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Stormrider Guide to surfing Miyazaki, Kyushu

Japan, EAST ASIA


, John Callahan

Summary

+ Warm water typhoon swells - Inconsistent swells
+ Less crowded pointbreaks - Cold water days
+ Seagaia ocean dome - Very expensive living costs
+ Japanese culture - Communication difficulties

While not generally thought to be among JapanÕs top surfing destinations, MiyazakiÕs SE-facing shoreline is ideally located to catch typhoon swells. This coast is extensive and while the best waves do get crowded at times, there are lots of less accessible spots with good potential. Plenty of variety for surfers of all levels.

When to Go

Typhoons produce 4-6ft swells starting in July and climaxing in August-October. Occasional super-typhoons can deliver 12ft surf. They normally approach from the South China Sea before moving north usually accompanied by S winds. North Pacific lows as well as monsoonal NE winds produce some waves from November to February although good surf is rare despite dominant offshore winds. Winds often blow from the W-NE. Tidal range can reach 2.5m on spring tides and even more within deep bays, so get a tide table in a shop, and practice basic Japanese.

Surf Spots

Much of this areaÕs surfing is based around the reliable beachbreaks at Okuragahama or Kanegahama. Neither are particularly good but work on small swell with NW winds and have accommodation or camping to hand. On NE-E swells, Ishinamigawa (gawa means river) should have some hollow waves, spinning off the boulders around the rivermouth breakwall. Lena in Tsuno is a boulder pointbreak, breaking left for a long way near the rivermouth. Around the reef in front of the harbour past some other rideable peaks is Hakashita, another hollow left breaking over boulders when a solid E swell hits. On SE swells with NW wind check IkuragahamaÕs fun but unchallenging beachbreak and many similar waves at rivermouths en route to Miyazaki. MiyazakiÕs main wave-riding area is Sosanji, where Kisakihama beach is plagued by intense crowds but localism is low, especially towards western surfers. Aoshima beachbreak is less consistent than Sosanji, but the lefthand reefbreak off the island that houses a beautiful Shinto temple can be long and workable when a solid E typhoon swell hits. ItÕs a fairly predictable ride so gets crowded with longboarders looking to join the sections and ride a few hundred metres. Uchiumi is the start of the 50km long Nichinan coast, characterised by heavily striated reefs known as the Devils Washboard and many punchy waves. Uchiumi itself has rights and lefts depending on what the swell direction is. CurrenÕs, named after TomÕs epic ride on the long right reefbreak during 1991Õs classic conditions. It needs a typhoon to get the spot working, but paddling out and catching a wave requires plenty of experience and confidence. At Chokusen, the reef hugs a headland, giving it pointbreak length of ride with powerful walls and occasional cover-ups. The same goes for Udo Shrine, a nice-looking right peak on NE swells and S-W winds although crowded when itÕs classic. Oura is one those magic spots that can be perfect when everywhere else is messy, because the shallow lefts hold N winds. At Umegahama Rivermouth the high tide righthanders can be superb, pinwheeling over the groomed sandbars in SE swells. On the biggest SE typhoon swells, hit Nagata for a truly outstanding left pointbreak up to double-overhead.

Statistics

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell E -NE E -NE E -NE E -SE E -SE E -SE
swell size (ft) 2-3 2 1-2 2-3 3-4 3
consistency (%) 40 30 20 40 70 60
dominant wind W -NE W -NE E -SW E -SW N -E W -NE
average force F4 F4 F3-F4 F3 F4 F4
consistency (%) 80 61 57 62 56 76
water temp (C) 18 17 22 27 25 21
wetsuit 3/2 3/2 springsuit boardshorts boardshorts springsuit

Travel Information

Weather
Because of the warm Kuroshio Current, Kyushu experiences very different climate in winter and summer. Summers in Miyazaki are hot and humid with strong sunshine. Temps can exceed 30¡C (86¡F), even at night. May to August are really wet and prone to localised flooding. Autumn is warm and pleasant, the best time to visit unless a typhoon hits the coast (rare). Winter can be cold; but not often below freezing, snow is rare. Water feels tropical from July to October and doesnÕt drop much below 18¡C (64¡F) despite coldish winter days; take a light steamer and springsuit.

Lodging and Food
Most flats in the city are Japanese style: straw tatami mats on the floor, sliding shoji doors and a deep Ofuro (bathtub). A cheap Youth Hostel costs $50. A hotel like Kanko costs $90 (double). Seagaia Sheraton is $150 night (dble). Expect $20 for a meal at izakayas, udon, ramen and sushi shops.

Nature and Culture
DonÕt miss the Miyazaki shrine, Heiwadai Peace Park 37m tower built with stones collected from all over the world. Plenty of nightlife in Miyazaki. Seagaia Ocean Dome wave pool shut down in 2007.