21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Home to a wealth of picturesque scenery, traditional handicrafts and famous specialty productsA visit to the Tango Peninsula, looking out over the Sea of Japan
One of Japan's best-known ancient cities, Kyoto is a favorite destination for domestic and international travelers. To many people, the phrase "sightseeing in Kyoto" would mean visiting temples and shrines in the city itself. But Kyoto Prefecture extends north to south over a wide area and offers many and varied attractions besides the historic city. One of these is the Tango Peninsula, jutting into the Sea of Japan in the northern-most extremity of the prefecture. The Tango Peninsula offers a host of spectacular sights. There's the Amanohashidate Sandbar, listed as one of Japan's three most scenic views. Then there's Maizuru, once a bustling port town, now famed for its retro charm. Another example is the picturesque fishing village of Ine Bay, its boathouses clustered prettily enough to bring out the poet in anyone. Tango, with its meandering coastline and rich, fertile soil, has been a treasure-house of famous specialty products since ancient times.
Besides being the home of Tango chirimen, a high-quality silk crepe often used in gifts presented to the Emperor in times gone by, Tango is also noted for its sake breweries, which utilize the area's generous supply of natural spring water.Along the Japan Sea coast, Matsuba crabs, in season from November to about March, are renowned throughout the nation. These "insiders' tips" on Kyoto are just a few highlights of this travel guide to the Tango area, presented by a member of JAL's cabin crew.
At Ine-no-Funaya, about 230 fishermen's dwellings line the edge of Ine Bay.These houses, each with downstairs garage space for a fishing boat, are full of character and historical interest. If you want to check out the sights featured in the video, I recommend the "sea taxi" service offered by local fishermen. As my "sea taxi driver" told me about Ine's history, the view of the village from the sea seemed even more special.
When it was time for a coffee-break, I headed for the Croq-mille, a seafront patisserie housed in a converted guesthouse. There's nothing like tucking into some delicious confectionery while you take in the sea view! I sampled a "miruku hatake" ("dairy meadow") much-loved shortcake creation topped with crepe and local strawberries and a "limited edition" eclair: only one hundred of these are available each day.They're so popular that they tend to sell out by lunchtime!
Nochigahama, Taiza, Tango-cho, Kyotango City, Kyoto Prefecture
Chirimen Kaido, which means "silk crepe road", is a neighborhood featuring numerous silk-crepe businesses, some several centuries old. It is now listed as a National Preservation District for Important Traditional Buildings. Besides producing the high-quality silk crepe for which Tango is famous, this area was also a prosperous distribution base linking Kyoto with Tango. Even today, as you walk down the quiet back-streets, you might hear the comforting clatter of a loom from deep inside one of the buildings, lending an extra touch of atmosphere to the scene.
Located in the basement floor of the Miyazu Royal Hotel Amanohashidate, the Ajidokoro Miyazu-tei restaurant prides itself on its menu of local seafood and mountain produce dishes, all made from fresh ingredients delivered daily. On the day I visited, the specials included whiting tempura, salt-grilled sea-bream and horse-mackerel sashimi.For food this delectable, the prices are pretty reasonable.
Miyazu Royal Hotel Amanohashidate, 58 Koaza Iwamoto, Tai, Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture
The Amanohashidate Sandbar is renowned as one of Japan's three most scenic views. Kono Shrine, standing at the sandbar's northern end, is one of the nation's oldest Shinto shrines and boasts a long and distinguished history. Originally used as a path to Kono Shrine, the Amanohashidate Sandbar was believed, in ancient times, to be a bridge between heaven and earth, linking the divine with the human.Walking in the grounds of Kono Shrine, you feel a shiver of awe at the pervasive atmosphere of solemn dignity.
Motoise Kono Shrine
Ogaki 430, Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture
If you visit Kono Shrine on Amanohashidate, it's definitely worthwhile making an extra stop at Manai Shrine, which is Kono Shrine's okumiya (rear shrine). This ancient holy site, which has existed unchanged as a place of worship for about three thousand years, is one of Japan's oldest shrines. It's also believed to be a good spot to offer prayers for marital harmony, household peace and prosperity, easy childbirth, long life and true love.
Manai Shrine, Kono Shrine Okumiya, Amanohashidate
86 Koaza Morooka, Ogaki 430, Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture
Hakurei Brewing Co., Ltd., the 178-year-old home of Tango's popular Shuten Doji sake brand, offers factory tours where visitors can view the original brewing facilities. Tucked away in a corner of the brewery is Hakurei Brewing's own cake shop, "Kura Sweets Hakureisya". Here you can purchase a range of distinctive sake-themed confectionery, such as "kura roll" made with genmai sake that has been aged for over three years.
Kura Sweets Hakureisya
949 Yura, Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture
Maizuru is nicknamed "red-brick town" because of its old red-brick (akarenga) warehouses, which are actually former naval facilities dating back to the 19th and early 20th century.Some of these buildings are still used by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, while others have become live music venues and art galleries.Walking past rows of old-style red-brick buildings, it's easy to imagine you've traveled back in time to the 19th century.
Maizuru Akarenga Park
1039-2 Kitasui, Maizuru City, Kyoto Prefecture
J-AIR Corporation Cabin Crew Group
Kyoto, the city where I grew up, is full of old buildings full of character and redolent of the past. In this travel guide, rather than presenting the familiar city sights, I've highlighted some of Kyoto's lesser-known attractions.
The northern part of Kyoto Prefecture has such a lot to offer. Besides the spectacular Amanohashidate Sandbar, there are the historic Shinto shrines, the old-style boat-houses of Ine Bay, the streets of vintage buildings, not to mention the delicious local sake and seafood, and the many sequestered beauty spots where you can relax and recharge. This trip reminded me just how enjoyable "seaside Kyoto" can be.
I highly recommend it as a travel destination. The stunning natural beauty of the Sea of Japan and the nearby mountains makes this the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy a change of pace.