La Reyes Shonan: when gravity makes waves in Japan | Photo: La Reyes Shonan

Making waves is no longer the surf world's best-kept secret. However, there are many paths to paradise. Here's an ingenious wave pool solution.

Welcome to Shonan, one of Japan's best surf centers.

Located in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan, this is a picturesque region known for its beautiful beaches and relaxed, surf-inspired lifestyle.

The coastal area, stretching along Sagami Bay, is famous for its scenic views of Mount Fuji, particularly stunning during clear days.

Shonan is a popular destination for Tokyo residents seeking a quick escape from the city's hustle and bustle, as it's just about an hour away by train.

The heart of Shonan's allure lies in its laid-back beach towns like Kamakura, with its rich history and cultural heritage, including the iconic Great Buddha statue, and Enoshima, an island known for its shrine, panoramic ocean views, and lush botanical garden.

The beaches in Shonan, such as Shichirigahama and Enoshima Beach, are hotspots for surfers and sunbathers, especially during the summer months.

In addition to its natural beauty, Shonan offers a vibrant culinary scene with a focus on fresh seafood, trendy cafes, and local breweries.

The region's relaxed atmosphere, combined with its cultural and historical significance, makes it a unique and beloved destination in Japan.

La Reyes Shonan: the Japanese wave pool ride lasts around 10 seconds | Photo: La Reyes Shonan

Waves Powered by Gravity

However, the beach resort community is also home to "the world's cheapest artificial surfing pool." Well, not exactly, if we take into consideration Finland's own Artwave.

According to its developers, La Reyes Shonan uses a "purely domestic wave-making device" that relies on mechanics and gravity to produce a waist-high (3'11'' or 1.2 meters) rideable roller.

Although inspired by the existing Kobe-Reyes technology that can be ridden near Osaka, this one runs on its own patent to deliver the goods.

But how does it work?

Eighteen elongated wave-shaped metal structures are pulled several yards up a slope. This inclined track, at an angle of around 30 degrees, is equipped with a pulley system that lifts the heavy metal parts.

When the wire that secures them is released, the structures fall asynchronously, reach the water's surface, and create a wave on the 4'7'' (1.4 meters) deep concrete pool.

This gravity-plus-pressure wave-making technology reminds us of Surf Lakes' ingenious water displacement concept but without the circular effect. It's kinetic energy in motion.

It's like when massive icebergs calve from glaciers, hit the water, and create a big, fast-moving wave.

La Reyes Shonan: using heavy metal structures and gravity to create surfing waves | Photo: La Reyes Shonan

Room for Improvement

La Reyes Shonan produces a small A-frame-type wall of water that runs across the basin for around ten seconds.

It's far from perfect, but the idea is functional.

The time between waves is a bit long - around 80 seconds - but we can imagine it improved with a faster pulley system.

The facility suggests a maximum of eight people in the pool.

To minimize the waiting time, the A-frame wave allows at least two surfers to ride the left and right, and eventually, a couple more beginners take the whitewater in the middle.

The others might have to wait for their turn.

Maintenance is required in case of a malfunction, meaning up to half an hour of downtime.

Water quality is also an issue being addressed by developers, as transparent chlorine-treated H2O is now pretty much the standard in most of the world's finest wave pools.

La Reyes Shonan: the pool generates waist-high waves for longboarders | Photo: La Reyes Shonan

Fun for Beginners and Longboarders

One of its strengths, though, seems to be energy consumption.

"Since this method utilizes gravity, it saves power compared to conventional methods and contributes to reducing CO2 emissions," explains La Reyes Shonan on their website.

Each session lasts 90 minutes and costs ¥10,000, i.e., around 67 dollars. You can book them online or try your luck by just showing up.

The Japanese wave pool is part of a thermal and spa hotel facility located 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Yokohama.

The La Reyes Shonan could be an interesting wave pool concept for beginner surfers and longboarders.

If you're an intermediate and advanced rider, you might feel that you need to double the size to make it really fun.

Nevertheless, the whole wave generation system is innovative.

Moreover, if you can play with the height and weight of the metal parts and time their release asynchronously, you can eventually get waves of different sizes and shapes.

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