Nihon Sankei or the Most Beautiful Views of Japan


Itsukushima ©scarletgreen/Flickr

The three most beautiful views of Japan, called Nihon Sankei, are included in a canonical list. This list includes the most popular scenic sights of Japan. These places were selected many centuries ago.

The most scenic spots of Japan are Matsushima, Amanohashidate and Miyajima. In Japan they are considered equally important as the seven wonders of the world. These three must-see places are all located on (or around) Honshu island. If you plan to visit Japan, you should consider visiting one of these amazing places. It will surely be an unforgettable memory.


Matsushima 1

Matsushima – Tiny island ©rockriver/Flickr

It is a group of approximately 260 islands which are covered with pines. The name Matsushima comes from the Japanese words for pine (matsu) and island (shima). These small islands provide a breathtaking view. Tourists can also view the island from cruise boats. There are four spots which look over Matsushima Bay: the Magnificent View (from Otakamori), the Beautiful View (from Toyama), the Enchanting View (from Ogidani) and the Grand View (from Tamonsan). Together they are called Matsushima Shidaikan, or the four greatest views.

Matsushima 2

View of Matsushima Bay ©nakae/Flickr

Matsushima Islands are covered by black and red pines, but greyish rocks also culminate the beauty of this place. Shrines and temples can be found here, too. The most famous temple of this place is Zuigan-ji. This Zen temple features Buddhist objects and several caves which are carved into rock. The temple contains the Zuigan-ji Art Museum, which was established in 1995 and it displays artifacts of the former monks.


Zuigan-Ji Temple ©nyaa_birdies_perch/Flickr

The area had been seriously damaged in 2011 due to Tohoku tsunami and earthquake. Though the landscape had changed, the major attractions, like Zuigan-ji and Godaido Temples are still open. Matsushima can be accessed by car and by train. The nearby Matsushima-Kaigan Station is not far from the harbor.




Amanohashidate: the amazing sand bar ©John.E.Robertson/Flickr

Amanohashidate (meaning ‘bridge in heaven’) is a sand bar with the length of 3,6 km, spanning across Miyazu Bay on Tango Peninsula. According to a legend, it was originally a ladder which connected Earth with Heaven. Though it is a sand bar, it is mostly covered with pine trees.  The most beautiful view on the sand bar can be viewed from the two sides of the bay. The hills at both ends of the bar can be accessed by cablecar and chair lift.


Chion-Ji, a temple close to the sand bar ©EverJean/Flickr

Tourists turn their back towards the sand bar and the bay, bend over and look at it from between their legs. Travelers started doing this decades ago to view the sand bar as a real ‘bridge’ to heaven. Famous buildings can also be found in the area around Amanohashidate. Temples such as Chion-ji, Nariai-ji or Motoise Kono-jinja also attract tourists.

The amazing sand bar can be accessed easily: on Miyazu Line railway it takes two hours to get there from either Kyoto or Osaka Stations. Amanohashidate Station is very close to the southern end of the ‘ladder’.




Miyajima, the gate ©xiquinhosilva/Flickr

The island (also called Itsukushima) is located in the Inland Sea of Japan. It is considered to be a crown jewel and a sacred place, too. The island is within the area of Setonaikai National Park.

Being a mountainous area, Miyajima island has large forests. The small towns on the island have a total population of about 2000 people. The most beautiful places of the island which worth a visit are: Itsukushima Shrine, Daishoin Temple, Daigan-ji Temple, Mount Misen and the beautiful Momijidani Park. The torii (gate) of Itsukushima Shrine is considered to be the symbol of the island.


View on Itsukushima ©scarletgreen/Flickr

The island can be reached by ferries from Hiroshima and Miyajimaguchi. These trips usually take 10 minutes. No bridges connect the island to the mainland, but there are some ferries which carry cars or motorcycles. In my opinion, cars are quite useless on the island: parking places are very expensive and most of the sights cannot be reached by car.


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