Bridge in Heaven
Cherry Blossom Trip Part 4
Overlooking the Miyazu Bay in the northern suburbs of Kyoto, the Amanohashidate (天橋立, literally “Bridge in Heaven”) is a narrow strip of land covered with pine trees connecting the two peninsulas on either side of the bay, thus forming a land bridge. To view this magnificent sight you have to climb to the top of the mountain (it is easy now of course, since there is a hillside tramway which takes you to the top in minutes).
There is a saying that, you have to view the land bridge upside down by turning your back to it, then bend over and look at it upside down from between your legs. This unique method is supposed to make the bridge appear as if it floats to heaven, and bring good luck. The way to cheat is just to flip your camera upside down! It is an incredible sight.
From the park at the top of the mountain you can see panoramic views of the land bridge and the village below. The land bridge here is famous for being the top 3 most scenic views in Japan.
A legend from ancient Japan tells us a romantic story. The male god Izanagi-no-Mikoto often comes down from heaven to earth via a ladder to visit the goddess, Izanami-no-Mikoto. The ladder is the only way to travel back and forth betweens the heavens and the earth. One day, while sleeping on earth, the male god was careless and forgot to take good care of the ladder. Thus the ladder fell to the ground and became Amanohashidate, the land bridge nowadays. From then on, the ladder that connects the heavenly Gods with the earthly men was forever lost.
From another angle you can appreciate the two types of transport that takes you to the park – the tram and the trolley. We didn’t use the trolley since it was a rainy day and we couldn’t help feeling in danger of falling from height, with your legs dangling 10 feet above ground… However, as we visited the place during the Hanami festival, cherry blossoms can be seen everywhere along the ride up the hill.
One of the oldest shrines in Japan was located just beneath the mountain, known as the Motoise Kono Shrine. The bright colors of the orange pillars were in great contrast to the dark, dull sky. The picture below is my favorite.
The Shrine was peaceful and quiet. In the pond nearby, the live tortoises lived happily together with the stone statues which looked like their own gigantic version.
Afterwards, we had lunch in the nearby village. Here the farmhouse-styled restaurant serves the local specialty – cold soba noodles, beef served on a hot plate, and black-bean beer and black-bean tea. Really authentic Japanese style.
I would say the cold noodles taste best! At the back of the restaurant there was a small souvenir shop which you can get the specialty black beans from the Miyazu district, in two flavors, either grilled or original.