Japan has a small but thriving surfing scene, that is growing in size year on year. With two of the first-ever surfing Olympic medals going to Japanese athletes, it is clear that they’re getting something right.
Though Japan isn’t yet a mainstream surfing hotspot for those looking to catch some waves, the beautiful scenery, rippable waves, and mild weather mean that it is nearly guaranteed to become one in the next few years – so it’s best you get yourself there sooner rather than later if you want to surf without the hubbub of the crowds.
As Japan is an island nation, it is basically made up of beaches, meaning you’re likely to never be too far from a surfable wave. Four main islands (and a myriad of smaller ones) make up the Japanese archipelago. This list will look at surf schools across the four main islands, so you can find a surf school perfect for your location and time of year.
1. Happy Surfing Okinawa | 431-3 Toya, Yomitan, Nakagami District, Okinawa, 904-0305
Located in the beautiful Nakagami District of Okinawa (the fifth-largest island of Japan), Happy Surfing Okinawa promises fun lessons for all abilities. Okinawa’s only qualified surf instructor, Danny has decades of experience, both as a world tour surfer and as a teacher. Lesson prices range from 10,000 to 15,000 JPY, with reef boots and wetsuits available to rent too, for a small fee.
Okinawa’s coastlines are the ideal location for beginner surfers to try their hand at this water sport, due to the smaller waves. The prime time to surf here is mid-June through to March, though the off season can be surfed too.
To book in for a lesson with Danny at Happy Surfing Okinawa, message them through their website and set up a time that suits both your schedule and the motion of the ocean.
- Surf instructor Danny has a wealth of knowledge and experience, so your lesson is guaranteed to run smoothly.
- Lessons take place on a beautiful white sand beach, where waters stay relatively warm year-round.
- The region’s small waves may be a little disappointing to experienced surfers.
2. Japan Surf Tours | 122-4 Hebara Katsuura-shi Chiba-ken, 299-5223, Japan
Japan Surf Tours is another incredibly popular choice for beginners. Their surf school, run by a diverse set of instructors, promises to teach you all the basics of surfing if you’re a newbie, but will also help you improve your technique if you’re a bit more experienced.
Located only 90 minutes from the capital Tokyo, and with their own B and B, the Splash Guesthouse, this is one of the most accessible surf schools on this list.
After your surf lesson, you might even go on one of their surf tours, which last up to a week, and will take you sightseeing across Northern or Southern Chiba stopping in some of the most beautiful coves and accommodation.
Group discount can also be arranged if you fancy learning to surf with friends, and they might even throw in a good old beach BBQ for good measure. To book – contact Japan Surf Tours directly using the details on their website. Make sure to book in fast, as weekends fill up in advance.
- Beginner-friendly lessons with trained instructors.
- The on-site Splash Guesthouse is available to stay in for low prices, so if you have multiple days of lessons you want to take, you don’t have to trek all the way back.
- The longer surfing tours are only suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers.
3. Surfinesse Japan English Surf School | 4 Chrome-4 12988-112 Nango, Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken 253-0061
Located on the famous Shonan Chigasaki Southern beach, Surfinesse claims to be the original English Surf School in Japan. Only an hour train journey (and stunning 15-minute walk) from Central Tokyo, this is the perfect place for an adventure day trip if you’re living or holidaying in Japan’s biggest city.
On Shonan Chigasaki beach, one of the most popular surfing locations in Japan, both due to great surfing waves, and the gorgeous surroundings. You will be able to see Enoshima in the east, Mount. Fuji in the west, and Eboshi Iwa (A Large Hat-Shaped Rock), a symbol of Chigasaki, in front of you.
Not only are Surfinesse’s instructors fluent in both English and Japanese, but are also highly experienced surfing teachers, with years of knowledge and safety training under their belts.
Weekend lessons with a group are 8000 JPY per person, for more than two hours with an instructor. Private lessons cost 12,000 JPY per person for three hours. Book at least two days in advance to ensure a spot, and bring your own wetsuit if you plan on surfing between January to April.
- Experienced trilingual or bilingual surf instructors will be able to assist no matter your age, experience, or capability.
- Stunning surroundings, which you can see from your surfboard on the beach.
- Private lessons can get a little pricey, especially if you have a big group.
4. Citywave Tokyo | 2-chōme-1 Hiromachi, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 140-0005, Japan
If you’re looking for a surfing lesson without having to leave Tokyo, Citywave is the choice for you. You will be able to surf in the center of the city, using the first artificial wave pool in Asia, the German invented Citywave pool.
With wetsuits, boards, and towels are provided, and reviewers saying that all the staff are incredibly helpful, this seems like a perfect option for anyone not wanting to venture too far out of the city, but still wants to get some surfing experience into your trip.
Lessons cost 6300 JPY, and are accompanied by a trained instructor.
- You don’t even have to leave Tokyo for this city activity, minimizing time lost to travel if you are staying in the city.
- Uber safe, as there is no open water, helping reduce any surf anxiety you have.
- At the end of the day, this is just a wave machine, so you don’t get the same experience as beach surfing.
5. Experience Sendai Activities Surfing Lessons | 1F, 1-52-19 Nankodai-higashi, Izumi-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi-ken 981-8001
Operating May to November, Experience Sendai offers surfing lessons that are bespoke to your needs and experience level. Surfing company Hannah Firm will teach you to surf in the stunning Sendai region. They offer early morning classes, so you’ll be able to get the most out of the stunning location.
If you’re more experienced, a surf guide will accompany you across the beautiful blue waves, showing you the best sights, bets rips, and helping improve your technique.
A two-hour lesson will cost you 5,000 to 10,000 JPY, with a wetsuit and surfboard rental being included in that price. Lessons are suitable for children, as Hannah Firm will take them to a small cove where their feet will still be able to touch the sand.
- Kid and family-friendly.
- One of the cheaper options on this list.
- Wetsuit rental is included in the pricing, decreasing the overall price of your activities.
- The latest available lesson begins at 9 am – definitely not one for the night owls.
6. Haibi Surf School | Chatan-cho, Japan
Surf instructor Taizo will knowledgeably guide you through your surfing lesson, whether it’s your first, or your fiftieth. Based on conditions, Taizo picks the best spot along the Okinawa coastline to catch the longest rides.
If you’re not quite feeling up to that, he can take you on a paddleboard tour instead. The group lessons are ideal for intermediate-level surfers, with private lessons suggested for beginners before they undertake would have these.
To reserve a lesson slot with Taizo Harada, use the form on the 811 surf website.
- Excellent lessons for intermediate-level surfers, helping advance your surfing skill set.
- Like Japan Surf Tours, there is a local guesthouse, so that you don’t have to travel too far to surf.
- A female-only changing room.
- Haibi Surf School only has one instructor, so there is a limited amount of lessons available.
7. Flying Sumo Surf Company | 2140-2 Hama, Onjuku-machi, Isumi-gun 299-5107 Chiba Prefecture
Run by couple Del and Kelly, Flying Sumo Surf Company has lessons for all abilities and group sizes. Held on the tropical feeling Onjuku beach, There’s no better way to learn to surf and Flying Sumo’s two-hour-long lessons. Lessons can be one to one (costing just 8000 JPY) or done in groups of up to eight (costing 6000 JPY).
They even have an option for large groups or corporate events, handling up to 25 people, making them ideal for larger families and groups of friends, or even work trips.
Unlike some other schools on this list, they offer all the equipment necessary included within the lesson price, as well as lockers for personal items and hot showers. Flying Sumo also owns studio accommodation and an apartment, available for intrepid surfers to rent, making it perfect for a surfing break.
- Quick and easy booking through their website.
- In-house masseuse for some after surfing-relaxation.
- Nearby accommodation, for easy access to the beach.
- Hostel accommodation is only simple.
8. Shirahama Mariner Surfing School | Shimoda, Japan
With a big selection of expert surfing instructors, you’ll find a lesson and teacher perfect for you at Mariner Surf School, in Shirahama. The completely white sand coast will make a beautiful setting for you to dip your toes in the water and learn how to surf.
Although nothing is guaranteed, reviewers say that they are standing up on their board and catching waves after just a couple of hours with their teacher, despite being complete beginners.
Shirahama Mariner Surf School offers surfing, bodyboarding, long and short board lessons. Lessons cost 6000 JPY for a 2-hour basic surfing lesson, 8000 JPY for a 3-hour step-up lesson, and 8000 JPY for a 3-hour private kids lesson.
- With a large set of instructors, Sharihama Mariner Surf School can offer many lessons in different surfing disciplines and for different skill levels.
- The basic lesson price is very affordable.
- The white sand beaches are a truly beautiful location to surf in.
- Free hot spring is available at the adjoining hotel.
- The weather can get a little nippy in winter.
Share Surf Room in Kanagawa, Japan, provides their customers with a relaxed and intimate feeling experience. Promoting an ethos of tranquility, whilst still teaching you how to improve your surfing, Share Surf Room is ideal if you want an experience where you can chill out, while still feeling active.
Lessons or not on a fixed schedule, but occur as and when you request them. There is a maximum of two pupils per teacher, and they should take around 3 hours. It’s a truly personal experience and costs 10,000 JPY per person. Personalized classes, for people who want focused or customized lessons, cost around 19,000 JPY, and promise to help you to focus on areas you need to improve on.
- Well-kept shower and powder rooms are available for customers’ use.
- Instructor Arata has more than a decade of competitive surfing experience, as well as 10 years of experience as a lifeguard, so he will take care of you and your safety.
- As Share Surf room has many repeat customers, it can be difficult to book in.
10. Surf City | 2-1-11 Aoshima, Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture 889-2162
Unlike other schools on this list, Surf City in Miyazaki runs on a subscription basis. They offered three types of surfing lessons for different abilities, they also have a myriad of snorkeling, diving, and beach yoga lessons, so you get a good bang for your buck. Lessons can be taught in both English and Japanese, meaning it is accessible for tourists and foreigners.
Additionally, they have plenty of other facilities, such as showers, lounge areas, workspaces, a garden, and a porch. Membership costs between 1500 JPY (for light members), to 25,000 (for a premium membership), although there are options for one-time visitors as well.
- A large range of classes, in multiple different sports, from surfing to yoga to hiking.
- Plenty of facilities to keep you busy even if you aren’t surfing.
- A limited number of classes, making it less suitable for advanced surfers.