TOTTORI – Transparent kayaks are exploding in popularity in Tottori Prefecture, with tourists describing the experience as akin “to flying in the sky.”
Visitors to Tottori, a coastal area along the Sea of Japan known for its jagged coastline and caves hollowed out by waves, can glimpse schools of Japanese horse mackerel, squid and sea anemones through their kayaks while paddling off Uradome Beach in the town of Iwami, where the water is as transparent as the famously clear seas off Okinawa.
Visitors can take the 4-meter-long polycarbonate boat through the marine area, which is part of a U.N.-designated global geopark.
The local kayaking service is attracting growing numbers of visitors, particularly from Asia, who rave that the experience leaves them feeling as if they had been “swimming with the fish and lying on a carpet of seaweed.”
The transparency of the water off Uradome beach allows people to see as far down as 25 meters, matching the water off the main island of Okinawa, according to Koji Hasegawa, 55, who heads a group promoting the use of local nature spots for leisure and education.
Visitors can explore rocky areas or caves in one of five two-seat kayaks accompanied by a guide for ¥8,000.
“I want visitors to enjoy the beautiful ocean and magnificent geological features,” Hasegawa said.
The beach is part of the San’in Kaigan Geopark, which was admitted to the UNESCO-assisted Global Geoparks Network in 2010. The geopark covers coastal areas in Kyoto, Hyogo and Tottori prefectures and highlights igneous rocks, dunes and geological strata related to the formation of the Sea of Japan around 25 million years ago.