Take a trip to Kyoto’s seaside for a vacation of relaxation, delicious food, and natural beauty. From the awe-inspiring Amanohashidate to Ine’s historic boathouses and the majestic coast of Kyotango, there is so much to explore. This article introduces a three-day trip itinerary in the area.
A Holiday on Kyoto’s Coast – Three Days by the Sea
If you long for cool sea breezes rather than crowded streets and temples, it may be time to experience a different side of Kyoto, outside of the bustling city. Ride the train to Kyoto’s northern coast to find this charming seaside area, known in Japan for its abundance of outdoor scenery, like the stunning Amanohashidate, and the historic fishing village of Ine.
Below is a suggested itinerary for spending three days in this special area with just the right amount of relaxation and activity. Enjoy Kyoto’s countryside at its best with breathtakingly beautiful natural scenery, rich history and culture, and delectable eats.
Day 1: Be Dazzled by Amanohashidate
Amanohashidate is acclaimed for its natural beauty, and is truly a must-see. This naturally-formed sandbar runs between Miyazu Bay and the Aso Sea. Its name roughly translates to “bridge to heaven,” as it was believed that deities walked across this area.
For those coming from Kyoto Station, buy a ticket for the Hashidate, a JR express train, and ride until the last stop: Amanohashidate Station. It takes around two hours one way. We recommend taking the 9:24 train to arrive at Amanohashidate Station at 11:30. There are coin lockers just outside the station exit where you can store extra luggage.
From the station, follow signs for Amanohashidate and Kasamatsu Park. You will walk through some charming streets with tiny souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants before getting to the sandbar.
Morning: Travel Across Amanohashidate
Visitors can walk or bicycle (rental bicycles are available) along this 3.2-kilometer (around 2 miles) sandbar lined with pine trees, taking in views of the blue waters under the cool shade of the trees. Be sure to make stops along the way: you will find the tiny Amanohashidate Shrine, known for its pure water, white sandy beaches that you can swim at, and several specially-named pine trees.
Across the sandbar, you’ll find restaurants around offering local seafood and Japanese cuisine. Pictured above is lunch at Tsurya Shokudo, specializing in seafood and noodles made with rice. The noodles are deliciously chewy and smooth, pairing excellently with the savory broth.
Afternoon: A Spectacular Amanohashidate View
After lunch, take a short walk to the cable cars or ropeway to enjoy the splendid view of Amanohashidate from above, at Kasamatsu Park. It takes just four minutes via cable car, or six minutes on the chair lift, to get to the top. The observation deck provides a sweeping view of the bay, the sandbar, and the surrounding peninsula. Amanohashidate is stunning year-round, but on a clear day, the waters will reflect the blue sky for a truly breathtaking scene.
Another must-do at the park is “matanozoki,” or viewing the bay from upside-down. It is said that Amanohashidate’s shape, when viewed upside-down, looks like a flying dragon––try it for yourself and see!
Evening: To Ine! Fresh Seafood Dinner and a Night at a Boathouse
After a day of taking in the views at Amanohashidate, it’s time to head for the seaside town of Ine. For those using public transport, a bus operates around once per hour between Amanohashidate and Ine (the last bus leaves at 20:11 from Amanohashidate Station). The bus stop closest to Fuchu Station leaves here (see picture); you can also ride the bus from the station if you have luggage stored in a locker.
Take a ticket when you board and pay when you leave––the one-way fare is 400 yen. As there is no English on the bus, tell the driver that you want to get off at Ine, and they will be sure you get off at the right stop.
Ine is renowned for its traditional funaya, or boathouses––buildings used for boat storage on the first floor (sea level), sometimes with second floors used as a living space. This way of life has been practiced since the Edo period (1603 to 1868), and much of Ine’s coast is designated a historically preserved district.
For an extraordinary experience, visitors can even stay the night at a funaya. Yosaso is one lodging offering this experience. Tatami rooms with a veranda facing the picturesque bay of boathouses and water reflecting the lush greenery and blue sky make for a spectacular stay. Those wanting to stay the night at a boathouse are highly encouraged to reserve one early, as they are very popular and limited in number.
Hungry for dinner? Wadatsumi is a local sushi and seafood specialty restaurant located right on the bay in Ine. The restaurant is a classic sushi bar style with comfortable, elegant counter seats overlooking the sea. Delight in a menu filled with local and seasonal delicacies, from sashimi to grilled fish. For those visiting in the winter, be sure to try the yellowtail, or buri, a regional delicacy.
For a variety of flavors, try the IOMI course, which contains an assortment of the area’s best seafood prepared in several ways, soup, and dessert. A full selection of Japanese sake and local craft beer is available, too.
After dinner, take the short walk back to your lodging and prepare to explore Ine the next day.
Day 2: Explore Ine’s Boathouses and the Lush Nature of Kyotango
As mentioned above, Ine is renowned for the historic funaya that have been used by local fishers for centuries. Some funaya have been renovated into cafes, restaurants, or lodgings, but strolling through the town will reveal the quiet, local life here. For those staying at Yosaso or another boathouse, be sure to open the window or veranda to enjoy a view of the charming townscape floating on the water. After breakfast, head out to enjoy Ine from the water on a boat ride.
Kameshimamaru is a sightseeing boat that will give you a fun ride and plenty of photo opportunities along its 30 minute route. Being on the water provides a perspective of the town invisible from the land: you will see the rare, traditional stone bottoms of certain funaya, the forested island of Aoshima, and fishing grounds in the bay.
The view of the scenery from the boat is amazing! You can also feed the seagulls on the ride––don’t be startled when flocks of the birds start flying over to you.
After the boat ride, take a visit to Mukai Shuzo, a famous sake brewery in Ine, right on the bay. They offer a rosé-like sake made with red rice, as well as other quality sake. The brewery has been around for generations, and the current head brewmaster and company president is Kuniko Mukai, one of the few female brewmasters in Japan. Blended with high-quality rice from Kyoto, the rosé-colored sake is slightly sweet and fruity, with a bold flavor.
Other areas to see in Ine include the michi no eki, or roadside station, which has a deck with a fabulous view of the bay, souvenir shops, and eateries with fantastic bay views.
Noon: Coastal Scenery! Cycling from Ine to Kyotango
To get from Ine to Kyotango, riding an electrically-assisted E-bike is recommended. The road between the two towns is well known by local cyclists and a favorite of many for its views of the rugged and majestic coastline. For those wanting to cycle, check out an E-Bike from the Ine Town Tourism Association, and get riding! Allow around two hours one-way, with time for picture-taking.
Kyotango, on the Tango Peninsula, a region part of the San’in Kaigan UNESCO Global Geopark, is most convenient to get to from Ine via car or bicycle. We recommend coming here for lunch or in the afternoon after you have spent some time in Ine.
For those enjoying a meal in Kyotango, be sure to try Organic Cafe Tentoumushi, a charming restaurant operated by an organic farm, offering a menu using their own farm-fresh ingredients. The curry set is a nutrition-filled, satisfying choice with vegetarian and vegan options.
To stay the night, lodge at Umashi Totoya, a traditional ryokan close to the coast that offers kimono-wearing activities, souvenir-making, and other experiences allowing guests to experience the local culture.
The service here is very friendly to all visitors, and the inn can provide meals for those who are vegetarian, vegan, or have other dietary restrictions (confirm when making a reservation; a special menu may not be available for every meal). English, Korean, and Chinese-speaking employees are available.
For a more upscale option with private natural hot springs and renowned Taiza Matsuba crab cuisine, Sumihei is another optimal choice.
Afternoon: A Boat Tour of Kyotango’s Rugged Coast
If you’re looking to plunge into Kyotango, head to the docks for an exhilarating boat ride along the coast to see part of the San’in Kaigan UNESCO Global Geopark and its geography formed by ancient volcanic activity. This motorboat ride, guided by a local expert, will take you along the beaches and rocks, through the cool waters of the Japan Sea, to the Blue Grotto, or Ao no Dokutsu, a cave known for its otherworldly blue color.
The side of the Blue Grotto is said to look like the profile of a person. Do you see it? The boat will slowly head inside the tiny cave––turn around and look toward the entrance to see the light flooding in, creating a vivid blue reflection.
Day 3: Experience Local Flavors on a Gourmet Dining Train or Tour Kyoto’s Silk Road
Plan to wake up early in Kyotango to enjoy a peaceful stroll. Walk along the river and to the nearby beach to find a plethora of natural and historic surprises, like ancient ruins and fascinating rock formations.
After breakfast, check out of your lodging and prepare for the day. Those looking to savor local delicacies can head back to Amanohashidate to enjoy lunch on the Kuro-matsu, a luxurious restaurant train that runs along the coast. For those interested in history and traditional arts, head to the Chirimen Kaido, a historic silk manufacturing district in Yosano, famous for its outstanding silk.
Afternoon Option 1: An Extraordinary Culinary Experience on a Train!
The Tango Kuro-matsu is a train providing a fine dining experience and scenic ride along the northern Kyoto coast between Amanohashidate, Nishi-Maizuru, Fukuchiyama and Amanohashidate stations. Operating on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, this one-of-a-kind culinary train offers four different courses depending on the time and season. There are also Saturday and Sunday-exclusive courses.
The ride introduced in this article features the 12:48 departure train offering a multi-course lunch option, consisting of mouth-wateringly delicious Kyoto dishes and high-quality, local ingredients.
Everything about this train is magical, from the moment you board and sit down at your elegant dining table, to the final stop. From local barazushi (layered rice dish) to organic vegetables and wagyu beef, the chef-designed menu showcases flavorful, carefully-prepared items that will delight your tastebuds. As you dine, the gorgeous scenery will amaze you, and the outstanding service of the attendants will put a smile on your face.
WILLER TRAIN, the operating railroad company, also runs other sightseeing trains, like the Tango Aka-matsu, a cafe train, and the Tango Ao-matsu, a train that riders can board without advanced reservations. For reservations and details, please see the official website.
Afternoon Option 2: Tango’s Chirimen Kaido – A Tour through the Silk Road
For those interested in history and the arts, head to the Chirimen Kaido, a historic district in the town of Yosano, next to Kyotango. The rainy and humid climate in this area is ideal for making silk, and production has continued in this area since the Nara Period (710 – 794), later becoming known throughout Japan and the world for its high quality, anti-wrinkle crepe texture, and vivid, colorful designs.
Walking through the town reveals the long, profound history of this trade. Many buildings are historically preserved and still produce silk. If you hear mechanical sounds during your stroll, it’s someone weaving fabric!
The weavers and artisans here have been working in the silk industry for decades. The picture above features the workshop of Shibata Orimono, an internationally-renowned silk weaving company. They provided costumes for the 2017 Hollywood release of “Ghost in the Shell,” and the Imagine One World Kimono Project, creating the kimono for Argentina.
To get to this area by public transportation, take the train from Amino Station to Yosano Station. The historic district is around a 10-minute taxi ride one-way from the station.
For Souvenirs and Snacks – Tore Tore Center
After enjoying a gourmet train ride or a walk through the historic district in Yosano, wind down your time with some shopping. Tore Tore Center, located near Nishi-Maizuru Station, is a bustling local market with fresh seafood, food stands, sake, and souvenirs.
There are chairs and tables where you can sit down to enjoy your snacks, from seafood rice bowls to skewered fish. After enjoying a snack and some shopping, head back on the Maizuru train to Kyoto Station or wherever your next destination may be.
Tore Tore Center
Tore Tore Center is an indoor seafood market with a huge array of products, including Tango’s own exceptional quality maizuru crab. It also has freshly prepared sushi, sashimi, baked and fried fish, and teriyaki dishes that can be purchased and eaten on the spot. In addition, there are large fish tanks, souvenir shops, and multiple restaurants (including different noodle options if you aren’t feeling up for seafood).
This center is located quite close to Maizuru Port, where cruise ships are able to dock.
The coast of Kyoto brims with an appeal that is entirely different from what can be experienced in the city. The sites and facilities mentioned in this article only cover a fraction of what awaits in this enchanting region. For those who have already seen the major temples and sightseeing spots in Kyoto City, take off to Kyoto by the Sea for a long weekend of relaxation and discoveries!
For more ideas on what to do in Kyoto’s coastal region, see this article for recommended activities.