Stand-Up Paddling in Tokyo: Shiromaru Lake and Odaiba Beach

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Tokyo Itineraries and Attractions

During Covid, stand-up paddling was one of the activities that kept me sane, and also kept me away from crowds. Hence when I could travel again, being able to stand-up paddle overseas became a wishlist on my bucket list.

When I was in Tokyo, I SUPped at two places: Shiromaru Lake (in Okutama) and Odaiba Beach (near Tokyo City).

1. Stand-up Paddling at Shiromaru Lake

It’s easy to SUP at Shiromaru Lake. Recommended to come in April for sakura season or autumn to see the autumn foliage.

Shiromaru Lake is located in Okutama which is about a 2 hours train ride from Tokyo. I booked my SUP tour online with Canoebar for 6600yen and Hiromi-san from Canoebar responded quickly, even helping to provide travel directions from Tokyo. After reaching Mitake Station, I walked to the Canoebar River House to change into my gear.

All gear like SUP board, paddle, wet suit, booties, and life jacket are provided. Valuables were stored at reception, and I left my bag of clothes in the female changing room. I only took along my water bottle and mask.

A van took Kaori-san (my SUP tour guide) and me to Shiromaru Lake, about a 15 min drive away. We then walked down some steps and a slope to take our iSUP boards from a holding area in the forest before descending the rest of the slope to the lake, launching from some rocks.

The SUP tour took 2 hours, and we went up and down the lake twice. First, we paddled downstream towards the dam where a string of yellow buoys indicated the boundary that we couldn’t paddle past.

SUPping past the occasional boulder
SUPping under a bridge

Then we U-turned and paddled upstream to the other end, passing some large boulders, going under a bridge, paddling past some Mandarin ducks, and ending with a challenging paddle against a rushing inward stream of water. Further upstream, shallow waters and rocks made it impossible to proceed further.

This is the only part where I had to kneel as the water was turbulent due to a stream of water rushing into the lake

We saw several hawks circling in the air and the mountain view was breathtaking, even more so when April comes and Sakura flowers bloom, according to Kaori-san. The blue-green water was relatively clear at shallow parts, and there is an underwater rock area with some sort of water plant growing out in tufts.

There were quite a few other SUPpers and kayakers either on a leisurely paddle, or practising competitive kayaking up and down the lake. Shiromaru Lake is calm and suitable for beginners to learn SUP. There is also a path that hikers can walk on alongside the lake to admire the view.

Upon completing the SUP tour, a van came to pick us up back to the base where I changed clothes. Kaori-san quickly uploaded the SUP photos she had taken to the Canoebar website for me to download with a password. Canoebar staff are really friendly and Hiromi-san even kindly gave me a lift to the Takimoto Cable Car Station when he heard I was headed to Mitakesan.

(Photos at Shiromaru Lake were taken by Kaori-san)

2. Stand-up Paddling at Odaiba Beach

Calm waters at Odaiba Beach

Odaiba Beach is a man-made beach located on the waterfront of Tokyo Bay and is a popular destination with families and couples. The beach offers a beautiful backdrop of the Tokyo skyline, and the tranquil waters are occasionally rippled by passing boats.

I booked my SUP tour with Andrey Surcek of whitewaterkayakingtokyo.com for 10,000yen. He is a Canadian who has lived in Japan for over 20 years and freelances as a SUP and kayak tour guide in Tokyo and Okutama areas.

We launched on an iSUP near the Odaiba Beach restroom, and he guided me for one round of the lagoon, showing me the boundaries marked by yellow buoys. Beyond the buoys, tour boats and small cargo ships were cruising in the channel hence that area was not safe for leisure water sports.

The water was blackish and murky and it’s actually not fit for swimming. There were many jellyfish in the water even at the shallow areas along the shore. However, its relatively calm waters make it a good place for beginners to learn SUP, provided one wears a full-body suit to avoid being stung by jellyfish if one capsizes.

Tour boats and cargo boats use the channel in the background of the photo. Yellow buoys (also in the background) indicate boundaries for leisure water sports

Odaiba Beach provides a scenic photo opportunity with the Tokyo skyline. We saw fishes, seagulls, crows and even shellfish on the underwater rocks near the rockwall on one side of the beach. Tourists on a nearby tour boat waved enthusiastically at us.

I SUPped the second round alone and took my time to enjoy the wind, admire the skyline, and watch families and friends enjoy their weekend at the beach playing, singing, chatting, and spending quality time with one another.

Odaiba Beach is popular with families and groups of friends during weekends

Usually, a SUP tour with Andrey lasts around 2 to 3 hours, but I was feeling quite cold from the wind and had a dinner appointment to rush to, so I ended my SUP experience early (around 1.5h).

(Photos at Odaiba Beach were taken by Andrey Surcek)

Odaiba Beach is a convenient place to SUP as it’s just 20 minutes away from downtown Tokyo by metro. If you have more time, try SUPping in the mountains at Okutama too.

Read more about stand-up paddling in Singapore here.

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