Due to the abrupt school closure and cancellation of public events put into effect by the Japanese government as prevention of the Corona Virus spread last week, I suddenly found myself with an abundance of free time. Not wanting to waste this newfound freedom, I decided to hit up my friends in Kansai and see what the situation was like in the west. As predicted, they informed me that there were noticeably less tourists around Kyoto and the prices of hotels had dropped drastically. This was my chance! Avoiding the public areas where the usual masses occupy (and now an increase of students too), I set my sights on a remote sandbar located in northern Kyoto: Amanohashidate.
If you follow my adventures, you’ll know that I went to Amanohashidate last year after Nanoboro Festa in August (see An Eerily Beautiful Beach in Northern Kyoto). However, because I visited the fishing village of Ine first that day, it was already dark when I reached Amanohashidate and I could only take pictures of the highly aesthetic neon-colored beach. It was definitely worth the trip, but this time I wanted to arrive during the day time so I could take pictures from the top of the ropeway. The ropeway is at the north end of the sandbar located in Kasamatsu Park, so you must arrive before 5pm if you want to get to the top. Fortunately I made it there early and managed to take a lot of awesome photos!
I arrived at Amanohashidate Station from Kyoto Station around 2pm and decided to walk on the beach for a while. It was windy and a bit chilly, but the coast was still beautiful to see because the sun was out. All shops still seemed to be in operation here, and it was easy to ask people at the tourist center for directions. A few Japanese tourists were here in addition to myself, but the numbers were considerably less than the summer. I was happy because that meant I had the optimal photo opportunity. I found it funny how Amanohashidate has an anime girl personification in addition to a cute pinecone mascot!
For lunch I grabbed a kani meshi (krab rice) bento and a small selection of sushi from Kyoto Station. See my Tentacle Bento Article for more information about the best on-the-go lunches in Kyoto. In addition to octopus, crab here is also amazing (sorry, Mr. Krabs)!
To cross the sandbar, you can either rent a bike for 200 yen/2 hours and ride 20 mins to the other side, or take a boat ride for 600 yen and cross it in 10 mins (from the Amanohashidate Official Tourism website). I’m normally a biker, but since it was windy I opted for the boat ride. A family and their dog joined me so I wasn’t alone. Kasamatsu Park is just a short walk from Ichinomiya Pier and the chair lift is very fun to ride.
Here is footage from my GoPro of the sandbar and the chairlift. It’s really amazing to see how big Kyoto is:
At the souvenir shop at the top of the mountain I found some nice oddities. The pinecone nuts were very interesting, and even more so were the pastries with a design of a person staring at you while bent over. Apparently this is the pose many people use in their photos with the sandbar when they reach the top. I guess it looks cool because you can see the sandbar inbetween your legs but… why? Stay weird, Japan.
After riding back down the chairlift, I spent my remaining time on the beach as planned. I highly recommend coming here in the summer if you have time because it gives you some of the best views of Kyoto. I would like to come in the summer again and attempt to go swimming here!
Monju, Miyazu, Kyoto 626-0001 (from Amanohashidate Station)
Directions: From Kyoto Station, take the Hashidate Limited Express 5 towards Toyo-Oka. This costs around 5000 yen but it has the fewest transfers and will get you there in 2 hours. The express train also has an antique vibe to it and is fun to see.
I will be writing about fun places in Kansai as well as the all you can drink capsule hotel I found in central Kyoto next. The fear of the virus has not stopped my traveling or events organized by my friends even though large scale events such as Anime Japan have been cancelled. Please remember that it’s safe to travel in Japan if you continually wash your hands, use sanitizer, and practice good hygeine.