Who decides the "Top 3 Views in Japan"?

Good morning everyone,

Did any of you get caught in the rain last night? It's still raining now, but should clear up by around 9 or 10. However, it will remain cool all day. Tomorrow and the rest of the week will be slightly warmer with highs between 20C and 22C and will be sunny till next weekend, but I've decided that I'll have to start wearing jeans to and from work...I made it to November though.

Everyone knows the top 3 views in Japan, right?

1. Matsushima 松島 (Miyagi Prefecture)
Matsushima's view is idyllic, with boats floating on the calm waters of the bay and we can imagine the view hasn't changed in hundreds of years. Be sure to check out Matsushima on the night of a full moon, too. For about two hours you can see a glittering road, a reflection of the moon, on the sea. Once the moon has risen, it casts shadows of the islands and trees on the water.

2. Amanohashidate 天橋立 (Kyoto Prefecture)
Amanohashidate (“The Bridge to Heaven”) is in northern Kyoto. From the top of the mountain at Kasamatsu Park, you look over a sandbar lined with pine trees that reaches out across the sea and connects to another land mass on the other side.

 ▼ Believe it or not, this is said to be the optimal view of Amanohashidate!

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To achieve this view, you’ll have to do what the Japanese do: matanozoki. To experience it, stand on the designated matanozoki platform with your back to the sea. Make sure you have a wide stance. Place your hands on your thighs and bend over, butt in the air, until you can see through your legs! This slightly embarrassing pose makes the sand bar look like “a land bridge to heaven.” Or so they say. I suspect it may have something to do with all the blood rushing to your head.

3. Itsukushima Torii Gate 厳島神社の鳥居 (Hiroshima Prefecture)
Itsukushima shrine is one of Japan’s 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. When the tide comes in, the water surrounds the shrine as well as the torii gate making it look like the giant vermilion gate is floating. The view is equally beautiful at night when the structure is bathed in artificial light, creating a completely different photo opportunity.

This isn't news, but do you know where this list came from? Apparently, scholar Hayashi Gaho came up with these in 1643 and they are still the universally accepted top 3.

And, did you know there is a 'new' top 3 list? In 1915, a publishing company called Jisugyo no Nishonsha decided to hold a contest to determine the New Three Views of Japan (Shin Nihon Sankei). Their results were as follows:

1. Onuma 大沼 (Hokkaido)
Onuma is the name of the large pond in the Onuma Quasi-National Park in southwest Hokkaido. The outline of the oddly shaped Kamogatake active volcano can be seen in the reflection of the pond.

2. Miho no Matsubara 三保の松原 (Shizuoka Prefecture)
From Miho no Matsubara you can see across Suruga Bay to Mount Fuji and the Izu Peninsula. This 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) pine tree-studded beach also lands on another of Japan’s lists: the top 100 white sand beaches and green pine groves. The scene was favored by ukiyoe woodblock print artist Hiroshige Utagawa (1797–1858).

The white sand has mostly disappeared these days, but before we tell you why, we should tell you the legend called “Hagoromo” (“The Feathered Robe”). The story goes that a celestial maiden was flying over Miho no Matsubara and, enticed by the beauty of the beach, she alighted on this bewitching land. She hung her feathered robe on a pine tree, as celestial maidens tend to do, and dipped into the water. While the lovely woman was bathing, a rather perverse man came along, seized her robe and wouldn’t give it back, demanding that she perform a heavenly dance for him.

What’s a celestial maiden to do? She wanted her cloak back! So she “danced in the spring twilight,” and then flew away under a full moon in her feathered robe, leaving the salacious man looking on longingly. Was he the first 'chikan'? Ha ha!

The revered pine tree, named Hagoromo no Matsu, is at least 650 years old and is a local tourist attraction. JR Is to blame for the disappearance of the white sand beach. It is said that when they built the first Shinkansen, back in the early 1960s, so much white sand was used to make the concrete that it all but disappeared. Perhaps that’s why there have been no celestial maidens in feathered robes gracing the shores since.

3. Yabakei 耶馬渓 (Oita Prefecture, Kyushu)

This lonely chunk of rock on the Yamakuni River in Oita Prefecture’s  Yaba-Hita-Hikosan Quasi-National Park probably would have gone completely unnoticed had it not been designated a Shin Nihon Sankei (later to become an official government meisho). It's a bit different from the other views on the list as there is no gorgeous background. It does have its own charm though, don't you think?

So, how many of you have been to both the 'Ancient Top 3 Views' and the 'Modern Top 3 Views'? I've been to a total of 2 out of the 6. I need to travel around Japan a bit more, I think...maybe after I retire...

Have a great day!


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