Inasahama Beach

Inasa Beach (稲佐の浜) is one of the most sacred Japanese beaches located in Japan. It is mentioned several times in Kojiki, said to be the oldest written chronicle in Japan. The book written in ancient words and difficult to read even for the Japanese, speaks of ancient Japanese myths and the beginnings of the island nation itself.

According to the scriptures of the Kojiki, there are said to be 8 million gods. The Amatsukami (heavenly gods) were ruled over by Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess & the most important deity of the Shinto religion. Amaterasu is the daughter of Izanami and Izanagi who made their daughter ruler of the heaven. The Kojiki further states that the earthly world where the people lived was called Kunitsukami, and inside this very earth, exists the realm of the dead referred to as Yomi no Kuni.

After an entertaining afternoon in Hinomisaki we decided to drop in at Inasahama to catch its mesmerizing beauty during sunset. The bus dropped us off at Izumo Taisha stop and from there we just walked to the beach. You can also get down directly at the beach, it has its own stop. We just needed to get some refreshments and some souvenirs from the shops near Izumo taisha.

If you are coming straight from Izumoshi Station area, the bus ride costs about ¥540 per person. We had however previously purchased the “perfect ticket” which allows for a hassle-free travel on local buses. If you are in Izumo for a few days, I would recommend obtaining the “Enmusubi Perfect ticket” from the Izumo Tourist Information Center, inside JR Izumoshi Station. It enables you free rides on Ichibata trains and buses, including Matsue city buses for 3 consecutive days. The ticket also includes discount privileges at many tourist spots.

After walking for about 15 minutes to the west of Izumo-taisha Shrine, the Inasahama gradually emerges from the Sea of ​​Japan – a beach famous for the mythical story of the country’s inception.

Myths surrounding Inasa no Hama Beach

The myth surrounding Inasa no Hama has many variations, but in essence, it is the tale of how Takamagahara (The realm of the Amatsukami) came to be united with Izumo (A kingdom of Kunitsukami).

Takamagahara is a place of heaven in Japanese mythology. In Shinto, Takamagahara is the dwelling place of the heavenly gods (Amatsukami). It is believed to be connected to Earth by the bridge Ama-no-uki-hashi (Floating Bridge of Heaven).

It is said Amaterasu Omikami, the queen of Amatsukami, took grave offense to see Okuninushi, becoming a king of the land of Izumo in the earthly realm. Since she saw Okununishi’s actions as inconsiderate toward the right to rule given to her by her father, Izanagi, she ordered various messengers and negotiators to Izumo, to cease and desist his activities.

It is said that the messengers of heaven clashed their swords on this very beach and negotiated with Okuninushi for the transfer of land to them. After several negotiations, Okuninushi eventually gave in to the desires of Amaterasu and her grandson, Ninigi no Mikoto-sama ascended to the rule of Izumo. In compensation, he was made ruler of the unseen world of spirits and magic on Earth.

As gratitude toward Okuninushi (or some say it was on a condition requested by him) she had Izumo Taisha built for him, and he was to have responsibility and jurisdiction over spiritual affairs, whereas Amaterasu Omikami-sama and her lineage would have responsibility and jurisdiction over physical affairs and government. Per this agreement, all of the kami, Amatsukami and Kunitsukami, would gather at Izumo Taisha every October to talk about affairs of the physical and spiritual. So the story goes!

Even today, the legend is inherited as “Kami-tei Shinto“, and on the 10th day of the 10th month in the lunar calendar, a bonfire is lit on the beach to welcome the 8 million Gods from all over Japan. Interestingly in all of Japan, the gods are away this month, so the month is called, “Kannazuki,” but in Izumo, where the gods gather, the month is called “Kamiarizuki.” Although there are no fancy illuminations or bursting of crackers, it is a ritual with a strict atmosphere that I would want to see at least once in my lifetime.

After the gods have been welcomed at the shore, people march to Izumo Taisha to the sound of flutes and drums with two sacred tree branches called Himorogi housing dragons, sea snakes, and gods at the head. After the celebration at Izumo Grand Shrine, it is said that the eight million gods stay in Izumo Taisha for a week, in the nineteen shrines to the east and west sides of the main shrine, as they hold a meeting, called Kamuhakari, on various matters related to human life.


Inasahama has a white sandy beach and a beautiful coastline. This scenic spot has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 Nagisa Beaches. On the beautiful beach, you cannot miss a small lonely rock standing with a miniature torii and a shrine on the top. The prominent round island at Inasa no Hama known locally as “Benten-jima.” In ancient times, it has been referred to as Okino Gozen and Okinoshima.

The Benten-jima Shrine is dedicated to Toyotama-hime, the daughter of Watatsumi – the God of the sea, and is said to protect seafarers. The beach itself, according to legend, was created during the Kunibiki land pulling, as the God Yatsukamizuomizunu used a rope to pull the land to Izumo and this rope later turned into the sandy Inasa no hama beach.

Benten-jima is not really an island as described by the name. The boulder used to be in the sea in ancient times, so the name “island” was given to it at that point in time. Until around 1965, it was only possible to reach Benten-jima using a temporary wooden bridge over the sea. However, due to changes in the tide, sand has gradually accumulated around the island, and now it is connected to the beach and can be walked to on foot. 

Thanks for reading! Inasa Beach is a nice place to relax during the evenings. If you are visiting Izumo-taisha, do not miss this lovely place. It is just a 15-minute walk from the heritage shrine. If you like my story, please leave a comment or follow my story as I continue to explore one of the holiest places in Japan – Izumo taisha.

Musical Waves of Mahabalipuram Beach

I can hear the sound of waves crashing on the shore. The moist, salty air flays my hair into the air as I walk towards the lovely beach in Mahabalipuram…

Drive to Mahabalipuram 

In the morning, a couple of hours drive is all it took for us to reach the quaint town of Mahabalipuram. The roads from Kanchipuram are a pleasure to drive.

It was easy to find the Chariot Beach Resort, where we would be staying for the duration of our trip in Mahabalipuram. A huge signboard announces the resort to the passersby. The entrance gate leads into a long driveway and unto the resort building where a lady received us with garlands made of seashells.

Once we were finished with the formalities of checking in, we had our lunch and headed right away towards the windy beach. Please be aware that I am not talking about the public beach, that experience would be a lot different.

The little town of Mahabalipuram is blessed with a glistening coastline with clean private beaches on the one hand and a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage sites and medieval temples on the other.

Mahabalipuram Beach

Mahabalipuram is a very ancient town, seeped in history & mythology. The town was largely developed by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century AD. The history of the town however, goes much beyond the Pallava dynasty when it used to be a popular seaport since the 1st century. The town flourished and was brought into limelight in the 7th to 9th century during the Pallava rule which gave them the heritage sites, the primary reason I was there.

The resort is clean and well maintained. Apart from a bar and two restaurants, it also features an inviting swimming pool.

Buggy rides to the beach were available from the reception area, but we chose to walk. As we strolled towards the beach, I realized that the resort also serves independent cottages for visitors looking for more privacy.

We were at the beach in no time. The beach heightens my senses. The music of the waves of the ocean make me forget myself. Mani watched me reluctantly as I was drawn into the cold blue waters. As the waves hit me, I could feel the rough texture of the sand as it deposited itself on my feet.

Once my initial excitement petered out, we found a nice place to sit on the sand. It is hard in such a mystical surrounding to stay in the present. With each wave hitting the shore my mind was already starting to slip away into nothingness.

We lay down on the sand, next to the water’s edge, making a head stand of my camera backpack. Looking at the vast blue sky, I felt so connected to the earth as my body settled into the ground.

As we sat there, gazing out into the horizon, taking in the vastness of the seascape, a young boy in his teens came along looking for casual tourists if they wanted to ride a horse. We didn’t ride it but we did made friends with the handsome creature.

Music of the Waves

Looking for prospective clients, the boy rode off with the horse and we were back on our makeshift mattress on the sandy beach. I closed my eyes, listening to the consistent ebbing and flowing of the waves crashing on the shore. Just like the sharp sound of clanging bells at the temples, the sound of these waves hammered away, driving out all my tensed thoughts . I could hear nothing… nothingness was good.

On my left, far away into the horizon, I could see a faint silhouette of the pagoda of the Shore temple. We will go there tomorrow, but for now I let my mind wander.

We sat there for a long time, under magical skies, immersed in the music of the strong waves of the Bay of Bengal.

Sunset at Mahabalipuram Beach

Behind us, the Sun had quietly slipped away into oblivion. It was starting to get colder now. The few tourists that were, were starting to leave, leaving us alone with the raging sea.

As the evening drew to a close, we took a last walk along the water’s edge, letting the cool waves gently wash our feet. Mani’s jeans were fully drenched, my cargoes were too.

As evening turned into night, we walked back to the resort. The lights had come on and it looked lovely in the night.

The historical town of Mahabalipuram is an enchanting place to explore age-old stone carvings and century old temples, but in-between the sweaty hikes, one can immerse themselves at the peaceful beaches along the quite town.

Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment if you liked the post or follow my story as I visit the last remaining pagoda on the shores of Mahabalipuram.

A stroll on Mandvi Beach

I am strolling on Mandvi beach, with the cool waters of the ocean slipping though my toes. The noise of the jeering tourists is drowned by the gentle waves of the Arabian Sea. A wave of black herons fly by as if the dimming sun is prodding them to go back to their homes.

Situated at the border of Diu and Gujarat, Mandvi beach is a 6 km long stretch where the pristine water of the turquoise Arabian Sea adjoins the seashore. It was once a major port of the region and summer retreat for King Maharao of Kutch.

Once we were back from the salt desert of White Rann, we decided to spend an evening at this pristine beach. The reception at Click Hotel helped me obtain a car for the ride to the port city.

Drive from Bhuj to Mandvi

Mandvi is about an hour down the road from Bhuj, a busy little place with a spectacular shipbuilding yard. I was pleasantly surprised as the flat landscape gradually changed into a hilly terrain as we drove farther away from Bhuj. While in Bhuj and during my stay at the Rann Utsav, all I have seen is vast stretches of flat lands.

There isn’t much to see along the highway except tiny huts and a few single floored concrete buildings. Mandvi suffered far less destruction than Bhuj in the 2001 earthquake and the heart of town, around Mochi Bazar doesn’t show much damage as I witnessed at Chattardi in Bhuj. The buildings along the colorful town are decorated in faded pastel hues.

History of Mandvi

Located right on the Gulf of Kutch, with the Rukmavati River flowing on the east, the town of Mandvi has a rich history. A fortress was established here in the late 16th century and the town itself was a bustling sea port and trading center. Its landmark temples that drew people from all over the kingdom of Kutch. Today it is a slower, calmer place known for its golden sand beaches and migratory birds.

Mandvi Beach

Our driver dropped us off at the parking area. The beach is just a minutes walk away. Before I reach the turquoise green waters of the sea, huge wind mills on my right draw my attention away. The Wind Farms Beach and Wind-mills, which line the horizon of Mandvi, offer a spectacular view from the beach. The Wind mills projects running here is Asia’s first Wind-Mills Projects, started way back in 1983.

The noise grows louder as we walk further towards the wide sea. It was like a carnival out there. People are busy with swimming, surfing and speed boat trips. Some of the more daredevils are trying their hand at parasailing.

We walk away from the crowd and find ourselves are quiet spot in the sun. A few kilometers away from here lies Vijay Vilas Palace. Built as a summer resort in the 1920s by the then Maharao of Kutch, Vijay Vilas Palace is a beautiful red sandstone structure fusing Rajput architecture with colonial elements. Unfortunately we wont have time to explore it today.

As we sat, chatting away, camels keep running by, carrying shrieking tourists on their back. Apart from swims and walks; one can also avail of these camel rides available at the beach.

But I am here just for a leisurely walk on the beach. The beach is a curving stretch of golden sand fringed by blue-green waters, with windmills on one side, the breakwater on the other, and an uninterrupted view of the Arabian sea in front.

As the hot Sun began to make us uncomfortable, we walked towards what appeared to be a breakwater. Some people were sitting precariously at the edge enjoying the gentle breeze. We couldn’t find any way onto the platform, from our side of the beach, so we resigned ourselves to this side of the sandy beach.

Time flies when you are having fun. I didn’t realize, how quickly evening was upon us. The crowd had thinned and many of the people ferrying camels were casually moving around trying to find interested clients. We don’t ride animals, but I called up to one of the camel owners to ask if I could use his tattooed pet to take some pictures. His pet camel called Saagar, was friendly. He stood there calmly as I took a few photos.

The guy also offered to click a photo of us with the handsome beast.

Sunset on Mandvi Beach

We waited at the edge of the shore, even as the tide slowly receded, revealing more and more of the golden sands. Occasionally someone would disturb the peace with the vrooming of the engines of the monster sand bikes gliding over soft beach sand.

Luckily I was carrying my 80-400mm lens. With the Gitzo tripod holding the beast of a lens, I managed to get a zoomed shot of the lone star in our solar system.

Due to the strong haze, the sun started to disappear a lot before even touching base with the ocean. We said our final goodbyes to the lovely beach on Mandvi and headed back towards the parking lot.

Mandvi beach is one of the finest beach of Gujarat and a historic port town of the Maharao of Kutch. Embraced with golden sands and fishing villages, Mandvi is an idyllic location for a relaxed evening. It is beautifully besieged by windmills on the one hand and green waters on the other. Though not as famous as its northern neighbor Bhuj, Mandvi remains a great place to soak in history and enjoy Kutchi hospitality, all at a leisurely pace.

Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment if you liked the post or follow my travels on instagram.

Interesting places around Mandvi

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An evening at Enoshima

From a quick tour of the Niigata Manga Museum, we reached Takasaki in the afternoon. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, we hopped on a train to Enoshima. I had heard it’s a lovely place to enjoy the evening. On clear days one can even see Mt. Fuji from the nearby Shonan Beach.

Enoshima is a small island near Kamakura. Samuel Cocking, a British trader who arrived in Japan in 1860s, married a Japanese woman and bought most of Enoshima Island. He built a botanical garden and power plant on the island. The power plant was one of Japan’s first and grew to become the Yokohama Cooperative Electric Light Company, we know today.

Armed with our JR Rail passes we caught the Joetsu Shinkansen from Takasaki to Ofuna Station.

Shonan Monorail

At Ofuna we hopped onto the Shonan-Monorail bound for Shonan-Enoshima StationShonan Monorail opened on March 7, 1970, the first monorail of its kind in Japan. The monorail goes up and down along the mountains and valleys in the region. It was a thrilling experience as we made our way along sharp curves and through a tunnel as if on a roller coaster ride.

The three-car monorail runs every 7 minutes except early mornings and late evenings. It conveniently connects Shonan area between Ofuna in Kamakura-shi and Enoshima in Fujisawa-shi. It took us about 14 minutes to reach the Shonan-Enoshima Station from Ofuna Station.

From the Shonan-Enoshima Station, a narrow stone-paved lane leads towards the beach. Many animated tourists, still in their beachwear were heading back. On both sides of the lane one can find various restaurants, souvenirs stalls and convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Family Mart.

The Enoshima island is connected to the mainland by bridge. It’s also known as a romantic island and said to be created by the love goddess Benzaiten. At the bridge, we turned right. It was late in the afternoon and we were not thinking of going to the island per se. We were here just to enjoy the lovely breeze on the Shonan Beach and if possible see Mt. Fuji in the distance.

The sun was about to set as we reached the beach. A narrow wooden pier snaked its way far into the sea. The pier offers a lovely view of the island and the Sagami bay. Further up along the pier, we took up seats on the some rocks facing the wide, long surfing beach.

The weather was quite foggy and it was futile attempting to make out Mt. Fuji. I was barely able to make out a silhouette of some mountains in the distance. Still we just sat there watching the sky slowly turn red and purple.

Shonan Beach

The Shonan beach was still full of surfers having fun in the warm waters. Although not one of my favorites, Enoshima beaches are the closest to Tokyo. But if you want to play in the waves, get some sun, play beach volleyball, or just chill outside, this is where you want to be. ere’s a wide, long surfing beach on both sides of the bridge to Enoshima known as Shonan. On the other side Enoshima was just getting dressed up for the evening.

Enoshima Island

The day grew dark and gradually the small restaurants and shops on Enoshima Island lit up. From the pier on the beach the island looked like a mystical land in the middle of the sea. We went up to the end of the pier till the we were at the end.

There is an interesting story behind the Enoshima island. There are three different shrines on Enoshima that are collectively known as Enoshima Shrine. They are all dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten. According to Japanese mythology, Benzaiten created Enoshima Island as part of her battle with a troublesome sea dragon. In some variations of the myth, she agrees to marry the dragon if he will tame his troubled ways. In the popular imagination she is the goddess of love. Enoshima Shrine offers pink ema with hearts on them that are popular amongst couples.

Enoshima Sea Candle

The lovely breeze across the bay drew us into a long discussion of the lovely beaches we had been to in Japan. As the night grew, the lighthouse on the island was glowing in Azure light. What I thought was a lighthouse is actually a mobile phone tower.

We stayed around till 7 pm and then head back to the monorail. Most places in Japan become deserted by 6 pm. It was surprising to see heavy crowds still lingering along the beach at this time.

It was night by the time we reached Takasaki Station. The Toyoko Inn is just a 5 minute walk from the station and we were back in the comfort of our room in no time.

Enoshima is a lovely place to spend a day for travelers who are looking for a day trip near Tokyo.

Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment if you liked the post or follow my story as I visit the amazing Togyoku dolls of Iwatsuki.

The pure Jodogahama Beach

Today we ride to the scenic Jodogahama Beach. Jodogahama Beach, or “Paradise Beach,” with its series of rock formations is one of the most popular places of scenic beauty along the Rikuchu Coast in the Tohoku region of northern Japan.

Morioka to Jodogahama Beach

Sun was already beating down on us as we walked down to the Morioka Station from our hotel. Summer has been strangely hotter this year.

While much of Japan is easily accessible by train, there are a few areas like Miyoka, that take a bit more effort to reach. This area was greatly effected by the big Tsunami of 2011 and rail services in the area have been greatly affected.

The JR Yamada Line connects Miyako and Morioka, but train service has not resumed on this segment of the line since 2011. Thankfully the roads and tourist facilities in the area have been restored, and while some diversions are in place, the area is now easily accessible via the Iwate Kenpoku Bus.

At Morioka station, the tourist information volunteers happily pointed us towards the Bus ticket counter. 

I was carrying my JR Rail Pass and they didn’t charge me for the round trip bus ride. For Mani, it cost her ¥2000. The #106 Bus run by Iwate Kenpoku is scheduled at regular intervals of an hour and the easiest way to travel to Miyako, unless you have your own car, of-course. The bus stops near the East Exit at stop #7.  We left for Morioka at 11.40 am. The bus was mostly occupied by local residents traveling to Miyako. 

Sanriku Fukko National Park

During most of my travels, I have been treated to a Japanese landscape, adorned with wide areas of paddy fields. However, the Iwate Kenpoku bus travels through the dense forest of Sanriku Fukko National Park. Once past the outskirts of the town, the road leading to Miyako is bounded on either side by woodlands, rich in an endless variety of foliage.

The Sanriku Fukko National Park incorporates two former parks: Rikuchu Kaigan National Park and the Minami Sanriku Kinkasan Quasi-National Park. On the way the bus stops at Yoho for a 10 minutes break. Passengers can get down to stretch their legs or if they want, obtain some snacks or drinks from the store.

The lovely road kept on going and we finally reached Miyako at 1.55 pm.

Miyako City

From Miyako, we needed to take another bus for a short 20 minute ride to the beach. From stop #3 buses leave hourly for the Jodogahama beach and get there in about 20 minutes. While waiting for the bus, I wandered around to have a look at Miyako Station.

The station was mostly deserted since tourists stick to the bus service.

Mani went ahead to the information booth at the station and obtained the bus timetables for our return journey.

Miyako is a small city of approximately 60,000 people. I would say the only reason I was here was to experience Jodogahama beach. The area of present-day Miyako was part of ancient Mutsu Province, and has been settled since at least the Jomon period. On March 11, 2011, Miyako was devastated by a tsunami caused by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. During the tsunami, waves reached at least 37.9 metres above sea level, almost equaling the record of 38.2 metres created during the 1896 Sanriku earthquake tsunami. It left behind a huge devastation, the city is still recovering from.

The afternoon was getting hotter by the minute and we were thoroughly relieved to see the bus arrive that would takes us to the beach.

The bus dropped us and our fellow passengers at the parking lot of the Jodogahama Visitor center. Below the parking lot we followed the road directly to the Jodogahama Beach. A rest house is located nearby where you can use the toilet or buy food and drinks.

Alas it was a Sunday and the beach was full of sun-bathing tourists. Walking along the pebbled beach we tried but failed to find a decent spot to rest for a bit. 

Jodogahama Beach is Sanriku Fukko National Park’s hallmark spot, thought to have been formed around 52 million years ago in the Paleogene period. These white volcanic rocks that from the bay cut it off from the open sea and tame the waves that hit the shore.

These groups of Paleogene period volcanic rock formations have been weathered by wind and rains into fantastic shapes. Evergreens like the Nanbu red pine, which is a symbol of the prefecture, grow atop these rocks, and the contrast with the white stone conjures up the beauty of a traditional Japanese garden.

Jodo Sect of Buddhism

Now Jodogahama means “Pure Land”, why it was named so is still a mystery for me. One of my Japanese friends tell me – “Jodo” means a place where people go to die. After some researching I found an article about the Jodo sect of Buddhism.

Founded by Honen(1133-1226), the Jodo(Pure Land) sect is based on the worship of Amida, the merciful Buddha of the pure land. The focus of this sect is to show the common folks how to be reborn into Amida’s paradise.

The name Jodogahama is said to derive from a seventh generation Buddhist priest of the Miyako-san Joanji Temple in the Tenna era (from 1681 to 1683) by the name of Reikyo, who, while admiring the sight before his eyes described it as “just like Amida paradise.”  Over the years many have come to consider this vivid contrast of the sharp, white rocks, green pines, and deep blue sea to a Pure Land or Paradise.

Jodogahama Beach

We loitered around the Beach house area for a few minutes but then decided to walk towards a more quieter place.

The waters are a clear emerald blue and the white and vibrant, jagged rocks pierce the calm sea.

The Black-tailed gulls very have a nice time in the shadow areas.

We got into the water to enjoy the cool sparkling water. This beach is perfect for swimming as the sea is calm and the waters warm. Although you might feel the pebbles hurting your foot a bit.

Once the sun mellowed down, we walked along the beach. In many places the limestone rocks can be seen jutting out, creating magnificent shapes.

After walking for a bit we reached a tunnel.

The tunnel led us to Jodogahama Marine House where you can take a small fishing boat to see Blue Cave. So if you aren’t satisfied by just sitting on the beach and soaking in the sights then you can also opt for the Sappa boat cruise. This cruise goes inside Hachinoheana, the Blue Cave. Inside the cave is a blow-hole, which is said to bring good luck. The waters within the cave change colour depending on the season, so when you visit you may be treated to some stunning water. However we were late and the cruise had shut down for the day.

A bit further we found ourselves at the Miyako Jodogahama Boat Cruise pier. From here you can catch the 40-minute tour on the Rikuchu-maru Tour Boat will take you around the islands of Jodogahama.

Tategasaki Tower

We were finally back at the starting point of the trail near the visitors center. The bus was still some time away so I half-sprinted to one of the popular viewpoints at the beach.

From above one can view a wide area of the bay.

Jodogahama to Morioka

The bus took its sweet time coming. The parking lot has a cozy sitting area, so we rested there as we waited for the bus to come along.

A small queue had formed and we also joined it. The bus eventually came and took us back to Miyako station.

At Miyako, the bus that would take up back to Morioka was scheduled for 5.45pm. We still had some time on our hands and we were famished. Down the road we found a store and picked up some food for the way.

We sat in front of the JTB Travel Agency, from where the bus to Morioka was scheduled to pick us up. The bus picked us up at 5.45 and we were finally headed back to Morioka.

Surrounded by deep blue-green waters, Jodogahama Beach is a sheltered by a picturesque line of craggy, white rocks that mean it’s calm shallows are great place to swim in warmer months. It is indeed a great beach for swimming, with clean water and gentle waves. Make sure you walk around the cove, and view the rocky spine from a number of different angles, and there are many walking trails that meander around the area which lead to view points.

Pines cover the surrounding bluffs and crabs and small fish mingle in the the rock pools completing this beautiful scene, making this area worthy of the title “Pure Land” bestowed upon it by the Buddhist Monk Reikyo who felt he had reached paradise on earth when he visited. If you want a little bit of paradise whilst in Japan then Jodogahama beach is the place for you.

We reached Morioka Station by 8 pm. But it still wasn’t the end of day for us 🙂

Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment if you liked the post or follow my story as we explore the Jomon period ruins of Sannai-Maruyama.

Fun on Aoshima Beach

We walk down to Aoshima beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Miyazaki. Facing the beach is Aoshima Island, which appears like a pendant from the sky. The island is known for its subtropical plants and straight lines stones called devil’s washboard or Oni no Sentakuita.

Getting off the streetcar at Kagoshima Chuo Station.

A lovely sculpture at the Kagoshima Chuo Station

All set to catch the train to Miyazaki

Getting down at Miyazaki.

Reaching Aoshima Station

Haniwa clay models

Haniwa clay models closeup

Walking to Aoshima Beach through Miyako Botanical Garden

First views of Aoshima Beach

Mani at Aoshima Beach

Viki at Aoshima Beach

A prelude of the Devil’s washboard on Aoshima Beach.

Having some fun before leaving for Aoshima Island

Aoshima Beach Rocks

Walking to Aoshima Island

A close up of the Aoshima Island

Crossing the Yayoi Bridge

Stone lanterns at the end of the Yayoi Bridge

Closeup of Devils Washboard

Aoshima Shrine Torii

Shrine Entrance

Shrine Hall

Purification Ring of straw

Aoshima Shrine

Aoshima Shrine closer view

Ema Planks

Devils Washboard towards the back of the island

Leaving the Island

Getting down in Oita

Oita Station

Oita Station Stores

Picking up dinner

Best Western Hotel Fino

The Dunes of Tottori

JR Train Station

Bus to Tottori Sand Dunes

Parking lot

Tottori Sand Dunes Entrance

Tottori Sand Dunes

Viki at Tottori Sand Dunes

Mani at Tottori Sand Dunes

Climbing the Horseback Dune

Atop the Horseback Dune

View of the Sea

Western coast

Setting up my tripod

Catching the sunset over Tottori Sand Dunes

Mani at sunset


Leaving Tottori Sand Dunes

Waiting for bus

Tottori at night

Thanks for reading!

White Sands of Shirahama Beach

From the thrilling cliffs of Sandanbeki, I walked down the road towards Shirahama Beach. Buses are available at regular intervals but the intervals are spread out during the afternoon. The next one was not scheduled to come soon, so, I decided to walk down to the beach. We had passed it while coming down from the station and it didn’t feel very far away.

Shirahama in Wakayama is known for its Onsen resorts and the beautiful white sand beach. It is not very far from Osaka and makes for a nice day trip. There are other places in Japan called “Shirahama” which can easily lead to confusion. The Shirahama beach in Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture is also very popular and easily confused with.

I was the lone person walking on the road. After a few minutes I reached the Under Sea Observation Tower. I hadn’t planned on visiting it since my main goal was to get to Engetsu Island to capture the iconic sunset.

The road goes downhill towards the beach. As I walked past the Observation Tower, I noticed some fishing boats moored to the pier. Near the pier there is a fisherman’s market stocked with unlimited marine delicacies. I am sure Mani would have gone crazy seeing the delicious spread.

I rested for a bit at the market and the n started back on the road towards the beach. Within a few minutes I was at the lovely beach.

Shirahama Beach is located in Kanayama Bay. The left side of the beach has been landscaped with some rocks possibly to keep the waves in check. The white powdery sands were like none I have witnessed before. I hear they have been imported from Australia. The wind was not strong, but As I walked, my footsteps were blown away in the light sand.

The beach itself is not very huge and there weren’t many tourists around. A group of kids were on the beach, possibly on a tour from their school. I walked along the crescent-shaped beach thinking of Mani. It was so beautiful out there.

The sparkling transparent waters were inviting me to take a dip, but I had come unprepared.

The beach is quite small and I was at the other end in just a few minutes. On the other side of the beach there’s a small shrine. I wandered around for some time going to the edge of the beach where some boulders were lying on the path. They keep falling from the edge of the sandstone cliffs so I didn’t go further.

It was 3 pm when I brought myself to leave the enchanting beach for Engetsu. Time flows quickly in these beautiful places. Buses are relatively scarce along this route, so I had to walk down the coastline.

Shirahama Beach in Wakayama is one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen. The soft white sands and the blue green waters are enchanting. I would love to come back to Shirahama with my lovely wife someday.

Thanks for reading. Leave me a comment if you like the post or follow my story as I hurry towards Engetsu Island to capture the iconic sunset that makes Shirahama a photographers delight.

Gokarna Beach Trek

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This weekend I head out on a trek on the rocky cliffs along the coastline of Gokarna.

Gokarna is located along the Arabian Sea at the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers, the Gangavali and Aghanashini, around 580 km from Bangalore. Four of the most gorgeous beaches are located to the south of Gokarna. Our trek route was to start from the southern-most Paradise Beach and hike our way northwards towards Half Moon Beach, Om Beach, Kuddle Beach and finally end at Gokarna Beach.

Gokarna means Cow’s ear. There is an interesting piece of story behind how this place got this name. Legend has it that after a vigorous penance by Ravana, Shiva was pleased and offered three boons to him. For one of his wishes, Ravana asked for the Atma-Linga. Shiva took out the Atma-Linga from his own heart and gave it to Ravana with strict instructions that it should not be placed on ground until it was reached its final destination.

The Devas, fearing that Ravana would become all-powerful asked for help from Vishnu to somehow stop him. On the way, carrying the Atma-Linga towards Lanka, Ganesha met him in the garb of a cowherd. Vishnu and Ganesh played a trick on him and saw to that he kept the Linga on the Ground. When Ravana tried to pull it out, the shape of the Linga took a form of the Cow’s ears.

Gokarna is also an important center of Sanskrit learning. The early settlements of this region can be traced back to the Brahmins. It is also the residence of Bhandikeri Math and Togu Math where Sanskrit knowledge has been passed down from generations in Brahmin families.

Ride from Bangalore

My scheduled pick-up was at 7 p.m at Silk Board. Due to heavy Bangalore traffic I was delayed and finally made it at 7.45 p.m. I joined Ishan, Preethi, Srinivasan and Pradyumna at the Silk Board bus stop. Unfortunately Ishan wasn’t going on this trek and Salwat was already out there in Gokarna, so Preethi was our trek lead for the trip. Once there, I got to know that our pick-up Tempo was even more delayed. We introduced ourselves as we waited for the bus to arrive. It finally reached us at around 8:30 p.m.

After picking up the rest, we finally started for Gokarna at around 9:30 p.m. Along the way we stopped at a dhaba for dinner. I had a plate of Idli, the safest food around these parts. For the rest of the journey, I didn’t get much sleep on the bus. At around 8 a.m. in the morning, we stopped at an eatery at Shivamogga for breakfast. The Idli was warm and tasty. It also felt good to stretch the legs. After around an hour we passed through the Shettihalli Wildlife Sanctuary. I was lucky to spot a few peacocks along the way. As we neared the coast, the jackets were off as it grew more and more warmer.


It was noon by the time we reached our destination. The sun was beating down upon us. Salwat, sweating profusely, was waiting for us at the bus depot on Temple Road. We walked towards our home stay which by the way was not very far from the bus stop. At first impression, Gokarna might strike as a laid back town, growing up, trying to find its place in the modern world, but in all actuality it is really old, with a history that stretches back to a mention in the Bhagwad Gita.

For most of the time, it has been a village of fishermen and farmers with the only attraction being a temple, believed to contain Atma-Linga, the soul of Shiva. But Karnataka has entered a period of rapid change in tourism, and Gokarna is being dragged along with it.

Paradise Beach

After quickly freshening up and donning our beachwear’s, we drove by bus to a spot near the Paradise Beach Huts. From here we started the trek along the Paradise Beach trail towards Paradise Beach. The walk took us through a bushy forest along an elevated path. After walking for 15 minutes we started to descend. While going down we were presented with the stunning view of the beach. Cameras were out in a flash and why not. It is a paradise for beach lovers.

We climbed down the rocky hill towards the inviting beach. On the left I noticed a hippie trying to cook up a meal. By the looks of it, it was apparent he had been squatting there for days. The beach is in the shape of a small bay, curved inwards. Once on level land, the guys just ran off, flinging their stuff in the sand and tore towards the big waves.

Salwat informed us not go above waist level in the water. Well, he quickly had to change his advice as the incoming waves were already chest high. I found a secluded spot and took a few long exposure photographs of the beach. Unlike some other beaches I have been, here the rocks are sharp and I got a few bruises on my palms while climbing to finding a good spot.

We stayed at the Paradise Beach for over an hour. Once everyone had their fill of the waves, we started hiking towards the Half Moon Beach.

Half-Moon Beach

The trail to Half Moon Beach is a bit tricky with lots or rocks. On the way we passed Hells Cliff. Well not many can claim to be in “Paradise” and “Hell” on the same day 😉 On Hell’s Beach, there is a small rock. Some of the guys took up the climbing challenge.

Past the rocky terrain we reached a cluster of shacks. It was 4.30 p.m. and we were hungry as hell. We decided to have our lunch in one of the 3 eateries. I was surprised to see Israeli specialties on the menu. Not a die-hard fan of experimentation, I still went ahead and ordered the “Laffa” along with 3 of my friends. The food took time coming but it was tasty. It was like a huge Egg Roll with salads and boiled eggs. I was full just with that. They also have hammocks around which give a hippy feel to the area. I saw very few Indians on both Paradise and Half Moon Beach. They appear to attract mainly foreigners.

After relaxing for some time, we moved on to the Half Moon Beach. The harsh sun had given way to some nice pleasant breeze as we entered Half Moon Beach. The beach was devoid of tourists and I got some lovely photos in the golden hour. We didn’t spend much time here as we wanted to witness the sunset from a good vantage point.

Om Beach

We all were very excited at the prospect of viewing the sunset and we hurried along towards the Rock of Peace. “Rock of Peace” is a huge cliff towering over the side of Om Beach which extends deep into the Ocean. The view from here is fantastic. Om Beach is named so because it is shaped like the auspicious ॐ [Om] symbol. One can easily make out the Om sign from this cliff. The stage was set, but without any clouds the drama was missing. Some hippies had gathered here with drums. The slow beating of drums added to the serene moment.


It was difficult to move away even after the sun had set, but Salwat wanted us to reach the beach before dark, since the trail led through a forested area and it would become more and more difficult to find the trail in the darkness. So we got up and were on our way to the Om Beach. Down at the beach, light was fading fast. I wanted to get a good shot of the Parvati Rocks but it wasn’t to be. Om Beach is beautiful beach that seems to go on forever, surrounded by palm trees.  I have to come here again, to get a shot of the setting sun with the Parvati rocks in the foreground. I believe it will look gorgeous.

I lay on the beach staring at the stars for a long time, alone. I have started to understand that I do not share the same enjoyment from nature as others. Chattering disturbs me. I would just like to be a rock and stare at the wonder of nature.

Kuddle Beach Trek

After some relaxation on the Om Beach we headed out to Kuddle Beach around dinner time. I wasn’t too pleased as we arrived at the Kuddle Beach. Its dirty, full of restaurants and cafe’s. Cows are moving around. Litter is everywhere. Overcrowding, construction of lodges and other activities has definitely had an impact on this beach. There are also some lodges with rooms for as little as ₹1500. Salwat recommended the Kuddle Palace restaurant for dinner. In the restaurant, the guy taking our order appeared to be a Nepali. On asking, he confessed to coming here during season time to work for 4 months. Once the season ends, he heads back to his homeland in Sikkim.

Inside the restaurant, we were like this huge gang. All the tables in the restaurant were moved and joined together to form one big table. It was like a feast from one of those Asterix comics. I was missing the tasty Tibetan dishes I had in Sikkim, so I ordered a Thupka. After dinner I took a walk along the beach, below the stars. Some couples were also wandering along the beach. I was missing Mani, so I called her up. We talked for a long time. Relatively a long time for us would be 6 hours, but this time it was 40 mins. Eventually once everyone was done, we cleared the bill and walked towards the Gokarna Beach.

Gokarna Beach Trek

At the end of the Kuddle Beach, we had to climb up a row of stairs to head towards the Gokarna Beach. After the stairs, we reached an open field. Thankfully there were white markers guiding us along the trail or we would easily have gotten lost. On the way we gathered some dry branches and grass for the bonfire. At the end of the field we passed a Shiva Temple. It was a moonless night and we could barely make it out in the pitch darkness. Right after the temple a series of steps brought us to the edge of the Gokarna Beach.

Gokarna Beach was way cleaner than Kuddle Beach. No shacks or lodgings.  Boats were lined on the coast, belonging to fishermen who now probably earn more ferrying passengers along the coast. The beach was full of crabs. In every direction I could see holes create by crabs. We had a quick bonfire and then headed back to home stay. On the way back some of us we were already discussing to come back in the morning for sunrise.

We reached the home-stay at around 12:30 a.m. I activated the alarm for 4:30 a.m. and went to sleep straight-away at 1 o’clock.

Sunrise on the Gokarna Beach

I got up before the alarm could wake me up. I would like to believe I posses a biological clock that wakes me when I am truly serious about it. Even in Sikkim, I was up daily at around 4 a.m daily. In contrast, in Bangalore, I am rarely up before 10 a.m 😉 It was a pleasant surprise to find almost everyone already up and ready for the sunrise trek at 4:30 a.m. Salwat was tired and so we, in all 13 of us including me, headed out ourselves. The roads were lit but the beach area was pitch dark. We went following the same path we had come down the night before. The bonfire we had lit last night was totally doused by the waves. I was surprised that the tides had come all the way up to this point during the night. We hiked towards the Shiva Temple and took a detour from there towards the peak of that hill.

The Sun rose from behind the bushy forest at around 6:30. We took some clicks and then walked back towards the beach.

As we walked back towards our home-stay in proper daylight for the first time, I could see the endless blue sea with coconut and palm trees lining the beach. Already many had gathered to take a dip in the sea before going into the temple. I understand, Gokarna Beach is frequented more by Indian pilgrims than the random tourist. We walked across the quaint little town, through the streets lined with temples, eateries and traditional tile-roofed brick houses. The presence of beaches and temples together create a contrasting town. On one side we see the over-eager pilgrims and on the other we see the laid back hippies.

Ride Back to Bangalore

After a quick breakfast at Pai’s Restaurant we were on our way back to Bangalore. Deepali, whose hometown is not very far from here treated us to a sweet milk beverage. The day was hot. On the bus, I took a small nap since I had barely slept the last two days. On the way back Salwat offered a stop at the Jog Falls as a bonus. The waterfall was a whimper from what I had seen in the pictures. One should see this place roar in the monsoons. While admiring the falls I was lucky to spot a beautiful rainbow forming at the base of the falls. We also took our lunch there in a nearby restaurant. The menu was limited nor was the food any good.

Rest of the way I choose to sit upfront beside the driver, just looking at the road and the trees go by. Pradyumna was also there with his Kindle, reading. We talked a lot about the places he wants to visit. I gave him a few tips on Hampi. He is a silent type of guy. We stopped at an eatery around 4 in the evening. They had something new, I have never had before, Pepper fries. I also had a cup of coffee before getting back on the bus. Bangalore was still 120 km away. Since it was getting dark, I went back to my seat at the back. The guys started a game of antarakshi. It was fun and kept us entertained all the way to Bangalore.

It was midnight by the time we reached Bangalore. One of the guys Abhishek, shared a cab with me as his place was along the way. I was back in the cozy comfort of my home in half an hour. It is one of my fetishes, every place I visit, I need to get one amazing shot, that summarizes the place. Unfortunately I didn’t get one this time and this is going to haunt me until I go back again and get it.

[su_tab title=”Faqs”] [su_accordion]
[su_spoiler title=”Best place to stay in Gokarna”] Hotel Gokarna International (0832-257843 / 08386-256622/ 848) is one of the better lodges on the Kuddle Beach. Note there is another Hotel with same name in the town, so double-check[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Good restaurants in Gokarna?”] Kuddle Palace has good multi-cuisine food and also very cheap. On the Half Moon Beach you can find some shacks. The food is all right, but it takes a long time coming.[/su_spoiler]

[su_tab title=”Places to see in Gokarna”] Along with the amazing beaches, Gokarna is also famous historically.

  1. Visit the Adi Gokarna & Aatma Linga Mahabaleshwara Temple.
  2. Hike to Yana natural rock formations, a couple of hours away
  3. Jogg Falls is 2 hours drive from Gokarna
  4. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is a 6 hour drive from Gokarna. Tours are available through the reserve where you can, if you are lucky, check out the Black Panther, Bison & Iguanas.