Japan has an array of both urban activities and adventures for anyone seeking uncrowded waves or wild lands. Japanese culture is thoughtful, neat and welcoming. There is no shortage of effort put into the food, or city planning. Everything flows with beauty and perfect timing. Everything from flawless surf, hiking trails, snowy mountains, and city sight-seeing can be found with ease.

Words by Anna Ehrgott
Photos by @charfilm

What to bring:

Shortboard, fish/longboard, camera, Reef Rover Hi LE sandals, clothes for warm weather, rain gear, bikinis/board shorts and a wetsuit if you intend to get further north or visit during winter time.

Where to go:

Amami Ōshima Island - named after a Japanese Goddess, and understandably so. This subtropical island is incredibly lush and beautiful. It’s a picture perfect surf destination complete with turquoise swells wrapping around countless reefs and sandbars along the island’s oblong Pacific Coast. The crowds are mellow, and locals are welcoming. The island hosts perfect setups for stand up barrels or fun little inside nose ride sections.

With such clear water visibility, diving is popular here. Our swim just off the coast was accompanied by reef sharks, sea turtles, sea snakes, schools of huge fish and jellyfish. 


Situated just over an hour from the Pacific Ocean on Japan’s largest island, Honshu. Tokyo is the most densely populated city in the world, but remains orderly and digestible, even for those who wouldn’t consider themselves “city-folk”.

Walking around the different neighborhoods doesn’t get old. The curation of surf shops and lifestyle stores in the Shibuya ward is appealing even to those just coming to Japan for the surf.


An hour south of Tokyo. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for surfing, cruising, and brunching at the multiple cafes overlooking the beaches. The beach breaks here cater to longboarders during the the smaller summer months, but it gets pretty heavy around there on winter swells. 

What to eat:

Food is a huge part of Japanese culture. Most of the cuisine is big on fish.. for breakfast lunch and dinner. The average Japanese meal includes a few courses, most of them unidentifiable to the average American tourist (myself included), but with an open mind and a developed palate, you’re in for a treat. The seaweed dishes and fresh passionfruit were incredible!


The Japanese Islands closest to the equator are tropical, but on the northernmost islands you could find yourself trudging through snow on the beach during the winter months. The end of summer into fall is generally the most pleasant. 

Best season for waves:

Luckily the weather coincides with the best surf season. The summers are muggy, but autumn brings moderate temperatures, and even the winter is mild on Amami Ōshima and other southern islands. August usually marks the start of the Typhoon swells; we lucked out timing our trip with the first typhoon of the season.