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Cavorting at Kyotango

A day trip of kayaking and swimming from Kyoto

Like the north shore of Hawaii, its namesake in Kyoto Prefecture is little known to Japanese and International travelers alike, its quiet lifestyle attracting those marching to a different drum. In summer Kotobiki Beach is a Mecca for locals frolicking in the sea, and in winter surfers come out to ride some of the best waves in the area. Unlike Hawaii, this coasts faces Siberia on the other side, with the winter storms bringing forth stories of ghosts of long past. These days modern seafarers on kayaks pay homage to those of long ago, like the ancient Eskimos who moved around the icy land bridge on the north pacific ring of fire.

Slosh, splash, slosh. How do you describe the sound of kayak oars as they connect with the water in a regular, metronome like rhythm? It is like meditation, the moment the oar makes contact, but then pulls you to another place. The reflection of the sunlight creates a thousand different reflections, like a tapestry of jewels dancing and teasing the ocean below. In many ways the sea is a great leveler. Whether you are a monk or barrister on land, once you are on water these manmade titles disappear, as you become comrades looking out for each other. It may not be man vs nature, but if the current turns, you need to work together to get out of trouble.

The north shore of Kyoto prefecture revolves around Wakasa Bay, looking like a shining pearl necklace that stretches beyond the horizon from Hyogo to Fukui. This realm is blessed with pristine beaches and majestic peninsulas, whose forested hills kiss the sea. You can go swimming, surfing, fishing, or kayaking, in any combination you please. In Maizuru as well as Kyotango, you may come across kayakers doing a bit of squid or sea bream fishing on the side. Keep an eye for the sea eagles as they know where the richest fishing spots are.

In ancient times it would take days to travel here by horseback through the mountains from the old capital of Kyoto. Now Japan Railway (JR) and Kita-Kinki Tango Railway (KTR) transport you here in less than two hours. From the comfort of your panoramic window seat stunning views abound both left and right, whether plunging into the steep ravines between Arashiyama and Kameoka or the rice fields near Ayabe. Between Nishi Maizuru and Amanohashidate the railway hugs the coast giving magnificent views high above the cliffs, reminiscent of the Cote D’Azur or the southern coast of Italy between Naples and Sorrento.

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Bonson Lam Author 9 years ago
These are fantastic pictures Cathy! My dream is to relax on a hammock late in summer, with a charcoal BBQ and someone playing the guitar as the sun is setting over Kyotango!
Cathy Cawood 9 years ago
I cycled in this area a few years back. The cliffs and beaches are very beautiful!

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