Ultimate Guide to Visiting a Tokyo Beach
By Yuria | February 15th, 2022
Are you looking to surf or do a little sunbathing on a beach in Tokyo? There are plenty of nearby options to choose from! While there aren't any beaches in Tokyo itself, a short train ride is all it takes before you can dig your toes into the sand and enjoy that fresh ocean air.
There are a few beaches in Tokyo where you can go for sunbathing or other activities that don't involve being in the water. Most Tokyo beaches have a nice view of the city, so they're better enjoyed watching the view rather than swimming. You can also enjoy sunbathing at a Tokyo beach, but if you are seeking to swim in the water or go for a tropical beach experience, beaches outside of Tokyo in the nearby Kanto region would be a better option. Tokyo beaches are more for non-water activities like playing or laying in the sand, having a BBQ, or enjoying the view.
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When is the best time to visit a Tokyo beach?
The best time to visit a Tokyo beach is summer or spring. The swimming season usually only lasts for about 2 months of July and August. If you are seeking to swim in the ocean, the best time to visit a Tokyo beach is from July to August. Warm but not too hot or humid weather in spring is excellent weather for sunbathing. You could also visit a Tokyo beach during fall to enjoy walks on the beach, have a picnic or BBQ, or just watch the sunset.
Beaches are but one part of many fantastic activities and places you can visit in Japan. To plan out your own summer vacation this year, check out our Ultimate Guide to Summer in Japan!
Safety tips for Tokyo beaches
1. Not every Tokyo beach allows swimming so check first
Most Tokyo beaches don't allow swimming due to the water quality in the area. However, you might be able to swim on some beaches if the water quality allows.
2. Contaminated water might be an issue
Even though most Tokyo beaches don't allow swimming, it might not be a good idea to be in the water. Tokyo beaches have been seeing increased levels of contaminated water as the economic development increased. The circulation of the water on Tokyo Bay, which all beaches in Tokyo face, is not so good and the water is usually badly drained due to the enclosed landscape of Tokyo Bay.
3. Beware of jellyfish
After Obon, which starts mid August, there is a higher chance of seeing jellyfish in the sea as their breeding season starts. Getting stung by a jellyfish can numb your feet and there is a potential danger of drowning.
4. Japanese people don't visit a Tokyo beach (or anywhere, really) during Obon
There is also a taboo against swimming in the water during Obon which we'll talk about a little later in the article. You might want to reconsider visiting the beach during Obon season if you are seeking to swim in the sea and, if you do, you will want to be extra careful.
5. Be sure to check whether there are lifeguards if you're going with family
If you are visiting a Tokyo beach with your family and children, it would be best to visit a beach with a lifeguard on duty and keep an eye on children. Learning how to perform CPR would be a wise option, as well as protecting your feet to prevent cuts and injuries, and making sure to put on sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
These things are FORBIDDEN on every Tokyo beach
You might want to be careful when fishing in Tokyo Beach
Fishing by throwing and spreading bait directly into the ocean is prohibited on every Tokyo beach. This is because there is a potential threat of polluting the ocean and causing harm to the ocean ecosystem.
Be respectful of your surroundings
Littering in the ocean is also prohibited, as well as jumping off a cliff or a bridge. You might also want to be careful with the music volume, as it could be rude and disturb others to blast music in public places in Japanese culture. Japanese people like to be respectful to other people, so be mindful of respecting others as well. Every beach has different rules, so obeying signs at the beach should keep you out of trouble and getting dirty looks from the local people.
Be mindful of tattoos
It would be wise to cover up your tattoos as some beaches might not allow visible tattoos. Even though tattoos have been increasingly popular in Japan, they're still not allowed in public baths, pools, and gyms.
While Tattoos is not allowed on many beaches and even in Osen, it is still an integral part of Japanese culture. Check out this article if you want to know more about Tattoos in Japan.
Keep your pets leashed and off water
You might want to unleash your dog to run around at the beach, but most beaches require pets to be leashed at all times and don't allow them in water. While it's okay to let your dog run around in quiet beach with less people, beaches around Tokyo will likely be busy during summer, so make sure to keep them leashed.
Interesting Japanese beliefs, traditions, and taboos about the ocean
Marine Day (海の日)
From seafood to Omatsuri (festivals) about the sea, Japanese culture has a deep history and relationship with the ocean as Japan is surrounded by water. Among many islands around the world, Japan is the only country that has a holiday dedicated to the sea. The sea has helped promote Japanese industry and contributed to the modernization and the development of Japan. It has helped Japanese culture thrive for thousands of years, and it’s responsible for the iconic food culture in Japan.
海の日(Umi-no-hi), Marine Day’s roots date back to more than 140 years ago. Marine day was officially enacted in 1995 to give gratitude to the ocean’s blessings and to wish prosperity for Japan, after many years of people’s attempts to make the anniversary date for the ocean an official holiday. The anniversary date for the ocean has its origin on July 20th 1876, when the emperor returned from a northeast cruise to Yokohama port for the first time using a steamship. Before then, warships were mostly used to go on a cruise.
Many organizations host festivals and events all over Japan in hopes to further spread understanding and interest about the sea, as well as to remind children about the importance of the sea. When Marine Day was made an official holiday, the day was decided to be on July 20th, but it was later changed to every third Monday in July. The exact date slightly differs every year but it’s usually around 15th to 21st of July. Most beaches in mainland Japan officially open around Marine Day.
Even though Marine Day is a day to thank the ocean for its blessings that contributed to Japanese culture in many ways, there are no official rituals or ceremonies. Rather, Marine Day has become a day to have fun at the beach, so it’s best spent enjoying the ocean or going to festivals or events. You can find opportunities to go on ships that are usually closed to the public or enjoy marine sports.
Many festivals and holidays in Japan are closely tied to the sea. If you want to visit a matsuri that will be held on the beach, visit our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Festivals to find out more!
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Swimming during Obon
What is Obon?
The taboo against swimming in the sea during Obon is the most famous and believed all over the country. お盆(Obon) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of ancestors. It is a week-long summer event often held around August 13th to the 16th, and it’s believed that the ancestors' spirits return to this world to visit their family and relatives. The dates differ across Japan, and different regions have slightly different customs.
Obon is thought to open the portals between this world and another world, where people are believed to go after death. The first day of the month of Obon is called 釜蓋朔日 (Kamabutatsuitachi) where the day is believed to open the doors to hell. The 7th day is called 七夕 (Tanabata) where people prepare a “vehicle” so that their ancestors can cross between this world and another world, using cucumbers and eggplants. Traditionally, on the 13th, Japanese people welcome their dead ancestors by making fire so that their ancestors don’t get lost, and on the 14th and 15th, the ancestors are believed to stay in their spirit shelf where food and fruits are offered. Then on the last day, ancestors are believed to stay at home until noon, so people usually wait until dark to send their ancestors back to another world by making fire. During Obon, Japanese people typically visit their dead relative’s graves called お墓参り(Ohaka-mairi) and clean the grave, and/or clean the Buddhist altar at home if they have one.
Why swimming during Obon is a Taboo
Because of the nature of Obon, it is considered a taboo to swim in the water. Places with water like rivers and oceans are believed to attract ghosts and connect this world and the other world. Bad spirits are usually spirits that wander around and cannot rest in peace because they strongly hold negative emotions like regret, anger, and hate. These impure spirits are said to have thirst, and they are naturally attracted to places with water so their souls can be cleansed. But because ghosts don’t have form, they are unable to heal their thirst and tend to stay in areas with water.
It’s been long believed that bad spirits can pull on your feet and drag you down to the bottom of the ocean to seek help out of desperation. The ocean floor is said to be the entrance to the world of the dead, and the dead who were brought back during Obon would go back to the other world bypassing the ocean floor. Because of this, it was believed that not only swimming during Obon was bad, people weren’t even supposed to go near the ocean. Children are more prone to such experiences because desperate souls want to approach someone who might be able to help them, and kids are usually said to be more sensitive to spiritual beings. In fact, there are an increased number of water accidents during Obon, and there are many people who claim they felt something touch or pull their feet while swimming during Obon. If you still want to swim during Obon, you can wear natural crystals that repel bad spirits or mineral salt for protection.
Check out this article if you wish to learn more about Obon.
Myth and urban legends relating to the ocean
In the Japanese folklore myth, Kappa is also known to assault humans in water. They are an amphibious 妖怪(Yokai) creature with green human-like bodies with webbed hands and feet and a dish on their head. They mostly live in the river. No one has actually claimed they saw a Kappa, but the legend is still believed in areas like Iwate and Hyogo prefectures. Some Japanese people from these areas believe that you are not supposed to play in the water during Obon, mostly rivers. They are said to hide in the bottom of the water, waiting to eat spirits that go down the river to cross to the other side during Obon. Kappas often have a negative image since they are a Yokai but the local people consider them as precious beings. Some texts mention that Kappas prefer clean water streams over dirty rivers, so they are said to be living in lower mountains and not suitable to live in high mountains.
Respecting corpse found in the ocean
水死体(Suishitai) translates to water corpse. It refers to a corpse of someone who drowned. In the Edo period, it was an unspoken rule for fishermen who found dead bodies in the ocean to carefully carry the body back to the shore. If the body was ignored and left in the ocean, it was believed to be bad luck and something unfortunate would happen. The boats that dragged the body with a rope instead of pulling it up on the boat were said to be mysteriously found sunken the next day due to an unknown accident. Because of this, the fishermen who found a dead body carefully picked it up and carried it to the shore. They would be unable to fish that day, but it was said that the dead person would return the favor by making sure the boat would have a big catch at a later date.
Why women weren't allowed on a boat
Another myth relating to fishermen is that it was frowned upon for women to go on the boat or go out in the sea. This is said to be because the god of the boat, 船霊様(Funadamasama), would get angry. The boat god is a female god, and the ship carpenter was supposed to enshrine the object of worship when building the boat. These objects of worship were often dolls, human hair, bronze coins, and these objects were buried on the edge of the boat as a talisman, along with a folding fan, white face powder, lipstick, or dice since the god was known to like gambling. When a woman entered the boat, it was believed that the boat god would get jealous of the woman and she would be possessed or they would have a sea storm, so fishermen avoided having women on the boat.
Offering water to the dead who drowned is a Taboo in some areas
Compared to the past, the number of fishermen losing their lives out in the sea have significantly decreased due to the modernization of the boats and an increase in size. However in the past, it was common for fishermen to die while fishing out in the sea. In a city called Minamiboso in Chiba prefecture, it is believed to be bad luck to make an offering of water in the altar among families with fishermen ancestors who died in the sea. This area of Japan used to prosper with tuna fishing, and more than 200 fishermen died in the sea in 10 years during peak. Since it’s not that easy to help someone drowning in the cold water during winter, it is said that oftentimes his peers couldn’t do anything but to just look at the guy dying. From this remorse, people started to think that it was cruel to have someone who drowned in the sea drink more water, and the taboo of offering water to the dead spread.
The day when you are not supposed to look at the sea
There are also a few Taboos relating to the ocean worth noting. In some areas facing the Japan Sea, there is a day when you are not supposed to look at the sea. It is said that on that specific day the dead would come back to this world from the sea, and if the dead sees humans they would get possessed, drag them into the sea and to the other side. So on that day, people living in these areas close all the windows and lock themselves in for the whole day. Such beliefs about the dead coming from the ocean exist in many places throughout Japan, and especially in the summer when many people visit the beach, it is believed that spirits come out of the sea to find companions. The idea of the sea being a pathway for the dead to come back to this world is widely believed throughout Japan. In Nagasaki prefecture, there is a ritual called 精霊流し (Shoryonagashi) where they would send off the spirit of the dead on a boat, and is performed in festivals during Obon.
Whales were considered a God
There is also a myth regarding the ocean that's not related to spirits or ghosts. In the past, in coastal villages of Japan, people used to call whales that had been washed up on the shore 恵比寿 (Ebisu). In the poor villages that struggled with hunger, whales were a good source of food, as well as a source of income if they sold the meat or body parts. People in the villages were happy when the whales appeared on the shore, and called them Ebisu by the name of a Japanese god of luck, wealth, and prosperity. There are many places throughout Japan where people still worship whales as a god. Not just whales, people used to call big fish including whales 勇魚 (Isana). Since whales and skipjack tuna shared the same prey, people were able to catch tuna if they marked whales, and Ebisu also became a god of fishermen.
Myths like these are a crucial part of Japanese culture and history. Visit our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Culture to find out more!
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Top 3 Tokyo beaches you can access by train
Kasai Seaside Park Beach
(4 min walk from Kasai-Rinkai-Koen Station)
Located in Edogawa-ku, Kasai Seaside Park Beach is a perfect Tokyo beach if you are looking for a big open beach in Tokyo. The beach is located in Kasai Seaside Park close to Disneyland, you can see Disneyland fireworks at night. Swimming is usually not allowed at the beach, but you might be able to swim during summer if the water quality allows. You can also see crabs and pick up different types of shells. There aren’t many restaurants around the area, so you are better off bringing your own lunch or having a picnic. The park also offers an aquarium, a giant Ferris wheel, a hotel, a cycling track, and a BBQ area.
Odaiba Seaside Park Beach
(2 min walk from Daiba Station)
Located in Odaiba, Odaiba Beach has an excellent panorama view of Tokyo. This popular artificial beach is 800 meters long and you can enjoy the view of Tokyo skyscrapers including Rainbow Bridge. Swimming is not allowed here, but you can enjoy sunbathing and many events are held from spring to fall. There is a designated area for beach sports and this Tokyo beach also offers paid shower rooms and lockers. The park also includes marine sports, fishing, and a running track.
Omori Furusato-no-Hamabe Park
(12 min walk from Ryutsu Center Station)
Located in Ota-ku, this Tokyo beach gives off a nice quiet beach vibe popular with local families. With Haneda airport close-by, you can see planes taking off and landing. The beach is located in a big park, you can also find a sports area with a soccer field, beach volley, and a basketball court, as well as roller slides and an outdoor adventure park. Swimming is not allowed.
Nearby Kanto beaches
(5 min walk from Ajigaura Station)
Located in Ibaraki prefecture, Ajigaura Beach faces the Pacific ocean is one of the best beaches in Ibaraki. The beach is 1.2 km long with beautiful scenery, it attracts many visitors each year. Within walking distance, you can enjoy seasonal flowers in Hitachi Seaside Park or go shopping at the mall. Parking is 1000 yen/car.
(13 min walk from Zushi Station)
Zushi Beach is ideal for both families and young people. Known for its gentle waves, the beach offers a floating water park, free lifejacket rentals for kids, and many restaurants along the coast. Drinking, BBQ, and speakers are not allowed. Showers, bathrooms, and changing rooms are available.
(7 min walk from Wadaura Station)
Located in Chiba, Wadaura Beach is famous for its clear water, white sand with shells, and trees that line up along the coast. The beach was selected to be one of the top 100 pleasant beach experiences based on water quality, convenience, and safety measures. On rocky areas, you can find crabs and small fish. Perfect beach for kids to play by the water. You can find seafood restaurants nearby. Showers, bathrooms, and changing rooms are available.
Best Tokyo beaches to experience Japanese culture
On top of the typical beaches you can find on the coast of Shonan, there are many magical beaches with a traditional Japanese twist if you are looking to go to a beach but also want to get a sense of being in Japan.
(8 min walk from Tomiura Station)
You can see Mt. Fuji from many beaches in Chiba or Kanagawa, but Haraoka Beach has the most photogenic and insta-worthy view. Located in Minamiboso, Chiba prefecture, Haraoka Beach is a popular destination for its breathtaking views of the sunset and Mt. Fuji. The best time to go is during sunset. If you are lucky you might be able to see Mt. Fuji on a sunny day. You can find one of the few wooden bridges called Haraoka-Sanbashi that lights up after dark which gives off retro vibes. The view of the bridge and Mt. Fuji during sunset has been used in TV commercials.
(2.4 km from Onjuku Station)
Also located in Chiba, Ohazuki Coast is known for its giant rock that looks like a candle and the clear view of the stars. It is a rocky coast with very little sand area and not ideal for relaxing. Be cautious of going to the rock when the waves are high as it can be dangerous. You also can’t go down to the rock during high tide. Best time to visit is one hour before or after sunrise or during low tide.
(7 min walk from Ubara Station)
Also located in Chiba, you can find a white Torii gate on the edge of Ubara Beach, which is a symbol of the beach. The Torii belongs to Yasaka Shrine and is used for the annual festival in July. You can also find a hiking trail. Facing Ubara Bay, the beach was selected to be one of the best 100 beaches in Japan. The beach is quiet with not many people. With clear stars in the background, it is a famous destination for professional photographers.
Best Tokyo beaches for surfing
(5 min walk from Kugenuma-Kaigan Station)
Located on Shonan Coast in Kanagawa, Kugenuma Beach is the most famous surfing spot in Japan. The beach is suitable for both beginners and professionals. You can rent surfboards and wetsuits, and there are many restaurants, fast food places, surf shops, and surf schools by the nearby road 134. The beach also offers a beach sports recreation zone and you can play beach volleyball all year round.
(18 min walk from JR Onjuku Station)
Located in Chiba, Iwawada Beach is said to be the Hawaii of Japan from its white sand and clear water. The small waves and the soft sand ocean floor makes it a perfect surfing spot for beginners. The beach is popular for surfers as you can easily check the waves from the nearby parking lots. Showers and bathrooms available.
Best Tokyo beaches for water activities and partying
(5 min walk from Tatado Bus Stop)
Located in Shizuoka, Tatadohama Beach is 450 meters long and known for one of the clearest waters in the Kanto area. The beach is also popular for marine sports and surfing, national conventions are often held here. You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and body boards. Bathrooms, paid showers, and changing rooms are available.
(5 min walk from Yuigahama Station)
Located in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture, Yuigahama Beach is a perfect beach for partying. This beach gets crowded during summer, and there are more than 18 beach shacks along the 3.2 km coast. Surfing is allowed during off-season or outside of swimming hours. Bathrooms, paid showers, and changing rooms available.
Beach is not the only place you can party in Tokyo. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Tokyo at Night to see where else you could have fun in Tokyo!
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Best Tokyo beaches for beautiful water and watching the sunset/sunrise
Shirahama Chuo Beach
(6 min walk from Nagata Bus Stop)
You can probably guess from the name, Shirahama Chuo Beach is famous for its white sand and emerald green water. Located in Shizuoka, you can get tropical island vibes at this beach. 1500 yen to park, showers, bathrooms, and changing rooms available.
(5 min walk from JR Tateyama Station)
Located in Chiba, Hojo Beach is a popular beach for its sunset views. Facing Tateyama Bay, this area is known to have slow waves and was selected to be one of the 100 Landscapes of Japan. The ocean reflects the sunset beautifully and in mid May or late July, you can see what is called the Diamond Fuji which is when the sunset overlaps Mt. Fuji. Showers, bathrooms, and changing rooms available.
It would be a shame if you didn't dress the part when visiting beautiful beaches like these. Visit our Ultimate Guide to Fashion in Japan to see how you can dress for the right occasion!
Best Tokyo beaches for families
Marine Park Beach
(2 min walk from Seaside Line Uminokoen-Shibaguchi Station, Hakkeijima Station, or Uminokoen-Minamiguchi Station)
Located in Yokohama, Marine Park has a 1 km long coast and is the only Park in Yokohama where you can swim. Surrounded by the ocean, sand, and trees, you can enjoy BBQ with the view of Hakkeijima. The BBQ area (reservation required) comes with equipment and food ready so there’s no need to bring anything. If you would like to bring your own food, you can also reserve the table only. Up to 8 people in one table, the price is 2300 yen/table on the weekdays and 2800 yen/table during the weekend. Rest tents, showers and changing rooms available. Even during the hightide, the water is pretty shallow with gentle waves so it’s a safe option for children.
Yanagishima Camping Ground
(13 min walk from Hamamidaira-Danchi Bus Stop)
30 sec from the beach in Shonan, Yanagishima Camping Ground is the only camping site along the Shonan coast. The camping site is spacious and surrounded by trees, you can choose to bring your own tent or stay in the lodge (up to 24 people) or in the cabin (up to 6 people). If you don’t have any equipment, don’t worry! You can rent everything at the site so you don’t have to bring anything. There are bathrooms and showers, a BBQ area with equipment and food ready (reservation required), and nearby hot springs and supermarkets are only a 10 min drive. The beach is right next to the camping site and you can see Enoshima and Mt. Fuji, Yanagishima Camping Ground is a perfect place for a family weekend. Camping ground is 3000 yen/site, cabin is 8500 yen and lodge is 23000 yen.
10 really important phrases for your Tokyo beach trip
Beach vs ocean
The word beach also means beach in Japanese, pronounced Beechi. However, most people just say 海(Umi) = sea/ocean to refer to the beach and ocean interchangeably.
This one might be a little strange but hear me out. スイカ割 (suika-wari), which translates to watermelon cut. Suika-wari is a popular beach activity where you bring a watermelon to a beach and a blindfolded person is supposed to cut open the watermelon with a stick.
Useful phrases to know
If you need to look for a train station you can use the phrase 最寄り駅はどこですか？ (Moyori eki wa dokodesuka?), which translates to where is the closest train station?
If you need to buy something at the beach but don’t know where to get it, you can ask __はどこで買えますか？(__wa dokode kaemasuka?), which means where can I buy __?
The phrase __はどこですか？(__wa dokodesuka?), where is __?, can be used if you need a direction or want to know where the bathroom (Toire) /shower (Shawa) is.
Useful words related to the beach
海フェスタ(Umi-festa) refers to events and festivals at the beach. BBQ can also be used in Japanese but pronounced baabekyu, camp (campu), beautiful water (kirei na mizu), sunset (sunsetto/hinode), marine sports (marine supotsu), surfing (saafin), sunscreen (hiyakedome), swim (oyogu), drinks (dorinku), food (gohan), beach umbrellas (parasoru)
If you are reading this article, chances are you are planning a day trip from Tokyo. Although with all the attractions Tokyo and its surrounding area have, planning can become a pain. But worry not! We've got you covered with our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Day trip from Tokyo!
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