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Outdoor Adventures

Turn your trip to Japan into an adventure with these five exciting outdoor sports

From palatial mountain ranges to tropical beaches, Japan's beautiful and dramatic landscape offers a dizzying range of possibilities for the adventurous traveller. For anyone keen to add some outdoor excitement to their travel itinerary, here are five amazing activities and some of the best locations to enjoy them in Japan:

Skiing and Snowboarding

Japan is deservedly famous for its world-class ski and snowboard resorts, but with so much variety to choose from it can be difficult to know where to start. Combining relatively easy access from Tokyo with spectacular alpine scenery and a great level of support in English for all levels, Hakuba is an especially good first-time option. For more experienced skiers and boarders however, Niseko in Hokkaido boasts exceptionally consistent, powdery snow and a wider area with more terrain features. For visitors looking to combine winter sports with a more cultural experience, the town of Nozawa Onsen in Nagano Prefecture combines some excellent slopes with an authentic traditional atmosphere.

Surfing

With over 3000 km of shoreline, powerful Pacific swells and near-tropical conditions in its southern islands, its no surprise that Japan boasts a thriving community of surfers. For travellers in the Tokyo area, the two most popular options are Shonan, a line of coast from Atami to Kamakura, and Chiba Prefecture. Both areas are dotted with surf shops and can offer some great waves, but due to their proximity to Tokyo can become very crowded at the first sign of good swells. Often cited as the best all-round location, the large island of Shikoku is known for its surfing community and offers a wide range of conditionsmaking it suitable for all experience levels. Peak season is from June to November, with the most powerful swells found in Tokushima and Kochi prefectures. Surfers can enjoy year-round warm waters on Okinawa as well as world-class waves on occasion when conditions line up, however its sharp coral breaks can be a danger for beginners.

Scuba Diving

From coral reefs to volcanic rock formations, Japan's fascinating underwater topography and wealth of marine life make it an ideal destination for diving. While a number of dive sites exist on the mainland, by far the most interesting and varied experience can be found in the southern islands. A great all-round option is Ishigaki, notable for some beautiful coral formations as well as its wildlife including manta and giant cuttlefish. Another fantastic option for experienced divers is the Kerama Islands located around 40km west of Naha. Even further afield, Japan's westernmost inhabited island of Yonaguni boasts a striking underwater rock formation known as the Yonaguni Monument and schools of migratory hammerhead sharks from January to May.

Kayaking and Rafting

Ideal for family trips, kayaking tours can add fun and variety to an itinerary while providing an exciting new perspective on Japan's natural scenery. A great option for beginners is Lake Ashinoko in the Hakone area, a fairly large but calm stretch of water surrounded by impressive mountain views including (on a clear day) Mount Fuji. A slightly more adventurous but still entirely family-friendly option is to paddle part of the way from Hiroshima to Miyajima, taking in a beautiful stretch of coastline and the famous floating torii gate from the ocean. For a more adrenaline-fuelled experience, two great locations to try white water rafting are the Iya Valley in Shikoku, and Minakami in Gunma Prefecture.

Golf

With as many courses as the rest of Asia combined, the first thing to note about golf in Japan is the incredible variety on offer. From subtropical islands to the Japanese Alps, wherever you happen to be there is almost certainly a resort or country club within reach, many to a world-class standard. The vast majority are open to the public, with many offering surprisingly reasonable prices, typically including lunch and public baths. Perhaps the most beautiful of all, the Fuji course at Kawana overlooks the Pacific from an elevated promontory on the Izu Peninsula and has hosted many international competitions. Also relatively easy to access from Tokyo, the Taiheiyo Gotemba club offers spectacular views of Mount Fuji from its immaculately maintained fairway.

Home Delivery by japan-guide.com is a series of articles on Japanese culture, life and travel for all of us who are currently staying home to flatten the curve. Many travel plans, including our own, have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. While we aren't able to share new content from the road, we hope this collection from our travel archive helps you explore a bit of Japan from your own home.