogawa Sea World (Japanese) A seapark in Chiba Prefecture with all the usual thrills and action of whale or dolphin kissing, etc, plus it has a kids’ park within the park. A popular sea park much featured in magazines.
*Kasaoka City Horseshoe Crab Museum(Japanese) Japan is one of the few places in the world left with a large population of horseshoe crabs, one of the world’s oldest surviving species in the sea(living fossils). Certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.
Katsurahama Aquarium (Japanese)
Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park (Japanese)
Kinosaki Marine World URL: http://marineworld.hiyoriyama.co.jp/ (Japanese)
**Kushimoto Marine Park (Japanese) Similar to the one in Boso Peninsula, this Wakayama Prefecture aquarium doesn’t bring the sea to you, but literally leads you into right into the marine environment with its spectacular undersea displays.
*Marine World Aquarium in Fukuoka City has a beautiful website, accessible in both English and Japanese.
Minamichita Beachland Aquarium (Japanese) is one of the smaller but decent aquariums.
Marine Plaza(info in English) in Miyajima is a lovely kid-lovely aquarium with lots of shows, a kid’s room and the website is lovely for kids to surf as well with online puzzles and coloring pages.
Nasu World Monkey Park in Nasu with a collection of 350 monkeys of 60 kinds. Phone: 0287-63-8855 for directions.
Nikko Saru-gun Tan, in Nikko The monkey park features monkeys dressed in red suits, suspension swings and a “monkey mountain” habitat.
Noto Marine Center in Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture, is an interesting place for serious budding marine biologists.
Notojima Aquarium (English, Japanese) in Ishikawa Prefecture
*Oarai Aquarium in Ibaraki(in Japanese) The Shark Place in Japan! This very new aquarium’s fame lies with its possession of the largest numbers of sharks among aquariums and brilliant dolphin displays in Japan. More info from the city office website.
Oga Aquarium (Japanese, English) features spotted seals, coral reef exhibits and marine life from Akita area as well as from the Sea of Japan
Ogasawara Marine Center (Japanese) features green turtle watching activities.
Oita Marine Culture Center (Japanese) features feed and dive with the animals activities.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (in English) holds the distinction of being the first aquarium to be able to keep manta rays in its tank and to breed whale sharks in captivity.
Oyodo River Study Center Oyodo, Miyazaki
Otaru Aquarium in Otaru. Hokkaido (Japanese)
***Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium(info in English and Japanese) a MUST-SEE if in Okinawa. The best of aquariums – it would be a travesty not to visit and learn about the seas around Okinawa which has one of the world’s richest marine biosystems.
**Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (English, Japanese)
Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium (in English) Nagoya
*Saitama Museum of Rivers River museums are highly educational. The glass tanks that show the differing underwater habitats of fishes and other forms of life upstream mid-stream and lower stream are things that you don’t normally see from a mere walk by the river.
Sapporo Salmon Museum (English, Japanese) is a good place to learn all about salmons, their habitats and the rearing of salmons. Sapporo.
Shinano River Ohkouzu Museum (Japanese)
Shibetsu Salmon Park (Japanese)
Shinagawa Aquarium (Japanese)
Shimonoseki Marine Science Museum Kaikyokan (English, Japanese) features 15,000 specimens of about 400 types of marine life. http://www.kaikyokan.com/english/index.html
Shimoda Floating Aquarium (Japanese) in Shizuoka Prefecture. Its best features are its dolphin beach and shows and floating aqua dome.
Shima Marineland (Japanese)
Shimane Aquarium Aquas(English, Japanese) Shimane’s new aquarium faced to the Japan Sea with a collection of 10,000 fishes.
Suma Aqualife Park (Japanese)
Sunpiazza Aquarium (Japanese)
Sunshine City Aquarium (Japanese)
Taiji Whale Museum Wakayama
Takeshima Aquarium Gagamori, Aichi
Tamano Marine Museum Okayama
Tateshina Amusement Aquarium, Tateshina 100,000 fishes collection in what is Japan’s “highest” highland aquarium. Penguins are featured.
Teradomari Aquarium (Japanese only)
Toba Aquarium in Toba City, Mie Prefecture (English and Japanese)
Tokai University Marine Science Museum (Japanese only)
Uoza Aquarium (Japanese only website) Toyama
Wakkanai Aquarium(Japanese only website) This aquarium in Wakanai, Hokkaido features marine life found in the cold parts of the world, the usual penguins, seals and such are featured.
Yashima Sea Palace (Japanese only website)
SEASIDE & COASTAL FIELD TRIPS FOR THE FAMILY
Did you know that Japan’s market for surf goods is the world’s largest? So you can be sure, the surfers know where the best beaches and waves are to be found. Top surf spots are said to include the southern coasts of Shikoku and Kyushu. For spots closer to Tokyo, most surfers head for the rocky east Kujukuri coast of the Chiba Prefecture as well as the beaches around Shonan, near Kamakura. However, the truly best beaches are said to be those furthest away from the main island of Honshu, such as the beaches of Okinawa’s islands, Sea-of-Japan-facing beaches in Wakayama, south of Kyushu, or the Izu and Ogasawara islands south of Tokyo. This list is however NOT a surfer’s beach listing nor a list of “the most gorgeous beaches in Japan”, but a practical kid-oriented/family-oriented listing. If you want to take your homeschool lessons by the seaside this summer to explore some tidal pool-life or to study the effects of wave power or just bring your little tots clamming, then this list is it. The top 10 are within the range of the more accessible ones.
No. 1 Niijima Beach (nearby is the active Miyakejima volcano) is Tokyo’s hottest surfing spot according to an article in Metropolis. For a view, see pictures of beach at the Nijima, Izu Peninsula.Access: Niijima is a 45min flight from Chofu Airport (Phone: Shin Chuo Koku at 0422-31-4191). A little inconvenient if you are with kids, the ferries depart every night at 11pm from Takeshiba Pier near JR Hamamatsucho station. Call Tokai Kisen Co., Ltd. Information here (or phone:03-5472-9999 or reservations phone:03-5472-9009 and on attractions in area here Families with little ones might want to head down to Shimoda Kaichusuizoku. Your kids can feed and swim with the resident dolphins, and also with seals and penguins. Note: You must reserve ahead in order to participate in feeding sessions. Access: Shimoda is on the JR Tokaido line and the Odakyu line. Shimoda Kaichusuizoku, 3-22-31 Shimoda-shi (phone: 0558-22-3567), open 9am-5pm; take the bus from Shimoda station.
No 2: Okinawa Beaches are said to be Japan’s very best. Three popular beaches on the west side of Okinawa Island. They are called Moon beach, Manza beach, and Okuma beach. Manza beach is the most popular. It is about a one and a half hour drive from Naha-city. Must-visits are Manza Beach, Monza-mou, a cliff made of coral reef; Hoshisuna-no-hama Beach for the star-shaped “sand” said to bring happiness. Each grain of “sand” is really the tiny skeleton of a marine creature. Also popular things to do would be to visit Tokashiki Island’s beaches and Ishigaki Island, famed dive spot due to its preeminent status among the richest and most biologically diverse ecosystems in the marine world. The coasts are rimmed by coral reefs. Famed dive spot.Virtualokinawa.com has cam shots of Okuma Beach. Access: Two hours and 45 minutes to Naha Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. Two hours and 10 minutes from Kansai International Airport. Two hours and 15 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Twenty minutes to Naha Bus Terminal from Naha Airport by bus. Then 1 hr. to 1 hr. 30min. by car from downtown Naha to the seaside resort towns.
No 3: Matt Lindsay recommends Irago Beach on Cape Irako, on the Atsumi Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture in his article In the Middle of Somewhere Access: If you’re fortunate enough to have your own car (or a friend with one), access is by the Tomei Expressway as far as Toyokawa, then Route 259. From Nagoya you can take either the JR Tokaido Honsen or Meitetsu Honsen lines as far as Toyohashi. Similarly if you’re coming by train from the north or east, you’ll need to head for Toyohashi. Change here for the local train. Then use the Meitetsu bus to get to the beach.
Rocky Beaches featuring tidepools (or tidal pools):
No 4: Jogashima Beach, Kanagawa Prefecture. There are at least two great rocky beaches as well as a secluded black-sand cove. A terrific spot to study tidal pools with your kids. The cheapest and easiest way to Miura-hanto is by the Keihin Kyuko line from Tokyo or Shinagawa station, which will stop at the Misaki-guchi station. If you bypass all that and head straight for the rocky beach you’ll end up at the same place as coming from the hiking trail. The remoter hiking trail winds through stunning cliffs with a trail down to a black sand beach before arriving at the Umanose Domon a rocky arch carved out by waves. The beach is almost entirely covered with seashells from that point. An hour or two of exploring the spectacularly layered and striped volcanic rocks will yield finds of rich tidal pool life, we saw chitons, star-shaped limpets, periwinkles, anemones everywhere we looked and crabs, beautiful transparent shrimp, fish, and corals! Don’t go without a bucket and a fishnet for your kids. Access: On the southern side of the island, Jogashima Park has two entry points, one is a remote carpark near the hiking trail through a bamboo grove and the other is the tourist trap where you’ll have to go through if you are coming from Tokyo by train. Yokohama Echo’s A Day at Jogashima is a nice read.
No 5: Tenjinzaki, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture, is a rocky promontory jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. Tenjinzaki, a small cape in the Bay of Tanabe, is thought of as the best observatory of sea creatures in the area with its vast tidal pools and an area of about 210,000 square meters. A much visited site for fishing, beachcombing, swimming and recreation. A part of Tanabeminabe Seaside Nature Park, Tenjinzaki consists of green hills and flat sunken rocks of the seashore. Access: From Tokyo, fly from Haneda Airport to Nanki Shirahama airport or take the shinkansen to Shin-Osaka then the Shirahama line. Get off at Minabe station. Map access, see Wakayama Prefecture’s official website.
No 6: Minami Boso Peninsula coast, Tateyama, Chiba prefecture is 2 hrs from Tokyo and well known for the rugged coastline. Ama-san female divers (they fish for awabi abalone) or as a convenient launching point to explore the Ainumura village, and the rocky beaches of Shirahama and Chikura. Stay at Hakkakuso run by an intl school marine biologist and science teacher David Green, check if he’s doing any camps or will include you on a guided field trip. Hakkuso 422-1, Sunomiya, Tateyama, Chiba. Access: get on a local train from Tokyo to Tateyama station OR take the Sazanami limited express train, which runs several times a day (2 hr journey).and that costs 4,020 yen (one way). Transportation from the station to the lodge is free of you contact David Green or call 03-3708-4012. If you have your own car, drive to Tateyama via the Aqualine (Tateyama is an easy 2.5hr from Tokyo). Tateyama is an easy 2.5 hr drive via the Tokyo Bay Aqualine. Read article for a review of the place.
Sand and/or Surf Beaches:
No 7: Kujukuri(hama) Beaches, a 66 km stretch of Pacific coast running from Osakabe-misaki Point in Iioka-cho Town to the south of Choshi City to Taito-misaki Point in Misaki-machi Townin northern Chiba. What is notable about the Kujukuri-hama Beach is that it has a long, straight coastline, which is rare in Japan where most of the coastlines are irregular. It is also great for swimming and surfing and other marine sports because there are no reefs. At the northern end of the beach is Inubo-saki Point, a 20-meter-high marine abrasion platform located at the easternmost peninsula in the Kanto Region good walks and nature observation along the rocky beach. A remote but MUST-SEE sight is Byobu-ga-ura Cliff, called the “Dover cliffs in the orient” located to the west of Inubo-saki Point at the southern coast of the Choshi-hanto Peninsula. The 10-kilometer-long sheer precipices with heights of 40 to 50 meters is a postcard scene and spectacular sight. Around Inubo-saki Point, there is a white lighthouse built in 1874, “Chikyu-no-maruku-mieru-oka” (Seeing-the-round-earth Observatory) for views of the horizon as well as the Inubo-saki Marine Park that exhibits 2,500 fishes of 230 kinds. (At the Togawa fishing port where you can board a dolphin-watching boat from spring to autumn scroll up to see whale watching section above for details.) Access: Take the Sotobo line to Oami stn and change to the Togane line which goes to Kujukuri town. From the town, catch buses to several beaches along the strand. Alternatively, since Kurihama is also on the Uchibo line, you can take the Boso express which runs from Chiba city to Goi. The Kominato line runs from Goi to Ohara through the Yoro valley. Also good in the vicinity is the Ohara Beach. Access: Take the Uchibo line which runs from Chiba city to Goi and then the vintage carraige Kominato line from Goi to Ohara through the beautiful and scenic Yoro valley. OR take a Limited Express of the JR Sobu Line for 1 hour and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Choshi Station. Transfer to the Choshi Dentetsu Line for 20 minutes from Choshi Station to Inubo-saki Station.
No 8: Onjuku Beach in Chiba has white sands and mild surf, and is said to be one of the most picturesque shores. Access: JR Sotobo line (slow but cheap) Boso Express train )a marvel-English announcements, big comfy seats but double the normal fare). Get off at Onjuku stn. The beach is a five-ten min walk away.
No 9 Nobiru Beach, Naruse-cho, Miyagi. The Miyagi Tourist Board’s review: “The sandy beach is perfect for swimming and is a great starting point for wind surfing and other water sports. The beach is also known as the “Izu of Tohoku,” and white sand and green pine trees stand out on the beautiful curving shoreline. It is especially nice in the spring and autumn when there are fewer visitors”. Access: Nobiru Station on the Senseki Line/10 minutes on foot; Naruse-Okumatsushima Interchange of the Sanriku Expressway/10 minutes by car. For more info, see more scenic beach suggestions Murohama and Ohama Beaches on the Oku-Matsushima Trail.
(Other coastal sites in Miyagi prefecture:
Karakuwa Peninsula – Near Kesennuma city in the northeast of Miyagi Prefecture, at the western part of Kesennuma Bay, are the island of Ōshima and its coastline at the southern boundary of the Rias Coastline National Park, stretching north all the way to Aomori Prefecture. The Kitakami mountains provide diverse coastal vistas that create wonderfully unified scenes of mountains and ocean and coastal views from the Karakuwa Peninsula (Kesennuma-shi / Motoyoshi-cho / Karakuwa-cho) are also spectacular. See here for info and access to Karakuwa Hanto.) Access: Shishiori-Karakuwa Station on the Ofunato Line/25 minutes by bus, Ichinoseki Interchange on the Tohoku Expressway/100 minutes by car.
No 10: Tajima Beach, Kasumi-cho, Kinosaki-gun A must-visit for its Yoroi-no-Sode(“sleeve of armor”) cliff, which is 65 m high and 200 m wide, and slopes 70 degrees toward the sea which has been designated a national treasure. Its name was derived from its resemblance to the tasset of traditional Japanese armor. Part of the Sanin Seaside National Park. The western side of the cliff features a lot of uniquely shaped rocks and sea caves, such as Peacock Cave (it looks like a peacock in display) and Takanosu Islet which is also called “Indian” islet because of its appearance. Access: Take a Zentan bus from JR Kasumi Stn, get off at Ikkaichi, and then take a sightseeing boat at Kasumi Higashi Port.
Coastal cliffs and rock formations, sea stacks, sea caves:
No 11: Tojinbo Rocks High rugged cliffs of wave-worn pyroxene andesite, which stretch for about 1 km and which feature in particular the towering rock formations.. One of the best places in Japan to witness the forces of wave erosion at work – that of the waves of the Sea of Japan. A geologically rare phenomenon for Japan, called columnar jointing that is similar to Causeway Giant in Ireland. Access: From Awara-Onsen Station on the JR Hokuriku Main Line, take a bus bound for Tojinbo (approx. 40 minutes); From Mikuni Station on the Echizen Railway’s Mikuniawara Line, take a bus bound for Tojinbo (approx. 15 minutes); Drive for 30-minutes from Kanazu I.C. on Hokuriku Expressway.
No 12: Sotomo coast has a coastal scene of strangely shaped rocks, rock gate and caves eroded by waves. The scene extends for about 6 km. Take a sightseeing boat from Wakasa Fisherman’s Wharf to appreciate the rugged natural landscape from a close distance. Access: Drive for 5 mins from Obama Stn. on the JR Obama Line to the port of Wakasa Fisherman’s Wharf; or drive for 60 mins from Tsuruga I.C. on Hokuriku Expressway to the port of Wakasa Fisherman’s Wharf.
No 13: Dogashima Beach, Niishiizu, Shizuoka Prefecture. For good beaches and clear water snorkeling. Not to be missed — ride a boat to see a large sea cave called the Tensohodo in the Dogashima Marine Park. Access: Tokai Bus company’s hourly buses northeast through Toi to Shuzeneji, or ferries which hop up the lovely coast via Toi and Heda to Numazu on the JR Tokaido line. Phone: 0558-52-0013 (920 yen adult/460 yen child for 20 minutes)
Kii Peninsula’s rugged coastal formations:
No 14: Umikongo Rocks, Oshima Island, Wakayama Prefecture. The spot is famous for its rock formations. Most people take the ferry there to see the Umikongo Rocks. Be sure to take in the Cape Kashinozaki panoramic seascape, and spot the pyramid rock, and the lion’s head rock from the Takanosu observation platform. Access: From toward Oshima Kushimoto Station on JR Kisei Main line Approx. 20-min. drive from there.
No 15: Arafune Coast is famous for its magnificent views of the rugged rocky coast stretching about 3 km. It is also a well-known fishing location for big fish such as parrot fish, etc. Access: Its location is at Tawara, Koza-cho Higashimuro-gun Wakayama Prefecture. Get off at Koza Stn on JR Kisei Main Lind, take a 10-min bus ride and 30 min walk.
Wakayama’s rock and cliff formations:
No 16: Hashikuiiwa, Kinan features the magnificent sight of a row of jagged rock pillars rising out of and for 850 m straight out to sea to Oshima. The giant rocks are a testament to the great power of wave erosion forces. The “Hashikuiiwa” name literally means “bridge stakes.” At low tide, you can walk to the giant rocky Benten Islet in the middle of the oddly-shaped rocks. Access: Take a 5-minute bus ride from Kushimoto Stn. on JR Kisei Main Line to the spot.
No 17: Tenjinzaki Cape, Wakayama features a strange beach made of layered slabs of rock formation, called “Senjojiki (literally a thousand tatami mats). Fishing and shellfish-gathering are popular recreations here. Access: A 10-minute drive from Kii-Tanabe Station. on JR Kisei Main Line
No 18: Shirarahama, Wakayama The Shirarahama Beach is famed for its shallow sand beach said to be one of the whitest beaches in the world because its sand consists of white quartz sand, 90 percent of which is pure silica. The Sandanbeki cliff is a 50 meter high cliff precipice that is a symbol of the beautiful scenery of Shirahama-cho. Japanese describe the unusual sound that walking on the beach makes as the “shaku-shaku” sound. At the foot of the cave, there is a cave carved out by waves. It takes 30 seconds of descending by an elevator inside the cliff to reach the cave where you can see clear-cobalt blue water (which tourists have claimed is reminiscent of the Blue Grotto in Capri). If you walk north along the seaside, you will come soon to the Senjojiki rock tableland which are big rock tables that have resulted from the erosion of sandstone by water. Still further north are the coast’s attraction the Engetsu Islet that is a small island situated in the south of Rinkai inlet. Called Engetsu Islet (official Takashima nicknamed “full moon” islet) because of the full moon-shaped cave formed by sea erosion in the middle of the island. The island has been the subject of art since Edo period. In the town, about 70,000 springheads pour forth a total of 20,000 kiloliters of hot spring water a day, so needless to so, it is a good place to soak in one of the many onsens. Access: 70 min flight from Haneda airport to Nanki Shirahama and then a 6 min bus ride to Sandanabeki cliff and 13 min bus ride to Shirahama beach / OR Drive for 15-minutes from Shirahama Stn. on JR Kisei Main Line. Visit this online photo gallery of Shirahama through the year.
No 19: Shirasaki Coast features a white promontory due to the limestone rocks. Rugged and strangely shaped, the rocks form a unique white landscape. Access: Drive for 15 mins from Hirokawa I.C. on Yuasa-Gobo toll road.
No 20: Sandanbeki Cliffs. Magnificent towering cliffs situated on the south shore of Senjojiki, that tower to a height of 50 m and that extend for 2 km. A lookout point from which fishermen watched for passing ships and shoals of fish. Drive for 15-minutes from Shirahama Station on JR Kisei Main Line.
More Chiba beaches:
Choshi Beach, Chiba Prefecture. There’s a free, if basic, campsite just off the beach. There’s also a lighthouse you can ascend for a small fee. Sandy beach as well as rock pools for kids to explore. Access: JR Sotobo line.
Katsuura Beach in Chiba Prefecture (near Chiba City) is also known as Japan’s “Malibu” and some say it has the best surfing in Japan. Double up on attractions by taking a sight-seeing boat toKino-matsushima Island. See good photos at Tokyo by Sea here and here. http://www.worldisround.com/articles/17576/photo16.html
Moriya Beach, Chiba Prefecture. Good for little kids as the smaller cove means there are no giant waves. There is a picturesque torii on a rocky outcrop that becomes an island at high tide. Access is a ten-min walk north from Katsura stn.
Funabashi Rinkai Koen or Funabashi Seaside Park. A very popular place for local families to bring their kids clam-digging, a time-honored tradition since Jomon times. It is a stretch of natural tidal shore that is a huge site for annual clamdigging. Unfortunately I hate to disillusion you but the clams are no longer natural – the park authorities truck in roughly ten tons of clams, divide them up onto trawlers and deposit them over the flats at high tide — so much for back to nature. Clam-diggers pay a few dollars for a bucket and a trowel, get assigned a section of the beach and dig their clams. Also known as an important tidal flat nature reserve and place for watching birds. Access: Take the Keiyo Line from Tokyo Station to Minami Funabashi Station, follow the signs or ask the station employees how to get to Yatsu. From Yatsu you can get to Funabashi Seaside Park by catching the bus for Tsudanuma Station. The bus stop is in front of Tsudanuma High School, across the street from Yatsu. At Tsudanuma Station take the Sobu Line to Funabashi Station, go out the Minami Exit, follow the main street around to your left and after about two hundred meters you’ll be at the bus stop for the Funabashi Seaside Park Bus.
Boso’s rocky beaches – at Shirahama and Chikura, near Tateyama city. Stay at Hakkakuso. 422-1, Sunomiya, Tateyama, Chiba. Contact David Green via email or phone: 03-3708-4012. Access: Traveling between Tokyo and Tateyama stations on a local train 2,210 yen (one-way) while the Sazanami limited express train, which runs several times a day, takes less than two hours and costs 4,020 yen (one way). Free transportation provided between the station and the lodge. Tateyama is an easy 2.5 hr drive via the Tokyo Bay Aqualine. Read article for a review of the place.
Minami-Boso’s Tsukino-Sabaku-Kinenkan is a beach fronted by a museum where you can go on camel rides in an Arabian desert-like atmosphere on the sand-dunes. Phone for access info: 0470-68-63-89.
Taito Beach, South of Choshi in Chiba is an area with many good beaches (other beaches: Ohara and Iioka Beaches) Access: Take the Sotobo line and (Choshi, Taito, Ohara and Iioka are all on the Sotobo line) and the beaches are all either a walking distance or a short bus ride from the station.
Kamogawa Beach, Chiba Prefecture. Families with young kids will also want to visit Kamogawa World. Access: JR Sotobo line.
Tsujido Kaigan Enoshima (Long sandy and surfers’ beach). Access: Tsujido Kaigan is a 20 min walk from Tsujido stn on the JR Tokaido line.
Katase Enoshima is a beach to which crowds throng in summer – famous for Enoshima Hanabi Taikai which features 2,800 incendiary blasts of fireworks over the beach. Enoshima fireworks display on July 25, 7:30-8:30 pm. Nearest stn: Katase Enoshima.
Hiratsuka Beach, Shonan (Sandy beach type) Access: Hiratsuka stn is on the JR Tokaido line.
Hokkaido’s coastal wilderness:
Shiretoko and Rausu’s coast are considered the last frontier and most inaccessible of Japan’s wilderness. Shiretoko’s promontories and cliffs formed by ancient volcanoes, and uplifted by the earth’s plate movements, will add to depth to any serious study of geology. The area has also recently been designated a World Heritage site. A boat tour out to sea is the ONLY way to see the coast because of the inaccessibility of the area, and a stop at Rausu allows you to see the coastal rock formations such as Rosoku or Candle rock as well as the incredible shorebirds called umineko. Access: Fly to Sapporo (and optional: to the domestic airport of Memanbetsu Airport which has direct flights from/to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Hakodate and Sapporo. (However, bewarned the airport is still 100 kilometers west of the national park). From the airport, take the Abashiri Bus to Utoro. And from Utoro Rausu can be reached via the Shiretoko Pass. Shari Bus and Akan Bus operate two buses per day between Utoro and Rausu via Shiretoko Pass. Option 2: Take a train from Sapporo to the JR Shiretoko Shari Station in the town of Shari via either Abashiri (or Kushiro – as most visitors want to take in the OTHER World Heritage site – Kushiro marsh as well). The distance from Kushiro to Rausu is about 160 kilometers. From Kushiro, Akan Bus operates 3-5 buses per day to Rausu around the year. The one way journey from Kushiro to Rausu takes about 3.5 hours. This is a rough guide to alert you to allow for at least a week to 10 days, preferably many more days, if planning a trip via public transport.
More Izu beaches:
Ito Orange Beach, Shizuoka – is a resort beach that’s great for the little ones. Access: Take a train to Ito Stn (10 min). See map
Ryuguu-koen is a sea arch that is only visible at low tide when a small beach is exposed and dry. The naturally occurring geological feature is dubbed the Dragon’s Den. Phone: 0558-22-151
(Where to stay: Kenny’s House YamaYuri cottages is a good base to explore the Izu peninsula’s mountains and coastal rias scenery as well as to take in views of the Sagami Bay and Jogasaki coast. The spot boasts of an excellent clear starry-night sky.)
More on Kii Peninsula’s attractions:
Kushimoto Undersea Marine Park features a very long underwater viewing tunnel that leads to the observation pod offshore.
Osaka’s Seaside Attractions:
Nagahama and Koshima Beaches are important as the last remaining natural beaches left in the Osaka area. Access: Nagahama is at Tannowa, Misaki-cho, Sennann-gun and Koshima is Tanagawa Koshima, Misaki-cho, Sennan-gun. Access: Take a train from the Nankai Main Line to Misaki Park Station and it’s about a 10-min. walk from there.
Nishinikohama Beach in Sawa, Kaizuka City, Osaka offers sea-bathing and shell-digging when in season (as well as shopping at the mall). Access: Take a train to Nishikinohama Stn. on Nankai Main Line and then walk for about 15-minutes to the beach.
Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture Large good beaches are located just about 10 minutes from Kamakura Station by foot. In particular, Zaimokuza and Sakanoshia Beaches, Kamakura. (good for windsurfing) Access: Take the JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo Station to JR Kamakura Station. Or take the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line from Shinjuju to Kamakura. Only trains bound for Zushi, that is roughly every second train on the Shonan Shinjuku Line, provide a direct connection to Kamakura. And then the bus to Zaimokuza OR: （Walk 20 minutes down the main drag, Wakamiya Oji, away from the city’s main shrine, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. If you’re feeling lazy, change at JR Kamakura to the one-track Enoden (Odakyu Enoshima Dentetsu) Line and get off at Yuigahama, the second stop, instead. The Yuigahama, Chuo and Zaimokuza beaches run west to east in a continuous strip. Read Metropolis article and for photos see this link.
Misaki Marine Biological Station, Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Explore the rich biodiversity of the rocky shores and tidal pools. “Situated about 60 km south of Tokyo, near the extremity of the Miura Peninsula which divides Tokyo Bay and Sagami Bay, the Station occupies a historical site where once stood the Castle of Arai, a medieval stronghold used by the Miura clan for centuries until its tragic fall in 1516…Misaki is still a mecca for marine biologists. When strong west winds blow during the winter, visitors are amazed at the richness of tropical plankton driven into the inlets from the Kuroshio or “Black Current” which carries life from more southerly climes. Misaki is the northern limit of the distribution of many of the most interesting tropical plants and animals. Habitats of all descriptions can be found near the Station: rocky shores, tidal pools, beaches of sand, stone or gravel, mud flats, bottoms covered with eel-grass, bottoms with coarse shells, ledges projecting horizontally, and caves formed by waves. Each has its peculiar dwellers, and all taken together form a splendid hunting ground for marine life, making the Station an ideal place for both professional studies and student courses.”-from the MMBS website. Access: From Tokyo the easiest way to reach the Station is to take the Keihin Kyuko Line from Shinagawa Station to Misakiguchi Station, a ride of about one hour. From there, take buses or taxis to Aburatsubo Stop which is near the Station, a ride of twenty minutes. 1024 Koajiro, Misaki, Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture 238-02, Japan Phone: 046-881-4105
Zushi Beach and Hayama Isshiki Kaigan (Shonan beaches) on the Tokyo Bay: Take the Yokosuka line to JR Zushi Station. It’s a 15 min-walk from the only exit to the beach. Alternatively, board a bus from stop No. 3 outside the stationand get off at the fourth stop, Fujimibashi and you can see the beach from there. From Zushi Station’s no. 3 bus stop you can also take a 20 minute bus to Hayama Isshiki Kaigan (or about 10 minutes to Morito Kaigan). Hayama is favored by foreigners for the good quality of sand and beach houses.
Suma Beach, Suma-ku, Kobe City. The Beach has been long known for its scenic beauty, as shown in historic records, such as. Historically important as it is mentioned in a story about the Battle of Ichinotani in the Taira-Minamoto War. It is also the only beach resort in the Hanshin area. Attractions include a surfer and bather’s beach, the Suma Aquarium Park and Suma Marine Fishing Park important for avid fishing enthusiasts. Access: Take a train to JR Suma Station.
Katsurahama Beach: Only several hundred meters long, this small beach is one of the main tourist attractions in Kochi. It has long been known for its magnificent view of the moon. By Train: Kintetsu Kyoto Line Rapid – 46 minutes from Kyoto Station. Access on Foot: 1 minute walk from Shin Omiya Station (Kintetsu Line). By Car: 20 minutes from Nishi Meihan Expressway, Kohriyama I.C. From Itami Airport with Limousine Bus (1,440 yen) to Shin Omiya Station. Getting there by Plane: From Kansai International Airport with Limousine Bus (1,800 yen) to Kintetsu Nara Station, then with Kintetsu Kyoto Line (Rapid) to Shin Omiya Station, or Itami Airport with Limousine Bus (1,440 yen) to Shin Omiya Station then Walk to Hotel (total 110 minutes).
Ama-no-Hashidate, a spit of land stretching 3.2 km and supporting about 7,500 pine trees, ranks as one of the three best views in Japan and has been designated as a place of special scenic beauty by the national government. It has long been famed in the Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets and Sesshu’s ink painting designated a national treasure, as its beautiful combination of white sand and green pine trees. With ancient temples in the neighborhood, the spot has attracted many sea bathers and tourists. And a hot spring is a new attraction of the area. There is a hill that commands a fine view, allowing visitors to enjoy Ama-no-Hashidate in each season. Kasamatsu Park is also known for “Matanozoki,” that is bending from the waist and looking at Amanohashidate upside down from between one’s legs. Access: 5-min. walk from Ama-no-Hashidate Stn. on JR Kita Kinki Tango Railway (Direct through train services are available from JR Kyoto Stn. and Osaka Stn. Expressway bus services also available from JR Osaka and Kyoto stns.); 5-min. drive from Miyazu Amanohashidate I.C. on the Ayabe-Miyazu Road, Kyoto Jukan Expressway.
Matsushima Prefectural Park’s isles:
Matsushima Prefectural Park (Location: Shiogama-shi / Matsushima-machi / Shichigahama-machi /Rifu-cho / Naruse-cho) The Matsushima coastal scenery is considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful Japanese scenes. There are over 230 islands in the bay. The area is renowned for wonderful views of four major scenes. These are Tamonzan (great scene), Sokanzan (profound scene), Tomiyama (graceful scene), and Otakamori (spectacular scene). For details and access info see here.
Nagasaki’s isles and coasts:
Nagasaki prefecture has many isles offering splendid seascapes such as the many isles foremost of which are Kujyukushima; Ousezaki Lighthouse at Goto; and Monkeyhead Rock at Iki. See theTourism website for access and other details.
Habushiiura Beach “Niijima Village’s Habushiura Beach is located in the east side of the island. White sand beach stretches for 7 kilometers and the waves are suited for surfing competition and known to be one of the best spot in the world. The beach is chosen as “Top 100 Scenic Beauty of Tokyo.” The sand is over 80% quartz chrystal and that is the highest ratio in the world according to the research in 2003. The wave is the same swell pattern as Oahu Island in Hawaii since they are both facing Pacific Ocean, making Niijima the most powerful and strongest wave throughout Japan. Habushiura is the mecca for Japanese surfers, as many professional and amateur competitons take place on the island. Especially in 2003, Professional Surfing Competition took place first time in four years in Asia and the beach had the honor to host the talented surfers. This event had so many media coverage around the world and since then, many international travellers visited the island.As a notable scenic spots the beach keeps shining like a jewel as a brilliant destination in Japan.” – Discover Japan! Access: Habushiura, Honson, Niijima-mura, Niijima Phone: 04992-5-0240
Oki Dougo “Candle Island”, Shiro, Okinoshimacho, Oki-gun: “About 500 meters from the shores of Oki Dougo, gigantic “candle” stands about 30 meters tall. It is a wonderful art that mother nature created, the waves eroded the rock to look like a burning candle. When the sun sets on the top of the islet, it would become a true masterpiece. People can only experience the fantastic scenery from the boat.” – Discover Japan
Kerama Islands are a string of more than 30 islets between 20 km to 40 km west of the main Okinawa Island. In the seas off the west coast of Tokashiki Island and between Zamami and Aka islands are in 120 hectares and 233 hectares respectively of coral reefs designated as a Ramsar Convention wetland. Many species of fish and about 250 species of coral live in the areas around Kerama Islands. Location: Zamamison, Tokashikison, Okinawa Prefecture.
Okayama Prefecture’s Beaches:
Shibukawa Beach, southern Okayama Prefecture. The Seto Inland Sea is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, attracting visitors not only from Okayama, but from all over Japan. In July of 1996, Shibukawa beach was chosen as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in Japan. Access: Make your way to Osaka Station, where you then take a rapid train (1 hr) and then take the highway bus to Okayama (2 hrs) prefecture’s Ono Station in Tamano city. There’s a campsite, for info on getting there see here.
Ushimado lies on the eastern side of Okayama Prefecture, and is not too far from Himeji. On the western side, near the border with Hiroshima Prefecture and sitting in the Seto Inland Sea, is Shiraishi Island. The island, which is only accessible by ferry, has moderately difficult hiking trails that wind up steep hills. But once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to a stunning view of the Inland Sea.With emerald-green waters, rocky beaches, gentle breezes and a mild, Mediterranean climate that will remind some of islands in the Aegean Sea, these villas are especially popular with Western tourists. Indeed, Ushimado has dubbed itself the “Aegean of the Orient.” Years ago it received, from its sister city of Mytilene, in Greece, olive trees, and today, Ushimado’s olive garden is the source for local olive-based products ranging from cooking oil to chocolate to soap. Stay at Shiraishi Island International Villa or Ushimado International Villa. The Shiraishi Villa also boasts great views of the sea, and is one of the newest villas — built with both traditional Japanese designs and materials that create an open, airy feel. Visitors on limited budgets will be happy to know that the rate for all villas is just 3,000 yen a night. For exchange-students and trainees, the rate is 2,500 yen a night. The rooms are, depending on the villa, either traditional tatami with futon only or a combination of traditional tatami rooms with bright western-style bed-and-breakfast rooms with beds. All kitchens come fully supplied with pots and pans and utensils, and futons are included. To book phone:Okayama International Villa Group telephone (086) 256-2535 or fax (086) 256-2576.
The sea around Anan: The sea around Anan, designated as the Muroto Anan Kaigan (seacoast) National Park, has an irregular Rias coastline with beautiful scenes of white sand, green pine trees and rock. There are several islands, large and small, in Tachibana Bay including Takashima Island associated with ancient legend, and Bentenjima Island which has nationally designated special, native flora. Excellent beaches to visit include Kitanowaki, well known for having the most spacious pine forest in western Japan and for its dragnet fishing event which attracts many sightseers, and Awashima’s nationally famous shoal beach, as well as the excellent fishing spots such as Ishima and Fukumura-iso. Kamouda-misaki (cape), washed by the Black Current, are also near Anan. the eastern-most of all the capes on Shikoku. The beach of this cape at the intersection of Kii Suido Sea and the Pacific Ocean was designated as a Precious Natural Site of the prefecture as it is the egg-laying ground of the giant loggerhead sea turtle. The turtles return here to lay their eggs from May through August, and attract many tourists from outside the prefecture. Check out this really cool online access map that gives you accommodation, sightseeing spots and helps you locate them with a mouse-over!
DIVING – Note: We do not cover dive spots specifically because the majority of families don’t dive. However, families with junior divers or snorkelers, FYI , the best dive spots in Japan are said to be in off the Izu Peninsula; around the island of Sado-ga-shima, near Niigata; around the tip of the Kii peninsula between Shirahama and Kushimoto; around Mugi and Kashiwajima in Shikoku; around Aomori and on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan in Tohoku; in Okinawa and the Bonin Islands, further afield. For more info consult the outdoorjapan website.
Yakushima Island (Kyushu prefecture):
Yakushima Island is one of the remotest spots in Japan and a world heritage site famed for the some of the oldest trees in the world — and for turtle-watching activities. Summer is the nesting season for sea turtles in Japan. Senrihama and other spots, including Inakahama on Yakushima Island, Kyushu are well-known for nesting turtles and attract a lot of visitors, especially on weekends. “While it is both educational and a rare privilege to see such animals in the wild, some sites in Japan (and elsewhere) are not managed by trained conservationists and can degenerate into spectacles for camera-clicking rubberneckers. Worse, some places confine hatchlings for events to allow children to release into the sea, which severely interferes with the biologically-important hatching process. Matsuzawa says the media is partly to blame. “Taking pictures or making a lot of noise or shining lights on them is unnecessary and invasive. There are enough pictures of nesting turtles already; the media should use those instead of always taking new ones. And people who come to watch have to realize it’s not a movie or TV show, but a beautiful phenomenon which must be observed with patience and respect.”” – Daily Yomiuri. For more information, check out the Japan Sea Turtle Association’s bilingual website. Many conservation projects need volunteers for night patrols and other duties.
Tokyo Bay area noteworthy coastal sites:
Odaiba Seaside Park – This park has a real beach where kids can play in the water or build their own shogun sand castles.
The Kasai Seaside Park. Ride a Suijo Bus or water bus which is a double decker ferry, from Hinode Pier (Kaigan) to Odaiba Island and the Kasai Seaside Park. There’s a photo of Odaiba Island’s beach here and a write-up of Kasai Seaside Park attractions; Kasai-rinkai Koen sometimes offers free admission for elementary school students from Tokyo who are on field trips to visit the tidelands.
Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture:
Tottori coast. Pay a visit to study Japan’s most famous “sakkyu” or sand dunes. For access and info read this article. Access: The Izumo night train leaves Tokyo at 9:10pm and arrives in Tottori City at 7:56am (JY10190, express surcharge JY3150, double-decker bunk JY6300). An express bus service runs from Hamamatsucho and Shingawa to Tottori, one-way fare is JY10,200 (Ticket office open 10am-5pm, Phone: 03-3743-0022).
Kushimoto Kaichu Sea Park at Kushimoto town and Shiono-misaki cape, Kii peninsula. The tow of Kushimoto is located at the southernmost tip of Honshu. It is a good place for snorkeling activities as the water is warm, there are colorful coral reefs. Visit also the Kushimoto Undersea Park a marine park that has a long underwater tunnel and observation pod offshore for watching sharks, fishes, stinrays, etc. You might also like to ride in a glass-bottomed boat. Access info: From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, 3 hours 5 minutes by JR Kii Honsen Line to Kushimoto Station. From Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station, 1 hour 45 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. From Nagoya Station, 3 hours 15 minutes by JR Kii Honsen Line Express Train to Shingu Station, From Shingu Station to Kushimoto Station, 55 minutes by JR Hanwa Line.
Katsuura Bay, Nachi-Katsuura-machi town faces the bay and will be the base for most visitors. Kino-matsushima is studded with some 130 islets in the Katsuura Bay. The inlets and rocks have names like Camel Rock, Lion Islet and Tsuru or Crane Islet. Ugui port located between Katsuura and Shingu will be where you go if you want to catch a boat -to join the Southern Kishu Maritime Experience Cruise to enjoy watching whales or dolphins. The boat operates from late April to late September. You may see a sperm whale during five months from spring to autumn, and dolphins throughout the year. Kushimoto is famous for its many coastal rock formations, including Hashigui-Iwa and Umikongo. Take the ferry to Oshima Island to see the Umikongo Rocks. From the observation platform, look out for the pyramid rock and the lion’s head rock. Don’t miss a stop at the Katsuura Tuna Market at dawn. Access: Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 36 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station, then take JR Kansai and Kise Line for 3 hours and 20 minutes from Nagoya Station to Kii-Katsuura Station. From Osaka, take JR Hanwa and Kise Line for 3 hours and 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Kii-Katsuura Station.
Ohakozaki and Senjojiki Rocky Beaches In the northeast of Kamaishi City, at the tip of Hakozaki Peninsula Point, between Ryoishi Bay and Otsuchi Bay is Senjojiki, a scenic point of uniquely shaped granite rocks. From here, there is an excellent view of Sanganjima, an uninhabited island designated a National Natural Monument. The panoramic view is definitely worth a visit. Access: From Unosumai Station (JR Yamada Line), it is a 25-minute bus ride to Hakozaki Shirahama. The walk from Hakozaki Shirahama to Senjojiki is about 6.8 km. The trail is part of the Tohoku Natural Walking Path and is known as the “Road to Hakozaki on the Rias Coast”. – Discover Japan
More Online Information Sources:
Metropolis feature article URL: http://metropolis.japantoday.com/tokyofeaturestories/376/tokyofeaturestoriesinc.htm
For the best online surfing guide, go to outdoorjapan.com
For more info, visit Outdoorjapan.com’s page on diving
International Adventure Club’s recommendation and info on Okinawa
An account of diving in Izu with many pictures here.