I didn’t have any school commitments this weekend so we took advantage of the opportunity and heading across Honshu (the largest of the 4 major islands that make up the Japan archipelago) and spent some time exploring the north shore, on both sides of the Hyogo-Kyoto prefectural border. It was a relaxing get-away and only a couple hours away.
It was uncrowded, being the middle of winter, except for the onsen (bath) town of Kinosaki. The highlight for me was the visit to the Oriental White Stork reserve near Toyooka. Through stork-friendly farming practices and the efforts of dedicated citizens, the stork has been reintroduced into the wild after becoming extinct in Japan in 1971. See my nature blog for more details. On Saturday evening we had a delicious meal in Kinosaki. We wanted to stay in a ryokan there, but had a hard time finding a place so we stayed in nearby Kumihama. The town was full of tourists (almost all Japanese) walking from onsen to onsen in their robes and clogs.
The next day after watching the Tokyo marathon on television, we headed up to one of the three most scenic spots in Japan. We were laughing at the ranking system, thinking that it was a tourist bureau promotional ploy. Actually, it was the opinion of the historian Hayashi Gayo, who was an advisor to the Tokugawa rulers in the mid-1600s. He was in charge of education and applied Confucian principles to his work. He thought the sandbar, Amanohashidate, was one of the three best views in the country. I would agree that it is a really nice spot! I love the combination of pine trees and big water, as it reminds me of my beloved Lake Superior in Michigan. The kids enjoyed playing among the trees and the beach. We will definitely head back in the summer. Our tour of the Tango peninsula was cut short by rain. Instead we stopped for lunch, enjoying the winter speciality of kino or Sea of Japan crab.
There is so much to explore in this beautiful country and we are only beginning to scratch the surface. I highly recommend a visit to this part of the Sea of Japan coast.