The Boathouses of Ine: Closest Lifestyle to the Sea in Japan


The Boathouses of Ine:
Closest Lifestyle to the Sea in Japan



In June 2016 Kyoto Prefecture and seven municipalities in the northern part of the prefecture (the cities of Fukuchiyama, Maizuru, Ayabe, Miyazu, and Kyotango and the towns of Ine-cho and Yosano-cho) established the Umi no Kyoto (Kyoto by the Sea) DMO (Destination Management/Marketing Organization) to promote the formation of a regional brand tourism zone. Facing the Sea of Japan, the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture has been an important link between the continent and Kyoto since ancient times. Furthermore, it is no exaggeration to say that the plentiful food of this region, including marine products, rice, and vegetables, supports the kitchens of Kyoto. This time, introducing the “Kyoto by the sea” region, I place the spotlight especially on the boathouses of Ine Bay and the “close-to-the-sea” lifestyle of the people living there, exploring their attractions and how to enjoy them.

Excursion around Ine Bay

About two hours after leaving Kyoto Station on a JR special express train, I arrived at Amanohashidate Station in the north of Kyoto Prefecture. If I had had time, of course I would have stopped to take a look at the splendid Amanohashidate sandbar, which is one of the three most famous views in Japan. But this time I was only visiting for one night and two days from Tokyo, and my purpose was to enjoy the boathouses of Ine and their lifestyle. So I immediately boarded a local bus, which took me through the city of Miyazu to Ine-cho. Looking through the bus window, I was amazed by the transparency of the water in the bay. After about an hour I arrived at the Hide bus stop at a pier for sightseeing boats going around the bay. First of all, I decided to take the 25-minute pleasure cruise.

In Ineura (Ine Bay area), which was designated by the government in July 2005 as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, there are about 230 boathouses (funaya) circling the 5 km bay.ine2These boathouses are buildings that jut out into the sea of the bay. In most cases the first (ground) floor serves as a boat garage, shed, and workplace and the second floor as living quarters. In recent years many people have ceased working as fishermen, and boathouses have been renovated as lodgings and cafes. They are very popular with tourists. Receiving a squawking welcome from the seagulls, I enjoyed this view of the boathouse scenery from the sea.
Video: View of the boathouses from the excursion boat

Funaya no Sato Ine Roadside Station

ine3After my boat ride, I went to the Funaya no Sato Ine roadside station, which is perched on top of a small hill overlooking Ine Bay. The observation deck offers a panoramic view of the bay. As I gazed down, I felt just like a seagull myself looking down on the sightseeing boat that I had just been riding.
Video: Panoramic view from the observation deck

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