With almost 30,000km of coastline, and made up of nearly 7,000 islands, we’re not sure whether wave-hunters in Japan have the easiest, or hardest, job on their hands. Either way, almost 60 years of modern surf culture – born when American servicemen based on the Atsugi military base during the Vietnam War showed locals how to ride – has carved out a map of epic breaks that’d make even the most seasoned Californian veteran sink their teeth into their knuckles.
“Japan is stuffed to the guts with a seemingly limitless amount of waterborne opportunity”
From tropical barrels to river-mouth lumps and iceberg-filled slabs, Japan is stuffed to the guts with a seemingly limitless amount of waterborne opportunity. Most of these centre around the area of Chiba, a district with 3,000km of coast to play with just 45 minutes from Tokyo. It’s also where a little worldwide sports competition in summer 2020 has decided to host its first-ever surfing event. Heard of it? Olympics, or something. Should probably tune in. Heard it’s good.
Anyway, with Japanese surfing enjoying the brightest spotlight in its history in 2020, it’s highly likely you’ll be wanting to get out there and try The Land Of The Rising Sun’s saltwater for yourself. And with that, we give you the nine Japanese surf spots that you really need to know about…
You don’t need a degree in mathematics to quickly work out that Ichinomiya is Japan’s primo surf town. Just 12,000 people call this historic coastal spot in Chiba home, whilst a whopping 600,000 wave-riders descend upon it every year to hit the Pacific swells it lures in, thanks to its peninsula location just 1hr 20mins from Tokyo. And hoo boy, is it about to get a whole lot busier, too.
“Just 12,000 people call this historic coastal spot in Chiba home, whilst a whopping 600,000 wave-riders descend upon it every year”
Its black-sand lump magnet Tsurigasaki beach (also known as Shidashita) has been chosen as the 2020 Olympic surfing venue owing to its consistent beach break, and is where the 40 male and female competitors and thousands of spectators will be praying for a typhoon to roll in through the eight-day comp window to really get it firing. But it’s not going to be Mother Nature alone that they’ll be contending with – back in July, at an Olympic test event, surfing was forced to grind to a halt after a sea turtle was spotted laying her eggs near the judge’s area overnight. Yep, we’re not at Fistral any more, Toto.
Stop at this surf shop: A 20-minute drive north of the town you’ll find The Roots, run by former JPSA pro and championship surfer Takayuki Fukuchi.