Summer in Kansai is quite notorious among both locals and visitors to the region during the season. The heat and humidity make you sweat the moment you step out of your air-conned room as if you just entered a tropical jungle. With the hottest month ahead of us it is time to check out some of the best escapes from this ‘jungle’.
#5 Shirahama Beach
Starting the list at number 5 is Shirahama Beach located on the southern tip of the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture. The resort town is famed for its white sand beaches, from which it derives its name (“white beach”). In the late 1960s, as the town became popular among Osakans, the rapid development in the area threatened the beaches due to increased erosion. To remedy the erosion, the town started importing white sand from Perth, Australia throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Nonetheless, the area remains beautiful and the town is easily reachable from Osaka within 1.5 hours making it a well-worth mention on this list.
#4 Mount Takao
Mount Takao, not to be confused with its Kanto equivalent bearing the same name, is located on the northeastern edge of Kyoto. The forested valley along the mountain’s base is a great place for a pleasant walk and the river running through it is a popular spot among locals to take a dip in the refreshing mountain water. Secluded yet easily accessed from central Kyoto by bus, the area around Mount Takao is a cheap, quick and rewarding day trip for families and friends in particular.
#3 Lake Biwa
Lake Biwa being the the largest freshwater lake in Japan is also the closest beach location to Kyoto. After a short 30-minute train ride from Kyoto Station on the Biwako Line, you can head in any direction along the lake to find yourself a beach spot of choice. The easiest way to get around is by bike, which you can rent from a few companies in the area if you do not have one yourself. The beaches are somewhat spread around the lake, yet with rice paddies at your back and the lake in front of you, Lake Biwa’s beach experience is also quite unique.
#2 Mount Koya
Koyasan is a favorite among pilgrims and those seeking the spirit of ancient Japan for its many temples. In summer the forest-covered mountain also provides a cool retreat from the hot sun. Although Mount Koya is a bit tricky to reach, it also invites you to stay for a bit longer than a day; you can stay at one of its temples for a complete experience of natural beauty, refreshing climate and traditional spirituality.
For more information, visit the official Koyasan website.
Number 1 on our list combines the best of all the other summer getaways. The town of Amanohashidate and its famous scenery is located 2-hour train ride from central Kyoto (departing from Kyoto Station) and is truly worth visiting throughout the year, but is even more appealing in summer. From natural beauty to refreshing climate to white sandy beaches to traditional atmosphere, Amanohashidate has them all in one spot.
So now head to those white beaches or into those cool mountains and escape this summer heat!