| Centrip Editorial Board

Tombolo and Mer Brillante in Higashi Hazu

Higashi Hazu Beach in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture, has been gaining popularity as a spectacular and beautiful spot with a unique natural view showing the tombolo phenomenon. In the fall of 2022, a new photo-op point, Hazu Kakureru, was temporarily introduced. Follow along to find out how to enjoy the tombolo, the stylish café Mer Brilliante, and the Japanese-style café Taraso, on Kira Waikiki Beach in Nishio City.

Tombolo in Hazu

What appears as a regular island alone in the ocean becomes connected by a magical pathway at low tide. The same tombolo phenomenon is seen at Mont Saint-Michel, here in Japan.

tombolo and Maejima Island seen from Higashi Hazu coast side

Higashi Hazu Town, Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture. Off the coast of Higashi Hazu, an area well-known as a tidal-bay fishing spot is an uninhabited island called Maejima. The distance from the beach to Maejima is 470 m one way, separated from each other by the sea, but for a few hours during low tide, visitors can walk across the mud flats to Maejima.

Sign for imaginary station Higashi Hazu Kaigan
The tide recedes, and the road to Maejima begins to appear

A tombolo is a mysterious trail that appears for only a few hours a day. In the past, locals said that seeing the tombolo brought good luck, and walking across it made wishes come true.

Wavy topography appears as the tide recedes
The creatures of the tidal flats are also very busy

As the waves recede and the tidal flats appear, you can see the pattern of the sand in the waves. The creatures of the sea are panic at the sudden disappearance of seawater. Watching the crabs, shellfish, and other sea life that live in the tidal flats as they rush to move into the seawater is one of the pleasures of walking across the tombolo.

Speaking of underwater tracks...

In the fall of 2022, a temporary "Hidden Rail" was installed on the Tombolo Tidal Flat in Hazu. The theme was "A rail of hope leading to the sea". It sinks partially into the sea, so depending on the tide, it may be possible to recreate the memorable scene in Spirited Away where the character Kaonashi walks on the track.

The "bell that should have been" installed on the Maejima side
Padlock with many wishes

On Maejima Island, across the tombolo, there is another bell that is paired with the "Hidden Rail" and around this bell, you can hang a padlock with your wish. According to the custom, hanging a padlock here ensure your wish comes true.

In addition, during the hours when the tombolo is not open, you can hang a padlock around the "Hidden Rail" on the Higashi Hazu coast side. Be careful not to cross over to Maejima, only to be prevented from returning when the tide rises.

In the afternoon hours, the tide begins to rise and the tombolo sinks into the sea.

The low tide was around 12:30 pm when we visited the island. The best time to see the tombolo is when it is just starting to show up. If 12:30 is the low tide, the best time to see the tombolo is around 10:30 am and 2:00 pm. This natural phenomenon appears with the ebb and flow of the tides, so check the tide table before you visit.

When about half of the road is underwater, the sound of waves is pleasant.

To protect the fishing grounds there is a fee to enter the tombolo area ( ¥300 per person, elementary school students and older). Viewing the tombolo from outside the restricted area is free of charge, but to cross it, visitors must enter the paid area.

At dusk, the tide was rising, and the mudflats were almost submerged

Also available for a limited time is a ¥1,000 ticket, which includes admission to the tombolo area for ¥300, a padlock, a pen to write your wish, and a souvenir shrimp cracker. Tickets are sold at the Siohigari Reception Hut on the Higashi Hazu Beach (only during the Tombolo Walk event) or at the Higashi Hazu Fishery Cooperative Association.

Spectacular view of the sunset from the Higashimazu Coast

Around 5:00 pm, although the tide has risen and the tombolo has disappeared, the Higashi Hazu Coast is a superb spot to watch the setting sun over the calm Mikawa Bay. From mid-March to mid-August every year, you can also go clamming at low tide, and besides walking along the tombolo, there are many ways to enjoy the area.

Mer Brillante: Stylish cafe in Higashimatazu

There were few places to eat around the Tombolo Tidal Flat in Hazu, but in February 2022, a great café opened right next to the Higashi Hazu Fishery Cooperative Association, where you can enjoy a meal while looking out over the calm waters of Higashi Hazu.

Nestled by the seaside
A breathtaking view

The name of the café is Mer Brilliante, which means "shining sea" in French. The café owner Kaneka Kanda, a fish wholesaler in business for nearly 80 years in the Higashimazu area, opened it in an old renovated bank.

The restaurant offers a spectacular view of the ocean beyond the open kitchen. While enjoying this beautiful view, you can enjoy the specialties only a seafood restaurant can offer, using freshly caught fish bought at auction every morning.

Bowl of rice topped with raw tuna and baby sardines丼
Today's sashimi, rice, and miso soup set

Since the building was once a bank, there is a large vault door on the first floor. Open it, and you will find a staircase leading to the second floor. Visit the store to see what you will find there.

A large bank vault door
Windows overlooking the islands at sea level

Mer Brilliante is open from 11:00 to 5:30 pm (the kitchen closes at 1:30 pm for lunch and 4:30 pm for the café). The Tombolo Tidal Flat is only a few minutes walk away, so we recommend spending your lunch in style while waiting for the tidal flat to appear.

Japanese Cafe Taraso

Last but not least, Japanese Cafe Taraso is about 15 minutes by car from the Higashi-Hatamazu area.

Standing on a hill overlooking Kira Waikiki Beach in Nishio City, Taraso is a popular cafe known for its beautiful building and the spectacular view of Mikawa Bay. Already famous as one of the most SNS-worthy cafes in the Chubu and Tokai areas, Taraso is crowded with customers even on weekdays, despite its somewhat inconvenient location deep in the mountains.

Beautiful contrast between the green roof and the blue sea from the entrance
The café space spreads out as you go down the stairs

Although it is easy to be drawn in by the lovely building and view, Taraso uses the concept of a relaxing space where even an individual can come and feel at home. The drinks and food served are also trendy and appealing.

Popular terrace seating, so come here when the weather is nice!
Great views from inside

If it is morning time, we recommend the breakfast set, which is available for ¥550 in addition to the drink fee. You can also enjoy a cup of authentic matcha green tea, unique to Nishio's cafes.

Morning Set
Authentic matcha tea unique to Nishio cafes

Tarasco's weekday hours are 9:00 am to sunset (the kitchen closes 30 minutes before the restaurant). Saturdays and Sundays it opens until 9:00 pm, and sometimes hosts live music during the evening hours. The atmosphere and the menu change depending on the time of day, so be sure to visit at different times.


To reach the Tombolo Tidal Flat in Hazu from Nagoya via public transportation, take the Meitetsu Main Line from Meitetsu Nagoya Station, transfer to the Meitetsu Gamagori Line at Kirayoshida Station, and get off at Higashi Hazu Station (the trip takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes including transfers). The Higashi Hazu Fishery Cooperative Association and Mer Brilliante are located just outside of Higashi Hazu Station. If you wish to visit these places in conjunction with sightseeing in Taraso or the center of Nishio City, it is convenient to come by car.

Higashi Hazu Station on the Meitetsu Gamagori Line
The sea from the windows of some sections of the Gamagori Line

For more information on sightseeing in Nishio City see Beach Holidays near Nagoya: Matcha-Dessert and the Art of Sakushima for a sample tour around Nishio City focusing on Sakujima, and Mikawa Museum of Glass Art and Crafts for a summary of tourist spots in the city's downtown area.

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