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Kyoto by the Sea

Experience the coastal outdoors this summer along the Tango Peninsula

2021.09.14

Visitors flock to Kyoto to discover a city of tradition, culture and a vivid collision of past and present Japan. While the city itself is certainly unmissable, the rest of Kyoto Prefecture also has so much to offer — especially when it comes to its beautiful coastline and the range of outdoor activities.

Kyoto has a coastline? That’s right! Curving along the Tango Peninsula about 100 kilometers from the city, Kyoto Prefecture boasts a range of beaches and coastal towns. From hanging out with local surfers to spending the afternoon fishing, combing the beaches for shells or SUP (stand up paddleboarding) around the coves, any lover of the outdoors should add these coastline beach spots to their Kyoto-travel itinerary and make sure they not only enjoy the prefecture’s urban side, but also its stunning nature.

Yuhigaura (夕日ヶ浦)

Meaning “sunset” in Japanese, it’s no surprise that Yuhigaura is known as one of Kyoto’s most beautiful beaches to head to for an unforgettable view of the sun dipping its golden light into the glistening horizon. Fine white sand and a shallow crystal sea grace the entire beach, but the most romantic (and irresistibly Instagrammable) spot to enjoy as the sun sets is Yurari swing. This beachside structure is made from driftwood and quickly became popular thanks to people sharing their dreamy sunset shots on social media. The best way to get here is by renting a bike from Yuhigaura-kistu Onsen Station (¥500 for the whole day, link in Japanese) so you can enjoy the fresh sea breeze and scent of the coastal pines as you cycle.

If you’ve got time before sunset, drop your bike off a little further down the coastline at 135 ° EAST (website is Japanese) and swap your wheels for a surfboard. Surfing classes are held here daily and it’s especially suitable for beginners since the beach is a sand break, meaning a soft sandy sea bed rather than sharp coral or rocks. A two-hour class is ¥2,000 including wetsuit rental, and then ¥4,000 for the day. More experienced surfers can rent a board here for ¥1,000 and hit the waves solo. If surfing’s not your thing, SUP experiences (stand up paddleboarding) are also available for ¥3,000. SUP is a gentler way to glide along in a group and soak up the coastal scenery.

Access:
Parking Fee Daytime (During beach season): ¥2,000
Parking Fee Overnight (2 days, during beach season): ¥4,000
Bicycle rental: ¥500 per day
From Kyoto Station: Via limited express train: 3 hours 25 mins, ¥3,500, until Yuhigaura-Kitsuonsen Station

Hamazume Yuhigaura Beach

Hamazume Yuhigaura Beach

Located in Kyoto Prefecture’s Kyotango City, Hamazume Yuhigaura Beach is a long beach stretching 8 km from Shotenkyo Kazuranohama Beach.
The beach is one of Japan’s 100 Locations with White Sand and Pine Trees, and has fine white sand that stretches for miles, with beautiful, shallow and very transparent water flowing alongside.
The name “Yuhigaura” means “sunset bay” in Japanese, and as the name would suggest, it is a perfect location for watching the sunset, with benches provided on Sunset Street (Yuhi-no-Michi) along the beach to relax.
Also, since the spring of 2017, a beachside swing called “Yurari” (“swaying” in English) made from driftwood has been built on the beach every summer. It has become famous in recent years through its popularity on social media.

Nochigahama (Tateiwa) (後ヶ浜 立岩)

Best for: Sightseeing, camping, swimming, surfing

Visitors flock here for the famous geospot Tateiwa rock, but Nochigahama is also a popular summer location thanks to its nearby hot springs, campsite and gorgeous sandy beach. From mid-July to mid-August, you can camp overnight under a starry sky and then spend the day swimming, surfing or sea kayaking.

For adventurers who prefer a little more luxury than a campsite, stay overnight at Umashiyado Totoya Ryokan, a traditional-style Japanese hotel with tatami rooms and comfortable futon beds. There are plenty of other local lodging options that are all close to the beach.

Access:
Parking Fee (During beach season): ¥1,500 and up
From Kyoto Station: Via limited express train, Tantetsu Miyamai-Miyatoyo Line and bus: 4 hours, 20 mins, ¥5,640, until Tango Chosha Mae bus stop

Tateiwa (Standing) Rock

Tateiwa (Standing) Rock

Tateiwa (pronounced Tateh-Ihwa) Rock is a part of Japan’s San’in Coast Geopark. It is located on Nochigahama Beach in Kyotango City, Kyoto Prefecture. Standing at 20 meters tall, it is one of Japan’s largest monoliths and is made from a type of volcanic rock called andesite.
According to legend, when Prince Maroko (the half-brother of the legendary Prince Shotoku) killed an oni (a demon in Japanese folklore) on this spot, the oni became trapped in the enormous rock overnight. It’s said that even now, on nights when the winds are strong and waves are high, you can still hear the cries of the oni trapped within.
Tateiwa got its name from the way it stands tall (tate = stand/vertical, iwa = rock), and creates beautiful scenery with the way it stands out of the Sea of Japan.

Kotohikihama (琴引浜)

Best for: Sightseeing, fishing

Hear the sound of Japan’s most famous singing sand beach at Kotohikihama. This adorable phenomenon of nature earned the beach its place as a nationally designated Natural Monument and Place of Scenic Beauty. Subsequently, there’s a major focus on environmental protection and sustainable tourism here. It was the first beach in the world to be smoke-free and local volunteers regularly come together to clear any plastic and marine debris that wash up.

The little squeaks of the sand are best heard on a dry day at low tide because the sand doesn’t sing so well when it’s wet. If it’s raining during your visit, head to the Kotohikihama Singing Sand Cultural Building (yes, there’s a whole building dedicated to it) to hear these famous grains. You can also get up close by viewing the sand and other marine objects under the center’s microscopes (adults ¥300).

Aside from vocal sand, the beach is a popular spot for fishing. Local fishermen recommend heading towards the east side of the beach early in the morning to catch flounder and the western side for other varieties of flatfish. Summer and autumn are the best seasons to catch Japanese whiting, known as “kisu” in Japanese.

Access:
Parking Fee (During beach season): ¥1,000
From Kyoto Station: Via limited express trains, Tantetsu Miyamai-Miyatoyo Line and bus: 3 hours 45 mins, ¥5,640, until Kotobikihama bus stop

Kotohikihama Beach

Kotohikihama Beach

Kotohikihama Kakezu Beach in Amino-cho, Kyotango City is a scenic beach with white sand and pine trees. It is famous for being the largest “singing sand” beach in Japan, with a total length of 1.8 km. The main component of singing sand is quartz, which produces a unique squeaky tone only on sandy beaches with clean water and few impurities. For this reason, environmental conservation is important, and this was the first non-smoking beach in the world.
On the beach, there is an open-air bath with a natural source of flowing hot spring water where you can bathe for free (mixed-gender bathing, and a bathing suit is required). You can enjoy the beautiful view of the sea while relaxing in the hot spring bath.
Every year at the beginning of June, a “Barefoot Concert” (Hadashino Concert) is held here. The entrance fee is helping out with the beach cleaning before the concert starts! Flea markets are also set up in addition to the concert.
In addition to being a designated national natural monument, Kotohikihama Kakezu Beach has also entered numerous selections, such as the 100 Soundscapes of Japan, the 100 Coasts of Japan, the 100 White Sand and Pine Trees of Japan, and the 200 Natural Spots of Kyoto Prefecture.

Shotenkyo (小天橋)

Best for: Bathing, local seafood

Selected as one of the 88 best bathing beaches in Japan, Shotenkyo Beach in Kumihama is a delight to visit in any season. Relax and refresh at the area’s many natural hot springs and explore the beautiful San’in Kaigan Geopark, one of the Global UNESCO Network of Geoparks. In winter, dining on local oyster and crab dishes is a must, while in the autumn, visitors enjoy fruit-picking, especially pears and grapes.

Then of course there’s the beach itself! A major attraction during the summer months, this long strip of white sand stretches out between the Sea of Japan and Kumihama Bay. With clear, shallow waters to the north and tall pines to the south, this stunning landscape is popular with bathers and perfect for anyone looking to swap the excitement of the city for a day recharging in a coastal paradise.

Access:
Parking Fee Daytime (During beach season): ¥1,500
From Kyoto Station: Via limited express trains, local Toyo-Oka Line and Tantetsu Miyamai-Miyatoyo Line: 3 hours, ¥5,290, until Shotenkyo Station

Shotenkyo Kazuranohama Beach

Shotenkyo Kazuranohama Beach

Shotenkyo Kazuranohama Beach is located in Kumihama-cho, Kyotango City. It is one of the longest beaches in the Kansai region, stretching 8 km from here to Hamazume Yuhigaura Beach.
The shallow waters are perfect for children to play in and enjoy.
The clean, transparent water and the white sandy beach dotted with pine trees makes for a beautiful sight. This beach is also ranked as Japan’s 88th best beach.

Hatchohama (八丁浜)

Best for: Surfing

Home to Kyoto Prefecture’s most powerful waves, this beach and its beautiful clear waters have the vibe of a little tropical resort. This location is especially popular for surfing, and the period between March to October is the best time to head out on a surfboard. Keep in mind that it can become crowded during peak beach season because the waves are some of the most irresistible for miles around. The sand bars forming this beach break are pretty stable thanks to the nearby river, but check the weather forecast beforehand as the waves can get too high for beginners if there’s a storm coming, and the sand bars also won’t be as reliable.

The public beachside house is ¥500 for use of the showers and changing rooms, but many people make the most of the free parking and simply change in the shade of their cars. Check out the playground at Hatchohama Seaside Park if you’re with kids or collect seashells and spot marine wildlife along the beach’s shoreline.

Access:
Parking Fee Daytime (During beach season): ¥1,500
From Kyoto Station: Via bus 3 hours 20 mins, ¥3,500, until Amino Honmachi bus stop, then walk for 17 minutes

Hatchohama Beach

Hatchohama Beach

Hatchohama Beach is located in Amino-cho, Kyotango City. It is a shallow and beautiful beach with crystal clear waters.
The white sand of the beach stretches out like an island resort, and it is also a popular surfing spot.
There are also some rocky areas which are perfect for collecting seashells or discovering small wildlife. At Hatchohama Seaside Park, you’ll also find a playground, so there are many places for children to enjoy.
The name Hatchohama comes from the traditional measurement used in Japan called “cho.” As the name suggests, the length of the beach measures approximately 8 “cho” roughly equivalent to 872 m. A spacious beach perfect for relaxing and taking it easy.

For surfers looking for live updates on the weather and wave conditions across the prefecture’s coasts, this site has live updates and this site has live cams of each of the beaches (sites are in Japanese only). Kyoto Prefecture’s public transport system is well-connected and convenient, but renting a car can sometimes be the quickest option to hop between gorgeous beach spots — plus it’ll be easier to carry your rods, boards or kayaks if you’re bringing your own rather than renting.

While summer is the perfect time to explore Kyoto Prefecture’s coastline, there’s still so much more to do back on land. Check out more of Kyoto’s summer adventures here.