There’s plenty to do in Kyoto, Japan—but if you’re looking for an experience that’s a little off the beaten track, then you should consider heading north to Ine Bay, an inlet and small fishing settlement that is often referred to as the “Venice of Japan” because of its distinctive architecture that consists of old boathouses (called funaya) located along the water. Bordering the bright blue bay and backed by imposing mountains, Ine Bay has no shortage of architecture, history, and culture.

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About The Funaya

The town of Ine has the distinction of being part of the Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings because of the historic funaya. Some 200 plus funaya still exist today, many of which have been converted into guesthouses for those wishing to stay right on the water and enjoy the spectacular views. The town of Ine was once an important trade route from China to Kyoto, and as a result, it became an important hub of the fishing industry. Today, however, the village is a unique tourist destination that offers incredible views and a relaxing, pleasant experience.

The funaya contain a boathouse on the first floor and residential space above. Though many of the houses are occupied by personal residences, many have been converted into guesthouses (‘minshuku’) which offer visitors the opportunity to experience these amazing structures firsthand. Many of the guesthouses also offer amenities such as fishing and guided sea taxi services.

Remote And Relaxing

If you are looking for exciting nightlife and a bustling atmosphere, then Ine Bay is not for you. However, the remoteness of this historic village does have its advantages. While cities like Kyoto are known for their tourist attractions, the village of Ine is itself a tourist attraction. Between the funaya and the gorgeous scenery, Ine is the perfect destination for a day trip or an overnight adventure.

You can’t visit Ine without taking a guided boat tour around the bay. Take in the cool waters of the bay while enjoying a view of the funaya (perfect photo op!) You may even catch sight of the local birds, including seahawks, that frequent the area and enjoy being fed by visitors. The larger boats generally do not require reservations, however, if you’re looking for a more intimate experience, choose one of the smaller sea taxis piloted by area fishermen to feel like one of the locals.

Funaya no Soto State Park

Make this your first stop when you get to Ine, as it is home to the tourism office where you can make boat ride reservations and learn a bit about the area. Located on a hill above the village, Funaya no Soto State Park also has an observation deck where you can get an overhead view of the village. Also, if you are looking for a bite to eat or a place to shop, you will find most restaurants are located in this area as Ine itself is relatively small and does not offer many dining or shopping options.

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The only way to get to Ine is by car or bus, so be sure to plan your trip ahead of time. This little gem is definitely worth the trip and is a nice way to experience one of the most lovely villages in Japan. So whether you are looking for an escape from the bustle of Kyoto, a day trip to unwind and relax, or an overnight getaway with captivating views and architecture, the “Venice of Japan” is a secluded, remote oasis in the heart of Ine Bay.

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