• Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.

        Spring Skiing in Japan 2022

        It may be spring in Japan but you can still ski in select ski resorts open all the way to Golden Week.
    • Summer
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
    • Winter
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
    • River and Lake
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
    • Travel
    • Food and Drinks
    • Races and Events

Sea Kayaking Iwate’s Pureland Paradise

When a Buddhist monk visited an isolated part of the Iwate coast 350 years ago, he saw it much as it remains today, a peaceful inlet formed by towering volcanic white rocks, contrasting beautifully with the blue ocean waters and green pine groves crowning the larger of these stone islands. He was so moved that he named it Jodogahama (Pureland Beach) after the Buddhist paradise. 

iwate sea kayaking quinlan faris outdoor japan

Today, Jodogahama is a popular area for tourists and locals to walk along the coast enjoying the stunning rock formations. During summer, the pebble beach is packed with families swimming in the protected bay. Some spend the night in Miyako just to see the sun rise over the ocean from there. What most people don’t know is that it’s possible to go sea kayaking right here along this breathtaking coastline in the middle of the Sanriku National Park.

iwate sea kayaking quinlan faris outdoor japan

I’ve been living in Iwate for more than ten years, and have visited Jodogahama at least a dozen times. It wasn’t until 2020 when I first saw a small group of kayakers set out from the Jodogahama Bay and strike north along the coast. There was no loudspeaker announcing their departure (like there are for all the normal tourist boats), no signs advertising the service— I almost wondered if it was a private club rather than a guided tour. Last summer this mystery was solved when I was introduced to the man that operates these adventure tours.

Kazumasa Suzuki is a registered guide at the Sanriku Geopark that has been leading groups on sea kayaking adventures for more than twenty years. He’s also a kayaking instructor, which is fortunate given my lack of experience. (I’m from the Midwest of the United States, and grew up canoeing in lakes, which is totally different from sea kayaking.) 

iwate sea kayaking quinlan faris outdoor japan

After some basic instruction on how to sit properly in the kayak, and the basics of using the double-sided paddle, we set out. Just to the north of Jodogahama lies Takonohama, or literally “octopus bay,” named for the numerous little caves and tunnels that octopuses are said to favor. This bay is also mostly protected from ocean waves, so I was able to get a good sense of how to maneuver the kayak before having to deal with any turbulence from the ocean.

iwate sea kayaking quinlan faris outdoor japan

The Takonohama Route is what Suzuki calls “intermediate” difficulty, and I quickly found out why when he led me through a narrow tunnel in the kayak. While it definitely wasn’t dangerous, it was already feeling like an adventure as I did my best to avoid hurting myself on the jagged tunnel walls while taking in the beauty of this natural cave. It wasn’t long before I got used to navigating these narrow waterways, though. We must have explored four or five caves—I lost count. Some had small areas of rock deep within that we could pull our kayaks upon and disembark, exploring a bit of the cavern on foot before returning the same way. Others connected back to the bay.

iwate sea kayaking quinlan faris outdoor japan

Our destination was Candle Rock—a protrusion of stone on a cliff face that inspired its name. In reaching this area, north of Takonohama, we crossed an area open to waves from the ocean, which might have been scary on a windier day. It was a beautiful morning though, and the waves weren’t much of a challenge. In fact, they gave me just the right amount of practice in maneuvering through ocean swells so that next time I might have the confidence to try something a bit more turbulent. Suzuki told me that we had been very lucky with the weather, as generally the ocean is a bit rougher than what we experienced. As someone new to ocean kayaking, I was grateful for this.

Though it felt like I’d spent all day along this picturesque stretch of coast, the entire round trip journey only took a little over an hour. (With a larger group it normally takes an hour and a half.) Apparently all those canoe trips I took during my childhood paid off, and I was able to get the hang of paddling a sea kayak in no time and keep up a good pace. There are a number of different routes along the coast that he guides, so I will definitely go again to explore further the caves and cliffs along the Sanriku Coast.

iwate sea kayaking quinlan faris outdoor japan

Kazumasa Suzuki operates the Sanriku Sea Kayak School Season in Miyako. He offers a family-friendly sea kayaking experience right in the Jodogahama Beach area that is very safe and appropriate for families with younger children. (Children as young as five-years-old can safely participate.) The standard tours are 90 minutes (¥5,500 per adult or ¥4,000 for junior high school students and younger), and a more adventurous two-hour tour for ¥6,500 per adult. These are prices for groups of three to 20 people. Tours operate from March through November, and prices may be slightly higher during the peak season in August. Kayaks, paddles and life preservers are included, but you’ll need to bring a few things like UV protection (hat, sunglasses, lotion, etc.), and crocs or some kind of footwear that can get wet. Details of what to bring are listed on his website and more photos are available on his Instagram account.

iwate sea kayaking quinlan faris outdoor japan

Note: Suzuki does not speak English, so please have one Japanese-speaking member of your group to facilitate communication. For larger groups, a local interpreter may be provided to help. Learn more at Season Sea Kayak School here.

[novo-map id=2 individual=”yes”]

Outdoor Japan logo tree


1 comment

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts