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Yamaguchi

Various islands on the Seto Inland Sea - Little Kyoto of the San-in region that still embraces storehouses with walls covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster
Yamaguchi is situated on the westernmost tip of the Japanese main island. Because of its geographical location and ocean current, it has long had cultural exchanges with the Korean Peninsula. Boyo Islands that string out between Yamaguchi and Ehime belong to Seto-Naikai National Park. Various islands on the moderate inland sea and coast of various curves, white sand, and green pine trees are mingled among terraced fields and houses creating attractive scenery. Hagi that overlooks the Japan Sea is a castle town established in the early 17th century and also known as "Little Kyoto" of the San-in region (The Japan Sea Coast), and the city still embraces ancient paths and storehouses with namako, walls covered with square tiles joined with raised plaster.

Yamaguchi City is situated in the center of the prefecture. Since it imitated Kyoto, the then capital of Japan in the mid-14th century, it was called "Kyoto of the West" and prospered. Every summer, the Yamaguchi Gion-matsuri Festival that echoes Kyoto's Gion-matsuri Festival is held. Shimonoseki that is situated on the westernmost tip of the prefecture faces Kyushu's Moji Port with the Kanmon Strait in between, and is connected by the 780-meter long Kanmon Tunnel.

Getting there
An hour 45 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Yamaguchi Ube Airport. Thirty minutes from Yamaguchi Airport to Ogo-ori Station by bus. Five hours 35 minutes to Ogo-ori Station, with a change at Hiroshima Station, from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line; 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin Osaka Station by the JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Twenty-three minutes from Ogo-ori Station to Yamaguchi Station by the JR Yamaguchi Line.
 

  • Akiyoshi-dai Plateau and Shuho-do Cavern
    The largest karst plateau in Japan, and the most spacious limestone cavern in the Orient
    Located within Akiyoshi-dai Quasi-National Park, Akiyoshi-dai is the largest karst plateau in Japan, a designated natural monument together with Shuho-do Cavern. The karst topography of Akiyoshi-dai was created through the process whereby about a 300 million-year-old underground coral reef was pushed up to the surface by the displacement of the earth's plate, turned into a mountain by diastrophism and eroded by rainwater. There you can see limestone in a variety of forms on the green plateau, like the innumerable limestone columns "karenfelt," sinks "dolines" and a limestone basin "uvala" formed with a bunch of sinks. From the round-shaped Akiyoshi-dai karst observation spot, you can get an extensive 360-degree panoramicview of the natural beauty.

    The Shuho-do Cavern is the Orient's largest limestone cave, located about 100 meters under ground. This huge cave, which took 300,000 long years to be formed into what it is, by limestone dissolving away in the ground water, extends about 10 kilometers overall according to the latest survey. Now, about 1 kilometer of the cave is open to the public as a sightseeing course, in which you can enjoy varieties of fantastic sights, like ao-tenjo (blue ceiling) and hyakumai-zara (100 plates). The temperature inside the cave is always about 17 degrees centigrade, so you need clothes with long sleeves even in the summertime.

    Getting there
    An hour 45 minutes to Yamaguchi-Ube Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. Thirty minutes from Yamaguchi-Ube Airport to Ogo-ori Station by bus. Five hours and 35 minutes to Ogo-ori Station, with a change at Hiroshima Station, from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line; 2 hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Forty-three minutes from Ogo-ori Station to Shuho-do Cavern by bus.

     

  • Hagi
    A castle town sitting on the delta of the Abu-gawa River, with well-preserved traditional buildings
    Located in the middle of Yamaguchi along the coast of the Japan Sea, Hagi is a castle town sitting on the delta of the Abu-gawa River surrounded by mountains on three sides. Its coastal part belongs to Kita-Nagato Kaigan Quasi-National Park. Early in the 17th century, Mori Terumoto, a then samurai ruler, built the Hagi Castle at the foot of Mt. Shizuki-yama at the northwest of Hagi, and this place had been the seat of the Yamaguchi prefectural government until the administration was moved to the city of Yamaguchi in the middle of the 19th century. At the transition stage of Japan late in the 19th century, Hagi produced many capable men who played leading roles in the construction of modern Japan, including Takayoshi Kido and Hirobumi Ito.

    The site of Hagi Castle, on which some portions of castle walls and stonewalls remain, is open to the public and today called Shizuki Park. If you go east of the Hagi Castle's outer moat where the castle town once stood, you can see old-time alleys and white storehouses with namako walls (covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster). The area containing three parallel-running bystreets, Edoya-Yokocho, Iseya-Yokocho, and Kikuya-Yokocho, where old-time residences are open to the public, is listed as a national historic site as the castle town of Hagi. Horiuchi, east of the remains of the outer castle moat, is an area where high-ranking samurai lived and designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings. Also, when you visit Hagi, known for Hagi-yaki pottery, you cannot miss the Ishii-Chawan (bowl) Museum exhibiting masterpieces of Ko-Hagi (old Hagi) ware together with about 130 pieces of bowls and works of contemporary ceramic artists.

    Getting there
    An hour and 20 minutes to Iwami Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. An hour and 15 minutes from Iwami Airport to Hagi Bus Center by bus. Five hours and 35 minutes to Ogo-ori Station from Tokyo Station, with a change at Hiroshima Station, by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Two hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station. An hour and 26 minutes from Ogo-ori Station to Higashi-Hagi Station by bus.

     

  • Hofu
    Tenman-gu Shrine sacred to the god of learning - A mild region on the Inland Sea Coastline
    Situated in the south of Yamaguchi, Hofu faces the Suo-nada (the Sea of Suo) in the Inland Sea of Japan. Until the end of the 19th century when Yamaguchi was still divided into Suo and Nagato, Hofu had been the center of the Suo area. The region is blessed with a mild climate, and has prospered since the 7th century. The Hofu Tenman-gu Shrine, founded in the 10th century and dedicated to Sugawara Michizane who was a scholar and a politician and familiarly known as the god of leaning, is the oldest of Japan's three Dai-Tenjin (the grand shrines sacred to the deified spirit of Michizane). Within the pale of the shrine is the Hofu Tenman-gu Historical Museum, in which treasures including eight important cultural properties are on display.


    On the east of the Tenman-gu sits the Suo Kokubun-ji Temple built in obedience to the Emperor Shomu's wish in the 8th century. Its main hall, Kon-do, now under repair until 2004, is what was rebuilt by Mori Terumoto, a ruler of the region from the 16th century to the 17th century. The Mori family ruled over the region for generations and had its residence and garden built early in the 20th century with the best building-construction techniques available in those days. The residence is located in the northwest of Suo Kokubun-ji Temple, with the Mori Museum standing in a corner, and the garden is designated a scenic spot.

    Getting there
    n hour and 45 minutes to Yamaguchi-Ube Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. Thirty minutes from Yamaguchi-Ube Airport to Ogo-ori Station by bus. Sixteen minutes from Ogo-ori Station to Hofu Station by the JR Sanyo Main line. Five hours 10 minutes to Tokuyama Station, with a change at Hiroshima Station, from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line; 2 hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Twenty-six minutes from Tokuyama Station to Hofu Station by the JR Sanyo Main Line.

     

  • Iwakuni
    A castle town looking out upon the Aki-nada (the Sea of Aki) to the east - Kintai-kyo Bridge ranking among Japan's three great bridges
    Iwakuni is situated in the easternmost part of Yamaguchi and on the west coast of the Aki-nada in the Seto-Inland Sea. Iwakuni Castle was built by a warlord in the Kikkawa family early in the 17th century and then demolished under order of the Tokugawa Shogunate seven years later, but it was reconstructed in the middle of the 20th century. The castle houses a historical museum inside, and you can enjoy a panoramic view of Iwakuni from the observation deck in the castle tower. The Nishiki-gawa River running through the city is spanned by the Kintai-kyo Bridge, the symbol of Iwakuni. Measuring about 200 meters in length and 5 meters in width, this wooden quintuple arched bridge is a unique non-nailed assembly of timbers and known as one of Japan's three great bridges.

    Kikko Park, the site of the feudal lord Kikkawa's residence, is dotted with ditched, plaster-walled and mud-fenced buildings that show you how samurai houses of those days looked. In the park is the substantially built Iwakuni Historical Art Museum. Also worth visiting is the Iwakuni Choko-kan Museum, built during World War II, in which exhibits, artifacts, and papers that are connected with the Kikkawa family are on display. Iwakuni is known as the habitat of rare white snakes, a natural monument of Japan. You can see them in the White Snake Park about 10 minutes' walk from the Kintai-kyo Bridge.

    Getting there
    An hour and 10 minutes to Hiroshima Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. Forty-eight minutes from Hiroshima Airport to Hiroshima Station by bus. Five hours to Shin-Iwakuni Station from Tokyo Station, with a change at Hiroshima Station, by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line.

     

  • O-mi-jima Island
    An island known also as "Sea Alps" with a chain of bluffs and fantastically shaped rocks eroded by the sea
    O-mi-jima is an island sitting in the Sea of Japan off the Senzaki Bay in the north of Nagato in Yamaguchi. This island, which is about 40 kilometers round and linked to Senzaki by the O-mi-jima Grand Bridge and the whole of which is designated as a natural monument, is called the "Sea Alps" and is a representative place of scenic beauty in Kita-Nagato Kaigan Quasi-National Park.

    The northern coast of the island has many caves, bluffs, and queer looking rocks eroded by the sea, and there are the sheer-rising Juroku Rakan rocks said to look like sixteen rakan (Buddhist monks who reached the top stage of Buddhist discipline), the Shimami Gate rock hole, the O-mon Rock, towering about 40 meters high, and many other caves and rocks of fantastic shape. You can enjoy the view of these caves and rocks from an observation spot on the O-mi-jima Shizen-Kenkyu-Ro, a promenade overlooking the sea from Shizu-ga-ura nearly in the center of the island. If you want a closer look at the bluffs and fantastically shaped rocks from the sea and go into the caves, an O-mi-jima sightseeing boat is available. The O-mi-jima sightseeing boat makes a round of places to see in about an hour and 30 minutes, starting from the O-mi-jima Grand Bridge and returning to the Senzaki Port by way of the west and north seaside.

    Getting there
    An hour and 20 minutes to Iwami Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. Fifteen minutes from Iwami Airport to Masuda Station by bus. An hour and 25 minutes from Masuda Station to Senzaki Station via Nagato Station. Six minutes from Senzaki Station to O-mi-jima by bus. Five hours to Shin-Shimonoseki Station, with a change at Hiroshima Station, from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Two hours and 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Eleven minutes from Shin-Shimonoseki Station to Shimonoseki Station by the JR Sanyo Main Line. Two hours and 36 minutes from Shimonoseki Station to O-mi-jima by bus.

     

  • Shimonoseki
    The westernmost city on Honshu facing the Kanmon Strait - A tunnel that takes you to Kyushu on foot
    Located at the western extremity of Yamaguchi, Shimonoseki faces Moji Port in Kyushu across the Kanmon Strait. Under the Kanmon Strait runs the 780-meter Kanmon State Highway Tunnel, through which about a 15-minute walk takes you to the Mekari-jingu Shrine in Moji. The Kanmon Strait is known as the scene of an ancient battle leading to the fall of the Heike Clan (or Taira family). Dan-no-ura contains the whole area on the north shore of the rapid-tide Hayatomo-no-Seto Canal, where the Emperor Antoku, eight-year-old grandson of Taira-no Kiyomori, the warlord who fled to Dan-no-ura, took his own life by drowning himself. The Dragon's Palace-styled Akama-Jingu Shrine, located to the north of Dan-no-ura, is consecrated to the tragic young emperor and has the Emperor Antoku's tomb in its precincts.

    In the east of Shimonoseki lies the 268-meter tall Mt. Hi-no-yama. There is the Hi-no-yama ropeway up to its summit, on which Hi-no-yama Park is located. The park is a first-rate beauty spot, from which you can enjoy an extensive view of everything from the Kanmon Strait to as far as the Genkai-nada (the Sea of Genkai) from the observation spot. To the southeast of Shimonoseki Station is the Kaikyo-Yume (dream strait) Tower complex housing permanent exhibition and international conference halls. From the observation deck of the complex, you can get a 360-degree view of the whole city and beyond.

    Getting there
    An hour and 45 minutes to Yamaguchi-Ube Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. An hour and 25 minutes from Yamaguchi-Ube Airport to Shimonoseki Station by bus. Five hours to Shin-Shimonoseki Station, with a change at Hiroshima Station, from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line; 2 hours and 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Eleven minutes to Shimonoseki Station by the JR Sanyo Main Line.

     

  • Yamaguchi City
    An ancient city called "Kyoto of the west" dotted with temples and shrines designated as important cultural properties
    Yamaguchi City is located nearly in the center of Yamaguchi Prefecture and is the center of local administration and economy. Built in the middle of the 14th century by a warlord in the Ouchi family in imitation of Kyoto, then the capital of Japan, the city was called "Kyoto of the west" and prospered. The Goju-no-To of the Ruriko-Ji Temple in Ko-zan Park, a 31.2-meter tall five-story national treasure pagoda built in the 15th century, is a reflection of the Kyoto culture taken after Kyoto by the warlord Ouchi. At the Yasaka-jinja Shrine, erected in the 14th century as a branch of the Yasaka-jinja Shrine in Kyoto and relocated where it is now in the middle of the 19th century, the Yamaguchi Gion-matsuri Festival modeled after the Gion-matsuri Festival in Kyoto is staged every summer and the Sagimai Shinji (a ritual heron dance) is dedicated to the shrine.

    Besides Ko-zan Park, there are historic buildings, like the Rosan-do, a bower built for the Mori family that ruled this area in the middle of the 19th century, and uguisu-bari, the singing stone pavement that sounds to foot steps in the whole neighborhood. Next to the park is the To-shun-ji Temple with the graves of the Mori family. The Ima-hachiman-gu Shrine, said to be an ancient shrine already in existence before the Ouchi family arrived to rule Yamaguchi, features the architectural style peculiar to the Yamaguchi region with the entrance gate, front shrine and main shrine standing in a beeline, and is designated as an important cultural property of Japan.

    Getting there
    An hour and 45 minutes to Yamaguchi-Ube Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Thirty minutes from Yamaguchi-Ube Airport to Ogo-ori Station by bus. Five hours and 35 minutes to Ogo-ori Station from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Two hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station. Twenty-three minutes from Ogo-ori Station to Yamaguchi Station by the JR Yamaguchi Line.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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