Narrow plains and a
long coastline - Full of must-see spots including national parks and
Shimane is situated on the western tip of Honshu Island (the main
island of Japan), and faces the Korean Peninsula over the Sea of
Japan. Trade with the continent and China thrived in olden times, and
this region was once the leading edge of culture. The Chugoku Mountain
Range extends from east to west, and rivers flow down northwards from
the mountains, carving out cool, pleasant valleys before running into
the sea. The long coastline changes rhythmically, as cliffs and
boulders give the coastline a rugged appearance, before giving way to
gentle sand dunes. First-time visitors get a strange feeling of
nostalgia from the atmosphere of little fishing villages by the inlets
and small towns nestled in the valleys.
Shimane is full of must-see places, starting with the Daisen-Oki
National Park that contains the Oki Islands, Shimane-hanto Peninsula
and Mt. Sanbe-san, Hiba-Do-go Taishaku Quasi-National Park and
West-Chugoku Mountain Quasi-National Park. Other essential sights are
cultural monuments such as the Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine, Matsue,
named after the beautiful city Matsue-fu (Songjiang) by a district
near Lake Taihu in China, which it is said to resemble, and the old
castle town of Tsuwano reminiscent of olden times.
An hour and 30 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport or 1 hour and 5
minutes from Osaka Itami Airport to Izumo Airport.
A huge 13-meter long sacred straw festoon that weighs 3 tons - Grand
scale shrine that preserves the myths
The Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine is located in Taisha-machi, Hikawa-gun
in eastern Shimane. According to the myth handed down in the Izumo
district, the god of fortune, O-kuninushi-no-mikoto, obtained Izumo
in compensation for giving his territory to another god. The
existing shrine sanctuary was built in the 18th century, which is
said to be the 25th reconstruction. While the present sanctuary is
24 meters tall, the first construction is said to have been 96
meters tall. The main sanctuary is built in the Taisha style, which
is the oldest style of shrine architecture. It has a pillar called
Shin'no-mihashira at the center of the interior, surrounded by a
total of nine pillars on the ground forming four symmetrical
squares, and a gabled roof with an opening in the front. It also has
O-torii, the largest shrine gate in Japan, and a huge sacred straw
festoon that is 13 meters long, 9 meters in girth, and weighs 3
tons. There is always a ceaseless flow of visitors to appreciate its
An hour and 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport, or 1 hour from
Osaka Itami Airport. Take the Ichibata Dentetsu Line for 20 minutes
from Izumo Station to Izumo-Taisha-Mae Station.
View from Shinji-ko-ohashi Bridge famous for beautiful sunsets
Lake Shinji-ko is situated in the northeast of Shimane,
surrounded by the Shimane-hanto Peninsula on the north, the Izumo
Plain on the west and the Matsue Plain on the east. Its
circumference is 48 kilometers, and it is the 7th largest lake in
The scenic beauty of the lake with Yome-ga-shima Islet on the east
coast is especially magnificent when viewed from the Shinji-ko-ohashi
Bridge in Matsue, and the novelist Lafcadio Hearn (after
naturalization to Japan, Koizumi Yakumo) highly praised the sunsets.
The views from Shirakata Park and Mt. Kita-yama in the hills behind
the Shimane-hanto Peninsula are worth seeing. You can also enjoy the
scenic beauty from the lake on a pleasure boat that also runs a
sunset cruise. As Lake Shinji-ko is connected to the Nakaumi Lagoon,
it is a brackish lake in which fresh water blends with seawater.
Thanks to this water quality, a rich variety of fishes and
shellfishes inhabit the lake. Fishery is thriving with whitebaits,
sea basses and eels being highly treasured as Shinji-ko Shitchin, or
the seven delicacies of Lake Shinji-ko. The most famous of them all
is shijimi shellfish (the corbiculas shellfish) caught with joren, a
rake with a basket that is a tool unique to Lake Shinji-ko.
The Matsue-onsen Hot Spring, Tamatsukuri-onsen Hot Spring, and other
hot spring resorts are located along the coast.
An hour 30 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport, or 1 hour 5
minutes from Osaka Itami Airport to Izumo Airport. Take a bus for 35
minutes from Izumo Airport to Matsue Station.
White walled house with black wooden fences in a row of old pine
trees - A castle town surrounded by the Lake Shinji-ko, Nakaumi
Lagoon and Shimane-hanto Peninsula
Matsue is the center of the administration and economy of
Shimane situated in the eastern part on the Matsue Plain surrounded
by the Lake Shinji-ko, Nakaumi Lagoon and Shimane-hanto Peninsula.
The Ohashi-gawa River runs through the center of the city, and a
network of canals and rivers makes Matsue a city of water. The water
network was created for military reasons when the Matsue Castle was
constructed in 1611. Today, pleasure boats cruise through the
The Matsue Castle has the only remaining castle tower in the San-in
Region (the Japan Sea Coast). There is a view spot in the castle
tower that commands a view of the Lake Shinji-ko and Mt. O-yama. The
wooden Western style building, Geihinkan Guest House built in the
early 20th century is now a provincial museum, and the site where
the castle once stood has become a Shiroyama Park offering a
relaxing and recreational area to the people of Matsue. On the
Shiomi-nawate Street along the northern moat of the Matsue Castle, a
samurai's residence built in the early 18th century is preserved.
Its white walls, black wooden fences and a row of old pine trees are
the reminiscence of the olden times. There is also the former
residence and memorial hall of a novelist Lafcadio Hearn (Japanese
name, Koizumi Yakumo), who loved Matsue and the view from the
Shinji-ko Ohashi Bridge and naturalized to Japan. Both are open to
An hour and 30 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport, or 1 hour and
5 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport to Izumo Airport. Take a bus for
35 minutes from Izumo Airport to Matsue Station.
Pivot for marine traffic and trade with the Korean Peninsula -
Scenic beauty with inlets, precipices and caves
Mihonoseki is located in the area at the eastern edge of the
Shimane-hanto Peninsula in northeastern Shimane through Sakai-Suido-Ohashi
Bridge to Sakai-minato in Tottori. It is a port town that thrived as
the pivot for marine traffic and trade with the Korean Peninsula
from olden days. There is the Mihonoseki Lighthouse built with
stones in the late 19th century at Jizo-zaki Point at the eastern
edge of the peninsula. You can see a variety of natural beauty on
the Miho-no-kitaura Coast on the northern side of the peninsula with
inlets, precipices and caves, from a pleasure boat.
At the tip of the long, narrow peninsula on a hill overlooking the
Mihonoseki Harbor stands the Miho-jinja Shrine with a long history
first documented in the 8th century. This shrine is dedicated to two
deities, and has a rare structure of two different styles of
architecture for the principal sanctuaries. They celebrate the
traditional ritual of Ao-fushi-gaki-Shinji that derives from a
Japanese myth during which time a boat decorated with green
brushwood fences cruises around Miho Bay. In the western hills of
Miho Harbor at the top of a 150-meter tall hill is a park called the
Gohon-matsu Park. It has a hiking course to the Mihonoseki
Lighthouse. You can take a lift to the hilltop to view the sights of
An hour and 30 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport, or 1 hour and
5 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport to Izumo Airport. Take a bus for
35 minutes from Izumo Airport to Matsue Station, and another bus for
1 hour and 10 minutes from Matsue Station to Mihonoseki.
Historically sacred and highest peak in the Chugoku region - Enjoy
outdoor leisure in the highlands
Situated in the western part of Tottori, Mt. Daisen, chosen as
one of the best one hundred mountains in Japan, is the generic term
for a chain of mountains with Mt. Tsuru-ga-mine, 1,729 meters above
sea level, as its highest peak. It belongs to Daisen-Oki National
Park. It is the highest peak in the Chugoku region (the southwestern
end of Japan's main island) and has historically been regarded and
worshipped as a sacred mountain.
Severe cliffs stand out on the northern side of Mt. Daisen, but a
view from the direction of Yonago reveals the elegance of a mountain
also known as Hoki Fuji or Izumo Fuji. Daisen-ji Temple on the
Mountain is an old temple built around the year 720 and Reiho-kaku
Treasure Hall, Amida-do, O-gami-yama and Okumiya carry vestiges of
holy ground. Towering cliffs on the eastern side of Daisen-ji Temple
Hondo (the main inner temple) is called Kin-mon, the Golden Gate,
and is the best spot to see the north wall of Daisen.
The view from Kagikake-toge Pass is splendid. You can enjoy the
panoramic view of virgin beech and oak forests that change colors
from spring green, dark summer green to glowing yellow in autumn. In
the vicinity is a selection of facilities that make the most of Mt.
Daisen's nature such as a tourist blueberry farm, a dude farm where
you can barbeque, field athletic facilities and horseback riding
center from which you can go for a long-distance ride into the open
air. You can ski in the winter, too.
An hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Yonago Airport.
Thirty minutes from Yonago Airport to Yonago Station by bus. Three
hours 15 minutes from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station by the JR
Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Forty minutes from Shin-Osaka
Station. Two hours 10 minutes from Okayama Station and Yonago
Station by JR Hakubi Line Limited Express. Fifty minutes from Yonago
Station by bus to Mt. Daisen.
Gentle mountain ridge of a graceful volcano - Hot springs are
Mt. Sanbe-san is the generic name of seven mountains, the
highest of which is Mt. Osanbe, 1,126 meters above sea level. It is
a scenic spot representing the Iwami district in the central part of
Shimane Prefecture. The appearance is graceful, and the group of
these volcanoes with the vast extent of their mountain bases belongs
to Daisen-Oki National Park. In the Mt. Sanbe-san area, there are
grassy plains at the feet of the mountains, forests of beeches and
mizunara (a kind of beech tree) on the sides, and a crater lake on
the top, all of which provide you with a wealth of various remaining
types of nature. On the vast grassy plains spreading out over
Nishi-no-hara and Higashi-no-hara at the foot of the mountain,
cattle are left to graze, dead grass is burnt in spring, and picnics
and hiking are enjoyed in summer. At Lake Himeno-ga-ike in Kita-no-hara,
tens of thousands of irises are in full bloom in early summer.
Hot springs dot the area nearby. Some of these are: Sanbe-onsen Hot
Spring famous for being promoting longevity, Yukai-onsen,
Koyahara-onsen, and Ikeda Radium-onsen where only a single inn is
available. Inns at all these hot springs are suitable base camps for
climbing Mt. Sanbe-san.
Izumo Airport is 1 hour 30 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport,
and 1 hour 5 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Twenty-five minutes
from Izumo Airport to Izumo-shi Station by bus. Forty-six minutes
from Izumo-shi Station to O-da-shi Station by the JR San-in Honsen
Line. Six hours 36 minutes from Tokyo Station to O-da-shi Station
via Okayama Station. From Tokyo Station, take the JR Tokaido and
Sanyo Shinkansen Line changing lines at Okayama Station to the JR
Hakubi Line to Oda-shi Station. Four hours from Shin-Osaka. Then
take a bus from O-da-shi Station to Sanbe, which takes 1 hour.
irregular coastline and uniquely shaped rocks - One hundred and
eighty-four islands of various sizes
Oki is the generic term for an archipelago consisting of 184
islands of various sizes within the Daisen-Oki National Park, off
the northern coast of Shimane on the Japan Sea side. It is a tourist
spot with Do-zen, made up of Nishi-no-shima, Naka-no-shima and
Chiburi-jima Islands, and Do-go that lies northeast from Do-zen, as
its core. Do-zen has many scenic spots. They include uniquely shaped
rocks such as a 257-meter-high Matengai on Kuniga-kaigan Coast on
Nishi-no-shima Island and Tsuten-bashi and many caves, as well as
wall-like rocks on the eastern coast of Naka-no-shima Island and
Akeya Beach, and Chiburi Island's 1-kilometer long cliff eroded by
the sea. There are shrines that worship guardian deities of fishery
and the sea, Yurahime-jinja Shrine and Takuhi-jinja Shrine, and you
can also watch the sea under the surface on board a semi-submerged
tour boat with an observation room below deck.
Do-go has many scenic spots including uniquely shaped rocks such as
Tokage-iwa (lizard rock), Ro-soku-iwa that looks as if rosoku, or a
candle, is sticking up from the sea, Shira-shima-kaigan Coast and
Dankyo-no-taki Falls. It also has historical remains such as Oki
Kokubun-ji Temple and Mizuwakasu-jinja Shrine.
Three hours 45 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Oki Airport
via Osaka Itami Airport. An hour 10 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport
to Oki Airport. Thirty minutes from Izumo Airport.
Hot springs in Oku-izumo, the land of the Yamata-no-Orochi legend
The whole village is a museum of ancient iron manufacturing
In the eastern part of Shimane, Hii-kawa River flows into Lake
Shinji-ko, and the region where its tributaries, O-maki-gawa River
and Mitoya-gawa River, run is called Oku-izumo.
The small village of Yumura-onsen Hot Spring, deep in the mountains
of Oku-izumo, has only two inns. One of the hot springs is an
open-air hot spring in the middle of a river. In ancient times, this
hot spring region manufactured iron by a method called tatara. The
whole village of Yoshida-mura Village, in the southwest of Yumura,
is an open-air museum of iron manufacturing history. Visitors can
learn about iron manufacturing methods at Tetsu-no-rekishi
Hakubutsukan (Historic Museum of Iron) and Mirai-kagakukan (Iron and
Science Museum). The storehouses of samurai families who made their
fortunes in iron manufacturing and Takadono, with its furnace, still
In the upper stream of O-maki-gawa River, torrents erode the rocks
into a V-shaped valley, Oni-no-shitaburui, or the Trembling Tongue
of the Ogre, and many people come to see the tinted foliage in fall.
Hii-gawa River also has Ama-ga-fuchi, a very deep valley among woods
and rocks. The Creation Myth of Japan tells that a giant snake with
eight heads, Yamata-no-Orochi, lived in this valley of Ama-ga-fuchi.
From Tokyo Haneda Airport, 1 hour 30 minutes to Izumo Airport.
From Osaka Itami Airport, 1 hour 5 minutes. From Izumo Airport to
Matsue Station, 35 minutes by bus. From Matsue Station, take the JR
San-in Honsen Kisuki Line to Kisuki Station via Shinji Station for
55 minutes. Take a bus from Kisuki Station to Yumura-onsen Hot
Spring, 20 minutes.
Preserves the traces of a compound for mountain ascetics - Uniquely
shaped rocks and pillar rocks that stretch for 2 kilometers
Tachikue-kyo is a valley along the Kando-gawa River about 8
kilometers south of Izumo in Shimane. Its geographical features were
created by erosion of rocks, represented by andesite, and the area
is designated as a national scenic spot, as well as a natural
monument. Uniquely shaped rocks and pillar rocks that tower up to
100 to 150 meters above ground continue for about 2 kilometers. Some
of the unique rocks are called Saru-iwa, Eboshi-iwa, Byobu-iwa,
Okyo-iwa which looks like piled up o-kyo, or sutras, and Tenchu-ho
that resembles the face of a colossal statue of Buddha as seen from
The reason why there are many names related to Buddhism is because
the place was used as a compound for mountain ascetics in mountain
Buddhism. It's been told that in the vicinity were many buildings
that enshrined Buddha. In the center of this valley is Reiko-ji
Temple known for Tachikue-yakushi. Passing though the line of five
hundred disciples of Buddha who attained Nirvana and one thousand
Buddha in a cave here, you can see the vestiges of those days.
There is a promenade set up from the hanging bridge near the bus
stop towards the upper stream for about one kilometer. There are
huge colonies of iwahiba (selaginella), sekkoku (dendrobium) and
sumiremo, a kind of an alga, as well as thick natural forests around
them in which you can enjoy a relaxing walk.
An hour 30 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Izumo Airport,
and 1 hour 5 minutes form Osaka Itami Airport. Twenty-four minutes
from Izumo-shi Station to Tachikue-kyo by bus. Twenty-five minutes
from Izumo Airport to Izumo-shi Station by bus.
A "Little Kyoto" Castle town with historic spots and a wealth of
Tsuwano is located in the westernmost part of Shimane
Prefecture. It is a castle town, developed along the Tsuwano-gawa
River and surrounded by nature, and is also called "Little Kyoto" in
the San-in region (the Japan Sea Coast). Near Tono-machi in the
center of the town, there are streets lined with neat rows of stores
and houses, including sake (rice wine) breweries with lattice doors
and Japanese sweets stores, and also samurai residences and
storehouses with white mortar walls remaining as they were in the
You can find koi, carps of various colors swimming in the waterways
along the streets in Tono-machi. The carps in Tsuwano were first
kept in the waterways built for irrigation and fire prevention, as
emergency provisions in case of famine, in the period from the 17th
century to the 19th century.
A holy ritual, horseback archery yabusame is dedicated to the god at
Washibara-hachiman-gu Shrine in spring, and together with the heron
dance sagimai at Yasaka-jinja Shrine in summer, attract lots of
tourists. In addition, Youmei-ji Temple where successive rulers rest
and Taikodani-Inari-jinja Shrine where thousands of torii (shrine
gates) stand in rows, are some of the well-known tourist sights.
Iwami Airport is 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport,
and 55 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Then take a bus from Iwami
Airport to Masuda Station, which takes 15 minutes. Tsuwano Station
is 40 minutes from Masuda Station by the JR Yamaguchi Line. Ogo-ori
Station is 5 hours 35 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido
and Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka
Station. Tsuwano Station is 1 hour 10 minutes from Ogo-ori Station
by the JR Yamaguchi Line Limited Express.