Category Archives: Tourism

Tajima (Mikata-gun/Tajima Beef)

History of Tajima Beef

My hometown is famous for good seafood and soba, but we also have excellent beef, called Tajima-gyû (/Tajima cattle), which is categorized as one of the types of black Wagyu (Japanese cattle).

Have you ever heard of Kobe beef? I have seen some reports that Kobe beef is becoming popular in France. It’s one of the most expensive types of black Wagyu in Japan or maybe worldwide. Well, Kobe beef actually refers to special cuts of Tajma beef!

Since the ancient times Tajima cattle have been raised by Tajima people. In a Japanese history document, called Shoku Nihongi, completed in 797, it is written that Tajima cattle were very useful in cultivating the fields, and good to eat. This implies that people were eating beef at least in the Medieval period in Japan.

Tajima ushi (cow) is rather small but very strong, and, additionally, it lives long and has a high reproductive ability. This is why it has been very popular among Japanese people.

When the Meiji period started, Tajima beef was becoming known as Kobe beef, because foreigners living in the Kobe foreign settlement found the beef delicious and started to enjoy the meat. Then,  foreigners in other settlements, such as in Yokohama, who learned the beef in Kansai was excellent, ordered more beef from Kansai (the west Japan) by way of Kobe. Then, without knowing the beef actually came from Tajima, they started to call it “Kobe beef”.

In other words, my region is the origin of world-famous “Kobe beef”!!!

 

Where to taste it? 

There are many restaurants and onsen ryokans (hot spring inns) serving Tajima beef, but I recommend tasting Tajima beef at Restaurant Hamada.

Tajima Beef Hamada  Homepage :
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They serve Tajima beef steak and Japanese-style BBQ called “yakiniku”, and their beef all comes directly from their farm. It is soooo…. good. You even don’t need a knife to eat the steak they prepare. It is really tender and juicy. My husband said it was the best beef he had ever had, and I agreed.

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Look, this steak! Delicious !!!

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Japanese BBQ: Can you see how Tajima beef is. It is well-marbled.

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And, to finish, we ordered, “Tail Soup.” This is a must-try. It is really good. A big piece of tail meat is in it, and it gives excellent “dashi (broth)”.

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Where to see Tajima cows?

Tajima Bokujo Kôen  Homepage:
This park is operated by Hyogo Prefecture, so it is all for free! In a big field, you can have a picnic, play catch balls, or take a nap, whatever you want. At the museum of Tajima ushi,  you can learn its history too. You can enjoy many activities!

It is a little away from the park facility, but there is also a cow shed. You can have a close look at the Tajima cows.

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Another activity I recommend is to take a ski lift to get to the top of the hill in the park, where you have a panoramic view.  There are many mountains and valleys around this area, and these geographical features allow Tajima cows to keep their advantageous characteristics without transferring them to other breeds. Tajima cows are protected in Tajima nature.

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Tajima (Toyo-oka city)

Tajima Region (但馬地方): Tajima is the name given to the area situated in the north of Hyôgo prefecture. It faces the sea of Japan in the north, and borders on Tottori prefecture in the west and Kyoto prefecture in the east. The area is as vast as the whole area of Tokyo.

Blessed in great nature, Tajima includes two national parks and four prefectural parks.  Many mountains, rivers, hot springs, and beautiful beaches… you can find many things in this region.

The Tajima area is divided into 5 zones:
Toyo-oka city / Yabu city / Asago city / Mikata-gun Kami-cho / Mikata-gun Sin-Onsen-cho

Toyo-oka city (豊岡市) is one of the sub-divided zones in the Tajima area, two and a half hours away from Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, and almost 6 or 7 hours away from Tokyo, by train. You can imagine how much nature we have in this region. The city area stretches widely from the sea of Japan (162.35km2), including many sites seeing spots. The major tourist places are Toyo-oka city (豊岡), Kinosaki Town (城崎), Takeno Town (竹野), Hidaka Town (日高), Izushi Town (出石), and Tantô Town (但東). Each town has its specialty.  If you are looking for a place where you can relax in nature, my hometown should be on the list of your next trip.

Toyo-oka  Area(豊岡):
First of all, I want you to know how peaceful the life in Toyo-oka is. It is surrounded by mountains, and the Maruyamagawa River runs through it. I love the area called “Roppo Tango” (Roppo rice field area). There are many kinds of animals and insects living here.  My husband and I go for a walk every time we visit Toyo-oka.

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・ Toyooka City Official Website (English)
Toyo-oka Tourism Association(Japanese)

What are the features of Toyo-oka city?
Toyo-oka has two other names for its specialties. One is “A Town of Bags.” There are many factories and shops dealing in bags in Toyooka. Its history is very long, dating back to the 10th century, when 10 baskets woven out of osiers in Tajima were sent to Shosoin, the treasure repository in Nara. This tradition has been handed down generation after generation, and today it remains as a form of modern fancy bags.

Museum of bags (the history of bags/Japanese)

Of course we have Toyo-oka brand bags. 100% made in Japan!

Toyo-oka kaban (bags) official HP

There is also a street called Kaban Street, where several shops specializing in Toyo-oka kaban. Or if you want to see more products, you should visit bag factories, like Jibasan TAJIMA (Tajima Industry Development Center) or  Kaban no Yakata ( Kaban House). They are always welcoming many tourists.

To prove how much this industry has contributed to this city, I should mention a festival called Yanagi Matsuri (willow festival), which is held every summer, on August 1st and 2nd. On the 2nd there is a fireworks event.

The other name Toyo-oka city has is “A Town of Storks.” Strictly speaking it is an oriental stork (not just a white stork). The bird is registered as a national natural monument and the symbol of Hyogo prefecture. In the past, they were everywhere in Tajima, but due to industrial development, they disappeared in the 1970s.

But today Toyo-oka people are working very hard to bring these birds back to nature once again. They have succeeded in breeding this species artificially, and more and more storks are seen in the sky of Toyo-oka city. I often see a few storks flying and walking around the river and in the rice field. They are very beautiful! To make them prosperous again,  Toyo-oka also has to think a lot about the environment. It is considered to be an eco-city. This is why my hometown has been drawing much attention from all over Japan.

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Kô-no-tori no Sato (コウノトリの郷公園/Park of storks) is the place where these storks are taken care of. There is a small museum, and you can learn about the history of Toyo-oka people and these birds. You’ll see many storks are resting here tranquilly.

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And if you have time, you should visit a souvenir shop, Kô-no-tori Honpô. They sell local  original gifts products, and also serve you drinks and light meals. I recommend their cheese cake made from rice flour called “Kônotori rice”.

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Park of storks (the history of storks/Japanese)
Kô-no-tori Honpô ( a souvenir shop and a cafe in the park of storks)

 

Hidaka  Area (日高エリア):

Hidaka (日高町) is known for having many ski grounds called (Kan-nabe kogen ski grounds/神鍋高原スキー場), and its history dates back to the Taisho period (1912-1926). Every winter many ski lovers visit here.  But lately people also come to this region to enjoy summer activities, such as paragliders, golf, and tennis. It is busy all around the year today.

My favorite activity here is hiking in the summer. Mt.Kan-nabe (神鍋山) is the mountain formed by the volcanic activity 20,000 years ago, and the molten lava also created valleys.

Ase keikoku (阿瀬渓谷)is one of the examples, as such a valley.

I love walking in the mountain in the summer.

Calm and quiet….

The water is clear and the air is fresh.

There are several hiking courses.

 

Kinosaki Area (城崎エリア):
Kinosaki is one of the most famous onsen resort areas in Japan. People are walking in Yukata here, Japanese traditional kimono-like wear for the summer. The landscape is really like a picture. A small river, which runs through the town, is lined with Yanagi (willow) trees. Imagine the view. You will feel like you are traveling through time. Their speciality, fresh seafood, is also served at a ryokan hotel (Japanese-style inns with a hot spring bath). This is a must-go.

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Some hotels are super rich, but some are reasonable. You can find a variety of hotels.

Mikiya ryokan has a long history. They started business in the Edo Period, and it is known for a famous Japanese novelist who wrote “Kinosaki ni-te” (At Kinosaki). He was staying at this hotel. Tsutaya ryokan also has its history. Katsura Kogoro, in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, was hiding in this ryokan (see page for Hagi).
Mikiya Ryokan (Englsih)
Tsutaya Ryokan (Japanese)

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In the street there are some spots called “Ashi-yu“,  where you can put your feet in the onsen water for free! It’s very relaxing.  You can also find the source of the hot springs at back of the town.

There are 7 main hot springs called “Soto yu” which are available for all visitors including day trippers (800 yen), and each one has different effects. Check them out at the official site.
Kinosaki Tourist Association (English)

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There’s a cable car going up to the top of the mountain, where you’ll have a panoramic view of Kinosaki Town.

Kinosaki Cable Car (Japanese)

Genbudo (玄武洞):
This is a national natural monument. Genbudo is a cave formed in the Genbugan rock (basalt). About 1,600,000 years ago magma erupted and then was cooled down. In this process a mass of Genbugan was formed. Then, due to erosion about 6,000 years ago, this mass was exposed outside. Afterwards people started to exploit the rock and these caves were made. So they are not natural, but actually it’s a site of mining.

In the past, people used the stone blocks to build the base of the castle. Today you can still find some houses using the same technique in this region. You can get more information at Genbudo Museum (Japanese) .

 

Oh, and a little more drive will take you to a big aquarium, Kinosaki Marine World.

 

There are also many seafood restaurants in Kinosaki. The one I often visit is Umi no Ie restaurant. They serve nice seafood dishes, and you can also enjoy shopping for some seafood products.

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Enjoy Kinosaki!

 

Izushi  Area (出石エリア):
This town is called a small Kyoto because there are many temples, and the landscape reminds you of  the old times of Japan. It is like a miniature of Kyoto. You can find the ruin of Izushi castle, and from there you can see a panoramic view of Izushi Town. The specialty of this town is soba (buckwheat noodles). When you visit Izushi, you will be surprised to see so many signs of soba shops.

Izushi Tourist Association (Japanese)
Soba Association (Japanese)

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The history of Izushi:  In the Muromachi period (1336 – 1467), the Yamana clan was very powerful in the San-in region, where Izushi is, and Yamana Tokiyoshi built Konosumiyama Castle in 1372.  The Yamana Family resided at this castle for more than 200 years, but Hashiba Hideyoshi (later Toyotomi Hideyoshi / 1536 – 1598) attacked this castle in 1569. Yamana Suketoyo built another castle, Ariko Castle, at Mt. Ariko, but this one, too, fell to Hideyoshi.

For a while, the castle keepers maintained Ariko Castle, but Koide Yoshimasa became the lord. He was a daimyo in the Warring State period ( the late 15th – the late 16th century) and  was also Hideyoshi’s cousin. The Koide clan divided the family in two for the Battle of Sekigahara (the battle between the east squad/Tokugawa and the west squad/Toyotomi). This way they thought the Koide clan would survive, whichever side won. Koide Yoshimasa was on the side of Hideyoshi, and his brother Hideie fought for the east, Tokugawa. The result was the victory on the side of Tokugawa Ieyasu. But thanks to Hideie’s achievement, Yoshimasa’s support for the west squad was not blamed. Their land was also guaranteed.

In 1604 Ariko Castle was abolished by Koide Yoshihide, and Izushi Castle was built. And at this time the castle town was developed.

In 1696, when Koide Fusatsugu died at age three, the family had no more heir. Then Matsudaira Tadachika was sent to take the place of the Koide family. Furthermore, in 1706, when Tadachika was transferred, Sengoku Masaakira came from the Shinano Region, present-time Nagano prefecture, to become the new lord.

The Sengoku clan resided in Izushi until the Abolition of the Han System (feudal domain).

It is said “Izushi soba” was brought from the Shinano Region by the Sengoku clan. And today there are everywhere soba shops in this town!

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Every time we go back to Japan, we go to eat soba. I recommend some good restaurants we visited (and most likely revisit). Good services and atmosphere. Izushi is also famous for Izushi-yaki (Izushi ware). The soba is served on these Izushi-yaki dishes.

Restaurant Yoshimura:

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Restaurant Soba-shoHomepage

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Fresh wasabi !!!

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You pile up the dishes like this. If the hight of the pile  is longer than the length of your chopsticks, it means you’ve had enough! Ours is always much higher.

Restaurant Daimon : Homepage

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After eating enjoy shopping!

 

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A big clock tower called Shinkoro stands in the center of the town. Originally Izushi people heard a sound of the drums from the tower, which indicated that the lord of the castle was present. The clock was actually added later after some episode.When a doctor in the town became severely sick, many Izuhshi people prayed devotedly for his recovery. When the doctor got well, he wanted to show his gratitude to the people and presented the clock to the town. It was 1881.

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At Izushi sake brewing house, they sell local sake, Sasazuru (114-1 Uoya Izushi Toyo-oka). They say that the color of the sake storehouse changes according to the season.

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Tajima-no-Sato (但馬の郷) is a unique shop in Izushi. They sell a variety of pork products, such as ham and sausage. They are really delicious. They’ve got a gold award at an international sausage contest! More info at their Homepage.

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Takeno Area (竹野エリア):
Takeno is located by the sea of Japan. It is known for its beautiful beach. Every summer there are many people enjoying swimming and camping here.

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Kaeru Island (Frog Island):  Can you see it?

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Hasakari Iwa :  Hasakari is a Tajima dialect meaning ‘stuck’. A rock ball is stuck in the rock towers.

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San-in beach National Park (山陰国立公園) :
Among popular spots, many people like to go to Takeno beach.  Takeno village has a lot of nature and is one of the most popular vacation destinations among Japanese people. This area has a nice beach, a camping site, and many other recreation facilities.

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And my recommendation is to stay at Takeno-Kaigan National Park Resort Inn.

National Park Resort Villages (NPRV) is not another chain of resort hotels. Their 36 inns or villages are favorably situated within the territories of National Parks. NPRV is a facility where you can stay longer, get close to vast wilderness and have fun in a variety of recreational activities. NPRV is open to everyone. Why not find a destination of your choice and have a great holiday. NPRV is operated by National Park Resort Villages of Japan, a foundation supported by the Ministry of the Environment.

National Park Resort Villages
Homepage(English)

The room rate is reasonable and they have a great view. Here are some photos I took at Takeno Kaigan Notional Park Resort Inn.

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The interior of the Inn

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Tokose soba (床瀬そば):

Tokose soba is another good address for you. I really recommend it. They serve not only fresh soba but also a variety of traditional dishes. It’s 100% homemade cuisine using foods in season and local products! They have no tables, no chairs. You sit around “irori” (fireplace)! Really nice atmosphere. The access is a little difficult because the restaurant is located in a really remote area. It really stands in nature. Find this secret soba shop!

Tokose soba (another soba shop recommended / You can see some photos on their HP.)

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There are more coming up in the future!!! To be continued.

Kyoto part 11 (Nijô Castle area)

Nijo-jo (二条城) is the castle constructed by the Tokugawa clan during the Edo period. It is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the ‘Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.’

History:

After the victory of the Battle of Sekigahara in 1601, Tokugawa Ieyasu planned to build a residence castle in Kyoto, and started to remove townhouses. The  daimyo (Japanese feudal lords) of the western provinces, who were on the side of the Toyotomi clan in the Battle of Sekigahara, had to pay the cost of construction and give their services as laborers .

The castle was completed in 1603, and Tenshu ( the keep of a castle) was in 1606.

In 1611, the meeting between Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori was held at Nijo-jo. Hideyori is the successor to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the former ruler of the nation. Ieyasu was surprised to see that Hideyori had grown as a charismatic man, and he felt a sense of danger that the Tokugawa clan might be overthrown by the Toyotomi clan. It is also said that it was at this time when he decided to bring down completely the Toyotomi family.

Nijo-jo was used by successive Tokugawa Shoguns, but after Tokugawa Hidetada died, in 1634, this castle vanished from the center stage of history, for almost 230 years.

The 14th Shogun, Tokugawa Iemochi , visited Kyoto in 1863, and the castle was renovated for his stay. In those days Japan was in great political disorder because there was a lot of pressure from foreign countries. He was requested by the Imperial Court to exclude foreigners, and also had to make the Choshu Conquest to subjugate the Emperor’s enemy Choshu Domain (present-day Yamaguchi prefecture).  He moved to Osaka Castle to take command of the conquest, but he fell sick and died there.

In 1866, Tokugawa Yoshinobu accepted the appointment of the 15th Shogun at Nijo-jo after being persuaded by the Shogun cabinet and the Imperial court.

But the conditions were getting more and more unfavorable to the Tokugawa government, and in 1867 Yoshinobu transferred ruling power back to the Emperor at Nijo-jo.

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Nijo-jo Castle has seen many historical events.

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Daruma-dera (達磨寺)

You stop at Enmachi Station (円町駅), one after Nijo Station (二条駅), on the JR Line, and you will find an interesting temple called Daruma-dera. This temple belongs to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai Sect. Its official name is Hôrin-ji (法輪寺), but it is better known as “Daruma-dera”.

Daruma is the Indian monk who introduced Zen to China.

Legend has it that Daruma lost his legs and arms because he practiced Zen meditation sitting cross-legged while facing a wall for nine years. And this legend produced “a daruma doll.” It is very popular among Japanese people as a lucky charm. The doll has no arms and no legs, but it never falls even if you push it.

We say, “nanakorobi-yaoki (七転び八起き)”. If you fall seven times, you get up eight times. It means your life always has ups and downs, but you should keep still and be patient even after repeated failures. Fortune comes around.

About 8,000 daruma dolls and statues are housed in the Daruma-do (Daruma hall).

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Inside the temple and in its garden, there are daruma, daruma, daruma. It’s very unique.

If only we had so much patience like him…

Kyoto Part 10 (Kinukake Street)

Kinukake no Michi Street (きぬかけの路) is located in the northwest of Kyoto City, and three world-famous temples stand on this street: Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), Ryôan-ji (龍安寺), and Ninna-ji (仁和寺). All of these temples are also registered as a World Heritage site. This is the place you can’t miss when you visit Kyoto.

Kinukake no Michi Official Site

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺)    Kinkaku-ji Official Site

It is a little complicating to explain, but the temple called “Kinkaku-ji is actually named ‘Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺)“, and ‘Kinkaku’ is the name given to the ‘Shariden, the three-layer lofty building covered in gold leaf. ‘Shariden’ is the hall for placing a bone of the Buddha. It was registered as the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site in 1994.

Rokuon-ji Temple is one of the three sub-temples outside the Shokoku-ji Temple site, and was founded by the 3rd shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.

Originally in this place there was a temple called Saion-ji Temple established by Fujiwara no Kintsune (Saionji Kintsune) in the Kamakura Period (around 1192–1333). He was a court noble and had close connections to the Kamakura Shogunate (feudal government). The Siaonji family prospered during this period, but they went into decline as the Kamakura government collapsed. Then, in 1397, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu took over the land and constructed a  grand residence, called ‘Kitayamadai’, where he obtained political power.

After the death of Yoshimitsu, the whole residence, except ‘Shariden (Kinkaku/Golden Tower), was demolished and reconstructed into a Zen temple, in accordance with his will. And the Zen temple was named after Yoshimitsu’s posthumous Buddhist name, “Rokuon-indono”. It was in 1420.

This is the origin of Rokuon-ji temple.

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Ryôan-ji (龍安寺) Ryôan-ji Official Site

Ryôan-ji Temple belongs to the Myôshin school of the Rinzai Sect.  It is also registered as the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site.

This temple is well-known for its stone garden, or Zen garden. The area of the garden is just 25m by 10m, and there are fifteen stones of different sizes, composed in five groups. They are carefully placed on the white gravel, which is raked nicely every day by the monks here.

It is a very simple garden, but, being simple tells more.

The white gravel shows the ocean, and the rocks are the mountains. To make it look like water, “water” is removed. This is the sensibility given to Japanese people.

There are pros and cons, but it is said that these rocks are intentionally placed so that the entire composition can’t be seen at once from the veranda of the temple. You can see only 14 rocks out of 15 no matter which direction you look at it from.

In Japan, the full-moon night is called “jû-go ya (十五夜)”, and jû-go, the number fifteen, is believed to be the complete number. We also say that when something has been completed, it means it has started to collapse. This is why you see only 14 rocks in this garden.

Well, who created this garden? It is unknown…  It is really stirring our imagination, and an ideal place for meditation.

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Ryôan-ji Temple has a circuit-style garden, too. It is really beautiful.

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 Ninna-ji (仁和寺)   Ninna-ji Official Site

Ninna-ji is the head temple of the Omuro school of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. It was established in 888 by the retired Emperor Uda. It is also registered as the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site.

This temple is well-known for its sakura (cherry blossoms). There are many visitors in spring for the flowers and in fall for red and yellow leaves.

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I like the landscape with sand gravel nicely raked. It is great art.

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Kinkaku-ji is world famous for its golden image, but you should continue on Kinukake no Michi. You will find more beautiful sites there. Each temple has its beauty.

Kyoto part 9 (Amanohashidate)

Amanohashidate (天橋立) is one of the top three scenic locations in Japan, located in Miyazu Bay in northern Kyoto Prefecture. Amanohashidate, which means “Heavenly Bridge,” is a long sandbar lined with pine trees. If it is viewed upside down, Amanohashidate will appear like a bridge between the earth and the sky. You will find many people trying to see the bridge between their legs with their heads down. This is called “Mata nozoki”. You need good flexibility!

There are two view points situated at both ends of Amanohashidate. One is Kasamatsu Park (傘松公園) on the north side, and the other one is called Amanohashidate Veiw Land on the south side.  In both cases, you use a cable car to get to the top of the mountain, where the park is found.

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There is a small amusement facility for children, and a restaurant too. Look, this udon dish has big wakame see weeds!

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After eating lunch and trying “mata nozoki”, we went down the mountain and visited Amanohashidate itself.

You can take a walk or ride a bicycle to visit this natural sand bridge. My suggestion is you walk one way and rent a bicycle the way back. It is really pleasant to walk in the pine tree forest. It takes about 1 hour on foot to reach the other side of the sand bar.

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Amanohashidate is also a famous place where a great swordsman, Iwami Jutaro, took a revenge on enemies of his father in 1632.

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There is a small shrine called Amanohashidate-jinja (天橋立神社) on the pine-tree street. This is one the three major shrines found in this area, and here, Hachidai-ryûô is enshrined.  Ryûô or Dragon King, who is living in the water, is a god accompanying Buddha. Amanohashidate also has some dragon legends.

Long long time ago, it was in the age of the gods in Japan… On the passage for gods dropped the sea. It was Dragon God who made up the “bridge” by piling up soil in one night. And this pine tree passage itself looks like a dragon.

This is how Amanohashidate was born.

Also, by this shrine, you’ll find a well  which contains the water called “Isosimizu”. It has been selected among 100 Exquisite and Well-Conserved Waters. This water is not drinkable, but it is fresh water though it is located by the sea. We use this water to purify ourselves before visiting Amanohashidate-jinja.

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There is a nice beach too. Many visitors come here for many kinds of activities. Enjoy swimming and sunbathing in the summer!

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About in an hour you’ll reach the other side of the sand bar. From there, continue a bit father, and you’ll find the other two shrines.

 

Kono-jinja (籠神社) Kono-jinja Official Site

This shrine has a long long history. Called also “Moto Ise (元伊勢)“, it is considered to be one of the most ancient shrines in Japan. Moto Ise means a shrine which enshrined the Gods temporarily before they moved to Ise Jingu in Mie prefecture.

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Ise-jingu or Ise Grand Shrine is a Shinto complex composed of 125 Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naikû and Gekû. Naikû is dedicated to Amaterasu-omikami, and Gekû to Toyo-uke no Omikami.

Amaterasu Omikami was born as the most sacred goddess. She is the goddess of life and the ancestor of our Imperial Family, and of Japanese people too. And Toyo-uke no Omikami is the guardian god who provides us with food, clothing and shelter. Also, Amaterasu Omikami welcomed Toyo-uke no Omikami to Ise to have her meal prepared. So Toyo-uke no Omikami is the god who gives energy and power to Amaterasu Omikami.

These two goddesses were not enshrined at Ise-jingu from the beginning.

Amaterasu Omikami had been enshrined within the Imperial Palace, but Emperor Sujin ordered Imperial Princess Toyosukiirihime no Mikoto to enshrine Amaterasu Omikami in the Kasanui Village of Wa (ancient Japan), to respect her and to suppress the plague that was killing a number of people at that time. It was in 92 B.C. After that Toyosukiirihime no Mikoto and Yamatohime no Mikoto were traveling around to find the best place to enshrine the Sun Goddess. And finally Yamatohime no Mikoto established Kôtaijingu (Naikû) in present-day Mie prefecture, and this is the origin of Ise-jingu.

“Moto Ise” indicates the shines where the two princesses enshrined temporarily Amaterasu Omikami while they were traveling.

Furthermore, in the age of Emperor Yûryaku (reigns 456–479), Toyo-uke no Omikami was sent to Ise as the god preparing meals for Amaterasu Omikami. And the place where Toyo-uke no Omikami  was enshrined is also called Moto Ise. Toyo-uke no Omikami descended on earth with Amenohohakari no Mikoto, who helped find the best place for Toyo-uke no Omikami to settle. The secondary shrine of Kono-jinja, called Manai-jinja Shine, was chosen for Toyo-uke no Omikami. Since then, The Amabe family, who succeed the bloodline of Amenohohakari no Mikoto, have been in charge of the religious services of Kono-jinja.

Kono-jinja, thus, has been revered as a special Moto Ise.

 

Manai-jinja Shrine (真名井神社)

This shrine is located in the site of approximately 400 meters northeast of the main shrine, Kono-jinja. Here, Amenohohakari no Mikoto came down to earth and enshrined Toyo-uke no Omikami. It is very sacred. The place was chosen because there was pure water welling up here. This water is called “Manai no Mizu.”

No photo within the precincts. Please don’t enter the forest, and please don’t visit there with beach sandals and short pants on. 

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On the way back, you have three choices, on foot, by bicycle, or by boat. It depends on how much energy you still have after all these visits. We decided to walk again!

There is another place to visit. It is at the starting point of the pine tree street.

 

Chion-ji Temple (智恩寺)  Chion-ji Official Site

This temple belongs to Myôshin school of Rinzai Sect. The principal image of Buddha is Monju Bosatsu (文殊菩薩), a god of wisdom. It is said to have been founded in 808 as a chokugan-ji of Emperor Heizei, a temple built at the order of the emperor.

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Chikara ishi (力石)

These stones were used for a festival or gathering at this temple. Men were carrying these stones to show their physical strength. The heaviest one is 130 kg, the medium 100 kg, and the smallest 70 kg. They were competing with each other.

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To have a rest, I recommend a nice cafe standing by Chion-ji. Actually, in front of the gate of Chion-ji, there are many restaurants and souvenir shops. Many restaurants serve good seafood dishes. But if you rather wish to have some coffee and cake, visit Cafe du Pin. Their cakes are excellent. I love their rolled cake made from rice flour. It stands by the sea, too.

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Amanohashidate is located in the north of Kyoto City. You may not have enough time to go so far, but if you have an occasion someday. From my hometown, Toyo-oka city, you can take a direct train to Amanohashidate (Kitakinki Tango Railroad), which runs though several small towns in the Tango Peninsula. It is very beautiful.  I’d also like to visit these small towns someday.

 

Amanohashidate Tourism Office (Japanese)
Kitakinki Tango Railroad (Check their short videos/Japanese)
Tango Peninsula (the region between Toyooka and Amanohashidate/Japanese)