The antidote to the urban centres of Kyoto, Osaka and Nara is a visit to Miyama-chō, a collection of rural hamlets in the Kitayama (Northern Mountains) north of Kurama. Miyama-chō has two great sights: Ashiu, a hiker’s paradise; and Kita (Kayabuki-no-Sato), a collection of thatched-roof houses. En route, you can stop at the temple of Bujō-ji.
The Tango-hantō juts up into the Sea of Japan on the north coast of Kyoto Prefecture. The interior of the peninsula is covered with thick forest, terraced farms, idyllic mountain villages and babbling streams, while the serrated coast alternates between good sandy beaches, gumdrop-shaped islands and rocky points.
The ports of Nishi-Maizuru and Higashi-Maizuru are an important transporation hub. Trains from the JR Obama line meet the Kita-kinki Tango Tetsudō railway at Nishi-Maizuru Station; change trains here for Amanohashidate. Shin-Nihonkai Ferry (2nd class ¥9570, 20 hours) connects Higashi-Maizuru and Otaru in Hokkaidō. With some time to kill, go to Goro Sky Tower, about 6.
Amanohashidate (the Bridge to Heaven) is rated as one of Japan's 'three great views'. The 'bridge' is really a long, narrow, tree-covered (8000 pine trees) sand spit, 3.5km in length. There is decent swimming, as well as beach showers, toilet facilities and covered rest areas, the length of the spit. It's a good example of a Japanese tourist circus, but it is pleasant enough.