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The Japanese Beach Experience: How To Spend A Beach Day

By terrell
July 06, 2022

Summer is in full swing, meaning that people all over Japan are looking for fun ways to spend these long, summer days. As you may have seen in your favorite anime beach episodes, Japanese people love the beach and make a whole day of activities out of it. If you’re looking for ways to spend a Japanese beach day like we do here, read on to learn all about Japanese beach games, foods, and activities!

Suikawari

Suikawari (watermelon smashing) is one of the most iconic and popular Japanese beach games out there. It’s similar to the idea of a pinata, except that, instead of candy, the prize is delicious watermelon. Well, considering that watermelon is one of the most expensive fruits in Japan, it’s probably much higher in value than candy. 

The rules are simple. A watermelon is placed on the ground with a tarp underneath. Players put on a blindfold, are spun around three times, and are given a stick. The goal is to swing and hit the watermelon, breaking it open for everyone to enjoy. 

According to the Japan Suika-Wari Association’s official rules, a clean break is important, with a clean split in half being the best. Either way, you and all of your friends get to enjoy a refreshing summer treat at the end. 

A watermelon smashed in two on a Japanese beach with one side larger than the other
Of course, using a tarp is best, but if you can find solid ground close to the beach, that works too! Image via Shutterstock

Beach Sports

Swimming isn’t the only sporty thing you can enjoy at the beach. Much like in Western countries, Japanese folks love to enjoy a bit of active fun on the beach too. 

Of course, plenty of people love beach volleyball, whether it’s with a real volleyball or a big blow-up beach ball. The best part is that almost anyone can play regardless of skill level or experience. 

That being said, Japan is one of those countries that loves badminton. Chances are, if you make friends in Japan, you’ll meet someone who will at least have a couple of racquets and a birdie. They may even have a net for a full on badminton game. This game is arguably even more accessible than volleyball in terms of coordination, so it’s great for all levels of athleticism.

A beach day isn’t complete without some tasty summer snacks. Let TokyoTreat help you out with that! TokyoTreat sends tasty and exclusive Japanese snacks, sweets, noodles, drinks, and much more right to your door in one convenient box, so you can enjoy it at home or take it to the beach!

Japanese Barbecue

Two people stand over a grill full of yakitori and onion at a Japanese beach barbecue area.
Some beach areas will have barbecue areas, but you can also bring your own mini-grill with gas or coal. Image via Shutterstock

If you get the right rental space at beaches or beach-side parks, you can enjoy a barbecue with plenty of delicious food. For those used to American-style barbecue, Japanese barbecue tends to be a bit different and simpler. Usually, Japanese barbecue is just like what you’d find in a yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) restaurant. 

Putting it simply, all it takes is putting plenty of meat and vegetables onto a grill and enjoying the natural flavor of the food with just a little bit of seasoning or sauce if you like. The same goes for chicken, which becomes yakitori when skewered and grilled. 

To take it to the next level, with the use of a flat grill attachment, Japanese folks manage to also make yakisoba (Japanese fried noodles) on these beach grills. However, this is usually the last thing you cook on a grill because the noodles are intended to fill you up. Plus, the grill attachment will take time to cool off. 

Kakigori

Another popular Japanese beach snack, kakigori (Japanese shaved ice) is perfect for staying cool on a hot beach day. However, unlike barbecue, you can’t really make this one yourself. 

Instead, you have to make a trip to the local beach house where they’ll be able to serve you a cool treat in plenty of different flavors. Kakigori has actually been around for quite some time, with the first store supposedly opening in 1869 and being enjoyed in Japan even before that. 

What makes shaved ice unique in Japan is that it’s closer to fresh snow in terms of consistency, being both light and fluffy. And with flavors like strawberry, green tea, or melon, it’s no wonder people love this cool treat on a hot summer’s day.

A hand pours lemon syrup over condensed milk over lemon shaved ice at a Japanese beach-side shop.
Fancier kakigori, like this lemon-flavored one, is unfortunately only available at beach-side restaurants, so make sure to make time for it if you ever visit. Image via Shutterstock

Group Games

Japan loves games with many people learning new games to pass the time from elementary school all the way into university. Here is one easy game that always seems to pop up in group settings and that you can always play on the beach.

Yamanote-Sen Game

The Yamanote-sen (Yamanote Train Line) game is literally just a fun game of ‘categories’. The game gets its name from the Yamanote Line, a train line that runs in a circle around Central Tokyo, hitting all of the major stations. So, it’s perfect for a game of ‘categories’. The game works the same as the game ‘categories’ in other countries. 

Takenoko Takenoko Nyokki Ki

This game is great for a larger group of maybe five or more. ‘Takenoko’ means bamboo and ‘nyokki’ is the sound of bamboo when it sprouts. Finally, ‘Ki’ means tree. 

Everyone starts by chanting the game’s name. Then, one at a time, you start counting up from one raising your hands in the air and saying, ‘one nyokki, two nyokki, and so on’. 

You have to count to the same number as there are people in your group. Eight people means you have to count to eight nyokki. However, if two people say a number at the same time, you lose. Also, if you’re the last person to say a number, you lose.  

Hanabi

Tow hands hold sparklers with many sparks coming from them on a Japanese beach.
There’s something about playing with fireworks that is so fun and satisfying. Image via Shutterstock

It’s no secret that Japan loves hanabi (fireworks), and summer is the best time to do them. That’s why so many summer festivals feature amazing fireworks displays, like the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. You may not be able to recreate some of the awesome professional displays, but you can enjoy plenty of smaller fireworks at the beach towards the evening or nighttime. 

Fireworks are readily available all over Japan during the summer, to the point where you can even buy them at convenience stores. In other words, you can even just grab some fireworks to play with on your way to the beach or nearby. Plus, the sparklers are always great for some Instagram beach photo opportunities.

Now that you have all of the knowledge you need for your own Japanese anime beach day, it’s time to actually put it into practice. What Japanese beach activities do you want to try? Are there any you tried and loved? Let us know in the comments!

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