Monday, September 22, 2014

amanohashidate - the bridge to heaven

I love making lists so you can imagine I had quite a huge list of places I wanted to visit in Japan. Japan and I have the same mindset because you can literally see lists for everything and anything here. The top beefs in Japan, the best castles, the best nature spots, etc etc. One of them is known as the Three Views of Japan which lists the three most celebrated scenic sights of Japan and consists of Miyajima, Matsushima, and Amanohashidate. Ellen and I had the opportunity to visit the latter today and man does it live up to its reputation.

I'm sure everyone knows about Kyoto - famous for its geisha and its plethora of temples. However Kyoto Prefecture is also the location of Amanohashidate, though it is rather far from Kyoto city. Most tourists probably wouldn't make the trek out here if they are just doing a brief tour of Japan but I highly recommend it. So what is Amanohashidate?? 

amanohashidate view land
Amanohashidate which translates to "bridge to heaven" is a pine tree covered sandbar that stretches across Miyazu Bay. From the hills on either side of the sandbar, the sandbar looks like a path that connects heaven to earth. Looking at the above picture you might be like huh? just kind of looks like a bridge across water and nothing living up to the name of bridge to heaven. That is where matanozoki style comes in.

matanozoki style
Matanozoki style or rather looking between your legs is very popular here. There are platforms specifically for this and you'll see everyone doing it. So don't be shy and join in on the action! We can cross the sandbar by foot or by bike. I'm sure you can guess which way we chose...

biking between pine trees

It was cool to see pine trees growing directly on the sand. The bike ride was fun even though we got quite lost on the other side.

 Kasamatsu Park
From the opposite side the sandbar looks like the kanji for one. The view is definitely better from the side closest to the train station. If you don't have the time to make the trek across then I would stay on the other side and just wander a little onto the sandbar. Afterwards we grabbed the ferry back but the view wasn't great since we could only see a line of trees. So glad we could take the ferry since we were too tired to make the trek back to the station. There are a small sampling of shops on either end but unfortunately we didn't have time to browse due to the long train ride back to Aichi.

The Details
Access: Amanohashidate Station
I highly recommend getting the Amanohashidate Pass (One Day) - 1600 yen for foreigners only!
This area is serviced by the Kitakinki Tango Railway and the pass covers the train between Fukuchiyama and Amanohashidate. It also covers the chair life/cable car for Kasamatsu Park (the side where the sandbar looks like the kanji one). It includes a ticket to the sightseeing ferry and a two hour bicycle rental.

Amanohashidate View Land
Hours: Varies depending on the season but generally 9am-5pm (last sale at 4:30pm)
Chair life/cable car fees Roundtrip: Adult 850 yen - not covered by the Amanohashidate Pass
telephone: 0772-22-5304

Kasamatsu Park
Hours: Varies depending on the season but generally 8am-5pm (last sale at 4:30pm)
Chair life/cable car fees Roundtrip: Adult 660 yen - covered by the Amanohashidate Pass
telephone: 0772-27-0032

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