Japan is not well known as a top diving destination, but there are excellent dive spots throughout the archipelago – from Okinawan coral reefs in the far south to ice diving in Hokkaido’s cold northern waters. Japan’s rugged coastlines, where warm and cold ocean currents collide, are renowned for their variety of aquatic life. They are also home to the world’s northernmost coral reefs, thanks to the subtropical Kuroshio Current, making perfect conditions for snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
The oceans surrounding Japan’s southern islands – Okinawa – are both warm and clear. Lying just north of the Tropic of Cancer, the seas around the Okinawan Islands host over 400 species of coral which, with the diversity of fish species, make an ideal setting for snorkeling and scuba diving. Near the westernmost of these islands, Yonaguni-jima is home to mysterious underwater standing stones, by some theories the ruins of an ancient civilisation, though more likely natural rock formations. These complement the huge gathering of hammerhead sharks each winter to make a scuba-diver’s paradise.
Okinawa’s sub-tropical location means the weather is warm all year, but typhoons over the summer months make these islands a better winter destination, and divers move north in the summer to explore the coasts from Kyushu to Hokkaido, or to enjoy great dives off the Izu Peninsula are within easy reach of Tokyo. The volcanic Izu Islands, intriguingly officially part of Metropolitan Tokyo, are home to some of Japan’s best scuba dives, offering lava arches and other aquatic volcanic formations, as well as a good variety of soft corals, marine plants, and fish species, many of which can also be explored by adventurous skin divers.
Hokkaido’s Shiretoko Peninsula, where ice flows drift in over the Sea of Okhotsk, offers dry-suit ice dives for experienced divers, featuring the chance to see clione – known as sea angels in Japanese – which live under the ice.
Into Japan Specialist Tours would be delighted to organise some of Japan’s best diving – be it subtropical or subarctic – for you as part of your tailor made tour to Japan.