Let’s Go to the Beach!
By Andrew Smith
Over the years, Japan has earned itself a reputation for having some of the hardest working company workers. That would be great if it wasn’t for the notorious Japanese word “karoshi” (過労死), which can be translated as death from overwork.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom for the average salaryman since Japan implemented the Happy Monday system in the late 1990’s. Although Monday is rarely associated with happiness, this welcomed alteration to the Japanese calendar arranged many national holidays to fall on Mondays each year.
This gives the typical worker a three day weekend to enjoy the beautiful nature around Japan with family and friends. July 21st happens to be Ocean Day (海の日 umi no hi) and Japan, being an island, is of course covered in great beaches to visit.
In honor of this holiday, here are a couple of choices for a fun beach vacation in Japan.
Within Japan’s southernmost prefecture lies many beautiful islands ready to be explored by fun-loving beachgoers from around the country. Okinawa’s plentiful coral reefs teeming with colorful marine life make it the perfect destination for snorkelling.
It is also fun to take a ferry out over the water or rent a kayak to enjoy the view and the cool, refreshing water.
It is difficult to compare any other beach in Japan to those found in Okinawa. The white sands, clear water, and refreshing ocean breeze are hard to beat. The feel of Okinawa is comparable to Hawaii in some ways. Unfortunately it may be a bit expensive to fly to Okinawa, but I’d say it is well worth it.
While it may be tempting to spend all your time soaking up the sun in Okinawa on the beach, I highly recommend exploring everything Okinawa has to offer. It is also rich in culture that you are not likely experience anywhere else.
The islands actually used to be independent before becoming a part of Japan, so remnants of the language, architecture, cuisine, and the arts can still be seen.
For those who are not very confident in their Japanese, there is no need to worry. It is very easy to find help in Naha, Okinawa from someone who speaks English. The very relaxed atmosphere is welcoming, so you can effortlessly to dive into the Okinawa lifestyle.
Explore the nightlife of the city and try some traditional Okinawa food and drinks.
For a more affordable summer beach vacation Shirahama is great option. As the name suggests, this lovely town in the Wakayama prefecture is known for its beautiful white sand that covers the beach.
Shirahama is only a couple hours away from Osaka by train, but it is also easily accessible by bus for those willing to spend the time to get there. The stunning white sand of the beach is of course a great place to spend the day, but the area is also well known for many other run and relaxing tourist activities.
The beach area is surrounded by beautiful cliffs with hiking trails that lead to spectacular views of the ocean and other natural structures such as Engetsu Island. If you go at just the right time, you may even get a shot of the sun setting inside the arch on the island, but the sunset is incredible from wherever you are on the beach.
Though the next Japanese public holiday may not be coming up soon, I hope all of your Mondays will be happy!