Scuba Diving in Japan’s Underworld

by Alexandra

Diving in Japan’s waters

Japan is best known for its’ famous cuisine, bullet trains, Mount Fuji, calligraphy, and traditional arts. Not to mention how extraordinary this country is. Its underwater beauty is exemplary, and certainly, scuba diving is one activity that everyone should look for. Scuba diving in Japan’s underworld is a must-try for everyone. 

Japan also has a great deal to offer even though Thailand and the Philippines are much recognized in the scuba diving community.  Divers can enjoy drift diving, wreck diving, and shore dives.  Are you ready for an underwater adventure? Japan is the right place for you! Surround yourself with the colors and pleasures of Pacific wildlife.

The land of the rising sun is an alluring spot for the underwater enthusiast. It is located between the Sea of Japan on the west, the Sea of Okhotsk in the North, and the East China Sea on the south.  This archipelagic country consists of 6,852 stratovolcanic islands and with 3000 km of coastline. There is a significant difference in the water temperature between the south and the north.

Okinawa scuba diving spots

Most of the waters used for scuba diving comes from the south of Tokyo.  And it’s top destination are islands of the Okinawa prefecture in the southernmost part of Japan in the East China Sea.

Ishigaki Island, Okinawa scuba diving spot

It’s not just the crystal clear blue water and picture-perfect reef. The sub-tropical warm water reaches 31 degrees C (88 degrees F) during the summer months. The Ishigaki island is also the most famous meeting point of the elegant and peaceful Manta Rays. Divers around the world gather at the  Manta Scrumble to witness the beauty of these giant marine mammals every year. Thus, scuba diving in Japan’s underworld is perfect. 

It is best to take your trip between January and March. Humpback whales migrate along the coast, definitely give you a good show, jumping and playing in. This island is also home to an endangered population of around 50 or fewer dugongs.

Yonaguni scuba diving spot

Set yourself for a real underwater mystery as we head to Yonaguni. This famous immersed underwater stone formation has been an object of many speculations and scientific studies.  However, it still lies under a veil of mystery. A natural formation, manmade artifact, or was just modified by humans. The jury is still out on that. Though we may never know for sure, it remains one of Okinawa’s most popular underwater attractions.

There is another trait of this island that is completely natural. Thousands of hammerhead sharks concentrate around the blue waters of Yonaguni every year during winter. A shark attack is at minimal risk but is certainly not recommended for beginners. While there are plenty of places for beginning divers on this island, the above attractions are what truly set it apart.

 Miyakojima scuba diving spot

This is one of the most famous scuba diving spots in Okinawa prefecture.   The wonders of Miyakojima will certainly be on our top list. With the variety of ocean life and of the bluest waters in the East China Sea, this island is home to the Yabiji.  It is the largest cluster of coral reefs in Japan.

These astonishing compositions are made out of hard corals and spread for a total of 17km. Yabiji is considered as Diver’s Heaven and often called Phantom Island. It comes out of the surface once a year. Considered as one of the best scuba and snorkeling spots around the island. The reef can only be reached by boat, which departs from a port on Ikema-Jima, the northernmost island of Miyako-Jima.

Gakeshita which means Under the Cliff in Japanese is the other interesting diving site around the Miyakojima. As one of the most unique diving spots, the underwater cave provides a fun and challenging diving experience. Accessible by a swim-through and famous for the mist caused by changes in pressure gradients depending on the sea level. Indeed, scuba diving in Japan’s underworld is perfect!

USS Emmons (Kouri Island), Okinawa

Japan has also a history-based sight-seeing adventure underwater. . The USS Emmons is an American submarine that rests 45m/150ft down off the coast of Kouri Island. It was hit by five Japanese kamikaze planes and suffered crimpling damage. It lies in the depth of 40m/130ft and not safe for beginners, but certified divers can swim the ship’s entire length of 106m/348ft from the outside. And you’ll also get to see a nearby engine block from a Japanese kamikaze plane as well as other war wreckage scattered around.


Izu Peninsula near Tokyo

Tokyo Prefecture not only consists of towns and villages but has a group of volcanic islands stretching from south and east of the Izu Peninsula. It has large mountainous and deeply indented coasts. Okinawa has the top scuba diving points but the Izu Peninsula has its advantages. Within only two hours’ drive away from Tokyo, it has the most popular and accessible scuba diving destinations on the mainland.

These northern waters supply the Japanese population with most of the fishes. It is best to prepare for Japan’s diverse climate,  diving near Tokyo requires proper scuba gear and equipment, best to wear wetsuits from July to October and drysuits in the winter.  


At Jogashima, about 100 miles south of Tokyo, divers can experience the perplexedly patterned pinecone fish. It shows its beauty after dark with light organs flashing, powered by bioluminescent bacteria.


The next stop is Yawatano.  Vehicles are not permitted near the Futo Point that’s why divers are not allowed to bring so much for themselves. It provides the divers’ view of photogenic dragon morays.  A seemingly endless aggregation of green and yellow sea anemones will be spotted. Not to mention the different species of colorful anemone fish.

Izu Ocean Park

Izu Ocean Park in the middle of Jogasaki Beach is the best for a family experience, as for a beginner as well.  You don’t have to compete with the strong ocean currents. Scuba diving gear and equipment rental are available, same with instructors that will provide guidance from beginners to advanced. It is compiled with swimming pools made of natural rocks for children, a 50 m swimming pool is situated in the area as well as facilities for scuba diving.  Jogasaki Beach is a 25-minute walk from Jogasaki- Kaigan Station. This coastline is about 10 km in length and formed by the lava flow from the volcanic Amagi Mountains.        


 No Man’s Land – Bonin Islands, Ogasawara Group

The Ogasawara Islands are an archipelago of more than 30 tropical islands about 1,000 kilometers southeast of Tokyo.  It will take a minimum of 26 hours of a ferry ride to arrive at the main island Chichijima. 

This Pacific Ocean paradise is rich in natural attractions.  It was a constant battleground between the Japanese and Americans during World War II. The 25m high radio telescope is on the Chichijama island, but probably the most famous island is Iwo Jima. It was the stage for the battle of Iwo Jima in WWII in the naval struggle between the USA and Japan.

The Japanese vessel sunken by Allied aircraft 33 meters deep, making it another diveable wreck. The wreck lies in clear water and sand coral. It is common to spot nurse sharks at the Daimi Maru wreck site.

The Ogasawara Islands are also called the “Galapagos of the Orient”. It was never connected to the continent,  and many of the wildlife had undergone the unique evolutionary process.

The green turtle, dolphins, humpback whale migrations, many coral species, and much more can be found in the subtropical paradise. Scuba diving in Japan’s underworld is at its’ peak between May and November when the typhoon season ends and the water temperature rises.

Japanese Angelfish

You may also like

Leave a Comment