Amanohashidate, The “Bridge To Heaven” Of Kyoto
It was in the middle of haru yasumi, or spring break when I visited Amanohashidate, and since then Amanohashidate has been my number one favorite place in Japan. It’s name roughly means “the bridge of heaven”, and in my (personal) opinion Amanohashidate certainly deserves its name. It even is gifted as one of the three scenic views of Japan (日本三景 Nihon Sankei), along with islands of Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture and Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Amanohashidate itself is a white-sandbar land, covered by not less than 8000 beautiful pine trees spans between two opposing sides of Miyazu Bay. The sandbar is about 3.6 km in length, 20m wide and can be viewed from both mountains in either sides of the bay. Amanohashidate station is located in northern part of Kyoto prefecture, and can be reached about two hours by bus from Kyoto Station.
The sandbar can be explored on foot (about one hour) or by bicycle (about 20 minutes) that can be rented from near the area. Another option is walking one way, and taking the ship to go back to another side. If you have enough time, and you are fond of beaches, I recommend this option. It was nice to walk along the pine trees and enjoy the sand beaches along the sandbar.
There are some routes you can take for enjoying time in Amanohashidate. This is the route I took when I visited Amanohashidate. This route takes about half-day to fully complete. Start from Amanohashidate station, walking about 5 minutes you will reach Chionji Temple. Then exploring the sandbar, enjoying the panoramic view of the beach, and the pine trees (some pine trees even have unique name derived from the land or from their various shapes!). This is what your route looks like:
In the end of the sandbar you can take either the cable car or the chair lift to go uphill, the Kasamatsu Park. Even when you are riding the chair lift, or after you reached up the hill, you will be presented with this beautiful view!
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼In the Kasamatsu Park, there is an observatory in which you can perfectly see the view of Amanohashidate sandbar. Turn your back to Amanohashidate and bend over to see the view between your legs, it is said that Amanohashidate will look like a bridge to heaven. This position of bending over and sticking your head between your legs is called “Matanozoki”. There is even a matanozoki stance in Kasamatsu Park.
Taking the sightseeing boat for going back near Amanohashidate Station, these cute little buddies (and a bunch of them!) will keep you company along your journey.
In the another side of Amanohashidate is Amanohashidate View Land, which can be reached about 7 minutes walking from Amanohashidate Station. Amanohashidate View Land is located in top of Mount Monju, so you need to take either the chair lift or monorail again for reaching there. Similar to Kasamatsu Park, Amanohashidate View
Land is also an observatory that can be used to enjoy the beautiful view of Amanohashidate. If you want to get a nice souvenir from Amanohashidate, why don’t you try taking a picture while riding the ferris wheels in Amanohashidate View Land.
There are a bunch of restaurants (mainly seafood) to satisfy your appetite after a long day in Amanohashidate. There are month-limited meals such as Buri-shabu which can be enjoyed around December to February, or Oyster on summer, July to August. And at the end of your journey, got some Amanohashidate-themed goods or sweets, nice souvenirs for your loved ones (I got mine beautifully-drawn sketches of Amanohashidate postcards).
Access: Amanohashidate Station on the Miyazu Line, about 2 hours from Kyoto Station, the southern end of the sandbar is reached within walking distance from Amanohashidate station
Monorail/Chair lift to Amanohashidate View Land: 850yen (roundtrip)
Cable car/chair lift to Kasamatsu Park: 660yen (roundtrip)
Amanohashidate sightseeing boat: 960yen (roundtrip)