Japan is in the midst of a surfing boom as more people are taking to the sport than ever before. As strong, wave-rich beaches go, Japan’s southern Kyushu Island can compete with world-class surfing destinations.
What it lacks in consistency, it makes up for in quality and variety. This, together with an enthusiastic community of local surfers, is putting the region on the world map of surfing.
In general, surfers place wave patterns at the bottom of the beach they break. A reef is known as a reef break, a sandy beach is known as a beach break, an abrupt slab of a reef is a slab, and the head length or curved part of the beach is a breakpoint. Kyushu has all of these sets embedded within the coastline.
When there is a distant storm, a Siberian cold-front, or a local monsoon, wave power is generated, which slides along the island’s shores, hammers and bays with ease.
Almost all of Kyushu’s beaches are prone to tidal waves. The north of the island is more populated and less consistent than the south but still has quality waves all year round. Fukuoka, the capital of the island, receives tidal currents from the Sea of Japan. The Itoshima Peninsula near Futamigaura Beach is the closest point to the city and is most active in winter.
The east coast of the island from Saga to Kagoshima has plenty of Surfing in Japan. In winter, these places shine and a variety of facilities can be found by driving along highways 3 and 270. Kagoshima’s Ei-Guchi Hama, in the city of Hioki, is where Kagoshima City travellers go. It’s consistent, full and sometimes it’s full of good and challenging waves.
At the southern end of Kagoshima’s Satsuma Peninsula sits the small town of Ei, where green tea plantations and one of Japan’s fiercest volcanoes paint the coast.
Here, Daichi Ikemizu was encouraged to start a summer X-games-inspired event called Ibusuki Summer Breeze. Held in the town of Ibusuki, this one-day event offers surfing and surfing lessons for young people, live music and community.
When asked about his inspiration, Ikemizu says, I saw a lack of options for ‘things to dream about for Japanese boys and girls. Boys play soccer or baseball, while girls play volleyball and badminton.
I wanted to offer new activities like Japanese surf and skateboarding. Itemize’s message is simple: instil a love of surfing and nature in local children, and protect the health of the wave-rich coast for future generations.
Nichinan and Miyazaki
Surfing in Japan Since the end of World War II, American soldiers have brought surfing to Yokosuka. Surfing soon spread to Kyushu and took off in Miyazaki.
For decades, the city and nearby Nichinan Beach have benefited from domestic tourism thanks to their marketing as a tropical honeymoon destination. Due to its long beaches and palm trees along the coast, many sea lovers moved here and fought for a place to surf.
Miyazaki would eventually host several international tournaments where international players competed in international settings. The local pride in Miyazaki’s quality Surf Japan exploded and so did the city’s driving competition. All of this has resulted in a thriving surfing community that is a breeding ground for Japan’s professional surfing talent.
The coast of Miyazaki from Nobeoka north to Shibushi, Kagoshima Prefecture, is full of beaches, rocks and points. Starting from the north of the region is Okuragahama, a beach holiday that is perfect for first-time travellers.
In Miyazaki City, the famous Kisakihama break is the site of famous surfing competitions including the ISA World Games which served as the Olympic qualification event for the first Olympic surfing.
Further south is the town of Aoshima and its socal-Esque beach breaks Aoshima. Palm trees reminiscent of Australia’s Gold Coast, crowded beaches and surf tours make this beach area the surfing capital of Kyushu. If you’re in the market for surfboards, lessons or clothing, go here.
Further south, things get weird. The world was brought to Kyushu’s power when, in 1991, North American World Tourist Tom Curren paddled out to no man’s land. Typhoon Orchid’s relentless winds created 30+ foot wave faces.
Now he paddled into a curved reef and caught what would go down as one of the most famous waves in Japanese surfing history. This point has long been coined “Curren’s Point,” and the world’s attitude towards the Japanese type of waves has been completely changed.
From Curren’s Point south is the rugged Nichinan beach. This area is for experienced surfers only and most of these areas are accessible. In the midst of a strong hurricane, large waves crash over the shallow cliffs here producing fast and hollow waves that are perfect training grounds for the skilled. A sign to witness.