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Three Views Of Japan

October 5th, 2010 by

The Three Views of Japan (Nihon Sankei) is a list by scholar-poet Hayashi Razan that dates back to 1643 and is akin to the “Seven World Wonders”. This trio of peerless scenic gems is a must-see experience for visitors to Japan.

Amanohashidate

Photo courtesy by puffyjet.

Amanohashidate.

A veritable “Bridge to Heaven”, this 3.6 km-long sandbar near Kyoto contains thousands of pine trees. In Miyazu Bay, the name derives from a local legend which claims the sandbar was a link between earth and sky for various gods.

To get to Amanoshidate, take a two hour-long train ride from Kyoto to the town then board a ferry to Ichinomiya Pier. From here, hop aboard a cable car to the top of Mount Nariai. Once on the summit, perform the ritual of mata-nozoki: stand with your back to the sandbar with your legs apart. View it upside-down and it will appear like a celestial bridge.

Mata-nozoki

Photo courtesy by mtblc.

Once you traverse Amanohashidate, you can visit the nearby bridge which opens 90 degrees to let boats pass by. The local delicacy of beef tongue, so famous it has an eponymous street near the train station (Gyutan Doori), is a must and Amanohashidate Miyazu Royal Hotel is a superb gateway to explore the region.

Itsukushima shrine

Photo courtesy by scarletgreen.

Itsukushima.

Itsukushima, or Miyajima, is an island near Hiroshima famous for a 16 m-high orange torii(shrine gate), which soars above the waters near the shore. The Shinto shrine is a venerable UNESCO World Heritage Site and perhaps the most famous landmark in all of Japan.

To get to Itsukushima from Hiroshima, take a JR train to Miyashimagushi and hop a ferry ride to the island. Hotel-wise, the Aki Grand Hotel Hiroshima, on the opposite shore of Itsukushima is first-rate.

Click here for more information on Itsukushima.

Matsushima

Photo courtesy *Andagi*.

Matsushima

Matsushima, a collection of pine tree-covered islets, caused the iconic poet Matsuo Basho to suffer from an uncharacteristic bout of writer’s block way back in 1689. Basho’s haiku tribute to the gorgeous Miyagi Prefecture mini-archipelago was, however, rather apt:

Matsushima ah!
A-ah, Matsushima, ah!
Matsushima, ah!

Wind and water erosion has carved fanciful forms into the islets, which you can enjoy up close with a boat tour. You can also rent a horse and ride along the bay for a spectacular view or alternatively, drive to Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park for dramatic panoramas of the entire bay. Together, the “Four Views of Matsushima” are: Otakamori, Toyama, Ogidani and Tamonsan.

OtakamoriPhoto courtesy by nakae.

You can get to Matsushima on the JR Senseki rail line. Get off at Shiogama station and consult the nearby tourist office for the ferry timetable. You can also visit nearby Matsushima attractions such as the thousand year-old Zuigan Temple, Karan-tei Pavilion and mammoth Momoyama-style teahouse.

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