Hacchohama Seaside Park

Surfing and solitude on the north shore of Kyoto

By Bonson Lam    - 3 min read

I am all alone. The leaves on the trees above are rustling in the breeze, but there is no sound, either of wind or life. The sound of the waves is gently breaking on the beach, its slushy supple sound massaging the powdered grains of sand beneath my feet. There is a gentle whisper as the water kisses the warmth of the sun dried sand. The foam of the waves float with effervescence like the sound of just opened lemonade. Like an old rocking chair, its rhythm slowly lulls me to another consciousness.

What is it about water that evokes the memory of a time past? Whether it is a childhood holiday by the sea, or the ripples from a toy boat, these unchanging sounds and images stir up something deep inside our mind. While it is possible to have this experience anywhere, there is something about the solitude of this beach that brings these thoughts so effortlessly. It is like you are coming home, but to a home in your heart rather than a home of bricks and mortar. I am floating above the sea, or so it seems. Like a bird I am watching at the spectacle below me. It is an otherworldly landscape of waving tree like plants, moss like terrain and ancient rock formations. I am not in Kenya or the moon, but snorkeling in the waters near Hacchohama (Haccho Beach , 八丁浜). Instead of antelope scattering away from our eyes, it is fish, yellow and black striped and of silvery coats, moving to their own agendas.

It reminds me of the poem Avowal, by Denise Levertov:

“As swimmers dare to lie face to the sky and water beats them,
as hawks rest upon air and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain freefall,
and float into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace
knowing no effort earns that all surrounding grace.”

In winter Hacchohama takes on a different personality. The gentle breezes of summer are replaced by strong northerly winds, bringing high waves and also snow on the mountains. There is something soulful about surfing with snow capped mountains in the distance.

If on the other hand, you prefer something warmer in winter, drop in to Ukawa Onsen (closed Thursdays). You can scenic views of the mountains or the sea from the outdoor rotenburo baths. Both day trippers and overnight guests are welcome here. The crab is a winter delicacy, served raw sashimi style or cooked in a nabe hot pot.

Getting there

The best way to get to the north shore beaches of Kyoto is by car. While it is three hours from the ancient capital of Kyoto City by expressway, it feels like a world away from the crowds at Kyoto Station.

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Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us. 

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