Japan may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of surfing, but with the Tokyo Olympics set to take place this summer and incorporating surfing for the first time, the sport has quickly become extremely popular and trendy all over Japan.
With an array of ideal coastlines that are perfect for surfing at various times of the year, there is no surfing experience quite like what Japan has to offer.
The unique tropical climate of the Pacific side of the islands helps to keep the water refreshing and warm whereas the Japan Sea is perfect for those who wish to brave an icy chill as it is famous for cold barrels during the winter seasons making it ideal for more advanced surfing.
No matter what kind of surfing experience you wish to have, there are plenty of options within Japan’s 3,000km coastline. For those interested in learning how to surf and want a unique experience, attending a surf camp in Japan is a great way to have fun and learn more about the culture.
Here are the top 10 surf camps that Japan has to offer followed by everything you need to know:
Address: 431-3 Toya, Yomitan, Nakagami District, Okinawa 904-0305
Okinawa is one of the best places to surf in Japan and with perfect reason. With waves that aren’t too big for beginners, the Happy Surfing Okinawa is run by former professional surfer Danny who ensures that his customers have the best experience by taking them to a local spot that is sure to have great tides.
With prices starting from ¥10,000, you can learn how to surf, paddleboard or snorkel and make the most of your time in the water.
Address: 2140-2 Hama, Onjukumachi, Isumi-gun, Chiba-ken, Japan 299-5107
Flying Sumo Surf Co is located in Chiba and is the largest surf camp in Onjuku. Offering classes in both Japanese and English, these 2 hour classes can be held privately or in groups. No matter what your current surfing ability is, the Flying Sumo Surf Co can help you to advance to the next level.
Located 1.5 hours outside of Tokyo, this is one of the best options for those who are interested in a little surfing break during their city holiday. With prices starting from ¥8,000, this is one of the most accessible options on our list.
Address: 3-chōme-23-4 Katase Kaigan, Fujisawa, Kanagawa 251-0035, Japan
Share Surf Room is the perfect option for those looking for a longer session as they last 3 hours so you can really get to grips with the basics of surfing.
One of the best surfing schools in Japan, this is ideal for those who want a more intimate experience with a small group with a group class costing ¥10,000 and a private class costing ¥19,000 with the price including the rental equipment such as surfboard and wetsuit.
Address: 1122-4 Hebara Katsuura-shi Chiba-ken, 299-5223, Japan
Japan Surf Tours is one of the most popular choices for beginners but they also have experienced surfers who want to take advantage of the great waves no matter what time of year.
Not only will you get the chance to learn the surfing basics, you’ll also be able to travel up to 250km to a nearby location such as Fukushima, North Ibaraki or Kanagawa among many more depending where the best surf spot that day is.
The lessons are taught in both English and Japanese to accommodate for local and international participants which will also introduce you to some of the Japanese language and culture. With a great starting price of ¥4,000, this family owned business is hugely popular and accessible for all budgets.
Address: 2-1-11 Aoshima, Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture 889-2162
Surfcity is a surf camp that prides itself on the versatility of its members.
With prices starting from ¥1,500 for light members and going all the way up to ¥25,000 for premium members, there is something for everyone thanks to the wide range of classes available and the professional staff who can offer classes for all abilities.
The monthly memberships are great if you are looking for somewhere to take classes on a long term basis while there are options for one time visitors as well. Miyazaki is known as one of the most beautiful places in Japan so you can enjoy the sights as you learn to surf.
Address: Surf Getaways Headquarters, Byron Bay, Australia
Surf Getaways is a surf camp that offers surfing experiences in a variety of Asian countries as well as its native Australia. The company is unique in that it was started and is run by women and caters to a female clientele only to provide a safer environment for those who may want it.
One of their most popular surf camps is located in Okinawa, Japan and their classes are aimed for a variety of skill levels. This Japanese tour is relatively new to coincide with the first Surfing tournament in this year’s Olympics and has seen a lot of demand.
With everything included, the trainers aim to make this a holistic and well rounded experience from start to finish so you will be able to learn more about the culture as you work on your surfing skills.
Address: Splash Surf School 1122-4 Hebara Katsuura-shi, Chiba, Japan 299-5223
For those going to Tokyo on their holiday and want a surfing break, the Splash Surf School is located 1.5 hours away from the city in Chiba. Offering classes in both English and Japanese, there are lessons for all abilities held by trained professionals.
With all the necessary equipment provided for your lesson, you’ll have everything you need to advance your surfing experience and have a great time. The sessions last for two hours and are held for groups of up to 6 so you can be assured that you have your instructor’s attention and guidance.
Address: Hebara Beach Katsuura, Chiba 299-5223, Japan
One of the oldest surf schools in Japan is Surfing in Japan which has seen a huge increase in interest thanks to the Tokyo Olympics.
Located at the incredible Hebara Beach in Chiba, this is one of the best locations for surfing all year round with the tide and temperature changing depending on the season.
Prices start from ¥5,000 for a group session and ¥6,000 for private sessions, you’ll be equipped with the skills and knowledge to get a head start on the surfing basics.
Address: 4 Chome-4-12988-112 Nango, Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken 253-0061
For those who are venturing on a coastal holiday between the months of June to November, Surfinesse Surfing School is located on Shonan Chigasaki Southern Beach which is one of the most popular surfing destinations.
This option is particularly ideal for those who are wanting to learn a little bit of Japanese during their holiday as the lessons are given in Japanese and English. With prices starting from ¥8,000 for a group session and ¥12,000 for a private session, you’ll be able to master the waves in no time.
The sessions last 3 hours and usually take place during the late morning when the waves are at their best.
Address: 2-chōme-1 Hiromachi, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 140-0005, Japan
Our final recommendation is one for those who may be a bit intimidated by surfing in open water. Citywave Tokyo is located in the heart of the city and is the first artificial wave pool in Asia.
What makes this a great choice is that it isn’t influenced by weather and participants can learn how to surf without the fear of the open water.
With prices starting from ¥6,300, you are supplied with everything you need for the lesson and are accompanied by trained instructors who provide a lecture at the start to ensure you are safe.
How to prepare
The majority of these camps will supply their pupils with a wetsuit and board, especially if they are at the beginner level. In terms of equipment, you should bring your own towel, sandals, sunscreen, hat, change of clothes, swimsuit and drinks to ensure that you will be as safe as possible no matter what the weather is.
If you are an advanced surfer or own your own board and swimsuit then you can bring them with you so you can improve your skills on that particular board.
Visiting Japan requires a bit more preparation so it’s important to make sure that you have done everything you can to ensure that you and your belongings are covered in case of any emergencies. The first thing to sort out are the Visa and vaccines.
This will mean that you are able to travel to Japan legally and safely. There are some vaccinations that are highly recommended whereas others are optional. Whether you want to take the optional ones is up to you and your own personal health history.
Most of the surf camps on this list offer bilingual services which is great for those who do not speak Japanese. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn some basic Japanese vocabulary as well while you surf if that is what you want to do.
A lot of the surf clubs will also accept cash only as they may not have card machines due to their location. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you take some extra cash to cover this just in case you are going somewhere a bit more remote. If you are staying within city perimeters such as Tokyo then this shouldn’t be a problem but always check with the surf club in particular when you are booking your place.
What time of year you are planning to surf is hugely important as this will determine whether you’ll be able to surf at all in some regions.
There are some parts where surfing is available all year round but it’s best to consider what kind of water you want to be surfing in and whether the camp can accommodate this when you visit.
When you have decided and booked, then always opt for surf and travel insurance to ensure that you are covered as well as any equipment you use. This is especially advised if you are a beginner and haven’t surfed before.
A huge tip for surfers at any level is that swimming is always a requirement, especially when learning to surf in open water.
The teachers are able to help learners of any surfing ability to enhance their skill set but it’s important to remember that they are not there to teach you how to swim. Therefore, component swimming ability is a must before embarking on any surfing course.