Catching Waves in Japan

With the northern summer upon us, it is time to think about hitting the beach and enjoying a swim in the ocean.   This time last year I did something that I never imagined I would ever do or even had any inclination to try……. I learnt to surf.

Being in the sea is not something that I have ever really enjoyed, but after visiting Enoshima Beach in Kanagawa Prefecture nearby where a friend lived and watching the hundreds of people out enjoying the waves we thought that it looked like a fun place to learn to surf.

IMG_1850

I did a little research and came across Kaimana Surf School in Yubinbango, Fujisawa about a 90 minute train ride south of Tokyo.  Lessons cost 5,000 Yen + Tax per person for a 3 hour lesson, of which around 2 hours is spent in the surf.   The lesson fee includes rental of surf board and wetsuit so unless you are real tall you won’t need to worry about anything.  I am 178cm and they had wet suits to fit me, but much taller and I think you might need to supply your own.



We caught the train down to Enoshima and walked from the station to the surf shop which was about a 15 – 20 minute walk.  At the surf shop we met with Masa-san, our instructor for the day who found wetsuits for us, sorted out boards and loaded them on our dinky little bikes specially modified to carry a surfboard on the side.   We set off on our bikes down to Enoshima Beach which was a tricky little ride trying to get used to having a surfboard beside you as you navigate the narrow Japanese streets.

Enoshima beach is a beautiful broad sweep of sandy beach that falls gently into the Pacific Ocean with a constant gentle surf suitable for learning the basics of surfing.

Masa-san taught us the basic concepts of surfing on the beach, how to lie on the board, how to paddle out and most importantly how to stand up and where to stand.  Once he was happy we had understood the basics he took us out into the surf.   He would take us out far enough to give us a reasonable ride back in then position our boards and hold us till he thought a suitable wave was coming through, at which point he would give the command to start paddling and then when we had enough speed up would call out for us to stand up.  He was a very patient instructor and eventually managed to get us on our feet, firstly for brief moments then for a real ride.  Having never really been interested in surfing that first ride totally changed my mind, that feeling of freedom as you ride a wave with only the power of nature propelling you is amazing, so it was frustrating whenever I would fall again or misjudge the best time to stand or get my position wrong on the board.  Luckily both Jimmy and I managed to get a few good rides in on the first day so could go home happy.   After about 90 – 120 minutes in the water it is time to reluctantly head home, so it is back up to the bikes and back to the shop for a shower and to get changed before heading back to Tokyo, thoroughly tired but happy.   We enjoyed our first lesson so much that we returned for a second lesson not long before we left Japan.

jimmy surfing 1

jimmy surfing 2
Jimmy catching his first wave

Enoshima Fact File

Getting There

From Tokyo head for Fujisawa Station via the Tokaido Main Line from Shinagawa Station, then switch to the Enoshima Dentetsu Line to Shonankaigankoen Station, from where Hobie Surf Shop (home of Kaimana Surf School) is a short walk.

Surf School

If you are a first timer like me then I recommend Kaimana Surf School, as Masa-san was an extremely patient instructor and spoke pretty good English.  You can book your lesson online through their online booking form (It is in Japanese, so if you don’t understand it use Google Chrome with the translation App to make sense of it) or alternatively contact them directly by Email or if you are in Japan you can phone them on 0466-25-990

Other Activities

IMG_1034After your surfing lesson you will probably want to unwind with a quiet drink and snack before heading back up to Tokyo, (trust me you will probably want to spend an hour or so relaxing as you could be sore…) if so you are in luck Enoshima Beach in summer is full of a lot of temporary beachside cafes, restaurants and bars along with a selection of good regular type restaurants and bars.  Once you have changed head towards Enoshima Island and you will find plenty of places and if you still have a little energy left you could walk across the bridge to Enoshima Island and take a walk around this beautiful spot.

On a good day you will be able to catch a good view of Japan’s most revered mountain, Fujiyama.

Tony Fitzpatrick on FacebookTony Fitzpatrick on GoogleTony Fitzpatrick on InstagramTony Fitzpatrick on LinkedinTony Fitzpatrick on PinterestTony Fitzpatrick on TwitterTony Fitzpatrick on Youtube
Tony Fitzpatrick
Architect, Dad, Traveller & Head Rover at Around Rock 3
After a brief flirtation with Japan in the early '90's, and some occasional trips to Australia since, I have had an unrequited love affair with Japan and general desire to explore the world for the next 20 years while reality prevailed and I found myself pretty much stuck in my home country of New Zealand (not that is an entirely bad thing...).After a chance opportunity arose in mid 2012 to relocate our family to Moscow, Russian Federation I finally set off on my OE with my family in tow. It has been an amazing journey that has seen us experience life in Russia, Japan and now Finland, as well as visiting around a dozen countries so far in our adventure to date.While my family situation has changed along the way, I am continuing to explore the world with my tri-lingual son and enjoy sharing the adventures we have had with my followers.

19 comments

  1. Hi Tony,
    What an excellent article that you wrote which revealed an activity that I normally would not associate with the country of Japan – surfing. The fact is that Japan is located off of the Pacific Ocean. Judging by the several photos the sport does have popularity in that country.

    I’ve been to Hawaii 6 times and saw how awesome some of the locals in that locale were at surfing – even kids younger than your son pictured in the two images. Then again with the weather tropical year round in that state, the opportunities to learn the sport are there some 365 days/year.

    I took the time to convert the price you mentioned in Yen for a 3 hour lesson. That figure converts to around $45 U.S. dollars. I admit to not being an expert regarding the price for surfing lessons but I can only believe that you got a great deal! Plus as you stated the Japanese teacher providing instructions besides speaking good English was so patient.

    Your son indeed looked like an expert hours into his first lesson. I’m sure that he was ready for more.

    I’ve always had a desire to visit Asia – particularly Japan. One day perhaps if things go well with my online business I will be motivated to take that long trans-Pacific flight. I don’t know however at my age, (60 next summer) if I’ll try surfing for the first time.

    Great article, sir!
    Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I too thought that even if I ever did want to surf I was beyond the point of learning but found the conditions at Enoshima to be excellent for learning. The sandy gently sloping sea bed and reasonably constant gentle waves gave me the confidence to give it a try without the fear of being smashed onto the rocks or reef below by a rogue wave as if I was learning in my home country. Yes it was good value and if you ever make it to the Land of the Rising Sun I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised by how affordable a lot of things are.

      Cheers

      Tony

  2. I’ve always wanted to go surfing because I think it would be such a rush finding that perfect wave and riding it all the way to shore.
    You must really like adventure to surf for the first time in a foreign country – especially one like Japan! I’ve heard they can get some pretty crazy waves over there.
    Were you able to get up on the board very well your first time or did it take a few lessons to be able to ride a wave successfully?

    1. Hi Nate, yes the rush of riding that first wave was amazing and now I know why surfers just want to surf…. I am not the overly adventurous type although I will give most things a try at least once if the opportunity arises. I am sure there could be some crazy surf in Japan but this particular place provided a great environment for learning without fear of smashing yourself up on rocks or coral.

      We both stood up and got to ride about 5-6 waves each on our first day, although being a sportsman helped I think, as our instructor did comment that we both mastered it a lot quicker than most of his clients.

  3. Tony,
    That is so great that you and your son got out of your comfort zone! It looked like you both had fun! And yes, that price sounded very reasonable. Here in Hawaii, it costs 3 times that, plus a deposit fee for the board.

    But now that you know the basics, just buy a couple of used boards for yourselves and keep practicing!

    How lucky that you have traveled to a lot of different places. I hope to be able to travel the world, too, one day.
    Jodie

    1. Hi Jodie, thanks. Yes it isn’t a bad price. Would live to buy a couple of boards and go out on our own but now living in Finland and the Baltic Sea just doesn’t offer the same sort of surf conditions… Yes we have been lucky to travel but was just a case of taking some lucky opportunities that arose if we had waited till we were ready or in a position to afford it we would still be stuck at home. Look for those opportunities and take them, you will never regret it.

  4. I really like when you write about your travels, though I am pretty sure, I am not going to learn surfing. I think it’s too late for me. But anyway I enjoy reading when you write about different places around the world. By the way, how long does it take to learn surfing?

    1. thanks Kristof, glad you enjoy reading it. You look about the same age as me and I thought the same, but it was easier than I thought it would be. I was riding the odd wave by the end of the first lesson and knew enough by the end of the second to know what I was doing wrong and which parts I was doing right so it really doesn’t take that long.

  5. Really enjoyed reading your content. I have never liked being in the sea either but I have always wanted to surf. It look awesome, but have never had the opportunity. Enjoyed reading your experience with it. Sounds like you did well on the first lesson. I don’t know how easy/hard it is to learn but I would have probably estimated that it would take at least a weeks worth of lessons to be able to surf, so if you got a few good rides in the first day that’s great

    1. HI Jenny,

      thanks for your comments, glad that you enjoyed reading it. I was quite surprised how quickly we both picked it up, but then again I do have a long sporting background and have done a lot of skiing as well so maybe that helped with being able to balance quickly. It was certainly a buzz catching that first wave….

  6. Hi Tony,
    What beautiful pictures. It almost makes one want to be there, although I don’t think surfing is my thing. I guess that when I think of Japan I don’t think of the ocean. Anyway you made it sound very interesting and something to consider if one likes water sports. The images certainly added to my interest. My only suggestion would be that you translate Yen into American money since I at least have no idea how much that would be so can only take yours and others comments on the value of the lessons. Good job.

  7. Great article. I thought the format of the fact file portion of your post was really helpful, and the pictures made me want to go to Japan and learn how to surf! 🙂 The picture of Fujiyama was great as well!

    Relaying your personal experience was also helpful. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Maybe one day I’ll get to go to Japan and ride the waves!

    1. Hei, thanks for that. Fujiyama is even better in real life…. If you only end up visiting one country (other than New Zealand) Japan is really worth exploring, it is a real experience and yes learning to surf there was pretty damn neat as well.

  8. Hey Tony, This is a great article.I love the article according its content,I love the places and i wish am the one stayed there, those places are interested because i love surfing too much.Thank for the direction i might meet this place of the good day.

    Thank you for your informative article.

    yours
    Jose

  9. Hi

    Great Article

    Surfing is a favourite past time of mine although I have never really ever been fantastic at it.

    Always good to find new places to surf and when I think of surfing I probably don’t think of Japan so this information is great.

    The prices seem fair for the surf school as they seem to do a good job in accomodating beginners.

    I appreciate your information

    Cheers

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for the comment, true Japan is not a place one would consider when thinking about surfing, but there seems to be a bit of it around.

      This beach was probably more beginner friendly but I do believe there are more gnarly beaches around Chiba for the more experienced surfer.

      Cheers

  10. Hello here. Thanks for the inspiring article. I can feel the excitement in your writing about this country and experience catching waves.
    I heard that many famous people adore Japan as Steve Jobs. I wonder what most attracts foreigners: the nature, people or lifestyle?
    It would best to see myself all things described in your blog but for now it is good too reading how you took the first lesson.
    Thanks for interesting read, all the best, Nemira.

    1. Hi Nemira,

      Thanks for your comments. Japan is a real land of contrasts which I think is what attracts most people. A place where you can walk down a street past a 1000 year old shrine while the latest Porsche roars past on the other side while you are surrounded by people in the latest fashions and find yourself walking behind an old lady or a bunch of young girls in kimonos and wooden clogs…. Also as Japan’s population is so densely crammed into a small area there is a lot of amazing nature to explore even within an hour of a major city like Tokyo.

      It really is a place that once you visit you can never shake off and will always long to return.

      Tony

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *