The (incomplete) Guide to Sea Kayaking in Japan
Top paddling around the Archipelago
An admittedly incomplete guide to the best sea kayaking around Japan
With thousands of kilometers of scenic shoreline, much of it suitably convoluted and rocky, there are lots of places in Japan to sea kayak. This is an admittedly brief look at some of the best destinations in the country, and some of the best centers for information, instruction, rentals and tours.
Kerama is perhaps the top choice, not only for the quality of the conditions, but also for access from Okinawa Island. If you have more time, head out to Iriomote, Miyako and other islands.
Okinawa Qajaq Centre
1-3-6 Matsushima, Naha
Tel: (098) 882-2330; Fax: (098) 882-2331
Kinko Bay, Kagoshima
This big bay, about the size of Lake Biwa, is a good place for paddlers of all levels.
Fukuoka City, Fukuoka
Tel/Fax: (092) 212-8339
It’s not often you get to paddle in a UNESCO World Heritage Site but, with a kayak, you cannot only paddle around the famous torii in the water but elsewhere in the beautiful surroundings of the island. While development has changed much of the area, the shrine’s sacred status has kept much of the island pristine; traveling by kayak means no crowds.
FUKUI / SHIGA
Wakasa Bay/Lake Biwa
We’ll put these two together, because the local provider Shiro Ose (who contributed much of this information—mild disclaimer) serves both. Wakasa Bay is beautifully convoluted and rocky, with sea caves, arches and more, as well as many small, convenient sand beaches for lunch or a swimming break. The massive freshwater Lake Biwa is convenient (not much after-paddle rinsing) and a great place for beginners to first dip a paddle.
Tel/Fax: (0740) 20-2620
The whole of Kii Hanto is so big (Japan’s third-largest peninsula), it’s hard to call it a single destination, but there’s some good paddling to be found as well as a lot of history and nature. Some areas can be more challenging due to strong currents.
www.kumano-experience.com (good English website and speaking ability)
Some of the best, and easiest-to-access from Tokyo, paddling is on the west and south coasts of Izu, including the towns of Matsuzaki and Iwachi. Something for every level of paddler.
Surface Kayak Guide Center
Minami Izu, Shizuoka
Tel/Fax: (0558) 62-2114
There are many folks around Boso, since it’s so close to the city, but some good paddling as well, particularly for newer sea kayakers.
Saltys Paddle Sport (English speakers available)
Minami Boso, Chiba
NIIGATA / ISHIKAWA
Sado Island/Awashima Island/Noto Peninsula
You read it about it, now go out and experience Sado yourself. Awashima, just north of Sado, is a much smaller island—it can be circumnavigated in about six hours—but provides rock gardens, arches, cliffs and many Sado-like experiences. Noto is a big peninsula, open to the Japan Sea on the west, scenic and historic on the east.
Tel/Fax: (0255) 87-2860
This rugged shoreline includes some 600 kilometers of seemingly endless cliffs, bays, arches and tiny islands—one of the most beautiful areas in the country, and again, best seen from a boat.
Tel: (0193) 22-7005 / 090-4555-7971
Fax: (0193) 27-7006
The other UNESCO World Heritage Site you can paddle around; this beautiful, 43-kilometer-long peninsula is a place where you can see not only an amazing abundance of wildlife both in the water (including a variety of whales) and on land (watch out for the bears).