Japanese people love “ranking in general. That is the reason why we all are lured by Top 3 such and such spot, food, scenery or whatever. The king of such Top 3 something is “the three most beautiful sightseeing spots in Japan” in my opinion. As a matter of fact, those three spots were already selected back in the Edo period (in the middle of the 17th century) by Gaho Hayashi, Confucian scholar. They are Amanohashidate (Kyoto prefecture), Matsushima (Miyagi prefecture) and Itsukushima shrine (Hiroshima prefecture). Three spots have been admired among Japanese for approximately 400 years.
It is quite interesting to understand that all three spots have something to do with the sea.
Then this is a story about Amanohashidate, which is located 120 km (75 miles) north of Kyoto city. It takes 2 hours by limited express to get there from Kyoto terminal. (2.5 hours from Osaka terminal).
It is not too far from Kyoto city and you will be in a place of nature and wonderful ocean view. More importantly, the land of myth.
Technically, Amanohashidate is a sandbar with a span of 3.6 km (approximately 2.2 miles), but it would be more appealing to call it as a part of the “Stairway to Heaven”. Here is why.
According to the local myth, the land of Japan was created by one couple of God, Izanagino-Mikoto and Izanamino-Mikoto. The land those two created looked so intriguing from above, many Gods were eager to visit the beautiful land, (that is Japan) from heaven. Eventually the stairway was built to pay a quick visit to the ground with a caution that the stairway may easily be collapsed if anybody other than Gods use it. For some reason, the place that Gods curiously set the first footprint is a Miyazu city (where Amanohashidate is located). That was the place with lots of beautiful women. Gods made an acquaintance with those women. (not sure how!) Sure enough, those women started begging so persistently to the Gods that they want to climb the stairs to see the scenery from above. Finally, Gods grudgingly permitted them to do so, but the stairway collapsed as soon as those women started to climb. That is a similar plot from the famous Japanese novel, “Spider’s thread” (by Ryunosuke Akutagawa). In a way, typical story, isn’t it? Then, what was left on the ground was a wreckage of stairway lying in the bay. Local people call it “Amanohashidate” (in my interpretation, “Stairway to Heaven”). It is highly recommended to visit Amanohashidate and have some meditation over all those myths in mysterious atmosphere.