Amanohashidate is one of the top three scenic spots in Japan and is the one closest to the urban centers of Osaka and Nagoya. Despite this, it remains a secret to visitors from around the world. Maybe they were thinking about Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, the ancient game of hundred cards. About a thousand years ago, Lady Koshikibu wrote on the trip from Kyoto that “The road going over Oe Mountain is so far that I haven’t even set foot on Amanohashidate, and have yet to receive a letter from my mother”. These days it is rare to see people come here by horse, let alone by foot, but the beautiful hills and valleys along the way could make an interesting hike or cycle ride from Kyoto, and you could feel the slow pace of the Tango countryside slowly seep inside you.
Standing on the hill overlooking the bay, the coast is dotted with thousands of beautiful pine trees, which stretch for over two miles. Tradition says that you should bend over and look at the view between your legs. Amanohashidate means bridge to heaven, and the narrow sand spit between the ocean and the bay does look like a bridge. I can only imagine how beautiful it is the moon viewing season in September when the full moon reflects over the water. The waters around the bay is also well known for its healing qualities, and has been dubbed the “Water of Everlasting Life”. Alternatively the cherry blossom season is another great time to visit.
Alternatively, if you don’t wish to bend over, there is always the Amano Hashidate View Land, where you can have the same experience but from the top of the hill. There you have a choice of the Ferris Wheel, cable car or monorail, depending on the weather and the level of adrenalin you wish to have while you are enjoying the view.
By train you can come to the white sand beaches of Amanohashidate from Kyoto via the JR Sanin Main line (about 2 hours by limited express), which travels via Nijo and Kameoka. It takes about the same time coming from Osaka. By car you can get here from Kyoto in about one and a half hours.
When you are relaxing on the beaches, your mind may turn to the abundant seafood available here, including the snow crab, or Matsuba crab. If you are here in the evening you may see the fishing boats return with the Taiza Crab, with a rich taste and tender texture.
Amanohashidate is part of the Miyazu City, one of the smaller cities in Kyoto Prefecture, with about 20,000 people. Despite its small size the City is extending a big welcome to tourists. There are buses linking Miyazu, Amanohashidate and the famous boat houses of Funaya, or you can visit this area to your own timetable by car, taking advantage of the scenic roads and the lack of traffic.