When most people think of Kyoto, they picture famous shrines and bamboo forests. But the northern Kyoto fishing village of Ine is a quiet contender for one of the most unique places in Japan. Referred to as the ‘Venice of Japan,’ Ine features 230 historic houses built right over the water, dotted along a 5 km stretch of mountainous coast. Though the village is lovely to walk around, you simply can’t beat seeing it from the water on the Ine Bay Sightseeing Boat. 

First, a little about Ine

Located around 130 km north of Kyoto, this charming village is tucked away in Ine Bay, protected from the weather and rough conditions of the Sea of Japan. Since the 1700s, local fishers have built their wooden, thatched-roof homes right on the calm waters of the bay, in order to be close to the action. These homes (funaya) have a unique design, where the bottom floor acts as a boat garage and workshop, with living quarters located upstairs. 

Because of their geographical protection, these funaya houses still remain to this day, some as private residences and others converted to cafes and accommodation. For this reason, the Government has designated Ine as a ‘Group of Traditional Buildings’—a historic preservation category to protect beautiful and unique places such as Ine. 

The current residents of Ine continue to live in harmony with the sea, with fishing still playing a huge part of daily life.  

Ine Bay Sightseeing Boat

If you stroll out of town for about 20 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Ine Bay Sightseeing Boat. These boats carry over 150 people and do a 25-minute loop of the bay, so you can take in the unique scenery. 

You’ll get great views of the funaya houses lining the bay and might get to see some local fishing in action, or perhaps just the fish pens that house species like yellowtail and red sea bream.  

If you stand on the open-air deck, you’ll soon be surrounded by a flock of seagulls and even some ferocious-looking kites. When you buy your ticket, you can also pick up small bags of crackers to be used as bird food. The birds, of course, know this and hover and circle in search of snacks. The seagulls will catch food in their mouths while the kites will use their sharp and mighty talons. It’s a little Hitchcockian so if you have a fear of birds, stick to the lower areas.  

The Ine Bay Sightseeing Boat of Ine Village Kyoto
The Ine Bay Sightseeing Boat of Ine Village, Kyoto
The Ine Bay Sightseeing Boat - Ine Village Kyoto

The boat is open year-round and departs every 30 minutes from 9:00am until 4:00pm, depending on the weather.  

Last words on Ine 

Officially recognised as one of ‘Japan’s Most Beautiful Villages,’ Ine doesn’t disappoint. There’s plenty to see, do, eat and drink; read more about Ine Village (and how to get there) in this article

Name: Ine Bay Sightseeing Boat
Address: 11 Hide, Ine, Yoza District, Kyoto 626-0425 (link)
Open: 9:00-16:00 (last boat departs at 16:00) year-round
Admission: Adults ¥1,000, Children ¥500
Website: https://www.inewan.com/inewan_cruise/ 
Bookings: https://www.kkday.com/ja/product/128335?cid=13362

Post by Japan Journeys.