This is the first of two pieces on Tango, the northern seacoast of Kyoto prefecture. In this post: a summer trip to Kotobikihama and fireworks in Amanohashidate.
Tango in the north of Kyoto Prefecture is recently being marketed as “Kyoto by the Sea”, and certainly there is a lot to recommend a trip up there besides the well known scenic beauty of Amanohashidate (above).
Last summer Mewby and I went up to Kotobikihama, which literally means “Koto plucking beach”. If the conditions are right, then the sand crystals of this beach actually make a singing noise when you walk across it. Unfortunately, the sand was too hot and dry when we went (middle of August) so we didn’t get to hear the singing sands. However, because the beach is special, it’s protected and very well looked after. It’s the first beach in Japan to have a no-smoking rule and it is really, really super clean. If you have been to other beaches in Japan, you know how rare this is, but on Kotobikihama I saw no trash at all. We stayed at a cheap minshuku type lodging house named Yakichiso (やきち荘). This was a really basic place, and a bit noisy because the walls were thin and most of the other guests were families with little kids. However, the place is perfectly situated right on the beach, and the fresh seafood breakfasts and dinners were superb. The owners were also very helpful, driving us from the station and back again whenever we needed and giving us lots of helpful advice about the area. I think most people who go to this beach though, drive there and make use of the beach side campsite. There are a few beach side eateries there too, if you haven’t brought your own supplies. The beach itself is superb: very long and pristine white. And because it is so long, it doesn’t get too crowded. There’s also a natural hot spring bath right on the beach that people were making use of, but why they were doing that in the blazing mid-August heat is beyond me. And that leads me to my main regret. At the height of a Japanese summer, the sand burns your feet and you need to stay in the shade to escape those blazing rays. I think I’d like to go there again when the weather is a bit cooler, and I would probably go by car. The minshuku owners were super helpful driving us about, but Tango is clearly a place that requires more mobility to be explored properly.
Miyazu Fireworks from Amanohashidate:
On August 16th each year there is a huge fireworks display at nearby Miyazu, with the simultaneous release of thousands of floating lanterns onto the sea. Now most people go straight to Miyazu and endure the typical Japanese experience of trying to catch a good view of the fireworks from ridiculously crowded streets. Our minshuku hosts though came to our rescue again with a really helpful tip. Don’t go on to Miyazu, they told us, get off the train one stop before, at Amanohashidate. Hardly anybody does this, but if you do, you can get an excellent view of the fireworks display from the famous sand bar and I daresay the view is even better than from close up, as you can see those starbursts of colour reflected in the ocean too. It was really wonderful and so much nicer minus the crowds!
We were only in Amanohashidate for the evening, and so didn’t get to explore it more thoroughly. Though we have been there before I would like to go back there again sometime, to stroll along the pine-clad “bridge of heaven” sandbar, take the cable car up into the hills and gaze again upon that sublime view.
To get to Kotobikihama, take the train to Amino. You can get there in three hours from Kyoto station. Check Jorudan for train times. From Amino station, it is a 10 minute drive if your hotel picks you up. It’s probably too far for a day trip, but if you do, you can take take a bus from Amino for 15 min to Kakezu and then walk 10 minutes to the beach.
In Kyoto by the Sea Part #2 I will describe our recent winter trip to Kumihama bay: the very best fresh crab meat and hiking a holy mountain!
Check out Jeffrey Friedl’s blog also for more pictures of the beach at Kotobikihama.