Best 100 Bathing Beaches in Japan
Wednesday, June 21, 2006 Posted: 10:58 AM JST
(by Hideaki Kagami) - With summer just around the corner, the Environment Ministry has released a list of the 100 best bathing beaches in Japan, 15 of them located in the Kansai region. This is the third such list compiled by the ministry. The first list, issued in 1998, contained the "Best 55" beaches, and the second one, issued in 2003, listed the "Best 88" beaches. The beaches include bathing areas of lakes, rivers, reservoirs and islands.
The latest list is different from the previous ones in that it is based on a new standard and refers to the "Best 100" beaches as the "100 Most Pleasant Bathing Beaches." The "Best 55" and "Best 88" lists were based on the assessment of conventional criteria such as the colon bacillus count in the water, transparency and other elements of water quality, surrounding landscapes, and the conditions of toilets and camping facilities. In selecting the "most pleasant" beaches, the ministry focused on new factors like local environmental education, regional biological diversity and local municipalities' consideration of welfare. Ministry officials said that in making the choice they gave high marks to unique beaches where bathers can feel the water of nature with their five senses.
The ministry adopted a five-point new yardstick in selecting the "100 Most Pleasant Bathing Beaches." Specifically, the ministry 1) excluded beaches bustling with yachts and boats and crowded with anglers; 2) gave high ratings to underwater landscapes, nighttime sky views and the appearance of mirages; 3) positively evaluated local attitudes toward water quality, garbage collection, recycling of materials and noise prevention; 4) gave priority to measures against tidal waves, high waves and shark attacks; and 5) highly valued local efforts to offer convenient access for visitors and install barrier-free facilities.
The 15 most pleasant beaches chosen in the Kansai region are:
- Takenohama, Ura Prefectural Sun Beach, Ohama and Keino-Matsubara (both on Awaji Island) in Hyogo Pref.
- Nachi, Hashikui, Shirarahama, Kataonami and Namihaya in Wakayama Pref.
- Makino Sunny Beach in Shiga Pref.
- Goza-Shirahama and Atashika in Mie Pref.
- Wakasa-Wada in Fukui Pref.
- Tainohama and Osuna in Tokushima Pref.
Of the 15, Keino-Matsubara, Nachi, Kataonami, Makino Sunny Beach and Osuna were designated as "Choice Beaches." The Keino-Matsubara beach, which attracts some 120,000 bathers in July and August every year, is famous for a cleaning campaign conducted by a group of 80 volunteers in Minami-Awaji City, where the beach is located, joined by local junior high school students. Also rated highly were various services offered at the beach, such as the lending of beach wheelchairs for physically handicapped visitors. The Nachi beach is located close to JR Nachi Station and well equipped with locker rooms for physically handicapped people. It also has a lookout tower and patrol ships to ensure the safety of bathers. And lifeguards offer assistance service to physically handicapped persons, according to the Nachi-Katsuura Town Office.
These services point to the direction swimming beaches all over the country should follow in the future.
Efforts and ideas
Environment Ministry officials say they hope the new selection standard will prompt municipalities as well as the general public to understand that they could improve the natural and living environments with efforts and ideas.
Take for example the Osuna beach, located in Kaiyo Town, Tokushima Pref. Kaiyo is a new municipality with a population of 12,000 created by the merger of three towns this spring. The artificially created, relatively new seaside beach does not attract many bathers yet. But it has won the "Choice Beach" fame for its beauty, cleanness and comfortableness because it has a convenient approach to the shore, is equipped with toilets for physically handicapped people, and its parking area, locker rooms and shower facilities are all free of charge. "We look forward to the official start of the bathing season scheduled for July 15," says an official of the Kaiyo Town Office. It hopes the "Choice Beach" designation will help boost the number of visitors and contribute to the promotion of the town's development.
Let's hope that efforts to enhance the atmosphere of beaches, such as environmental preservation and the introduction of barrier-free facilities, will enable us to feel more comfortable on shore this summer.
With kind thanks to Kansai International Public Relations Promotion Office (KIPPO)
* * *