About me


My name is Kieran Gaffney. I live in a small seaside town called Matsushima about 400km north of Tokyo in an area of Japan called Tohoku. This area boasts some of the most beautiful coastline in Japan and my obsession with the sea has brought me to sea kayaking via sailing (need too much water), motorboating and wakeboarding (too noisy and expensive).

Originally I am from Edinburgh in Scotland but have been living in exile in Zimbabwe, Italy, Berlin, London and now Japan over the last 15 years. I came to Japan in 2004 with my Japanese wife and two children to learn Japanese. I am currently an assistant language teacher in the local high school. I met and then married my beautiful wife in London in 2002.

I am really an architect and am planning to return to Edinburgh in August 2007 when I will build my own house.

[Image shows me in a rented North Shore, Calypso]


37 Responses to “About me”

  1. Wenley Says:

    Hello Gaijin-san,
    I’ ve visited your site now and then, since I found the link in Cailean’s.
    Would you mind if I link it in my blog with some short personal bio?

  2. Wenley, I too visit your blog from time to time. Thought I had a link to it but seems not, certainly in my favourites!
    And yes of course.

  3. FH2o Says:

    All the very best wishes from warmer waters!
    Francis Ho

  4. Kiba20 Says:

    Mate, I have to say a big thank you for a great site. While I may be close in distance, Chiba (the Tokyo side) has been starving me of the experiences on the water that you sound like you are having up there in Matsushima. Flicking through your site keeps me going each week and may have even motivated me to get my act together while I am here and get back out of the water! It’S tough when you realise it is not at your fimgertips anymore (Austrlian if you didn’t guess:-)).
    Actually, no, you will have already returned home by now!! I hope the house plans went well. And Thanks again!

  5. Hi Kiba20

    Thanks for your comment.

    There is an ‘outdoors’ guy who has a blog http://www.bastish.net he has a folding boat and lives in Tokyo. I found a post about kayaking some of Tokyo’s canals and rivers and it sounds amazing – a great way to get to know Tokyo from another perspective. You should do that! It might not be australian surf waters but at least there are no sharks eh?

    Also you know about the kayaking schools near you right? There is a list under “tours and schools”

  6. Michel Obladen Says:

    is it you, the Kieran I know from Berlin and London?

    Love Michel

  7. Kiba 20 Says:

    Hi Kieran,

    Your site is doing wonders for my motivation to get out there again, even to the point that I have started sending out feelers for a kayak over here (although that is a secret from the people back in Oz who are kindly, so kindly storing mine). If you are here until summer, we will have to try and meet up and go for a paddle either here around Chiba or up there.
    Nice one mate!

  8. Michel Obladen – your email address is not working please send me your address to: kierangaffney at hotmail dot com

  9. Hi Kiba20

    That would be great. I suggest up here as you probably won’t get up here otherwise and there is some good paddling… good luck with finding a kayak

  10. PA Says:


    I’m coming to Japan (Tokyo) for work for 2 years. I have been searching for sea kayak club/group in Tokyo but wasn’t successful. It seems that Kiba20 tried to do the same. I’m an intermediate beginner kayaker who would like to continue kayaking while I’m in Tokyo. I have my own boat but plan to leave it behind as I’m concerned about the storage. Any suggestions? I’m coming to Japan next month. Thank you.

  11. PA

    I think there will be a club in Tokyo but it might take a while to find it…

    I suggest you start by going on a tour with one of the commercial “tours and schools” in and around Tokyo (there is a list on the top left of this blog). Raindog in Chiba speaks fluent English and edits a sea kayaking magazine in Japan so may be the best option.

    Another thing to do is go along to the Tokyo Power and Sail Squadron and talk to some of the members, many are long time Tokyo ex pats and know a lot about the Tokyo area the sea and may know of some sea kayakers. They are really friendly, approachable and helpful.

    You could also try asking on the outdoor japan forums

    I wouldn’t bring your kayak – it is prohibitively expensive and difficult to get through customs etc. If you want to buy one here check the tours and schools websites as they sometimes sell second hand kayaks, you could also check yahoo auctions. You will need okay Japanese ithough (or get someone to help). Kayaks in Japan are expensive and there are few second hand kayaks around…

    Good luck with your move. I’m sure you’ll have a great experience. If I had the chance I would love to kayak around the Tokyo rivers and canals – see a side of Tokyo that most people never see. I’ll be leaving Japan about the same time you arrive and am very sad about that!

  12. Hi Kieran,

    I am just writing to ask if you know of any Sea kayak tour opporators on Sado island, Nodo, or the coast of Nigata?

    I am running a bike touring outfit on the Nagano/Nigata border and, being an avid sea kayaker myself (once upon a time) would like to incorporate a day or two of sea kayaking into one of my tours.


  13. Kevin
    Sorru I don’t know anyone. I’ve asked a kayaker friend in Miyagi, if he gives me any good news I’ll let you know.

  14. Jack Sanders Says:

    I am a sea kayaker from Oregon, USA, and am planning to be in Iwate late August 2007. But, it seems, you will be gone by then. I would love to paddle a day or two there.
    I have paddled Nishi Izu twice with the Toi Canoe Club in Toi Onsen; spectacular coastline, great club. Best of luck to you.


  15. Hi Jack
    Iwate is an amazing place to kayak and late August is the best time – hot weather and impossibly warm water – much much warmer than Oregon! There is a tour school too called Mesa, run by Kusayama-san in a town called Kaminishi. He is very friendly and speaks good English though the website is only in Japanese:

    Can I ask for more info about the Toi Canoe Club, I did a websearch but couldn’t find anything.


  16. Kieran, I am the project coordinator within the Victorian Sea Kayak Club who are based in Melbourne Australia. My current task is to coordinate the event planned for 1st December this year which is the recognition of the contribution of Paul caffyn to world wide sea kayaking. The actual event which will take place in Queenscliffe will involve the unveiling of a cast bronze plaque commenorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Paul’s solo circumnavigation of mainland Australia in 1982. His book “The Dreamtime Voyage” tells the story.
    I understand that Paul also circumnavigated at least part of Japan.
    As part of the celebrations we are calling for messages of good wishes & congratulations from distinguished paddlers around the world but we don’t know of anyone in Japan, particulary anyone who would remember Paul’s journey.

    Can you help an old Forth Canoe Club scot (from Haddington), make this connection?


    David Golightly
    61 418 376 044

  17. David

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I was moving from Japan back to sunny Scotland!

    I’m afraid I don’t know that much about Paul Caffyn’s Japan circumnavigation. I have heard of people who met up with the more recent paddles by Laurie Ford and team and Jeff Allen and Hadas Feldman.

    The only thing I could suggest is to start by emailing Mr Yoshikado of Paddlecoast. He appears to be the grandfather of sea kayaking in Japan. He doesn’t speak English but some of his staff do.

    Otherwise Mr Shibata of Algaforest is a very well respected Kayaker in Japan who speaks very good English

    Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  18. colleenayson Says:

    kieran –
    didn’t quite expect to find you on a site for seakayaking but good on you! Have been wondering what you have been up to. it is aug of 07 and you must be back in Scotland. would love to hear from you. We are now living in Melbourne – two blocks from the beach but haven’t quite got in seakayak yet.

  19. Hi Colleen
    good to hear from you! I was thinking about you the other day, don’t know why. anyway send me you email address so I can mail you kierangaffney at hotmail dot com

  20. Len Smyth Says:

    great site kieran
    please contact me if yo wish to kayak in new zealand,
    or Tasmania I have good contacts and make kayaking equipment, currently building carbon wing paddles for kiwi and aussie sea kayakers
    len smyth

  21. alan pert Says:

    Kierbo!! I hope this is you?? I have asked Grambo for your email too many times now and it is amazing what you find in google! I never did get to thank you for the present from Japan so now I am. I heard you were moving to Edinburgh is this true and when?

  22. Hey Aldo
    it’s me – long since abandonded this blog and am back in edinburgh. Have been meaning to get in touch. Will email you at your office or you can mail me at kierangaffney at hotmail dot com

  23. Christov10 Says:

    Hey Kieran,

    I knew a woman named Alana Gaffney in Palos Verdes, California.

    You still kayaking now at Edinburgh?


  24. Mark Sanders Says:

    So where are you these days? Did you make it back to Scotland? When will we be hearing of your kayak adventures there?

    Mark Sanders

  25. Rob M Says:

    Hi – we’d like to publish a photo from your blog https://seakayaking.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/outboards.jpg Can you email it in full size high resolution? Please also attach photo credit details. Thanks

  26. Hi Rob

    You might want to leave an e-mail address?
    Before I search through old CDs to find this image will you send me a copy or the magazine in return?


  27. Chris Says:

    greetings – I am planing on a trip to Miyazu and want to kayak while I am there. Do you have any recommendations of sites I can visit where I can plan where i can rent a boat and gear that might be in English?

  28. Tim Moss Says:

    Hi Kieran

    This is a great website you have here. Thanks for putting all the information online.

    I’m researching a crossing of the La Perouse Strait from Sakhalin to Hokkaido. Any suggestions on who I might contact for advice?

    All the best,

  29. Hi –

    I am a producer with 60 Minutes. I am looking for English speakers familiar with Kinkasan that might assist us with reaching out to people there. I can be reached at ruetenikd@cbsnews.com.

    Thank you,

  30. Samantha Luchansky Says:


    I was googling pictures for my high school newspaper, The Arrowhead, because we’re doing a centerspread about a bucket list for the end of the world. One of our ideas included swimming with sharks. When we came across the picture posted of you kayaking with the shark, we were excited because it was exactly what we were looking for to complete our centerspread. My question for you is, would you grant us permission to use your picture in our paper? Please let us know as soon as possible.

    Thank you,
    Samantha Luchansky
    Arrowhead Co-Editor-in-Chief

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