After riding camels through the desert of Japan, I decided to take a day trip to Iwami—a beautiful beach town on the west coast of Japan; also known as the real-life location of the swimming anime Free! Iwami is a small and rural town, but doing sightseeing around the beaches will keep you busy for hours. This place is perfect for people who love water sports and fishing that need a break from the city. Besides Okinawa, I think Iwami has some of the best beaches in Japan. If you rent a bike and ride around the coast it’s quite easy to find your own private beach to relax on. It truly felt like a hidden oasis to me. Plus I got to see yet another inspiration for one of my favorite series!
When I arrived at Iwami Station, I was thrilled to to find a mini Free! shrine dedicated to all of the characters. A life-sized version of the bird-like school mascot also greeted me. There were framed photos, guestbooks that you could draw in, and a whole desk of fan-made items dedicated to Rin’s birthday. Seeing all of the time that went into this made me happy that I could be a part of it too. Iwami is definitely a gem even if you aren’t a fan of the anime.
In addition to all of the character goods, they also had maps that mark all of the major sightseeing points from the anime (they hilariously said “Take Free” on the front):
I decided to rent a bike at the Iwami Tourism Office located next to the station for 500 yen per day. Biking is the best way to see the entire town and saves you a lot of time and money. I would allow 4-6 hours here depending on how long you want to go swimming.
The old-school road bike I rented wasn’t half-bad. I also bought some cookies as an offering to my favorite character Haru. After checking my map, I decided to head to the Uradome swimming area because that is the main beach featured in the anime. It’s fortunately just a short ride from the station, and seeing all of the rock formations that surround the town on the way there is amazing. I spent about an hour here swimming then road my bike to a rockier area with less people. Treading the rocks hurt my feet a bit, but once you get in the water you will feel the best adrenaline rush.
This was my favorite beach that I found (you can search “Uradome Coast Oguri beach beaches” on Googles Maps to find the exact location):
Please swim here with caution because there aren’t as many lifegaurds here as the main swimming area. There are literally beaches all over the town so you can find the one that suits you the best. There are sandier ones in central Uradome you can easily access.
In Uradome you’ll also notice an island with a torii which is quite a famous lookout point. Near it is Tajiri Port which is used for fishing and transporting goods. These places were referenced in the anime as well:
After swimming to my heart’s content, I decided to explore more of Iwami by going on a boat tour at Uradome Coast Island Tour. The “Pleasure Boat” boat tour is 1400 yen and around 40 mins. I highly recommend this tour because you can get up and close to the unique rock formations that this area is famous for. Plus it feels like an adventure:
After my little boating excursion, I decided to end my trip by hiking to Tajiri Shrine. Luckily it’s not too far from the port. One of the most unique parts of the town is you can actually see Makoto’s house here! It is located near the top of Tajiri Shrine:
When I reached the top of the shrine, I was surprised to find a Rin cosplayer there! Like me, she was a huge fan of the series and decided to spend her time here during the summer. We talked and actually became really good friends. I still stay in touch with her though I traveled here nearly 3 years ago. I really regret not staying in Iwami overnight so I could see the sunset and the sunrise, but I plan on coming back here in the future!
From Tottori Station, take the Nikko Bus for either Iwai/Kabushima or Iwai/Nagatanibashi and get off at Iwami Station. This takes around 50 mins and costs 700 yen.
If you are coming from a larger city, I highly recommend flying to Tottori Station because you will save a lot of money. Please see my previous article for more information.
While I was in Tottori, I stayed in a net cafe that is now permanently closed because I was short on cash. However, there are more net cafes and better places that you can stay in. Please see booking for better options!