It’s a given that Japan has some amazing seaside locations that every tourist should check out since it is an island. Scattered around the country, you’ll find beaches, coastlines, bays, and more, each unique in its own way and with a good reason to visit. Here, we’ll talk to you about five different amazing seaside locations that we think are essential to get the coastal experience of Japan.
Although Aomori is the name of a city, it is the name of the city’s prefecture as well. The prefecture is located at the top of Japan’s central Island and borders Hokkaido, which means it has many seaside locations all around. We recommend two specifically: Aomori itself and Hachinohe. Now, Aomori seems like the obvious recommendation: it is the capital of the prefecture, which means you’ll find plenty of activities to do. From visiting the Aomori Museum of Art and the Sannai Maruyama ruins, to checking out the natural parks surrounding the city, there are tons of things to do. What we recommend the most is visiting the bay. Different from other cities in Japan, Aomori’s public transport is focused on buses, meaning the design of the city is centered on streets and highways. Running parallel to the coast you’ll find a highway which, in our eyes, is a must-visit. You’ll ask yourself why a highway would be considered a tourist attraction, but the fact is that it runs over a bridge built so it passes over Aomori’s main train station. This means the view from the highway is amazing: you can see the whole sea from the bridge, with merchant ships and smaller boats everywhere.
Apart from the amazing view, there is the Aomori Bay promenade. This is an awesome walk to do, especially during the night. The lights that illuminate your way make for an awesome view. You can get far into the sea until you reach the West Lighthouse, and the nighttime view from there is simply outstanding. After visiting the area, you can hop into one of the various izakayas you’ll find nearby and enjoy kayak-miso, which is a paste made out of scallops, eggs, and miso served over the scallop shell. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to grill it yourself!
Now, being a smaller city with no major tourist attractions, Hachinohe doesn’t seem like such an obvious option. Nonetheless, it has one amazing thing in its favor: the Kabushima Shrine. The shrine is located at the top of a line of stairs on the peninsula on Hachinohe’s coast. The most unique characteristic of this place is the great number of seagulls that live around the shrine. Because of this, the shrine has adopted a seagull theme, even selling seagull ema (small wooden Shinto plaques) in which you can write down your wishes. There are also places where the seagulls can drink water and, since the temple is elevated over a small hill, the view from it is great as well. We recommend going around mid-May to see the contrast between cherry blossoms and the color of the seagulls, which is an incredible view. Also, if you go to Aomori prefecture, apple pies are a must-try due to the large apple plantations in the area, and in Hachinohe, you’ll be able to find some of the best ones. So make sure to try one!
The Kerama Islands in Okinawa
Now, it’s clear that we have to have at least one recommendation in the Okinawa prefecture that’s made up of many small islands. Although the island that shares a name with the prefecture is also worth visiting, our recommendation in this area is to visit the Kerama Islands. What most Okinawa islands are praised for are beautiful beaches, a calm environment, or wondrous foliage, and the Kerama Islands have all three. They are composed of around 36 different Islands, only four of which are inhabited: the Zamami, Aka, Tokashiki, and Geruma Islands. All of the islands around the area share the quality of having clear water: the beaches are outstandingly beautiful and they wrap you in a wonderful sea breeze. For those who enjoy wildlife, the Kerama Islands are the perfect place to go diving or snorkeling, and since they’re surrounded by coral reefs, the amount of sea life is immense. Geruma island is densely populated by Chinese palms and it also has deers that are native to the area known as Kerama deers, which is why it’s a great option if you wish to immerse yourself in nature and take a walk inside a forest.
If what you want to do is to have a peaceful stroll along the beach, we recommend Zamami Island. It also has some amazing sunsets and if you go from around January to April, you might be able to do some humpback-whale watching. Aka Island is the perfect place for those who want to discover marine life, and the island also has multiple observation decks where you can get an amazing view of the other islands.
If you want to spend a fun night on the islands, head off to Tokashiki Island, the biggest one in the area, as there are many bars and cafes located close to the coast. During the day you can do some fun activities like riding a jet ski or a banana boat as well. All in all, Okinawa is an amazing tropical paradise, so make sure to visit it on your next trip to Japan. While you’re there, we recommend you try beni imo (purple sweet potatoes). While sweet potatoes are easily found all around Japan, Okinawa is famous for its purple ones, and you can even try them in desserts like purple sweet potato tart.
If you’ve seen photos of Japan’s most famous tourist spots, you’ve probably seen a picture of the Kotoku-in Temple, home to the Great Buddha. The temple is located in Kamakura, a town we have to mention because it’s the perfect getaway from Tokyo’s bustling city life. One of Kamakura’s most charming characteristics is its history: it’s full of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and it has the Kamakura Museum of History and Culture as well. What we love most about this place is the way in which all these historical sites are located within the amazing environment of mountains and the ocean. Visiting the Kotoku-in Temple is an amazing experience and a great way to grow to understand why Kamakura was such an important city for Japan in the past. Both the Egara Tenjinsha and Tsurugaoka shrines are also places on the island where you’ll get an amazing historical and nostalgic environment.
If you want to do some swimming, you can also head out to the Kamakura beaches, where you can enjoy marine sports like surfing. It is truly an outstanding view to see the contrast between the mountains and the ocean in Kamakura, and there is a famous hiking route that starts around the JR Kamakura station and finishes at the Enoden Kamakura Station that will give you amazing insight into the nature of the area as well as a possibility of visiting various of the shrines and temples. Kamakura is also a great place to try out some delicious street food–from blueberry cream cheese Buddha cakes to deep-fried fish cakes or bread. Being only around one hour and a half away from Tokyo, it is easy to visit, but it will surely give you a remarkable experience. Kamakura has many different street foods, but the one we recommend the most is cup sushi. This unique dish is a fun and new way to put a twist on one of Japan’s most emblematic dishes.
Now, our last recommendation is quite unique and different from the others. Yurigahama Beach, located close to Yoron Island in the Kagoshima prefecture, is so special because it is actually a disappearing beach. Due to the movement of the tides, the beach is only visible from around April until September, which makes it a unique experience just to simply visit it. This place’s wonders don’t stop here, as the water surrounding it is perfectly clear, and it even has star-shaped sand, a phenomenon that can be seen around Okinawa as well. The beach is located around 1.5 km from Okaneku Beach, and you can get there via a small, guided boat. Visitors can partake in activities such as snorkeling as well, which will let you further explore the wonders of this unique place. As the exact dates on which the beach is visible vary, we recommend you check the official website here so you can plan your trip there without any mistakes. Since it is such a unique place, we highly recommend you take some time to make a visit! To accompany such a unique place, we recommend a unique food like torisashi or chicken sashimi, which is commonly found in Kagoshima prefecture.
It is clear that Japan does not disappoint when it comes to offering a great variety of seaside fun. Going to beaches and coasts in Japan is an amazing experience, which is why we recommend you visit at least one on your next trip!
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