When we think about sandbars, we always picture in our mind the beauty of a long strip of sand on the beach, sometimes connecting two islands or forming a mini island by itself in the middle of the sea, far from the shoreline.
Sandbars around the globe are places that travelers and beach lovers often visit because of their beauty, though almost all of them are bare, with no trees or shade to take cover from the scorching heat of the sun.
However, this unique sand bar, found in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture has thousands of pine trees, which allows visitors to enjoy the sand, sea and the shade that these trees can offer on a sunny day. Read on to find out about this amazing sandbar and check out 10 fun things you can do there!
Amanohashidate literally means the ‘bridge to heaven’ in Japanese as it looks like a bridge going to the sky. According to Japanese folk tale and legend, this sandbar had been a ladder used by a god to go back and forth from the earth to heaven and watch goddess Izanami. While he was sleeping the bridge fell down, creating this amazing sand bridge connecting two shores.
Amanohashidate is a 3.3-kilometer long sandbar covered by around 8000 pine trees. This beautiful landscape is one of Japan’s three scenic views; the Pine-clad islands of Matsushima, Torii at Itsukushima Shrine and the Sandbar of Amanohashidate.
Amanohashidate doesn’t only offer a wonderfully scenic landscape but is also home to shrines, parks, beaches and other spots for its visitors. Here are 10 things to see and enjoy in this incredible place!
This shrine is located in the widest part of the sandbar. Stories and myths link Amanohashidate to dragons during ancient times, and that’s why this shrine is the home to the ‘King of the Eight Dragons’. Close to the shrine is a well of pure spring water called Isoshimizu, an interesting spot since the place is surrounded by ocean waters.
Motoise Kono Shrine is a Shinto shrine located on the northern coast. The shrine is adorned with colored traditional decorations, which look like pear-shaped gems attached to the railings along the shrine’s main entrance. These Shinto motifs are permitted in only two shrines in Japan- the Ise and Kono Shrines.
Chionji Temple is a Buddhist temple dedicated to the deity of wisdom, Bodhisattva Monju. Students and families come here to pray for wisdom, especially before exams. The temple gate located on Chaya street is registered as a Cultural Property of the City and is one of the biggest temple gates in the area.
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This sightseeing boat is one of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of the Amanohashidate. If you don’t like walking more than 3 kilometers to cross the opposite shoreline, then this boat can take you from the south to the north of Amanohashidate. The boat sails for about 12 minutes and you’ll also get to feed hungry sea gulls that fly close to the boat while sailing!
This bridge connects Amanohashidate and the Monju area and is called ‘Kaisen-Kyo’ which means rotating bridge. The bridge can rotate up to 90 degrees to let sailboats and freighters pass through.
Back in 1923 when it was first built, operators rotated the bridge manually. As time passed more and more ships began passing through, so in 1960 it became electronically operated. If you want to see the bridge rotate, you have to wait for ships to come or better yet, sail on one of the sightseeing boats in the area!
Amanohashidate View Land is a viewing deck and observatory located right on top of Mount Monju. It has several facilities such as rides, chair lifts, a ferris wheel and a monorail to better enjoy the scenic view below, and glimpse the towns overlooking Mount Monju.
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If you love wine or just simply curious, you can visit Amanohashidate Winery and see for yourself how they are made. The winery makes 35,000 liters of wine from the grapes that were grown in the area. You can even newly brewed baby red wine for only 200 yen or visit their underground wine cellar.
Love soft ice cream? They also sell white wine soft ice cream which is popular in Amanohashidate. The Winery also has a restaurant which offers a buffet menu with food made using local, fresh ingredients. The buffet-style restaurant is open from 11 am to 2 pm.
Located in the northern part of Amanohashidate is another observatory overlooking the Amanohashidate sandbar. Facilities such as a Sky Deck, Sky Terrace, Tenbo Wood Deck Colosseum, Observation Mirror and a wishing bell make this place so much more interesting!
Chie-no-yu onsen is located near Amanohashidate station. This onsen has both indoor and outdoor baths. There is also a separate onsen for hands and feet only. The hot spring water at this onsen contains sodium and is really good for health, especially skin.
Chie-no-yu onsen opens every day except Wednesday, from 12 pm until 9 pm. The fee for adults is 700 yen whilst for elementary school students, it costs 350 yen. For families, 1 child can go in for free, for every 1 adult. Do you want to enjoy an onsen for free? Their onsen for feet (Ashi-yu) is free for everyone!
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Located on Mt. Nariai, this temple overlooking Amanohashidate is one of the must-see places when you are in the area. It is also the 28th checkpoint along the east Japan pilgrimage route and is known as the place where wishes can come true.
The deity, Aryavalokitesvara Bodhisattva, is enshrined and worshipped here. It one of the most beautiful places around Amanohashidate. Cherry blossoms and rhododendrons bloom in springtime at Nariaiji Temple Garden, and in autumn a beautiful canvas of colors from the surrounding maple trees makes the garden an amazing place to visit. The temple is open daily from 8 am until 4:30 pm.
Kyoto is indeed a very beautiful place and should be one of the places at the top of your travel itinerary to Japan. Amanoshidate is well endowed with mesmerizing beauty from historical sights, shrines, and temples to scenic natural wonders. Kyoto has almost everything that travelers could ask for. So if you are looking for things to do and places to visit in Japan, I suggest that you include this on your travel itinerary!