The perfect wave is closer than you think
For many Tokyoites, surfing is synonymous with just one place: Shonan. The coastal area in Kanagawa Prefecture is generally regarded as the birthplace of Japanese surf culture, and it teems with boarders during the summer months – never mind that the swell is often pretty pathetic. Local schools include Easy Surf in Shichirigahama (beginner classes ¥5,000; private lessons ¥15,000), and Shonan Surfin School, which has shops in Chigasaki, Tsujido and Kugenuma (beginner classes ¥5,000; stand up paddle surfing ¥8,500; private lessons ¥18,000).
If you’re looking for some serious waves, though, the east coast of Chiba is a better bet, where there’s no shelter from the full force of the Pacific Ocean. Eugene Teal in Onjuku offers English-language lessons by a Japan longboard champion, and there’s also the option of staying overnight in the clubhouse (2-hour lesson ¥8,000; overnight stay ¥2,000). A little further up the coast, Oasis Surf School in Ichinomiya also does English lessons (beginner classes ¥5,250; intermediate shortboard/longboard classes ¥10,000; English surfing classes ¥6,300).
You can find sweet waves within Tokyo itself, of course, though only on a technicality. Hachijojima, Niijima and Oshima – part of a chain of islands that stretches from the tip of the Izu peninsula, and which is administered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government – are popular destinations for intrepid surfers. The breaks off the southern tip of Hachijojima have some particularly good and consistent swells, although they’re not for timorous types, and you’ll need to bring your own gear with you.