Learn Essential Okinawan Language Phrases helpful in your travels!

Learn Essential Okinawan Language Phrases helpful in your travels!

Okinawa World park lion statues

You can find island heaven in the southernmost part of Japan. Okinawa is where locals escape the city life of the mainland and foreign tourists go for a taste of paradise. 

The sun, sand and sea aren’t the only things that make the island so great. Okinawa has its own unique language that makes the heart of its culture. And surprisingly, it’s not your average Japanese! No matter how good your Nihongo is, you’re going to struggle a bit with the Okinawan language.
Let’s get you started with a few essential Okinawan words and phrases. Here’s a list of them to get you through day-to-day interactions and a few unique ones! 

Mensore (めんそーれー)

We know that in Japanese, to say “welcome”, it’s “youkoso” (ようこそ). While the Okinawans can still understand that, they have a different way of greeting. In Okinawan language, it’s “mensore” (めんそーれー). It’s similar to how we use “aloha”.
If you are lucky enough to visit Okinawa, you’ll be hearing a lot of this. The locals say this to welcome tourists to their islands.

Haisai (はいさい)

If you want to greet an Okinawan, say “haisai” (はいさい). This can mean “good day”, “good morning” or “good afternoon”. It’s used as a universal greeting for all day round. It’s kind of like “konnichiwa” (こんにちは). 

The feminine version to this is “haitai” (はいたい). It has a more polite and softer tone to the greeting.

Ganjuu yami? (頑丈やみ)

Another greeting in the Okinawan language is “ganjuu yami?” (頑丈やみ?) This can be translated as “how are you?” This is the informal way of this greeting. If you want to greet someone formally, you change it to “ganjuu yaibiimi?” (頑丈やいびーみ?)

Nageesayaa (長ーさやー)

This next one is one I like personally. To say “long time no see” or “it’s been a while”, say “nageesayaa” (長ーさやー). It’s kind of like the equivalent of the Japanese “hisashiburi” (久しぶり).

There are a few ways to say this. The rest aren’t as common, but here’s a list of them:
Wuganduu saibiitan (拝ん遠さいびーたん)
Wuganduu sanu (拝ん遠さぬ)
Wuganduusa (拝ん遠ーさ)
Wugandii saibiiyaa (拝ん遠さいびーやー)
Miiduu sanyaa (見ー遠さんやー)
Miiduu saibiinyaa (見ー遠さいびーんやー)

Okinawan store front

Hajimiti wuganabira (初みてぃ拝なびら)

When you meet a new Okinawan person and want to say “please to meet you”, you can say this phrase. “Hajimiti wagunabira” (初みてぃ拝なびら) is kind of like the Japanese “hajimemashite” (初めまして). If you look closely, it kind of sounds the same. They both use the same kanji in the beginning.

Wassaibiin (悪さいびーん)

This next one is important. If you did something wrong and want to apologise, say “wassaibiin” (悪さいびーん). This is how you say “sorry” in the Okinawan language. You can definitely say “sumimasen” (すみません) or “gomennasai” (ごめんなさい), but how about trying this new phrase? It might be even more sincere if it’s in their own language.

Karii (かりー)

We have “cheers”, “salute” and “kanpai” (乾杯), and so many more worldwide. In Okinawa, you say “karii” (かりー) when raising a glass and toasting. Don’t forget to do this before taking a swig of your refreshing, cold Orion beer! 

Nifee Debiru (御拝でーびーる)

Now, how do you thank someone in Okinawa? Sure, you can say “thank you” or “arigatou” (ありがとう). But in Okinawan language, it’s “niffee debiru” (御拝でーびーる). It’s how you show appreciation to someone. Sometimes, they phrase is followed by “ippee”. It’s like the extension of “very much” to make “thank you very much”.

Some say that back in the 60s, thanking someone was “nihee debiru” instead. Okinawan language is ever-evolving.

Wakayabiran (分かやびらん)

“Wakayabiran” (分かやびらん) is useful because it means “I don’t understand”. When I was in Okinawa, I sometimes couldn’t understand what they were saying. So, I used this phrase a lot! It’s similar to “wakarimasen” (分かりません). They’re even using the same kanji!

Kwachii sabitan (くぁちいさびたん)

After a meal, you’d want to show your appreciation for the delicious meal. In Japanese, you’d say “gochisousamadeshita” (ご馳走様でした). In the Okinawan language, it’s “kwachii sabitan”. They’ll be even more convinced you loved the food now that you express it in their language!

red gate of Okinawan temple

Uchinanchu (うちなんちゅ)

Okinawan people are known as uchinanchu. This describes those who are born in Okinawa as Okinawan natives. Some said the name came from the word “Okinawa” itself. “Okinawa” became “okina”, which then changed into “uchina”.

Okinawan people refer to themselves as uchinanchu. They refer to people from mainland Japan as “naichi”.

Uchinaaguchi (うちなあぐち)

So, uchinanchu is the people. The Okinawan language is then ”uchinaaguchi”. Uchinaaguchi compromises words and phrases used during the Ryukyu Kingdom. There are influences of various types of dialect including Yaeyama and Miyako dialects.

Back in the day, uchinaaguchi had the name of “hogan” instead, to refer to the Okinawan language.

Nankurunaisa (なんくるないさ)

This next phrase has the meaning of “don’t worry, it’ll be alright”. Nankurunaisa (なんくるないさ) symbolises the relaxed vibes of Okinawan people. The phrase has a heavier connotation than that. It’s not really used in daily conversation as much as “daijoubu” (大丈夫).

It’s a way of expressing optimism and it was part of the phrase “makuto soke nankurunaisa”. That phrase has the same meaning as the English proverb “Man proposes, God disposes”. If someone does their best and is done right, then something will come of it.

Churasan (美さん)

To describe something beautiful and gorgeous, you can say it as “churasan” (美さん). It’s a word often used in Okinawa. You can see many things described with the adjective “chura”. For example, “chura sandal” is the name of a type of sandal that fused the words “churasan” and “sandal”.

It uses the same kanji as “utsukushii” (美しい).

Deeji (でーじ)

Last but not least, we have “deeji” (でーじ). This word is like the word “very”. It’s used the same way as “meccha” (めっちゃ) and “totemo” (とても).

You can one-up your game by using “shini”. It’s a step above “deeji”. It’s like saying “extremely”.

temple with red lanterns

With these essential Okinawan words and phrases, you’ve already got your foot in the door. The only way is up from here. Now, when you go to Okinawa, you can start to practice using these words with the Okinawan natives!

What To Love About Japan

What To Love About Japan

Introduction

People all around the world dreams of going to Japan. Regardless of what occasion you’re in Japan for, this country will far exceed your expectations in more ways than one. At one point or another, you definitely have stumbled across pictures or videos of the Japanese sakuras, maybe even the rustic streets of Kyoto. For some of us, they were what drew us into the fascination of Japan. 

This country has more in store for you than just the jaw-dropping landscapes — every corner is full of excitement and new ventures, even for those of us who are in Japan for longer than just a week or two-long holiday! Food, fun and freshness — what more can one ask of a country? Out of the thousands of reasons why, here I highlight the top 5 that will definitely get your hypes up about Japan!

1. Alcohol

Can anyone actually say no to good alcohol? When you’re in Japan, all alcohol is good alcohol; you definitely won’t be able to say no to them! Brace yourself for the huge alcohol range Japan has — not only are the Japanese beer of the best quality you can ever get in the entire world, but you also have other Japanese alcohol like umeshu (梅酒) and sake () at dirt-cheap prices! 

That’s not even the best part. I personally love the fact that every konbini (コンビニ) is fully stocked with a variety of alcoholic beverages! Everything from beers to fruity-flavoured three percenters like Horoyoi (ほろよい) — my ultimate favourites — is just footsteps away from your home. 

What’s more, unlike some countries in the world, Japan has no time limit on purchasing alcoholic beverages — so you don’t have to rush down to the nearest konbini two minutes before 11pm to get your night’s alcohol fix. I know that has been one of the best parts of Japan for me!

2. The Summer Is Nothing Short of Fantastic

Image Credit: Toshihiro Gamo

While Japan is famous for its spring season where the cherry blossoms dominate the country’s already beautiful nature, the summer in Japan is also a time of the year to be excited about. 

 The warm weather has the perfect combination for a getaway holiday: sun, sand and sea. Japan has more than a few beaches that are ideal for your sunbathing as well as beach and watersport activities. Okinawa might be the first stop that pops in your head — after all, it is Japan’s very own Hawaii — but even the cities not too far from Tokyo have awesome beaches that are even less crowded. 

Even the cities and towns have tons going on during the summer, so much that even the beach lovers might give a pass on a trip to the beach for a chill at a summer beer garden nearby or a day out dressed in yukata at a summer festival.

Summer Festivals

Enjoyed by both locals and travellers, summer festivals are ones to definitely be on your calendar! There’s the traditional Japanese summer festival that everyone looks forward to each year. Both guys and girls get dressed up in yukata, the summer version of a kimono, and walk down the rows and rows of stalls. After a whole day of munching on local street food and playing games, visitors end their day watching the fireworks in the evening.

Summer festivals aren’t just limited to the traditional one, though. There are quite a few other types of summer festivals — music ones are quite popular, consisting of local as well as international artists and attracting people all around the world; also keep an eye out for others like film festivals.

Summer Beer Gardens

Image Credit: sodai gomi

What’s a summer beer garden, you ask? Well, it’s exactly like how it sounds. Japan has a trend of indulging in refreshing beer during the hot summer months — so much like it’s a seasonal rite of passage. Beer gardens pop up in these months to cater to the demand of the people. Reasonably priced with a casual party atmosphere that’s perfect for gatherings of family, friends and even colleagues — what’s not to like about beer gardens?

Beer isn’t the only thing on the menu. Some of these stalls offer delicious foods that are perfect for both a la carte and food pairing to your beer. 

3. A Food Heaven

Speaking of food, who doesn’t love food? More correctly, who doesn’t love Japanese food? Sushi, ramen, yakiniku — you name it, of course, Japan has it; it is their local cuisine, after all. The best part of it all is that this is the only place on Earth where you can get the most authentic and truest flavours of Japanese cuisine.

Hiroshima is for okonomiyaki (お好み焼き); Osaka is for takoyaki (たこ焼き); Kobe is for beef (牛肉); Yokohama is for ramen (ラーメン); Fukuoka is for blowfish (ふぐ); Hokkaido for cheese (チーズ) — but what’s best is that you can get all of them in any city in Japan! 

Other than the Japanese food you already know, there are tons more you don’t! What about their unique cuisines like the kaiseki or kappo cuisine, where you sit back and relax while being served by the head chef of only the finest ingredients available during the season. You might think you know seafood before the dining experience, but be prepared to admit defeat and learn a thing or two from it. 

4. A Perfect Blend of Modern And Traditional, City And Nature

Japan has the best of both worlds: the modern city landscape and the preserved nature. One moment you’re surrounded by high rise buildings and neon lights, the next you’re deep in the woods surrounded by the cool natural breeze. Having both at your fingertips is extremely convenient, especially for an escape from the busy city life to the peaceful nature, or a buzzing night out instead of the quiet suburban life.

With about 3,000 kilometers from north to south in the Japanese archipelago, locals and travellers alike are spoilt for choices when it comes to natural sights — everything from the mangrove jungles in Okinawa to the drift ice in the seas of Hokkaido are experiences not to be missed out on. You don’t even have to travel to the ends of the country for some natural views; take in the beautiful coastlines and breathtaking volcanoes alongside preserved forests housing thousands of monkeys, deers, bears and other wildlife.

On the other side of the coin, there’s the wild and exciting city life of Japan that has the complete opposite atmosphere as well as activities to offer. The major cities like Osaka and Tokyo are definitely city stops to take if you’re an outgoing soul who needs bubbly afternoons and pumping evenings. For the shopaholics, better get your shopping shoes on — there’s a lot of ground to cover in Japan!

5. As Safe As Houses

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Their crime rates are only getting lower and they have the second-lowest homicide rate after Iceland and the second-lowest assault rate after Canada. 

The best thing about being in Japan is not having to fear for your safety every second as you walk down the streets. No one will mug you in public, pickpocket your phone from the back of your jeans pocket or snatch your wallet on the top of the table you’re dining at. 

It’s so safe that there is at least a police box every five minutes’ walk down a neighbourhood street, so if you’re ever feeling unsafe during your walk back home, just pop in them and let the officers know.

Conclusion

The reasons mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg — there are so many more reasons as to why Japan is awesome. Most of the time, you have to experience it for yourself to understand the level of awesomeness this country is. There’s nothing quite like The Land of the Rising Sun, and I confidently believe that it’s a country everyone should at least once in their lives step foot on. So, what’s holding you back? Get your tickets booked now!

Island Life (Podcast Recap! S1E5)

Island Life (Podcast Recap! S1E5)

Introduction

Our fifth episode of the Nihongo Master podcast, we talk about island life in Japan. Japan is the largest island country in East Asia and the fourth largest in the whole world! But what not everyone knows is that Japan is not only one single island, but it’s made up a total of almost 7 thousand ones!

There are a total of 6,852 shima in Japan, and 430 of them are inhabited. They cover a huge range of longitude and latitude, ranging from the subarctic to the subtropical climates.

We looked at three different categories of islands: famous main islands, quirky tourist islands and some far-flung exotic islands which feel a world away from Tokyo — each with a few examples. 

Famous Islands

There are four main islands which broadly constitute the mainland, or ‘home islands’: Hokkaido up north; Honshu — the biggest part on which most major cities lie; Shikoku Island, known for its spiritual spots and laidback atmosphere; and southern Kyushu, the sunny stronghold of samurai culture.

To talk about all four would take hours on end, so we only headed to the far north and south, to Hokkaido Island and Kyushu Island. Despite both islands being part of the main Japanese archipelago, it’s incredible how different these two vast islands are: one a wild and wintery land with a unique indigenous culture, one a melting pot of foreign influences baking under the sub-tropical sun.

 

Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the second-largest island of Japan, after Honshu. In days gone by, this wild northern region was the last frontier of the Japanese home islands. Nowadays, it’s a snow sports Mecca and home to a huge proportion of the country’s wildlife species like the red-crowned crane. On top of that, Hokkaido has probably the best and freshest seafood in all of Japan. The capital city, Sapporo, is a famous destination for anyone looking to venture the north without straying too far off the beaten path. 

Hokkaido’s history is quite the story, especially when it comes to its past residents. I won’t go into detail — that’s where the podcast episode comes in, and over there we talked about it all — but ever so briefly, the island was home to an aboriginal group known as the Ainu who also inhabited far-eastern Russia. They were skilled at hunting and fishing, but these people largely faded into obscurity after their lands were conquered and culture suppressed.

However, the unique Ainu culture is still alive (but barely) in the legends, music and dance they created. Official statistics state that there are just 25,000 Ainu remaining to carry the torch of this legacy. 

Want to know more about the Ainu people’s physical appearances, customs, practices, language and culture? Head over to Spotify or Apple Podcast and give this episode a listen! We also talked about other unique factors of Hokkaido — food, weather, attractions and all.

Kyushu

The island of Kyushu is the southernmost part of the home islands. Its geographical location means it has a far warmer climate than the rest— some parts even reaching subtropical latitude. Kyushu doesn’t have its own indigenous people like Hokkaido, but this island’s history is just as rich — long story short, the very last samurai waged a war against the government on this very island. Want to know the long story (but not too long)? Go to the podcast, people!

The sun-soaked coasts of Kyushu were also once the only ones in Japan to welcome foreigners, bringing in foreign religions like Christianity and business to the country. There was quite a ruckus going on because of the whole religion thing — we talked about the whole banning of Christianity and restriction of foreigners’ movements all in the podcast episode. 

You might’ve seen this in the film if you’ve watched Martin Scorsese’s 2016 movie Silence, about two Catholic priests traveling to Kyushu from Rome to track down their mentor. It was based on a book by one of Japan’s greatest modern novelists, Shusake Endo, and it shows the real brutality of the shogun’s forces.

Kyushu has more to offer than just its religious and political history — its nature is top class. I mean, they’re known as “The Land of Fire” for a reason, mainly for their active volcanoes but their natural hot springs are must-visits too. 

To know more about Kyushu, like the food and unique dialect, give episode 5 of the podcast a listen! 

Quirky Islands

Other than looking at the major players among the islands, we also took a look at some of the unique and stranger ones: animal islands and art islands. 

Animal Islands

Image Credit: Addy Cameron-Huff

Why go to the zoo or visit a pet cafe when you can get up close and personal with some wild and friendly ones in their home territory? Japan has no shortage of these places that are dominated by furry creatures — places overrun by critters that were once domesticated, but have now conquered entire islands for themselves!

One of the most famous is Rabbit Island, but the island also goes by a different name: Okunoshima. This tiny island is overrun by over 1,000 fluffy bunnies. After a day spent drifting around fields feeding friendly bunnies, you might be inclined to think of Okunoshima as a total paradise, but it wasn’t always this way. This island has quite a dark past for both bunnies and people. Something happened during World War II…it’s a secret that we revealed in the podcast!

If for some strange reason you don’t like rabbits, why not head to a cat island instead? While there’s only one rabbit island, there are a grand total of 11 cat islands in Japan! Why are there so many? Well, there are a couple of myths and legends, but mainly they were simply a solution to rodent problems on these islands. 

Out of all the 11 cat islands, there are two that trump the rest: Aoshima and Tashiro-jima.

In Ehime Prefecture, Aoshima is the most popular cat island there is. Some even call it the Cat Heaven Island because of how the furry felines outnumber humans. We talked a bit about this island’s history and population — cat and human! Tashiro-jima tucked off the coast of Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture, has a similar story behind their excessive number of cats on the island. The difference is that Tashiro-jima completely and officially bans all dogs from visiting! 

I did mention other cool fun facts of these islands — check out episode 5!

Art Islands

Image Credit: Roger Walch

While some Japanese islands have been overrun by the animal kingdom, others belong to the avant garde. Art is business in Japan, and the country is home to some of the biggest private collections in Asia. The best art islands in Japan are Naoshima and Inujima. 

I won’t talk about them in detail here — there will be a separate post on that in the future (or you could just listen to the podcast if you can’t wait). But to get you started, Naoshima is probably the most popular art island out of them all, famous for its iconic ‘Pumpkins’ sculptures made by Yayoi Kusama, which are now an unofficial emblem of the island. Inushima, on the other hand, literally translates to “Dog Island” — but don’t get too excited — it’s not an island packed full of puppies; Inushima just got its name from a large rock on its coast, which looks like a sitting dog.

Both islands are home to unique museums, quaint cafes and exhibitions that you won’t get on the mainland. We went into detail what both islands have in the podcast episode.

Far-Flung Islands

The last category is for the remote Japanese islands flung far out into uncharted waters. They’re so  far from the mainland, they often don’t even feel like Japan at all, and which had their own isolated societies and unique culture stretching for millennia.

There are two groups of exotic islands we looked at: the Okinawa Islands (including the remote outer reaches) and the Ogasawara Islands.

Okinawa Islands – Ryukyu Kingdom

Image Credit: 8 Kome

To the southwest of mainland Japan is sunny Okinawa — a famous beach vacation spot that hardly qualifies as remote anymore, but the name itself actually refers to a few different things. It’s not only the name of one island that is capital to a vast prefecture of the same name — with over 150 islands spread out right throughout the Pacific Ocean!

These islands can also be collectively referred to as the Ryukyu Islands, named after the historic kingdom which ruled here for centuries before it was invaded by the Satsuma Kingdom of Kyushu in 1609. Listen to the podcast episode to know more about what happened.

Anyway, to this day, quite a number of the outer Ryukyu islands only have a few hundred residents, while others are virtually uninhabited. Because of their remote location and unspoiled nature, this cluster of islands is a haven for unique wildlife, genuinely undisturbed white sandy beaches in the world, and complete with colorful marine life and lively coral reefs.

In the podcast episode, we elaborated more on the subtropical weather of Ryukyu Islands, its wildlife species you won’t find anywhere else in the world, and of course, their unique language, culture and cuisine!

Ogasawara Islands – Galapagos of Asia

Image Credit: Lee Render

A lesser-known and more remote group of islands are the Ogasawara Islands. While they’re a sub-prefecture of Tokyo, it takes about 24 hours to go between the two!  Named after the Japanese explorer who discovered them, Sadayori Ogasawara, they are also known as the Galapagos of Asia. Like the actual Galapagos, these islands were formed by an isolated chain of underwater volcanoes. Because of this isolation, the Ogasawara Islands developed their own ecosystems with unique flora and fauna calling them home.

Previously, this group of islands was known as Bonin Islands. There are a few reasons why it was named that — we looked into it deeper in the episode. Another interesting fun fact about this group of islands is that the first settlers there weren’t Japanese — they were British! And others joined in before the Japanese came into the picture. Throughout the years, a unique culture was built — a mix of Japanese, Western and the Pacific Island culture in everything from customs to linguistics. 

It wasn’t all fun and games — original settlers were treated like second-class citizens during the wars. I won’t go into it — but if you’re interested as to what happened, we talked about it in the podcast episode!

Also in the podcast episode, we highlighted the best parts of Ogasawara — obeikei culture, cuisine, unique wildlife unlike you’ve ever seen before and, of course, the untouched nature. 

Vocab Recap

If you listened to the podcast and didn’t manage to catch some words, here’s a list of them:

Tanchou (丹頂) — the famous red-crowned crane

Kaisen don (海鮮丼) — Hokkaido’s specialty seafood rice bowl

Kani () — crab

Uni (海胆) — sea urchin

Gaikokujin (外国人) — foreigner (also known as gaijin外人)

Kazan (火山) — volcano

Onsen (温泉) — Japanese hot springs

Usagi (ウサギ) — rabbit

Neko () — cat

Inu () — dog

Jinja (神社) — shrine

Hakubutsukan (博物館) — museum

Goya (ゴーヤ) — bitter melon

Youkoso (ようこそ) — a formal word for welcome, most often seen in writing

Butaniku (豚肉) — pork

Umi-budo (海ぶど) — Okinawan sea grapes

Buninshima (無人島) — uninhabited islands

Umigame (海亀) — sea turtle

Conclusion

So if you’ve realized, in episode 5, we toured Japan from its very far northern reaches right down to the Pacific south. Along the way, we’ve taken a look at native peoples and languages, unique wildlife, culture both modern and ancient, and indigenous foods to add to your must-try list. So if you’re into any of the things I’ve mentioned, why not give the episode a listen?

Best Beaches in Japan

Best Beaches in Japan

Introduction

You might not think of the beach as the first few destinations in Japan that you would want to add to your Japan itinerary, but you might want to reconsider. The city lights and culturally rich attractions are great and all, but can it beat a beach day out? Some are even wonderful spots for sunsets and sunrise — after all, it is the Land of the Rising Sun.

As soon as summer hits, you’ll see families and groups of friends crowding every beach in the country! From dipping in the waters to beat the heat and suntanning in the warm sun to beach sports and water activities, the whole stretch of shore will be full of excitement and fun. 

Whether it is travelling down south during the colder seasons or packing a day bag for the seaside in summer, the Japanese love their beaches. Let’s take a look at the top beaches in Japan — both mainland and islands — as well a few Japanese beach etiquette.

Japan Mainland Japan Beaches

Not all of the people in Japan want to take days off work just for a day at the beach down south. Some just want a day trip to a nearby beach on the mainland. You might think it’s a substitute of the island beaches of the tropical Japan destinations, but you’ll be surprised at some of these being even more beautiful than you imagined!

What’s more, these mainland beaches are more accessible and some even offer things you won’t get on the Japan islands. Here are the top mainland beaches for your short day getaway from the bustling cities: 

Kanagawa — Zushi Beach

Just around the corner from Kamakura in Kanagawa is the Zushi Beach. This is one of the most popular beaches in the area and the first choice for swimming, surfing and parasailing. If you’re in the city to visit the Budhha Statue, why not drop by this 600m long beachside for a leisurely stroll or sit?

If you’re lucky enough to get a clear sky on the day of the visit, be sure to stay till sunset. You’ll get to witness a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji as the sun sets behind its hilly bits.

Kanagawa — Yuigahama Beach

Source: Dick Thomas Johnson from flickr

Kanagawa is not far off from Tokyo, and if you find yourself in the area or looking for a beach to relax after a busy few days in the city, head down to Yuigahama Beach. This is the perfect choice for those looking for both relaxation as well as convenience in a beach spot. Yuigahama Beach is close enough to the nearest train station and fully equipped with pop-up stalls of food and drinks for your pleasure.

It’s only natural to assume a beach so developed would be less of nature and more commercial. Rest assured Yuigahama Beach is the perfect balance of serenity in nature and modernity. 

This beach spot is one of the favourite local choices for surfing as well, depending on the currents and tides. Plan your days accordingly to enjoy the best of what this beach can offer!

Shizuoka — Miho Beach 

Source: south from flickr

Don’t want to travel too far out of Tokyo? Perhaps a car ride to Mizo Beach in Shizuoka will satisfy your beach day cravings. This beach is unique in the sense where you won’t be getting a normal seaside view — you’ll be getting an Mt. Fuji view! 

Miho Beach is not your average sandy sand beach — it is rather pebbly in comparison. But a lie down on the sand isn’t what the visitors are here for. The stunning view amidst the tall pine trees and other beautiful flora nature makes the trip down here worthwhile. Grab your swimming suit — a dip in the sea with Mt. Fuji in the background sounds like an unbelievable experience!

Shizuoka — Toji Sand Ski Resort

Source: Izu navi from flickr

Even though it’s named as a resort, it’s not really one. Also in Shizuoka, not so far from Tokyo, is the Toji Sand Ski Resort! This is not your average beach. While you can still bring your beach mats, you might want to grab a sled as well (or rent one at a shop near the beach). This Toji Sand Ski Resort is one of the only few with a sand slope that you can sled down on as you take in the beautiful scenery.

After your sledding adventures and a dip in the waters, get your adventure on by exploring the nearby open cave called the Ryugukutsu. A trip to the Toji Sand Ski Resort will undoubtedly not be your average beach day in the best way possible!

Wakayama — Shirahama Beach

Take note that this is not the Shirahama Beach in Shizuoka that we’re talking about, this is the one in Wakayama! Named as the “white beach”, you expect it to be one of the most popular beaches in the country — and you’re right. This spot is one of the most ideal ones for both dipping and lounging, along with a wonderful resort area to spend a few nights in. 

One thing this beach spot has that the others don’t is the oceanside onsen. After your dip in the steaming Japanese hot springs, cool yourself down in the clear waters of the Shirahama Beach. You should also definitely stroll down the strip of sand to view the magnificent cliff formations!

Iwate — Jodogahama Beach

Image Source

While it’s a bit of a travel from central Tokyo, believe me when I say this beach is worth the trip. Jodogahama Beach in Iwate is part of the Sanriku Recovery National Park, so you’re assured a clean and nature-rich beach — its name does translate to Pure Land Beach. 

Not only this beach is a popular destination for all things swimming and hiking, but it’s also great for exploring the nearby caves amidst the beautiful and unique rock formations by going on a boat cruise. If you’re not all that adventurous, just the sight of it from the beachside is more than good enough.

Japan Island Beaches

Fair enough, Japan mainland has its own exquisite range of beaches, each with its own unique factor that the rest won’t have. Onto the island beaches in Japan — the Okinawa area is one of the most popular beach destinations for locals and tourists alike! 

The region is blessed with a semi-tropical climate all year round, and since it became so popular, the area is full of beach resorts worth spending a couple of days — or even a week! — to fully explore the mainland island as well as the other smaller islands.

Because it’s such a tropical island, there are tons of beaches that you might get overwhelmed! Fear of missing out on the best beaches in Okinawa? Read on to find out the top ones to put on your Japan island beaches list!

Ishigaki Island — Sunset Beach 

Last but definitely not the least on the list is Sunset Beach on Ishigaki Island. As the name suggests, this beach is the ultimate spot to view the sunset. To complete the serene view, the combination of the beach’s white sand and the glistening sea is so breathtaking it can be a picture on a postcard!

Before the sunset, take some time out for your snorkeling activities — you’ll be surprised at the variety of marine life you’ll see! Other water activities like jet boards and wakeboarding are available too! Ishigaki Island has become such a popular holiday destination that the resorts are great to stay a night or two so you wouldn’t have to rush your time on this spectacular island!

Miyakojima Island — Yonaha Maehama Beach

Image Source

Located on Miyakojima Island is the famous Yonaha Maehama Beach. The reason it’s so popular is that it’s one of the beaches in all of the Pacific with the whitest sands! It’s no wonder visitors make their way here despite the slight inconvenience in terms of accessibility.

With 7km long of white sand, even with the popularity, the beach is rarely crowded at all! Every kind of water sports can be done here — if you’re a fan of scuba diving and snorkeling, make this your #1 beach destination in Japan!

Don’t just travel here for a day. The island has resort areas full of campsites and hotels that line the shore. Wake up to the view of the horizon — if you’re lucky enough, you might even get a room that overlooks the sunrise or sunset! One of the best hotels you should consider is the Hotel Locus — stylish and affordable, it also has a couple of retail outlets to feed that shopaholic side of yours!

Hateruma Island — Nishi no Hama Beach

Source: Kentaro Ohno from flickr

On the southernmost island in all of Japan is Hateruma Island. This inhabited island, specifically the Nishi no Hama Beach, is the place to go if you’re looking for the most natural beaches in the whole country. The contrast between the fine sand and sparkling blue water is quite breathtaking — not to mention the awesome feeling of dipping in the waters and lying down on the soft sand bed.

Nishi no Hama Beach is quite far out and less developed in the sense of beach stalls and shops, so it’s best to bring your own swimming and beach stuff as well as refreshments to make the best of your day there.

Taketomi Island — Kondoi Beach

Image Source 

More accessible than the former two beaches is the Kondoi Beach in Taketomi Island. This beach is only a short ferry ride away from Japan’s top travel destinations, Ishigaki. This beach is more untouched than the ones on mainland Okinawa Island, so it’s one of the best island beaches to get your snorkeling gear on and see some fishes and corals!

If snorkeling is not your thing, a normal swim and dip are just as ideal — or you can take in the sun as you lie down on the soft, ivory sand.

Conclusion

You’re all set with the tips for Japan beaches, and you know exactly where to go for a fun beach day depending on the part of the country. There are tons of breathtakingly beautiful beaches in the country — it’s only normal to want to go to them all! When the weather is warm and the sun comes out to play, what will be your first pick for the sun, sand and sea in Japan?