While most people’s image of Kyoto is only of the storied city itself, Kyoto Prefecture is home to a variety of lovely attractions located outside the city lines, just waiting to be discovered! If you’re looking to explore some gorgeous beaches and avoid the crowds of the peak season’s most famous tourist attractions, why not take a rental car, bus, or train north to Kyoto prefecture’s coast? With delicious seafood, breathtaking natural beauty, fun beaches for those sunny summer days, natural hot springs, and a history that progressed alongside the ancient capital’s, the Tango Peninsula is just a short trip away!
One of the beaches of Kyo Tango that will make you forget you’re in Kyoto and not on a tropical island, Kamaihama (Kamai Beach) is located in the northwestern corner of Kyo Tango near Kumihama Bay. On sunny days the water is a pure turquoise so clear that you can see straight to the sandy bottom, and starfish, sea hares, fish, crabs, and other creatures you’d only find in clean water frolic beneath the waves and amidst the seaweed. Along the shore is a convenient shower area, a small Shinto shrine on a rocky outcrop, and even a treehouse that looks out over the ocean. This beach is a good choice for boating or swimming in the summer, and no matter the season you can find locals casting fishing lines out from the beach’s concrete pier.
Tango Kingdom: Food Capital Rest Stop
Kyo Tango is most easily explored by rental car, and if you’re driving through you’ll want to also stop by Tango Kingdom (Tango Ōkoku), a rest area (michi no eki) that has a hotel, a homegrown foods market, local souvenirs, a petting zoo, a park, a restaurant area… and more, believe it or not! This sprawling rest area is a convenient place to stop for lunch, as it offers a variety of food options such as seafood, sausage, steak, pasta, and salads, assuring that everyone is bound to find something they like. Tango Kingdom is also very family friendly, and offers a park space and fun activities to entertain children.
An area popular for its hot springs resorts, Yūhigaura is located near the center of Kyo Tango’s coastline. As its name describes, “yūhi” meaning “setting sun” in Japanese, Yūhigaura is well-known for its gorgeous sunset views over the ocean. The beach area allows swimming in the summer and also has covered areas and a swing for enjoying the sights and taking dramatic shots of the setting sun. For those looking to stay in the area, many of the local hotels and hot spring resorts offer onsen that have a view of the ocean. What better way to enjoy the sunset than from a relaxing hot spring after a day of sightseeing?
Kotohiki (or Kotobiki) beach on Kyo Tango’s northeastern coast has been lauded in poems for hundreds of years. Spelled with the kanji characters that mean “plucking the koto strings”, Kotohiki Beach is famous for the sound the sand makes when walked on. Because of small air pockets that form in the sandy beach, when weather conditions are right the sand gives off small chirps that accompany visitors’ footsteps. Since this is a rather rare natural occurrence, local men are usually on hand to make sure people are treating the beach right — but they’re quite friendly and more than willing to point out which area of the beach is feeling most musical on the day. This beach is also open to swimming in the summer.