Best Outdoor Swimming Locations in Kansai

ByJustin Hanus
May 29, 2024

Best Outdoor Swimming Locations in Kansai

Whether it’s a day trip to the beach, a dip in a pretty lake or going for a wild swim in a river, making the most of the summer sun and immersing yourself in outdoor waters is one of the best ways to relax as well as enjoy the scenery as we reach the warmer seasonal climates. The Kansai region in Japan has no shortage of outdoor swimming locations including all of the aforementioned options. Simply pick your spot, pack a towel and head for any of these great locations.

Lake Biwa

Situated in the middle of Kansai, in Shiga prefecture not far from Kyoto, Lake Biwa is one of the region’s most popular outdoor swimming destinations. It’s Japan’s largest freshwater lake with an area of 670 square kilometers. Furthermore, it’s believed to be one of the oldest lakes in the world at around four million years old. There are plenty of opportunities for locals and tourists to not just swim but camp, fish, take a leisurely cruise or engage in water sports. There are even a few nice beaches at certain parts around the lake. Perfect if you fancy a swim in still waters against a lush mountain backdrop.


Sen’nan Marble Beach

This beautiful white marble sand beach close to Osaka has become a favourite romantic resort known informally as Lovers’ Sanctuary (complete with a red heart-shaped sign in the sand). It’s not hard to see why with its entrancing white sand, perfect sunsets, and closeness to Kansai International Airport meaning that you can watch planes taking off and coming in to land. There is also now a 2 km leisure park next to the beach with shops, restaurants and “glamping” facilities. You can reach the beach in under an hour from central Osaka using the Nankai Electric Railway.

Website: (in Japanese)

Kotobikihama Kakezu Beach

One of Kyoto’s best beaches, this serene spot is in the Amino ward around 2.5 hrs from central Kyoto station. The 1.8 km beach is considered to be one of the top 100 must-see shorelines in Japan. It’s famed for its “singing sand” that squeaks under your feet as you walk, due to the sand’s high crystal content. The beach is also super-clean and was the world’s first non-smoking beach. A good place to go to if you want a sea swim in a place that doesn’t get too packed.

Address: Kakezu, Amino-cho, Kyotango City, Kyoto 629-3112

Totsukawa River

The Totsukawa river winds through the pretty mountainous village of the same name in the southern part of Nara prefecture. It’s ideal for a scenic summer swim. The emerald water flanked by mountains warms up nicely around July/August. You can either bathe or take a gondola through the waters and, if you wish, trek along a mountain path afterwards to cross the spectacular Tanize Bridge. At 297 m long, it’s one of the longest suspension bridges in Japan.

Village Website: (in Japanese)

Shirahama Beach

With its name translating as “white sand”, Shirahama is a tourist summer favourite in Kansai. Located in the southern beachy Wakayama prefecture, the narrow 620 m strip is a sister beach to Waikiki beach in Hawaii and it’s a worthy comparison. The white sand (imported from Australia) sits nicely between palm trees and the emerald green sea, making it one of Japan’s most iconic summer swim destinations. Be warned, though as it tends to get pretty busy!


疋田 渉, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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