Japan - Profile
- Being distant from the popular cruising routes, not many cruising yachts visit Japan, but those who do find the Japanese very welcoming, often going out of their way to help visiting sailors.
- Until not so long ago even local yachts were a rarity as the Japanese have no tradition as a sailing nation. However, in the early 1990s the government decided to actively develop the yachting industry, more marinas were built, and various international regattas were organised.
- However, the one aspect that even the ingenious Japanese cannot do much about is their weather, which does not encourage cruising, for a cruise often turns into a battle against wind and current. Fortunately this one major disadvantage is made up for by the many attractions that Japan offers the visiting sailor.
- The Kuroshio, or Black current flows from South to North and is a very reasonable way for yachts in Asia to take the North Passage to the US West coast. It is easier to cruise the Japanese Islands moving in this direction.
- One major attraction is the Inland Sea (Seto Naikai), a large body of water, connected by three passes to the surrounding ocean, which allows a yacht access into the very heart of the country. The place abounds with pretty anchorages or small fishing harbours, but there are also many marinas as well as yacht clubs, which usually offer hospitality to visitors. Those in the smaller places have only basic facilities, while in the larger towns clubs are on a par with the best yacht clubs in Europe or America.
- Tanegashima Island to the South of Kagoshima has a very large port and the people there are very friendly.
- Most things are available in Japan, but are extremely expensive in comparison to Europe or America. Chandleries are well-stocked, but expensive. Ironically, even Japanese electronic equipment costs more in Japan than abroad, particularly compared to the USA. Locally produced sails and nautical charts also cost much more than their equivalent elsewhere and the same applies to provisions, so it is best to arrive with all necessary supplies and a well-stocked boat. Local fresh produce is more reasonable. Fuel, water and LPG are available everywhere.
- Repair facilities are generally good and there are boatyards in most ports. Prices for haul-outs vary greatly, but appear to be more reasonable away from the large cities. It is best to approach the local yacht club for advice if in need of a repair job or if one cannot find something.
- Marinas in the Inland Sea are generally expensive, but some of them offer free berthing to foreign visitors for a few days. There are no charges for tying up to a dock in a commercial or fishing harbour. The best marinas are in Osaka Bay, where several marinas are strategically placed around this large bay. The most convenient is in the port of Osaka itself, but there may not be space available. The marina at Wakayama, on the east coast, just south of the entrance to the bay, has very good facilities and is linked by train to Osaka and beyond.
- There is known to be at least one large marina for visitors in the Tokyo area as well as several small ones around the Miura Peninsula, and, at the opposite end of the country, several marinas have now been built in Nagasaki, Yokohama, Sasebo and Fukuoka.
The north is cold, while the south is in the monsoon belt. Most of the country is in a temperate four seasonal zone. Summer sees SE winds and a rainy season in June and July. Typhoons are most frequent mid-July to October, but can occur at any time; five to ten days' warning are usually given. Fog may be a problem at times so having radar is essential. Although typhoons are a constant threat, weather forecasts and faxes are good and reliable, and almost every port has a typhoon shelter.
Japan Meteorological Agency: This is updated twice a day.
A useful link typhoon tracking is: http://www.usno.navy.mil/NOOC/nmfc-ph/RSS/jtwc/ab/abpwweb.txt
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page
Although only those ports listed are actual official ports of entry, in practice visiting yachts could be cleared in any port, as all have the relevant offices. Yachts can be cleared at any port that has customs and immigration offices.
Gotto Retto Archipelago: Fukuyama (Fukue Island) *
* indicates port of entry