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Japan is a beautiful country, renowned for the many gorgeous landscapes that the relatively small country manages to portray. Tall picturesque mountains, like Fuji, and lush green bamboo gardens, like in Arashiyama, typically come to mind. Yet, Japan is also home to incredible beaches, and travelers should not discount it as a seaside getaway, even though there’s strong competition in nearby Southeast Asia. Here are the top beaches in the nation.
Widely regarded as the most beautiful beach in Japan is Yonaha Maehama, located on Miyako Island in the tropical island paradise of Okinawa. Located 400 miles from much of mainland Japan, Okinawa is a getaway for non-natives and Japanese alike, as the island atmosphere is more relaxed and the land less spoiled than the rest of the country. This four-mile stretch of pristine beach is rarely crowded. Campsites and hotels are located along the shore.
Kondoi Beach is also located in Okinawa, on Taketomi Island. This tranquil spot is far more accessible than Yonaha Maehama – it’s only a short ferry ride from Ishigaki, Japan’s top tourist destination in 2018. This crescent-shaped sketch of white sand is the longest on Taketomi Island, and the water’s shallow depth makes it the most swim- and snorkel-friendly.
Yet another Okinawa spot (rest assured some of Japan’s best beaches are located elsewhere) is Nishi no Hama on Hateruma Island. Hateruma is Japan’s southernmost inhabited island, so this beach’s fine, white sand is relatively untouched. People love this beach in particular because of the contrast between the ivory sand and emerald water.
Shirahama is located in southern Wakayama, the Kansai region’s natural wonder. Shirahama (which means “white beach”) is actually largely artificial, with imported sand from Australia making up much of the coastline. However, this spectacular beach is also known for great watersports, oceanside onsen, and incredible cliff formations, making it a worthwhile getaway.
Ibusuki is a small seaside town in southern Kyushu, one of Japan’s main islands. This quaint town is a great escape from the crowds of nearby Kagoshima, with delicious seafood, magnificent hot springs, and fascinating archaeological sites. The main draw of Ibusuki, however, are the volcanic sand beaches, obsidian and steaming. Visitors bury themselves from the neck down in the sand as an unusual, albeit relaxing, spa treatment.
Miho Beach may not be made up of the fine, white (or black) sand as the others on this list, but this isn’t what compels visitors to this place. Located in Shizuoka, the home of majestic Mt. Fuji, the tall mountain towers over the beach, making for an unforgettable sight. The beach is covered in stones and lined by legendary pine trees and is a great place for swimming or cycling.
The name of this beach means “Pure Land,” the name of the Buddhist paradise, which was inspired by the jagged islands that rise from the calm water of this protected area. Part of the Sanriku Recovery National Park in Iwate, Jodogahama is a popular spot for swimming, hiking, and exploring the nearby caves and unique rock formations.