As the ferry left the somewhat makeshift dock, the birds started circling round us. And I realised that’s why packets of prawn crackers are being sold for 100 yen per packet at the dock. People were holding prawn crackers aloft for the birds to swoop in for the ‘kill’.
Obviously, some got scared before the claws could reach out and ended up nervously throwing the crackers into the water, inevitably causing feathers to ruffle (literally) in the aftermath of their actions. These birds must have been conditioned to depend on these crackers for their daily feed.
I wondered if we are slowly killing them.
The birds swirled around us all the way as we took in the sights of the funaya (舟屋). Only about 200 of these traditional “boat houses” remain in the sleepy fishing village of Ine (伊根), about 5 km north of Amanohashidate (天橋立) in the northern coast of Kyoto.
A little note on Amanohashidate (天橋立) before we return to the funaya or boathouses.Amanohashidate (天橋立) is a narrow sandbar at the mouth of Miyazu Bay (宮津湾) in the northern coast of Kyoto Prefecture. Its name means “the bridge that connects the Heavens”.
With more than 7,000 pine trees dotting either side of the sandbar, it ranks as one of Japan’s top three most scenic views. This 3.3 km strip of sand makes for an ideal leisurely stroll at sundown or the perfect place for a summer camp anywhere along the whole stretch of sand.I actually made Amanohashidate my base camp for the 3D2N that I was there, in order to explore the surrounding coastal region.
The fishing village of Ine can be explored as a day trip from Amanohashidate. Hourly buses ply the route from Amanohashidate to Ine, and takes you there in about an hour for 400 yen (one way).
Most of the boathouses in Ine are “live-in” residences, although some have been converted to guesthouses and restaurants to serve the increasing wave of tourism to this area.
I saw two boys do back-flips as they plunged into the crystalline waters from their backyards. One of them started waving at us when he spotted our boat cruise by.
I wondered how it feels like to have the Sea of Japan as your personal swimming pool. Wouldn’t it be amazing to greet every sunrise and sunset like this, sipping coffee or beer in your own backyard?
Luckily for me, I chanced upon one with an amazing view, a converted café, selling coffee at Starbucks prices. I sat there with my iced Americano, watching the birds circling the pint-sized sightseeing boats, watching the skies darken and the heavens pour. I realised that, just like the birds, we are slowly killing this village with our presence.
Time stood still that day. LS