Amanohashidate – 天橋立
Amanoshidate is one of the three Nihon Sankei (the three most scenic views of the traditional Japan).
Since in the past, Amanoashidate was frequently depicted in many stamps and printings, such as the well known, either abroad, Ukiyo-e stamps. The other two famous views are Matsushima, in Miyagi Prefecture, and Miyajima, in Hiroshima Prefecture.
What’s special about Amanohashidate?
Amanohashidate is located in a singular area, a 3.6 km long sandbar. This geographic feature formed about 8000 years ago, during the end of the glacial era, and nowadays about 8000 pine trees are growing on it. Also, since Heian era this area was considered one of the three wonders of Japan, and we can find a proof of this in this quote from the Koshibu no Naishi poem:
“Overcame Mount Ōe, the journey to Tanba, passing through Ikuno is way too far […] I still haven’t stepped on Amanohashidate’s soil, I still haven’t read my mother’s letters”
How to reach Amanohashidate?
Amanohashidate is located along the coast of the Sea of Japan, in the city of Miyazu, in Kyoto Prefecture.
If you use the train, the access station is Amanohashidate Station, along the privately owned (not JR) Kita-kinki-tango Railway. With a Limited Express train from Kyōto you can reach Amanohashidatre in about two hours. The price for the only way is about 4000 yen, but even if you use the Japan Rail Pass, you are required to pay 1380 yen (plus another 100 yen for the reserved seat) for the sector where the train runs on non JR railway.
Another good way to reach this area is to take the Tankai-bus from Kyoto, which arrives at Amanohashidate in about 2 hours, with a price of 2700 yen one way.
You can find more information here: http://tinyurl.com/kld78wf
If you travel by car, you can follow these directions:http://tinyurl.com/n8bms2m
Kutsukake IC －Kyōto Highway －Tamba Exit ＝ National Route 27 ＝Kyōtanba Wachi Exit－Kyōto Highway－ Yosa Amanohashidate Exit.
From Kyōto to Amanohashidate (100 km) it takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
From Kōbe/Ōsaka area:
Yoshikawa IC – Chūgoku Motorway－ Maizuru Wakasa Motorway － Ayabe IC －Kyōto Highway － Yosa Amanohashidate Exit. From Ōsaka (Suita IC) to Amanohashidate (140 km), it takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
From Nagoya area:
Komaki IC －Nagamikō Highway－ Yonehara JCT －Hokuriku Highway－Tsuruga IC ＝Nationale Route 27＝ Obama Nishi Exit－Maizuru Wakasa highway－Ayabe JTC -Kyōto Highway － Yosa Amanohashidate Exit.
From Nagoya (Komaki exit ) to Amanohashidate (240 km), it takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes.
We went to Amanohashidate in a cold winter day, some snow had just fallen.
Close to the Amanohashidate sandbar, there is a famous temple called Chion-ji: here people come to pray Monju Bosatsu-Zō in order to increase their knowledge and to pass school exams.
Once passed through Chion-ji, in order to reach the sandbar you have to cross a rotating bridge (it rotates about 90 degrees to allow little ships to enter in the lagoon) finally arriving to Amanohashidate. In front of your eyes you will see lots or pine trees, some of them are really old, sometimes venerated as deities and with proper names.
The narrowest part of Amanohashidate measures only 30 meteres. By looking at the sea in both the direction, We somehow could understand the importance of this place for Japanese people in the history: even if so apparently fragile and abandoned to the force of the sea and the nature, this tiny sandbar is still here after 8000 years. To cross all the sandbar it takes about 45 minutes, or 15 min by bycicle (you can rent it). Along the route there are resting areas, toilets and a little shrine.
In the southern side of Amanohashidate you can find Kasamatsu park and on its hill, reachable by a cable car and a chairlift, you can see the sandbar from the top. In addiction, here there is a platform where you can take the typical “matonozoki” pose, which consists in turning your back towards the sandbar, bend over your body and looking between your legs. From this point of view, the sandbar looks like a vertical and slim line.
In certain periods in the year, Amanohashidate may see a real invasion of tourists, especially during Golden Week (around half of May) and Obon vacations (around the middle of August), so if possible let’s try to avoid these periods.
Amanohashidate is located along the sea, so fish is really good here. Also, in the surroundings there are many hot springs, so how about spending a night in a local ryōkan?