Nihon Sankei: Three Most Scenic Places of Japan

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Nihon Sankei: Three Most Scenic Places of Japan
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Tags: chugokudestinationshiroshimakansaikyotomiyagitohoku

Nihon Sankei 日本三景 is a list of Japan’s three most celebrated views, as noted by Japanese scholar Hayashi Gaho in year 1643. This list includes Amanohashidate in Kyoto, Matsushima in Miyagi, and Miyajima in Hiroshima.

Over centuries, the views of these places have been made perpetual in the forms of poems, paintings as well as ukiyo-e woodblock prints. They also became well-known tourist attractions, drawing many local and overseas visitors.

Since these three places are not near to each other, I recommend to you to pay a visit to any one of these places if you happen to be visiting the region in which any of the Nihon Sankei is located.


1. Amanohashidate 天橋立


Located in Miyazu City 宮津市, Amanohashidate is a sandbar cutting across the Miyazu Bay, this 2-mile (or 3.6 km) long, black pine covered land bridge appears like a bridge to heaven or a dragon flying to the heaven when observed from different angles.

On the sandbar, there is a shrine and a freshwater well. During summer, the beach along the sandbar becomes a popular location for swimming. Besides that, cycling is a popular means of transportation to cross the land bridge and to travel around the area. As for sightseeing, visitors can choose to do it by boarding a boat that travels along the bay.

Image by: Kimon Berlin / CC BY-SA 2.0

Enjoy the sandbar’s view from the hills on either side of the bay. Popular lookout points in this area include Kamamatsu Park 傘松公園 at the northern end, and Amanohashidate View Land 天橋立ビューランド at the southern end. Both points have a ropeway that takes visitors up to the viewing area.

At one of the lookout points, turn your back to the bay, bend over and look at the sandbar upside down through your legs. This is called matanozoki 股のぞき, an almost ritualistic thing to do for anyone visiting Amanohashidate.

Amanohashidate in an ukiyo-e dated circa 1856
Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Attractions around Amanohashidate:

Chion-ji 智恩寺 | A temple dedicated to the God of Wisdom or Bodhisattva Monju, with a handicraft market held on every 15th of the month

Motoise Kono Jinja 元伊勢籠神社 | An important shrine in the Tango region of Kyoto, also known as the origin of the Ise Shrine 伊勢神宮 in Mie

Nariai-ji 成相寺 | A temple overlooking the sandbar halfway up the journey to Mount Nariai 成相山, with beautiful views especially during spring and autumn

Ine 伊根 | A quaint, picturesque fishing town known for its funaya 舟屋 which means boathouses located along the bay

Directions:
Amanohashidate is two hours from Kyoto by taking the Hashidate はしだて limited express train service (operated by JR West). Amanohashidate Station is only a short walk from the southern end of the bay.

More Information: www.amanohashidate.jp/lang/en/


2. Matsushima


Located in the Tohoku or northeastern region of Japan, Matsushima is a constellation of 260 pine-covered islands scattered around the bay in the town of Matsushima.

Sightseeing boats are popular to enjoy scenic views by cruising around and seeing the islands up-close. Visitors can also cross the bridge that connects Oshima 雄島 or Fukuura Island 福浦島, and stroll around while enjoying the views of Matsushima Bay.

The bridge connecting to Fukuura Island

Check out the views of Matsushima at sunrise, sunset or on nights with full moon. There are several locations offering panoramic views of the bay, including Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park 西行戻しの松公園, and the popular Shitaikan 四大観 lookout points: Ogidani 扇谷, Otakamori 大高森, Tomiyama 富山 and Tamonzan 多聞山.

Other attractions:
Attractions in the area are related to Date Masamune 伊達政宗, the feudal lord of Sendai during Edo period.

Godaido 五大堂 | A small temple overlooking the bay, housing five Buddha statues only shown to the public once in every 33 years

Zuigan-ji 瑞巌寺 | One of the most important Zen Buddhist temples, highlights include cedar-lined walkway and small caves where monks once lived and prayed

Entsu-in 円通院 | Houses the mausoleum of the grandson of Date Masamune, also known for its Western-style rose garden

Kanrantei 観覧亭 | The tea house once used to serve the guests of the Date clan, visitors can enjoy some tea and sweets while admiring the view of Matsushima Bay

Directions:
Matsushima is 40 minutes away from Sendai 仙台, the capital of Miyagi. From Sendai, take the JR Senseki Line 仙石線 to Matsushima-Kaigan Station 松島海岸駅, where the pier and other attractions around the bay are within walking distance.

More Information: www.matsushima-kanko.com/en/zekkei.html 


3. Miyajima 宮島


An island located off the coast of Hiroshima Prefecture, Miyajima is undoubtedly the most recognizable spot out of the three scenic places because of the island’s symbol – a grand torii gate in the sea.

The official name of the island is actually Itsukushima 厳島, and it has long been a Buddhist and Shinto sacred place. The grand torii gate is part of the Itsukushima Shrine 厳島神社 which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visitors can enter the shrine and wander around the torii gate and observe it up-close during low tide. Be sure to check the time of high tide before visiting because the shrine and gate look best during high tide as they appear floating on water.

At night, Miyajima looks beautiful with its illuminated torii gate and shrine. It is also peaceful and rather atmospheric after the crowds left.

Itsukushima Shrine at night

Other attractions:

Temples and shrines with historical and religious importance such as

Daigan-ji Temple 大願寺, Daisho-in Temple 大聖院, Toyokuni Shrine 豊国神社, Five-storey Pagoda | Temples and shrines with historical and religious importance

Momijidani Park 紅葉谷公園 | One of the places to see the island’s famous autumn colours

Misen 弥山 | Offers spectacular views of the island and the Seto Inland Sea, and have more attractions on the mountaintop, especially Buddhist halls related to Kobo Daishi 弘法大師, the founder of Shingon Buddhism

Deer are everywhere on the island

Directions:
Miyajima is often visited as a day trip from Hiroshima 広島. From Hiroshima station, take the JR Sanyo Line 山陽本線 to Miyajimaguchi station 宮島口駅, then board one of the ferries departing for Miyajima. The island is 10 minutes by ferry from Miyajimaguchi.

More Information: visit-miyajima-japan.com/en/

Kyla HS
Kyla HS
A student, part-time translator and writer. I like anime, Jpop and Jrock in general but ultimately, I love to travel and often spend most of my expenses on food.

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