At the top North of Kyoto’s prefecture, and one hour by bus from Amanohashidate, the small village of Ine is often called the “Japanese Venice”. But the place definitely feels more like French Britanny. The tiny village is known to be one of Japan’s most beautiful one, and for its typical “Ine no Funaya”, a kind of coastal houses including a boat garage on first floor.
Once arrived in Ine, the former capital city Kyoto seems far away (yet only two hours and in the same prefecture). The coastline of the village is a sight nowhere else to be found in Japan, with the many houses looking as if they are floating on the calm waters. Also fishing boats are way numerous than cars.
Peaceful view upon “Ine no Funaya”
“Ine no Funaya” is the Japanese for “Ine’s Funaya” – the Funaya being an unique type of house and literally meaning boat-houses. From 2008, the quiet village is a proud member of the Most beautiful villages in Japan association. In Ine, the time seems to run slowly than elsewhere in Japan – and that is also true in the bus going there, while the road is running along the white beaches of the sea of Japan.
There is about 230 houseboats in Ine, the oldest dating back from Edo era. The habit begins around 1700 as a convenient way to work and live at the same place, the closest from the sea.
In the Funaya, the first floor is the place to park the boat, dry fish or take care of the nets. While the fisherman live upstairs with his family. A way to live close to the sea that reminds some people Italian Venice, while for us the place was far closer to home, French Britanny (more precisely Finistère).
Ine is an Important Historic Buildings Preservation District and is a really nice side trip from Kyoto, away from the many visitors of the city’s many temples. To promote the tourism, the area is now known (with the Heaven’s Bridge Amanohashidate) as Kyoto by the sea.
The best way to discover the Funaya, after a stroll along the main road, might be to sail. Many boats offers tours to observe the 5km-long coastline.
Nowadays, the boat tour has been featuring another attraction: several birds of prey (black kites) along with seagulls are following the boats to catch some crackers. They are clever enough to catch the food thrown by the tourists and even seize it from the visitor’s hands. Still one should pay attention to one’s fingers…
How to get there?
From Amanohashidate, buses are running hourly to Ine (about 500 yens one way). Reaching Amanohashidate is easy either by train or bus. The more convenient being the JR Express Hashidate from Kyoto or the JR Express Kinosaki from Osaka (in any case, the company changes for the last stations, meaning that JR pass holders will have to pay a little extra while staying in the same train). And in any case, the journey takes about 3 hours.