Monday, 13 December 2010
Amano-hashi-datay: The bridge to heaven
Last month we took a little jaunt up the highway to the sea of Japan for what was to be one of the prettiest spots we have yet seen in Japan: Amanohashidate. This thin isthmus on the sea is a paradise of sorts, sandy beaches, beautiful green mountains, azure sea and cobbled streets lined with cute inns. I had heard that this was a must see, listed as one of the "three most beautiful scenic sites of Japan", but is quite crowded in the summer and early fall. Luckily, we arrived on a monday in the "off-season" and were treated to a pristine and quiet, yet still lively scene.
Amanohashidate is a thin ribbon of sand and pine dividing the Wakasa Bay from a smaller bay on the sea of Japan. There are many poems and paintings of this long beach, though the most hilarious aspect is that the Japanese take a gondola up the nearby mountain to look at it upsidedown through their legs, apparently it appears like there are two horizons and the Japanese line up for a while to do this! You have never experienced Japan until you see rows of Japanese bent over looking through their legs.
There are a series of great Japanese styled bridges joining the isthmus to the mainland.
Although difficult to get a view of if you do not want to take the ten dollar gondola, we managed to see the overview from this small clearing in the forest.
Wooden sandals lined up for guests at a local inn. Adorable eh?
The monks of the local temple live in this fortress-like building, probably built to keep out the prying eyes of millions of tourists.
This temple sells fans which which you write wishes on and hang in the temple-yard trees, although they are tiny they are the same as normal Japanese fans, really should have brought some to bring home, but ah well.
The streets of the local town are immaculate and house loads of craft vendors, inns and restaurants.
Amanohashidate temple has a very big paper lantern in the gate, look how little I am compared to this massive lamp, I wonder how many sheets of paper it takes to make.
Japanese fortune cat, bigger than usual and beckonning customers to come buy strange snacks to bring home to family.
And here are the strange snacks that every town in Japan sells. They are usually some kind of bland, overpackaged cookie which costs a fortune for a dozen. These shops are located anywhere Japanese tend to visit and each town has it's own variation on the boring Japanese snack, here it is a bland rice flour cookie with black sesame seeds or dried crab meat in crackers.
Overall this was certainly the most scenic place we have seen in Japan and one that I wish we had have seen earlier on so we could have gone swimming. If you are ever in Japan you should make a trip up to the Sea of Japan side of the country and see the bridge to heaven, incredible place, but just don't try the snacks.
Moonrise over Amanohashidate...