FROM THE OCEAN TO KYOTO
With more than 1,200 years of history, Kyoto has been attracting visitors. Many people already know this. However, did you know there are some places which have been supporting Kyoto for a long time? They are the Wakasa area of Fukui Prefecture and the Tango area of Kyoto Prefecture, which are both located along the Sea of Japan at Wakasa Bay. Since ancient times, these places near Kyoto have been serving as an entrance to the city for not only marine products but also overseas culture.
Food that Supports Kyoto
Wakasa Bay is now and has been an abundant source of marine products. Wakasa was one of the Mitsukekuni (regions of food), which provided high-quality food, including marine products and salt, to the Imperial Court in former times. After the 16th century, the main food item Wakasa offered was saba (mackerel). One of Kyoto’s specialties, saba-zushi, was actually created from saba from Wakasa.
A road Connecting the Ocean and Kyoto
The road running from Obama City in Fukui Prefecture to Kyoto is called “Saba Kaido.” There are several routes, with a total length of 72 km in the shortest Harihatagoe route. Obama Nishigumi, the starting point of the Saba Kaido, and Kumagawa-juku (Wakasa Town), one of the staging posts, preserve traditional buildings, which are still actively used. The story of the history and culture along the Saba Kaido has been recognized as a “Japan Heritage.”
Amanohashidate, a Mystic Landscape that Attracted People in Kyoto
Located along the Sea of Japan along with Wakasa, Tango is said to be a place where advanced cultures and technologies from the continent first arrived in Japan. It is also known for having various places where myths took place.The representative of mythological places in Tango is Amanohashidate. It is one of Japan’s most beautiful sceneries along with Matsushima (Miyagi Prefecture) and Miyajima (Hiroshima Prefecture). It is a long shoal (sandbar) stretching about 3.6 km in total and appears in the myths as a bridge connecting the heaven and earth that Gods made.The mystic landscape was adorned by people in Kyoto, which is far from the ocean. Described by waka poems and taking a role in literature as well as serving as a motif for gardens, Amanohashidate has been influencing Japanese culture and aesthetics of Japanese people.
If you are planning to visit there, don’t forget to look at it between your legs upside-down from Amanohashidate View Land. It is said that if you look at Amanohashidate that way, it looks like a dragon flying in the sky. You can ride through the shoal on a rental bike.
Motoise Kono Shrine
Located across from Amanohashidate Station on the opposite shore, this shrine (more commonly called Kono Shrine), with more than 2,000 years of history, is said to be used to accommodate the gods that are currently enshrined at Ise Jingu Shrine.
Ine, A Living Closest to the Ocean in Japan
In Ine Town, you can see a unique scene representing this area that is very closely connected to the ocean. Girdled about the 5-km area along Ine Bay, funaya houses look as if they are floating on the water. Ine’s funaya houses have a unique structure with a boat garage on the 1st floor and a living room on the 2nd floor. This scene is peculiar to this area where people have been making a living by fishing. Some funaya houses offer accommodation for tourists. Many of them can accommodate only one group per day, offering visitors a special time to enjoy staying on the water.
Trains are Perfect for Traveling in Tango!
If you are visiting the Tango area, take a train on Kyoto Tango Railway, which connects to other lines at JR Fukuchiyama Station and JR Nishi-Maizuru Station, and you can enjoy the views of oceans and mountains through the window in a relaxing atmosphere. There are three types of trains, including Aomatsu-go, a blue sightseeing train that requires no reservation with a regular fare only; Akamatsu-go, a red designer-designed cozy train that requires a reservation and a reasonable extra fare: and Kuromatsu-go, a restaurant train that requires a reservation and serves special dishes with local food ingredients. You can also take a limited express train, Tango-no-umi, starting from JR Kyoto Station.
*The information herein is as of May 2017.