Sunrise in Hebara, Chiba, Japan

Japan – the underrated surf destination

Written by Melanie. Original publication in German on

You don't carry your luggage in Japan - You send it by courier to your accommodation. We had a tiring 24 hour journey from Samoa to Japan, with a stopover in Auckland and a sleepless night on the airport floor. Hence this luggage service was exactly what we needed. We were not looking forward to carry our gigantic triple surfboard bag through the megalopolis of Tokyo. Tokyo is a cosmopolitan city: modern, open-minded, full of opposites and totally crazy. Men in suits meet women in doll costume and technological progress meets century-old traditions.

The historic Meiji-Shrine is on the sightseeing to-do list just like the visit of the manga and technology district of Akihabara. We have odd and peculiar encounters on a daily basis. A visit in a restaurant is also an adventure. For Japanese businessmen lunch is more of a necessity than a social matter. Therefore the restaurants are geared towards efficiency and human interaction is reduced to a minimum. You order and pay on a machine at the entrance of the restaurant, the waiters merely brings the food. In some cases this is even done by a machine.

Where the Olympic Games will take place

After Tokyo we are looking forward to relaxing at the beach. We traveled to the Chiba prefecture, to be exact to Hebara- a town about 100 km away from Tokyo. Due to its exposed geographical position, the prefecture of Chiba is a swell magnet. That means the likelihood of waves is very high in this part of the country. For this reason when for the first time surfers from all over the world paddle for Gold during the Summer Olympics 2020, it will be at a beach in Chiba. Maybe even in the small town of Hebara.

In our opinion the Japanese surfers are already Olympic winners when it come to surf etiquette. We are fascinated by the respectful and polite interactions with surfers in the water. From other countries we are used to more competitive and selfish behavior. However the Japanese view these kind of doings as aggressive and rude. We like this - this way everybody gets some good waves and it's a relaxed vibe in the lineup.

You rarely surf alone in Japan, even if the waves are tiny. In June the sun can be up at around 4 o'clock in the morning. Hence the term - land of the rising sun. The first surfers will be in the water by first light. At five o’clock there will already be more than 30 surfers.

Even though the Japanese wholeheartedly live and breath the surf lifestyle, the country is underrated as a surfing destination. The high travel costs and the language barrier discourage many. Other surf hotspots like Indonesia are just cheaper and easier. You just need to plan your surf trip accordingly. During the typhoon season from September till November you could theoretically surf along the entire pacific coast. If you’re hardcore enough you can change your ski jacket for a thick wetsuit and surf during the winter storms.

For us Japan is at the top of the list of countries we have to visit again. And the next time we will bring snowboard and surfboard.