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Explore Kyoto’s Rural Hamlets From the Mountains to the Sea Explore Kyoto’s Rural Hamlets From the Mountains to the Sea

故事 Explore Kyoto’s Rural Hamlets From the Mountains to the Sea

  • 日本觀光局

Slow down and enjoy traditional village life and the natural beauty of Kyoto's forests, farmlands, and seaside.

Kyoto City has traditional streetscapes, beautiful shrines and temples, and cultural riches that draw visitors from near and far. But there is another side of Kyoto Prefecture beyond the city, —“Kyoto by the Sea” and “Woodland Kyoto”—where you'll find charming traditional villages and quiet fishing towns filled with warm hospitality.

Travel to the source of ingredients for Kyoto's delicious cuisine, from famous Kyo-yasai vegetables to fresh seafood. Just an hour or two from the city, you can experience “satoyama” and “satoumi,” settlements where residents have lived in harmony with the land and the sea for centuries. Spend some time in the charming thatched-roof villages of Miyama in the mountains, and then head to the seaside to the town of Ine to experience how Kyoto's fishing communities live day to day.

Miyama: country life in a traditional thatched house

About 50 kilometers north of Kyoto City, Miyama is a mountainous area with rural hamlets tucked into forested valleys. Until around 60 years ago, road access to these villages was difficult, so the local people became self-reliant, developing a culture of cooperation and sustainability. Miyama comprises 57 hamlets, and some still have thatched-roof houses built with materials gathered from the forests. Kayabuki no Sato (kayabuki means thatched roof) has about 39 well-preserved thatched houses. The steep angle of the roof is designed to weather heavy snow, and the thatch is a sustainable material that provides insulation. Some of the houses are centuries old. In the past, when the roofs needed to be repaired or re-thatched, the community banded together to carry out the work.

Kayabuki no Sato is a charming, authentic rural village. The thatched houses are private homes. Enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere respectfully as you stroll the area. To see inside a traditional thatched house, visit Miyama Folklore Museum. You can also join guided walking tours of the area to learn more about the history and traditions of Kayabuki no Sato. The best way to experience the traditional culture of the area is to stay overnight. Miyama Futon & Breakfast is a collection of traditional thatched houses in Miyama, each renovated for comfort without losing their charm and one of them has been registered tangible cultural properties. Kominka Inn THYME is approximately 100 years old, but has been renovated to provide spacious living areas decorated with modern art and a herb garden that complements the surrounding beautiful landscape. There are several other bed and breakfast accommodations hosted by local residents in Miyama, as well as larger inns including Miyama Nature & Culture Village Kajikaso Inn, which caters to large groups.




©︎ Miyama FUTON & Breakfast

©︎ Miyama FUTON & Breakfast
Miyama Futon & Breakfast is a collection of traditional thatched houses that offer an authentic stay experience.

Kominka Inn THYME has been renovated with modern comforts, and artworks.

Just outside Kayabuki no Sato, Miyama Nature & Culture Village Kajikaso Inn is a traditional inn with large indoor and outdoor baths.

Connect with the rural community

Immerse yourself in simple rural pleasures, from vegetable harvesting in spring and fall, snowshoeing in winter, fishing for ayu (sweetfish) in the river, and watching fireflies in summer. Roads in Miyama are ideal for cycling, with little traffic and moderate slopes. Visit Kyoto Tamba Kogen Quasi-National Park Visitor Center to rent a bicycle for a half or full day to explore the area by yourself at leisure or join a guided cycling tour through picturesque back roads to gain a deeper understanding of Miyama's sustainable community lifestyle. There are several inns in the area where you can experience local traditions without an overnight stay. At some of the traditional inns, you can experience cooking Japanese home-style meals with local people. Other ways to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle include strolling through town in a kimono or yukata, joining a half-day home visit, and learning how to make a thatched roof. You can organize these experiences through your accommodation, or Kyoto Miyama Tourism Association.

Explore the villages of Miyama by bicycle. © KYOTO MIYAMA TOURISM ASSOCIATION

Experience local life as you learn to make a traditional thatched roof. ©️ MIYAMA FUTON & Breakfast

Gather around the irori hearth to enjoy local dishes. © KYOTO MIYAMA TOURISM ASSOCIATION

Ine: slow life in a charming fishing town

Although the city of Kyoto is ringed by mountains, the northern edge of the prefecture borders the Sea of Japan. Some fishing towns along the coast such as Ine retain the atmosphere of the Edo period (1603–1867) and are designated important historic preservation districts. Ine Bay is well-sheltered from storms, and some of the 230 traditional boat houses (funaya) that line the bay are more than a century old. There are still many two-story boathouses that are used to dock fishing boats in the water, store nets and other fishing equipment on the floor above, or serve as supplementary residences for the owners who live across the street. Ine is a working fishing port, and residents who work in the fishing industry are up early in the morning. Enjoy the authentic atmosphere as you stroll around the narrow streets, while respecting the daily life of the residents.

Some funaya and other properties have been converted into accommodations, giving visitors the chance to experience daily life in a fishing town. Stay at CAFE&BB guri, a traditional home that has been converted into a small bed and breakfast above a cafe. The popular cafe downstairs serves as the breakfast venue and is a good place to meet local people. Funaya Minagi is a converted boat house with views across the bay. Accommodating only one group at a time, you can enjoy a thoroughly private stay in Ine. At Funaya Maruichi, if you reserve a fishing tour, you can be picked up by boat from the dock in front of the house. There are around 30 accommodations in the town, ranging from simple bed and breakfasts to traditional ryokan inns, so you can find something to suit your travel style.

The charming atmosphere of Ine

Enjoy a luxurious room blending traditional and modern design, above the cafe space at Cafe&BB Guri.

Minagi is a traditional funaya that has been renovated to create a comfortable accommodation with views of the port.

Experience the atmosphere of the fishing port and watch the boats from your room at Funaya Maruichi.

Immerse yourself in the life of a small town

As they have done for generations, Ine's fishermen go out to sea before dawn and return in the morning with their catches. They bring back the freshest mackerel, yellowtail, sea bream, and other delicacies which are served at local restaurants and supplied to Kyoto's best sushi restaurants the very same day.

Take to the water for a great view of the funaya boat houses. The Ine Bay Sightseeing Ferry will bring you around the bay on a 30-minute cruise; for a closer look at the funaya, opt for a smaller Sea Taxi operated by local fishermen. You can also explore the waters by kayak or on a guided fishing trip. In summer, there are beaches in the area for swimming.

Cycling is another a great way to explore Ine, free and rental bicycles are available at Ine Tourist Information. There are also guided bicycle tours and walking tours of the area that you can join. On these tours, you can learn about the history of the town and see inside a funaya or visit Mukai Brewery, which has been making sake in Ine since 1754.

Visit Ine Tourist Information next to Ineura Park to find out more about activities and events when you visit.

Take a sightseeing cruise around the bay.

A walking tour such as the “Marugoto Ine Experience” with a local guide is the best way to learn about the funaya and daily life in Ine.

Exploring further

With clean beaches, hot springs, and spectacular scenery, the Tango area which includes Ine is a popular getaway, just two hours from Kyoto City. There are also plenty of charming rural towns and villages, surrounded by woodlands, farmlands, and bamboo forests. Explore the Tango area to connect with the Kyoto countryside and traditional Japanese culture. Stay in a farmhouse and harvest seasonal vegetables with the host, learn how to make home-cooked Japanese meals, and experience firsthand the sustainable lifestyles of rural Japanese communities.

To truly relax and unwind, stay for a few days at Temple Hotel Shoureki-ji in Ayabe. Join in temple activities such as guided meditation, sutra chanting and playing traditional instruments in the bamboo forest.

Other highlights include Amanohashidate, a pine-covered sandbar that stretches across Miyazu Bay and is said to resemble a bridge to heaven. There are viewpoints on either side of the bay, and you can walk or cycle across Amanohashidate. The Tango area is renowned for its beautiful silk crepe called Tango Chirimen. Visit Chirimen Street in the town of Yosano, which has been a center for weaving for over 300 years. You can wear a silk crepe kimono and stroll past traditional houses and ateliers. There are also places where you can visit weaving factories and even try your hand at dyeing a silk handkerchief to take home.

Relax and experience traditional temple life at Temple Hotel Shoureki-ji in Ayabe.

The views of Amanohashidate are unforgettable.

Tango Chirimen is a beautiful silk crepe from the Tango area.

How to get there

Renting a car is a convenient way to explore these rural areas, but all are accessible by public transport from Kyoto City. Miyama is accessible by train and bus from Kyoto Station. By train, take the JR San-in Line from Kyoto Station to Hiyoshi Station (change at Sonobe Station), then take a Nantan City bus bound for Miyama Kayabuki no Sato (the stop is called Kita; the village is about one minute away on foot). The journey takes about two hours and 30 minutes. If you are staying overnight in Kayabuki no Sato, some accommodations will pick you up from Sonobe Station. On Saturdays and public holidays, Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Bus offers a direct service to Kayabuki no Sato which takes a little over two hours (tickets need to be reserved online).

To reach Ine, take a train to Miyazu Station or Amanohashidate Station, then transfer to a local bus bound for Ine. The trip takes around three hours. There are also express bus services from Kyoto Station that reach Amanohashidate in about two hours. Bus schedules and frequency vary by season and day of the week, so check before you go. Kameoka, Fukuchiyama, and Ayabe are accessible from Kyoto Station on JR lines.

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