Kyoto till Hyogo

Amanohashidate 天橋立, Kinosaki Onsen 城崎温泉, Totori Sand dunes 鳥取砂丘. The Legendary Three. Not really though, but they all are beautiful locations. Last year for silver week I went with two other JETs to these locations over a three day period. Silver week is a week in September here in Japan that contains two holidays. At least I think it’s just two, it could be more. Usually this is a nice time to go on a longer vacation. That’s why my friends and I went to the above locations. All of them are along the same path so it works out well to hit all of them.

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First was Amanohashidate. We left Mie pretty early in the morning and stopped in Osaka. From there we took a highway bus that took us all the way to Amanohashidate. From the drop off location we then took a ferry across to the other side where we went to find our hostel. That day the weather was dreary and grey and honestly things weren’t looking too good in terms of weather for our entire trip. That aside, even in the mist and grey, the land bridge of Amanohashidate looked amazing. We walked around the area that night and found some food, but everything was dark so we couldn’t really tell what all was there. We did find a port and got knee deep in the ocean though. The sand wasn’t so much sand but actually just small stones that kind of felt like a foot massage. We slept and the next day headed up the mountain to get the “official” view of the land bridge. We took a chair lift to the top and sat up top. At first it was very foggy so we couldn’t see that clearly, but as we ate it cleared up. It worked out well since we got to see the bridge in two completely different weather conditions. Felt very mysterious in the fog which is different from the normal photos you will see of it. We continued to explore the top of the mountain, saw shrines, amazing panoramas through the clouds, and ended up heading down to the land bridge itself. During the height of summer it is actually a really nice place to go and enjoy the beach. Time was running out, so we heading back to the station and jumped on a beautiful classically designed train.

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The next stop was Kinosaki Onsen town. An onsen温泉 is the Japanese word for hot spring. This town however was actually an onsen town aka a hot spring town. Various hot springs were found around the town even small little springs that went along the sidewalks and the outsides of buildings. In case you have never been to a hot spring in japan, it might be a little different from what you imagine. Generally you go into a building, pay the entrance fee, go to a locker room, and strip naked. As an American who is still not used to that part of Japan it is defiantly awkward. A good experience, but awkward. Don’t let that scare you away too much though, it really is worth it. The small springs that went along the sidewalk though are just outside in public and only for your feet. That was one of the most relaxing personally. The atmosphere and overall feel of the town was unlike anything I had felt before and really had a mystical feel to it. If you have ever seen the amazing Ghibli film “Spirited Away”, then you might get some of those kinds of vibes from this town. Seems like an ultra chill place to live. Also many people walked around the town in yukatas ゆかた. Those are traditional Japanese robes, but not as formal as Kimonos.  We stayed at a ryokan旅館 which is a traditional Japanese style hotel. The town had many of them, but we stayed to the cheaper side of ryokans as they can get very expensive. The next day we left for our last location.

Totori Sand dunes found in Totori city of Totori Prefecture. We took another train from Kinosaki to Totori city. I want to say it was around and hour or so. From the station we took a bus to the sand dunes. The bus there doesn’t take too long, but coming back was around double the time for some reason, so keep that in mind if you try the same. The sand dunes themselves are amazing. I’ve never been to a desert, and while this is no desert, it certainly is something that I have never seen before.  The dunes are huge mountains of sand found by the ocean. They even have a camel here you can ride around to give it more of a desert feel. My friends and I rolled down the dunes because we love life and aren’t losers, but most people looked at us like we were crazy. I however recommend it. There isn’t much to actually do there, but walking around and taking pictures is always great for me. It did seem they have some kind of wind surfing equipment there, but I didn’t partake so I can’t give much of a description. I also recommend this place purely for the sight of a huge sand dune. We hit the bus back (which like I said was stupid slow) to Totori station and got back on a highway bus to Osaka. That was around 2ish hours if I recall correctly.

The trip itself was a blast and that was the first full trip I organized by myself, including travel and stay. Needless to say I was happy how it worked out. Everything is pretty much in a straight line so if you have a couple days in the area go for this type of trip. Full of beautiful sights and great atmosphere, it’s defiantly one not to miss. Peace.

 

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