Surfing in Japan (Kamakura)

Kamakura

Once being a capital of Japan and known for numbers of historic temples, shrines and the “Big Buddha”, Kamakura may be the closest and perhaps the most accessible surf spot from Tokyo.  Although usually undersized (shin, knee or thigh high), it boasts some grand swells during typhoon season (August – October).  Even without typhoons, it occasionally has some waist to chest sized waves, depending upon the weather.  North-Chiba (west of Tokyo) has more consistent waves than “Shōnan” (an area along the coast of Sagami Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture, which includes Kamakura) but if surfing is not the primary objective of your travel, I would say Kamakura is the place to go.

“Kamakura”, in the context of surfing, consists of several surf spots — Yuigahama (júiga-hama) (由比ヶ浜), Zaimokuza (材木座) and Shichirigahama (ʃíchiriga-hama)/ (七里ヶ浜) being the major ones (and more easy-going with the non-locals).


 

Yuigahama Beach (由比ヶ浜)and Zaimokuza Beach (材木座)

Yuigahama and Zaimokuza sit right next to each other and are seemingly on the same beach at a glance.  There is a river running in the middle of the beaches, and the left side on the map above is called Yuigahama and the right is called Zaimokuza.  It’s really up to the conditions but long-boarders/fun-boarders tend to be surfing at Zaimokuza while you see more short-boarders at Yuigahama.  Both are beach-breaks, so no need to worry about hitting any reef.

Yuigahama with waist to chest high swell

On a flat day at Zaimokuza

Both Yuigahama and Zaimokuza are accessible by walk from Kamakura Station (15-20 min.).

Shichirigahama Beach (七里ヶ浜)

To get to Shichirigahama, take the Enoden-Line to “Shichirigahama Station”, which is the 6th stop (about 15 min.) from Kamakura Station.  It’s a green classic tram-like train that runs in the midst of the local neighborhood, and then along the coastline.  Could be crowded with tourists during weekends, but definitely worth a ride.

Be advised that Shichirigahama is a bit more local-oriented than Yuigahama and Zaimokuza (especially when the wave is small and the break is narrow), but as long as you stick with the basic surf rules, don’t hassle too much to grab waves over the others and treat locals with respect, you should be fine.

Tips..

The spots above could be very crowded when the wave is pumping, especially on weekends, and early morning on weekdays when Japanese “salarymen” (like myself) hit the water before they commute to mega-Tokyo for work, so avoiding these time may help.

Also, as folks at the local surf shops may not necessarily be good at comminicating in English, you may want to send them an e-mail beforehand so that you would get an idea how well they understand you.


 

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