The title of this entry could easily be “Daytrip to Amanohashidate” instead, because that’s where we spent most of our time on this trip. And how could you not, what an amazing place! And a lot more popular than I had imagined.
This year to celebrate Megumis birthday we decided to take a little road trip to a couple spots I’ve been wanting to go since I arrived in Japan. Amanohashidate and Ine.
In the morning we hopped in the car and headed north from Osaka. We opted to stay on the back roads to see more of the countryside, but also to avoid tolls. From Osaka it took us just under 3 hours to drive there, so it’s not really a place you can go to from the city without spending a whole day. However, if you do go by toll roads the travel time (according to Google) is reduced to just 2 hours.
We had been looking at the area on Google Maps before we drove up there and had a place in mind where we thought it would be easier to get a parking spot.
The main parking spots in Amanohashidate near the train station and the chair lift to Amanohashidate Viewland fill up quickly, with it being the most popular part of the area. However on the north side there is a little car park that is completely free and always seemed to have spots available. We were there during the start of “Golden Week” (the main holiday in Japan), so it’s possibly less busy outside of that, but I would imagine weekends are still quite busy.
Once parked we walked to the ferry terminal. There we bought a little package deal to rent bicycles for 2 hours, and in addition a ferry trip and access to the chair lift. From memory it ended up costing us ¥1500 each.
Once we had our bikes we cycled south along the sandbank, through the Tango-Amanohashidate-Ōeyama Quasi-National Park… That is a mouthful. The trail going through the park is well maintained and easy to cycle. We stopped at a few locations on the way to look at the sights and wildlife.
After we reached the south end of the sandbank, we parked out bikes, and went for lunch. This part of Amanohashidate is busy! So get in early or be ready to wait in line. After we finished lunch we realised we didn’t have much time left on our bike rentals, so we took them to the drop off point.
Then we walked over to the chair lift that goes to the amusement park Amanohashidate Viewland. But when the announcer at the end of the line said the waiting time was over an hour long to get on the chair lift we immediately turned around.
Instead we decided to shop for souvenirs to bring home. We ended up picking up a lot of local products, beer, wine, salt and other spices. Then we got on the ferry to take us back to the northern part of the town.
On the ferry you could purchase little bags of crackers. I thought that was a random thing to be selling on the ferry, but once we left the wharf it became apparent why they were selling them. They’re for feeding birds. I’m not a big fan of this kind of thing, but at least they allowed me to get a pretty nice photo of a Black Kite.
After we got off the ferry we put our souvenirs in the car and walked to the chair lift on the north side that takes you up to Kasamatsu Park. There is an actual cable car that goes up as well, but the line for the chair lift was shorter so that’s what we chose. The waiting time was around 10 minutes.
At the top we enjoyed the view, even though it was a cloudy day, and had some ice cream. We also took the signature head between your legs photo (Matanozoki) as is the tradition here.
After we got back down we were feeling a little peckish, so we bought some street food before we drove up towards Ine.
The main attraction at Ine would be the “funaya”, which are the wooden fishing houses near the sea shore in this area. They’re tightly packed together and look really beautiful.
We had expected more crowds in the area, and maybe it was due to it getting late in the day, but some of the car parks were completely empty and so were most of the streets.
We walked around for around an hour taking photos and enjoying the tranquillity. The main street has a couple cafes and restaurants, and there’s even a sake brewery.
But unfortunately the sun was starting to set and we had a 3 hour drive to get home, so we weren’t able to spend more time here. But we will definitely be coming back at some point.
This is a great place for a day trip if you’re local to the area. If you’re just visiting, and you like a more relaxed experience, we’d recommend spending a night and exploring the area even more. We didn’t really feel like we were able to explore all of Amanohashidate on this trip.
Northern Kyoto is so far my favourite part of Japan, and I can’t wait to explore more of it in the future. There are even some amazing beaches here, which I personally feel could even rival what Australia has to offer. We will definitely be back.