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The Bridge to Heaven: Amanohashidate

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/12 Travel & View point , , ,

Almost everything in Japan is ranked. From top gardens to top temples.  Even celebrities and manga/anime characters are ranked too. They can be based on popularity or something more particular. Nihon Sankei(日本三景) or Japan’s Three Most Scenic Views is one of those list when it comes to tourist spots and sightseeing.

Japan’s Three Most Scenic Views

Nihon Sankei are Japan’s most celebrated tourist spots. How was these places selected? The list was made centuries ago during the Edo Period(between 1603 and 1868). It is credited to Confucian Scholar, Shunsai Hayashi in his book Nihon Kokujisekikou (Observations About the Remains of Japan’s Civil Affairs). In that book he described those places as

…textured by the sea and abundant greenery, have not only touched the hearts of millions of people, but have also served as a colorful background to history itself. – The Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan

One of the Sankei: Amanohashidate

One of these Nihon Sankei is Amanohashidate in the northern area of Kyoto. It is a 3 km long sandbar with its narrowest point measures 20 meters across.

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Amanohashidate (lit. Bridge to/in Heaven)

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It took as almost 2 hours to cross the sandbar. The view will help you relax though.

The sandbar is lined with more or less 8,000 pine trees. It is considered as one of Japan’s great pine tree spots. Some of the pine trees have unique and odd shapes that gained them nicknames such as Meoto Matsu (Couples Pine), Nakayoshi no Matsu (Friendly Pine), and Chie no Matsu (Wisdom Pine).

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One of those odd-looking trees.

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I wonder what the nicknames of these trees are.

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Another one of those weird trees. A pine doing some exercise perhaps?

To have the best view of the sandbar, we went to Kasamatsu Park which is on the top of the mountain and can be accessible by chairlift or cable car. We decided to ride both: the cable car going up and the chairlift going down.

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Two ways to go to Kasamatsu park: chairlift or cablecar

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The chairlift going down.

The name Amanohashidate literally means “Bridge to/in Heaven”. Why is that so? Though it may be related to some legend, When you view it upside down though, it seems that the sandbar is connecting the sea/ground and sky. You can do that so by bending over and view the sandbar between your legs. This practice is being followed by visitors and called matanozoki.

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Matanozoki. It is said that through this, you can see the sandbar as a bridge connecting the sky and earth. Be careful in doing it though.

 There are also another way to view the sandbar: to ride a boat and view it from the sides.

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Another way to view Amanohashidate is from the sides by a boat. Birds fly above this boat to visitors’ delight.

Another interesting stuff we saw here was this rotating bridge. Instead of pulling the bridge up when a boat passes, the bridge rotates 90 degrees.

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The Rotating Bridge

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A part of the bridge being rotated to 90 degrees. (Photo by Janelle Penisten on Wikimedia Commons)

For more info about Amanohashidate, visit their official site. You can also learn more about it in The Three Most Scenic Views of Japan.

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