Aug 17, 2017
Fun in the Sun and then Some: Chirihama Beach, Ishikawa Prefecture
I saw a statistic recently noting that there are 63% fewer beach-goers in Japan now than in 2007. On the one hand, that makes me pretty sad to think the Japanese are not getting out to visit their beautiful coastlines, but on the other, I remember going to the beach as a child here and not being able to see the sand because there were so many people. Regardless of how I feel about it, what that data means for beach-goers now is a lot more space when you do head for the ocean, so I wanted to share about one of my favorite beaches in Honshu...
Chirihama is located in Ishikawa prefecture on the west coast of Japan and runs for 8 kilometers along the Sea of Japan coast. It is easiest to access using Kanazawa city as your starting point, and from there you can visit some of the smaller towns along the beach.
Like most beaches in Japan, Chirihama offers ready access to ocean activities while having lots of unique vendors, cafes, and restaurants littered throughout. You can enjoy some great seafod while at Chirihama--the Yaki-sazae (grilled turban shells) and Yaki-hamaguri (grilled clams) are the two specialities there. Some stops along the way will offer special events, including concerts, fireworks, and exhibitions. Another great feature of Chirihama is the multitude of ryokan nearby that offer public access to their onsen for just a few hundred yen. Instead of relying on just the beach showers, you can head to one of those onsen to get a full, relaxing bath.
Still, there is one thing that sets Chirihama from every other beach in Japan, and most throughout the world...
The coolest feature of Chirihama Beach is that one of the few beaches in the entire world where the sand is compact enough to support regular vehicle traffic. There is actually a 50 meter wide roadway along the entire beach, making it the perfect road trip destination whether you want to hit the beaches or just enjoy the ride. I spent my childhood summers in southern California where the loose sand barely allows a 4x4 to make it through, so being able to ride along two-way traffic and pull into an open spot near the water is a real novelty for me.
The best time to visit Chirihama is in the spring and summer. It is accessible in autumn and winter, but the Ishikawa coastline is prone to snowfall in winter months and the water won't start being a pleasant enough temperature for swimming without a wet-suit until May. If you go during spring/summer, just try to avoid the big holidays like Golden Week and Obon. Other than that, the beach is so long that even on crowded days, you'll be able to find a place to set up shop.
My favorite time of day to visit Chirihama is in the late afternoon. If you time your trip right, you can play in the ocean for a bit before watching the sunset. After that, head to a nearby ryokan for a bath before hitting up one of the many delicious cafes near the beach. Talk about the perfect way to have some fun in the sun and then some!
Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.
Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).
I went here during the summer once. Had a great time. We rented a car in Kanazawa for the day took a drive along the coast of the Noto Hanto which I though was an amazing part of Japan. I think Chirihama Beach was one of the first stops we made, and if I remember correctly, near one of the beach exits (for cars) there were some massive sand sculptures on display. I don't know if they are an annual thing or were just a "one off" at that time.
@Tomuu There were definitely sand sculptures when I was there, so it must be an annual thing!