Kyoto by the Sea - See Another Side of Kyoto
Umi no Kyoto, or Kyoto by the Sea, offers you a chance to experience the Kyoto beyond the golden pavilion and geisha. It is an area rich in history and culture, and is home to stunning views of the sea and mountains. Centuries ago it was the first entry point for visitors from China and it is said that it was there that rice growing was introduced to Japan.
Places of interest in Umi-no-Kyoto:
Ine is a quaint fishing village knowing for its "funaya" (houses built over the water), where the first floor is used for housing their fishing boats.With a startling blue sea and no modern development in sight, it happens to be a particularly picturesque village.Each morning, residents of Ine lower a "mondori" (fishing cage) into the water outside their home, and retrieve it once it is filled.The most simple way to catch fresh fish without even leaving your home.It's surely a peaceful, simple way of life.Most inhabitants are involved in the fishing industry, but lately several of the funaya homes have been turned into small accommodation facilities, which book out months in advance.Highly recommended is the Funaya Biyori cafe, which offers refreshing drinks , sweet treats and seaside views.You can even sit outside with your feet in the water.While in Ine, don't miss Mukai Shuzo, the only sake brewery in Japan which sits on the water.It has a 260 year history and serves a special type of sake using old fashioned rice varieties.
You can experience fishing, eating or staying in Ine, and I recommend all three.I don't think you're meant to swim in the water around the village, which was a shame because it was so tempting, so wonderfully blue and cool .
We stayed in a farmhouse slightly outside of the touristic area, but in this case I would actually recommend staying in the center of things.This is because it seemed to be a lively area at nighttime with evening illuminations, good restaurants and many people walking around by the water.Definitely a place with a good vibe.
Amanohashidate itself is considered one of the three "best views in Japan". You can rent bicycles (child seats available) and cycle the sandy strip which it's known for. Take the chairlift up to Amanohashidate View Land to see the area from above. You can also go swimming anywhere along the sandbar, though there are two main beaches. Slightly rocky by the shore, but quite clear water and clean sand, so a very enjoyable swim. Plus, the trees provide welcome shade to rest under.
The climate of the Kyotango area is ideal for silk weaving, thus the " Tango Chirimen", a silky crimped fabric often made into kimono, was born. The Tango region is currently Japan's largest silk fabric production region. It produces over 70 percent of Japan's kimono materials and accounts for over 30 percent of Japan's silk consumption. In Kyotango, you can visit the Tango Chirimen Textile Road where you can uncover the deep history of the area. It's difficult to just walk in places, so it is best to book some kind of tour or activity here in order to get the most out of it. Kyotango is also reputed for its agriculture - its orchards and farms are known to produce particularly high quality fruits and vegetables, and there is a large focus on eco-friendly sustainable living. If you want to see layered rice terraces with the sun setting in the ocean behind them, venture to nearby Sodeshi village for the Sodeshi Rice Terraces.
There are also many wonderful beaches in the area, with much cleaner sand and water than the Pacific side of Japan. Hatchohama beach and Hatchohama Seaside Park, Kotohikihama Kakezu beach, Kotohikihama Asobi beach, Hamazume Yuhigaura beach, Tateiwa and Nochigahama beach are all recommended.
Is it family-friendly?
Some areas are more suitable for small children than others. While Kyotango has a lot of cultural activities, younger children may prefer the outdoor activities in Miyazu. There isn't much for small kids to do in Ine, but my two year old still enjoyed walking around with us.
Is it social-distancing friendly?
Amanohashidate has two main beach areas. The one closer to the shops was very crowded, while the one further down the sand strip was much quieter.Ine also seemed very popular, while Kyotango was quieter, and harder to just walk in and sightsee (you) We did go during obon, but I wouldn't say this is a good destination for escaping the crowds. A really nice destination though, one of my favorites.