Japan // Kyoto & Nara //

Amanohashidate

At the northern tip of Kyoto-fu (Kyoto prefecture), the stubby peninsula of Tango-hantō (丹後半島) leans protectively over Wakasa Bay, shielding the sand spit of Amanohashidate (天橋立), the “Bridge to Heaven”. As one of the trio of top scenic views in Japan (the other two are Matsushima and Miyajima), Amanohashidate has a lot to live up to. The “bridge” is actually a 3.6km ribbon of white sand and pine trees slinking its way between the touristy villages of Monju and Fuchū across the bay.

On Mount Nariai above Fuchū, the splendidly atmospheric Nariai-ji is one of the 33 temples on the Saigoku Kannon pilgrimage route, while closer to the summit there is a fantastic view of the bay and coast as far away as the Noto-hantō, some 500km northeast. East along the Tango-hantō lies the picturesque fishing hamlet of Ine, while across the bay in Monju is another attractive wooden temple, Chion-ji, standing on the brink of the sandbar – a lovely area for a quiet stroll or cycle ride, or simply lazing on the beach.