With thousands of Islands that have a combined coastline of 21,000 miles, Japan is one of the world’s best-kept secrets when it comes to scuba diving. When you think of Japan, you immediately think of stunning silk kimonos and a delicious variety of sushi, you don’t necessarily think of scuba diving. However, Japan is home to some of the most incredible dive sites in the world and if you’re planning a trip to Japan, scuba diving should be one of your top priorities.
Due to its location, Japan is often missed, in favor of more popular diving countries such as the Philippines and Thailand. However, with the correct research and of course reading this article, you will be surprised to see how much Japan has to offer you under the surface. Visiting Japan opens up a variety of diving options including ice diving, tropical diving and a whole range of marine life that you would never expect.
Japan is a strato-volcanic archipelago with over 2,400 islands covering more than 1864 miles. This huge distance means that the temperature varies greatly from north to south of the country. Northern Japan (Hokkaido) is usually cold and southern Japan (Kyushu and Okinawa) is tropical and home to hundreds of islands and islets. Down south is usually very warm with temperatures ranging from 20C throughout the winter months and 31C in the summer months. These warm tropical conditions make for a perfect diving weather with perfect white sand and crystal clear, blue waters stretching for as far as the eye can see.
Due to the volcanic nature of the island, the underwater topography is nothing short of spectacular. Home to sharp inclines and declines as well as interesting rock formations, it’s easy to see that most of the islands south of Tokyo were formed due to volcanic eruptions.
Top 4 Dive Sites In Japan
Shiretoko Peninsula, Hokkaido
To start off this list of top dive sites in Japan, we have to start off with a dive that is so far away from what you might think diving is like in Japan. Located in the north of the country is the Shiretoko Peninsula and it is here that you will be able to take part in an ice dive. If you’re looking for an experience like nothing you have ever experienced before, then this is the place to go. This is more of an ‘experience’ than a dive, however diving at this location is both challenging and rewarding. There is very little to see in these waters, however, keep an eye out of a few fish, Starfish, Shrimp and Sea Urchins. If you’re lucky you may even get to see a ‘Sea Angel’ or Clione, which is a sea slug known for its cute features and translucent body. If you’re not seeing a lot of marine life, then why don’t you look up at the surface and marvel at the giant ice blocks glowing above you?
Ishigaki Island, Okinawa
This island is well known for its sheer number of Manta Rays; in fact, there is even a dive site at this location called Manta Scramble. Manta scramble is roughly 10m in depth and has a seabed covered in a variety of volcanic rock formations. However, the main attractions here are the Manta Rays. These majestic marine creatures glide around you providing an amazing experience to suit all level of scuba diver.
Located south of Kozushuma, this dive site is best visited throughout the month of May when the Kuroshio Current drifts through the area bringing spawning squid with it. It’s an incredible sight to see, which should not be missed off your list. The dive begins with descending 15m where you can grip onto a rock and watch the squid enter your line of vision, one by one, releasing white tubes, which contain eggs, onto free floating branches.
This is one of the most popular dive sites found in Japan and that is not only because it is located close to Tokyo, it is also because of the sheer variety of marine life that exists in these waters. You’ll see Moray Eels and huge schools of Sea Bass. It is also the perfect place if you’re looking to expand your diving skills. If you find yourself diving at night, there are huge concrete boulders, covered in Urchins at around 5m below the surface, which provide the perfect environment for practicing buoyancy.
There are so many incredible dive sites found throughout Japan, so if you have one that hasn’t been mentioned in our list, please tell us about it in the comments below.