Thursday, December 22nd, 2016 • Osaka Day 3
07:26 おはようございます Goodmorning! Waking up bright and early for our trip today!
08:30 Kyoto station
08:52 JR center to buy a JR pass today. Spent quite a bit of time searching for the JR centre because it was all the way at the main station from the Subway exit. We also sidetracked at tourist information centre thinking they may have some information. But they all redirected us to the JR centre to buy the pass. JR Kansai-Hokuriku area pass, 7-day pass for unlimited rides on unreserved seats on the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Limited express, rapid express and local trains from Kansai airport to the Hokuriku area, in addition to Kansai area, ¥16,000 per pass. (DUMB DUMB alert: seeing as the pass was a 7-day affair, we should have bought it from Kansai airport and saved on the trip there, and especially the first trip from Takatsuki to Takatsuki!!, and there’s a slight discount if you buy online or from travel agencies overseas.)
08:36 – 0953 Limited express kinosaki 3 from Kyoto station to Fukuchiyama station, ¥1490.
10:07 – 10:58 Tango aomatsu 1 from Fukuchiyama to Amanohashidate, ¥770.
Originally, we had planned to leave slightly earlier which would get us to Fukuchiyama station where we can take the scenic train 丹後鐵道觀光列車, the blue one and the red one too!! Unfortunately, poor planning and sheer laziness, we decided to take the faster (and later) express train to Amanohashidate first.
(Unofficial website for some extra info, website: http://seasidekyoto.blogspot.hk/?m=1)
(Another bloggers experience with this train, website: http://maymay1231.pixnet.net/blog/post/209786407-%5B京都%5D-海之京都-x-丹後鐵道觀光列車『赤松號)
09:15 With the extra time, we walked by a bento box shop 駅弁旅弁当 which sold dozens of different portioned bento boxes!!!! Almost couldn’t make a decision as they all looked so yummy!! Finally settled on this 旅のにぎわい御膳 (No. 1 special of the day), ¥1000 (tax included).
Address: Japan, 600-8216 京都府京都市下京区東塩小路 Kyoto station.
09:25 – 11:25 Limited express hashidate 1, from Kyoto station to Amanohashidate, ¥2260. The price isn’t totally covered by the Kansai-Hokuriku pass, only until Fukuchiyama station, but whilst on the same train, you can pay the train master around ¥1xxx for two for the extra distance. The bento box was great, we shared that along with a tonkatsu sandwich bought the day before for breakfast, and dozed off with a nicely filled tummy!
10:42 – 10:49 Arrive at Fukuchiyama station, the train master comes around and checks everyone’s tickets and we pay our extra to keep going.
11:26 Amanohashidate 天橋立.
There right on the opposite track, is the red scenic train, a tiny one compartment train next to our 6 compartment Shinkansen. We make our reservations right at this station, ¥640 for the transport to Nishi-maizuru 西舞鶴 and ¥540 for the reservation of this Special train Tango Akamatsu 4 scenic train at 15:22, total ¥2360 for two. At this station, is a small tourist counter with dedicated Japanese and English speakers explaining the two major destinations. There’s also tourist maps in (at least) Japanese and English.
11:48 Upon exiting the station, the first thing we buy is from convenience store Yamazaki ヤマザキ, since feeling extremely thirsty is this 500ml Yakult drink, which very honestly states on its ingredients label “contains 4 times the necessary amount of daily sugar intake”.
11:52 Being slightly pressed for time, we head off the the closer of the two destinations. Unfortunately, a Shinkansen train appears to have some malfunction right at the crossing, and we had to wait 5 minutes for the train to backtrack to the Amanohashidate station.
11:57 We arrive at the Chairlift/Monorail which will take us up to Climbing Dragon view on Amanohashidate view land. Unfortunately, the chair lift was not in operation, so we bought a two way ticket for the monorail, ¥850 per person. There’s a train every 20-minutes, at :00, :20, and :40 from 09:00 to 16:40.
12:00 – 12:09 On the monorail, there is a beautiful view of the houses by the shore and the sandbar. The first cart would provide the best view, but it seemed quite full upon our arrival. Besides a view of the cart in front and the railings and cables, there really isn’t much difference to this view and the one you get after reaching the top. Oh and height probably, heh 😅. The monorail trip takes about 10 minutes one way, and as there’s only one rail (i.e. MONOrail, haha) another 10minutes to go back down. They’ve pretty much got very efficient boarding and offloading times!
12:10 Climbing Dragon View 飛龍觀 ひりゅうがん at Amanohashidate View Land. The sky and the land is upside down and the pine trees looks like their floating in the sky. If you turn your back to Amanohashidate and bend over and view between your legs, this position is called “Matanozoki 股のぞき“. In viewland, you can do matanozoki, where you can imagine the flying dragon up in the sky, and that scene is called “Hiryukan”. There are couple matanozokidai 股のぞき台 benches for one to try out the matanozoki position, which originated here and visitors have been doing this for a millennium, so as amusing and awkward as it sounds, do try standing with your back to the sandbar and bend over to look between your legs… yeah, I felt just as fooled as you, I really don’t see much of a dragon unless you call every wavy thing a dragon, but meh, it’s pretty.
神の世に 神のかよいし 跡なれや — 雲居につづく 天橋立 村田 春海
即題而飛龍観矣 — 文政三年 難波の旅人
Once of the two best views of the sandbar is from Amanohashidate viewland, which lies on the south of the sandbar, behind Amanohashidate station. Some even say it’s the better of the two, as this perspective appears as if the dragon is flying up to the sky from this viewpoint. This viewpoint is also a small amusement park with ferris wheel, roller coaster, go-karts and mini golf, ideal for a family with small children or toddler. For adults, the flying dragon viewing platform, not exactly a ride but offers a twisty platform which almost looks like a roller coaster itself, overlooking the sandbar. The platform may be closed during bad weather such as strong winds, raining or thunder, and customers are advised to stay away during sudden bad weather. Thankfully it was only a drizzle and it wasn’t as if we had much time anyways.
11:50 – 11:58 Taking the monorail back, we found to our luck, the chairlifts were back in effect, bah!! Back at the monorail chairlift station, we once again set off for the view from the opposite.
12:06 A brisk walk takes us to the ferry pier, there’s only one tour boat although some small boats were parked along the pier. And as luck would have it, we just missed the previous ferry, which leaves every half an hour :00 and :30 for a 12-minute ferry ride along the sandbar on the Aso sea. A two way ferry ticket 観光船 from 天橋立 to 一の宮 and a two way cable car up the 傘松公園 mountain is ¥1500 for adults, and ¥750 for children. Or you can buy access for two viewpoints, the kasamatsu park 傘松公園 and viewland ビューランド for ¥1200 (this probably just includes the cable car for both viewpoints, probably need to ask whether it includes ferry tickets too). Anyhow, ferry tickets on their own is ¥530 one-way, and ¥960 two-way. For a less pricey option, one could consider rental bikes for a 20-minute bike ride across the sandbar or 50-minute walk along the 3.6km pine covered route, both sounding quite enjoyable, maybe next time. Two 2-way ferry tickets and two 2-way cable car tickets, total ¥2400.
13:09 With some time to spare, we backtrack along the pier and pass by Chionji temple 智恩寺 which houses “one of three most important statues of Monju Bosatsu”, the Buddhist god of wisdom and intellect. Heheh, maybe it would have done me some good to stop by and bought a fan-shaped fortunes (omikuji) for some much needed wisdom and personal success.
13:11 Instead, we cross the Kaisenkyou 廻旋橋, the “rotating bridge”, a red painted bridge which can rotate 90 degrees to allow ships passing through, once manpowered in 1923, now accomplished with electricity since 1960. It connects the sandbar of Amanohashidate to the mainland. Further ahead, there’s another blue bridge, Big Heaven bridge, Daitenkyo 大天橋 (Otenbashi?).
(Some beautiful old pictures of the Amanohashidate back then, website: https://絵葉書.com/show/ehagaki2_010001)
13:27 We make it back to the ferry terminal on time for an enjoyable ride across. Seeing as two visitors had (rather insensitively) decided to take both the front rows one each, we went to the far back of the ferry outside. An older couple and a younger couple had each bought a small packet of shrimp sticks ¥100 at the ferry terminal, to feed the seagulls. The seagulls quite skilfully will snatch them from your fingers as they fly by, and quite a horde will dive at it if thrown at them. This caused quite a spectacular group of gulls following right behind our boat. (For a country which is so self disciplined with trash and strong sense of preservation of history, landscape, and culture and even sounds, I would have thought Japanese would frown at this sort of behaviour, but not only did ferry company condone it by selling them at the terminal, both couples were in fact locals. But in all due respect, despite this apparently very common practice, the interior of the ferries and even the ocean did not have much litter. I only saw one shrimp stick packet float by during the boat ride. Or maybe the gulls ate the rest 😳.) Now I feel snacky.
13:42 Ichinomiya boat dock 一の宮.
(in Cantonese would be 一支公 or forever-alone-guy hahah 🤓)
13:49 A short 7-minute walk from the dock would bring us to Fushu station. At Fushu station, there is cable car and chair lifts, or if you so desire, you could take the stairs.
Along the way you may pass through Motoise Kono jinja (shrine) 元伊勢籠神社. This Shinto shrine located on the northern end of Amanohashidate sandbar and the most important shrine in Tango region of northern Kyoto, as it once enshrined Amaterasu, the sun goddess, and Toyoukehime, the local deity of clothing, food and housing. There is also a legend of in ancient times, god Izanagi went to and from the heavens to see goddess Izanami via the floating bridge to the heaven, Amanohashidate. Unfortunately, we went a different route, Oops!
13:56 – 14:05 The cable cars from Fushu station leave every :00, :15, :30, and :45 until 16:30, probably faster because of the dual rail instead of monorail. Upon arriving to the top,
14:05 The Flying Dragon view at Kasamatsu Park. Upon arriving to the top, the rain was just ceasing and the sun’s rays were peeping through the dense grey clouds. The scene was almost poetic. Once again we tried to Matanozoki position, and maybe i really lack imagination, but i don’t see any dragon, flying or climbing.
The opposite side of the bay is Kasamatsu Park, accessible by chair lift or cable car. The sandbar is said to resemble the kanji for one “一” from this viewpoint when looking between your legs in the matanozoki position which originated in this park.
Nariaji Shrine. If you go beyond Kasamatsu Park, approximately 7 minutes by bus, there is Nariaji Temple, a five-storey pagoda, Tsukazu-no-Kane (“the Unrung Bell”), and Mt. Benten observatory.
14:15 – 14:16 Maybe because we were on an even tighter schedule (i maybe, might have, possibly delayed and spent too much time on the view land side) so we had to run to catch the next cable car back.
14:25 Back at the Fushu station, we took pretty much the same path back to the ferry terminal. Although on the way, we stopped and got a mango ice cream. Irresistible. But it was meh. As much as I wanted it when i walked by, it was more a hassle trying to find a garbage bin for it afterwards, hehe.
14:30 Nishigaki Market. A much larger grocery store, they had a lot of choices! Even their bento boxes were only a fraction of what train station bento box stores were selling for!
I often wonder were locals bought their produce, as they seemed to prefer grocery shopping for fresh produce for each meal but there didn’t seem to be much grocery stores. There were a lot of convenience stores that sold simple ready made foods and even fruits, but I can’t imagine it sufficient for regular meals. Although this could totally be because most places we went to were still too touristy. If you know, please tell me!
14:36 Back to Amanohashidate 一の宮 station. Waited awhile next to the Amanohashidate mascot. Here they also sold the shrimp cracker packets for 100 yen each. Snack-ish feeling again!
14:42 – 14:58 Thought we’d try the upper deck of the boat. My did i regret that, because once again three Japanese girls had each bought their shrimp packets up, and flocks and flocks of seagulls were once again following us back. I mean, go where the money/food is, right?
15:04 Not wanting to miss our special train, we made our way back to Amanohashidate station.
15:13 The station master wouldn’t let us out onto the platform until now, dunno why. But out on the platform, we took pictures like crazy! Hehe!
15:22 – 16:13 Tango Akamatsu 4 scenic train from Amanohashidate station to Nishimaizuru station. This train is from a series which also contains a black and blue version; the blue version being the one we missed this morning, and the black version supposedly very rare. This red train, a scenic train, is much slower than taking the Shinkansen, but not only do you get a very beautiful view of the city and lakes, the inside of the train is absolutely delightful! Both the girls on the train were very polite and offered to help us take photos countless times. The whole train is a very cozy warm feeling, and there are different type of seats depending on your preference. There was only two girls and another guy taking the train with us from this station (another guy got on later). These trains are by reservation only, so it’s not like you can “accidentally” get on. Upon sitting down, the girls gave us a postcard each (which also has a space were you can get stamped with the train logo), and take our order for drinks (one free drink of coffee, tea, or juice is included).
16:14 We arrive back at Nishimaizuru 西舞鶴(maitsuru??) station, M8. This was also the station our two lovely hostesses also disembarked only after us, except we were so busy taking photos on the station. The second thing that happened, was upon returning into the station was we asked the station master how to get to JR station, which he pointed us out the hallway and up the escalator. We couldn’t find the escalator but took the elevator instead, and showed the JR station master our JR passes and upon entering the station, went down an escalator to the railway, which looked awfully familiar, oh wait, it’s the exact same track we just left!! ah well, I’m too tired to think anymore, napped a little before the train arrived.
16:35 – 18:08 Limited express Maizuru 12 train from Nishimaizuru station to Kyoto station. We had meant to eat our bento box from Nishigaki market, but because we didn’t reserve seats and the train was quite full, we had to sit separated which makes sharing difficult. Oh, and i’m just still too tired. I hope i didn’t fall asleep on the guy next to me, though i’m pretty sure he was dozing off just as much as me!
18:55 We’re back at Kawaramachi after taking the Subway then Hankyu line. Since we’re back a tad early, do some quick shopping at my favourite 300 yen stores and drug stores that are usually closed by the time we’re done sightseeing. Unfortunately, despite going as quick as I could, we only managed to make it up one Teramachi although I usually like making a quick sweep up Teramachi and Shinkyoogi in one go before the shops started to close, so there’s still unfinished business.
(Please check the separate drugstores and products which i’m interested in from Japan)
20:43 Can do 4 packs of candy at ¥100 each, total ¥432.
21:12 Trying to look for food, tonight we decided to search along Kawaramachi, a very long street stretching between Shijo to Sanjo, lined with bars and restaurants. At night it’s filled with tourists and locals, and probably a great place to meet people and grab a drink. It’s raining really hard, and with soaked socks, i really didn’t take any photos for show. Anyhow, tonight we’re just looking for good food. Finally, we decided on a sukiyaki place, 四季の酒菜, いろはかるた. Its hard to go wrong with sukiyaki and yakisoba, both which were really good.
皮ポン Fried chicken skin with grated radish and ponzu sauce, 432 yen.
串焼き盛り合せ Kebab assorted selections (12 skewers), 2138 yen.
鉄板焼そば Stir fried noodles, 626 yen.
Walking home after was painful, because our temporarily dried shoes were once again soaked. One thing I love of Japan, is there is almost always unlimited hot water, and a hot water bath is just what I needed after taking off those wet clothings!