In case you didn’t know, Japan has it’s own short bucket list of sorts called ‘Nihon sankei’ or in English, the ‘Three Beautiful Sights of Japan’. The first is Matsushima in Miyagi, Miyajima in Horishima, with the last being the incredible Amanohashidate in northern Kyoto – which is also known as ‘The Bridge to Heaven’.
A must-visit for any itinerary, escape the bustling city life of Osaka and Kyoto and enjoy a stunning scenic day trip to one of the most picturesque towns in all of Japan.
Check out Chionji
Arriving in Amanohashidate, you will first come across Chionji Temple – you can’t miss it, you have to pass it before you make it to the beach. Dating back to 808, the temple is a dedication to wisdom and is popular among those praying for knowledge, especially students aiming to pass exams. You can’t help but notice the temple, pagoda and lion statues in the small grounds are all surrounded by pine tress adorned with hundreds of small paper fans. These small folding paper fans, omikuji, act as mini oracles to tell you your future. They are then tied to the trees to bring good luck and wisdom; but also make great souvenirs if you decide to bring them back.
Stroll the Sandy Bridge
As a large sandbank that surrounds the bay, Amanohashidate is an amazing place to visit year round. Whether visiting when it’s clear blue skies or overcast and gloomy, the outstanding view is not dependent upon the weather. On the eastern side of the natural landform, you’ll find a beautiful white beach that stretches the 3.5km length of the sandy bridge. A casual stroll across will take roughly one hour. Stopping to take numerous snaps, dip your toes in the water or go for a swim will extended the trip across.
The bridge changes in width anywhere from 20-70 metres across and the whole connecting land is covered with over 5000 pine trees. The contrast between white sandy beaches, clear blue ocean, lush green pines and mountainous backdrop unites to create the most divine scenery. If you happen to be more active or adventurous, simply hire a bike or book a small sightseeing boat, and step up your exploration game.
Ascend to Heaven
Reaching the end of the sand bridge you will enter a small town that is famous for it’s Aoi Matsuri (blue festival) in April. From here you can take a chairlift up to the top of Kasamatsu Park (¥850 round trip).
At over 400 feet above sea level, you can take in the unbelievable view that makes Amanohashidate so famous. Standing on the top of the mountain the sandy bridge resembles the Chinese character for the number one, but if you stand on the platform with your back to the water and look with your head between your legs, the view resembles a bridge to heaven – hence the name. Stand on the glass viewing platform to snap an astonishing selfie, enjoy a coffee or cool drink in the café and take in the view, or try your luck by hurling clay discs through a ring 15 metres in the distance (it’s not as easy as it looks). 3 clay discs for ¥100 is a small price to pay to try and change your luck for the better.
Why are you waiting, don’t you want to go to heaven?
How to get to heaven:
Amanohashidate is a 2 hour comfy train ride from Osaka. There’s also limited direct trains from Kyoto, or if you have an international license, it’s easier and cheaper to hire a car. Aim to leave early to arrive before lunch to make the most of your day trip.
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