Seaside Kyoto’s Coastal Offerings

From the top of the amusement park/observatory Amanohashidate View Land, visitors can see views of the of the entire sandbar.
From the top of Kasamatsu Park, visitors can see views of the of the entire sandbar.

Kyoto by the Sea is the less expensive “younger sibling” of Kyoto City—similar in nature, yet wholly unique in its coastally influenced offerings. Kyoto by the Sea, or Seaside Kyoto as it is sometimes referred to, is a collection of five cities and two towns— Fukuchiyama City, Maizuru City, Ayabe City, Ine Town, Miyazu City, Kyotango City and Yosano Town—located approximately 2.5 hours away from Kansai International Airport (KIX) in the northwestern section of the Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. Many of the area’s popular attractions, including fishing, kayaking and sailing, take place outdoors, so the spring and summer months are the most opportune times to visit.

What’s There to “Sea”?
Amanohashidate (the Bridge to Heaven), a narrow pine-covered sandbar extending 11,811 ft. between the Aso Sea and Miyazu Bay, is said to have been the Japanese gods’ ladder between Heaven and Earth that fell to the ground one night while they were sleeping. Today, it ranks as one of Japan’s top three most scenic spots and can be seen in its entirety from Amanohashidate View Land, an amusement park/observatory atop Mt. Monju. Certain monuments on the sandbank are said to possess magical powers. Japanese folklore claims that visitors to the Chionji Temple—one of three temples in Japan devoted to Bodhisattva Monju (the Japanese Buddhist deity of wisdom, education and calligraphy)—gain wisdom, while visitors to the Nariaiji Temple—one of the 33 sacred temples of western Japan—have their wishes granted.

The city of Maizuru is known as “the town of red bricks” because of the multitude of red brick buildings remaining from when the Japanese Navy built up the area as a headquarters in 1901. A building previously used to store torpedoes is now the World Brick Museum, showcasing the history and variety of bricks from around the world. Similarly, Maizuru City Commemoration Hall, a former Navy arsenal and warehouse building, was renovated to include exhibition spaces, a hall and a cafe.

Fukuchiyama City is a historic castle town built by Japanese military commander Akechi Mitsuhide. Mitsuhide built the castle around 1579 as a fortress and helped the city to flourish. The castle was later ruined and then restored in 1986 to its current condition. Your clients can take a stroll through Fukuchiyama City to see Akechi-Yabu, a bamboo grove that was once a riverbank used to protect the town from floods; Hirokoji Street, a thoroughfare bordered with stylish cafes and bakeries; and Goryo-jinja Shrine, the location of Mitsuhide’s enshrinement. For more information, visit amanohashidate.jp/lang/en.html, maizuru-kanko.net, or dokkoise.com.

In Maizuru City, visitors can hop aboard a local fisherman's boat for a cruise/fishing lesson.
In Maizuru City, visitors can hop aboard a local fisherman’s boat for a cruise/fishing lesson.

From Sea to Table
Although your clients can pick up local specialties at a restaurant—Restaurant Itonaka in Miyazu City serves the local delicacy curry yakisoba (a curry-flavored noodle dish)—it would make for a much more enriching experience to participate in one of Kyoto by the Sea’s food-driven cultural activities. In Miyazu City, guests can pick up fresh-caught fish at the Tango Fishing Port and take it back to Kanemasu, where they will learn how to fillet it, pickle it and how to make it into dried fish. Meanwhile, in Maizuru City, your clients can attend a Maizuru Steamed Fish Paste workshop, where they’ll learn how to make handmade kamaboko (steamed fish paste), or they can head over to Kyotango City for a cruise/fishing lesson aboard a local fisherman’s boat. For more information, visit, kanemasu-taniguchi.com or maizuru-kanko.net/recommend/kamaboko.

Furumaya farm stay in Kyoto by the Sea.
Furumaya farm stay in Kyoto by the Sea.

Home on the Farm
Kyoto by the Sea’s cultural opportunities even extend to your clients’ hotel stays. In addition to hot springs hotels and ryokans, the area offers the opportunity of a farm stay. Here, guests work alongside local farmers for a more hands-on approach to learning about life in the Japanese countryside. Furumaya is a recently renovated farm stay in Fukuchiyama City, where guests can experience Japanese country life, learn about traditional Japanese culture, and meet and interact with locals. The 200-year-old thatched roof farmhouse features Japanese-style tatami guestrooms, a library/den and an outdoor cafe with a wooden terrace. The farm also offers several cultural programs for guests to immerse themselves in, including a complimentary Japanese home cooking class, a tea service tutorial, a flower arrangement class, a kimono-fitting lesson and a Nihon buyou (traditional Japanese dance) show. For more information, visit furumayahouse.jp or kyoto-kankou.or.jp/english.