What’s in Chugoku? Vol 2. Shimane Prefecture

The volume 2 of the Chugoku series is finally here! The Shimane Prefecture is known as the Land of Gods, mainly because of the holy shrines and important places. This place is highly recommended for history buffs and sightseers. 

East Shimane

Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine (出雲大社)

This is one of the most important and ancient shrines in Japan located in Izumo City. This shrine is laden with rich history, from the unique Taisha-zukuri architectural design to the main enshrined deity Okuninushi no Mikoto (大国主神), the god of good relationships and marriage.

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Photo by Travel-Picture is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Matsue Castle (松江城)

The Matsue Castle is one of the few original castles left from the past. It is also designated as a National Treasure and is a place that one must visit! Old samurai swords, armours, and other historical artefacts are also proudly displayed inside the castle tower. See how it used to be.

matsue castle
matsue castle” by Kate Nevens is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lafcadio Hearn’s Former Residence & Memorial Museum (小泉八雲旧居・記念館)

Take a walk in the samurai district nearby the castle and see old samurai houses preserved from the past. History buffs will be especially delighted to learn that the former residence of Lafcadio Hearn, a famous writer, is also well maintained, and open to the public! The museum is dedicated to his life and his work on Japanese culture.

Lafcadio Hearns Old Residence01bs3200
Photo by 663highland is licensed under GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
Lafcadio Hearns Old Residence02s4592
Photo by 663highland is licensed under GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Karakoro Art Studio (カラコロ工房)

If you can speak or understand some Japanese, this place is a must go! From metal crafts, accessories to jewellery, you can have fun making many souvenirs and easily spend half a day there. After making many handicrafts, you can also dine at the various restaurants and cafes there.

KARAKORO Art Studio04n3200
Photo by 663highland is licensed under GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Central Shimane

Mount Yakumo (八雲山)

You can climb a mountain and visit the Suga Shrine (須我神社) with its husband and wife rocks (夫婦岩)! The mountain has inspired the creation of waka (和歌), a type of classical Japanese poetry, while the water from this mountain is believed to be sacred, bringing longevity to those who drink it.

出雲 須我神社
出雲 須我神社” by Ann Lee is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine (石見銀山)

The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine in Oda City is a World Heritage Site. It was active as the largest silver mine in Japan for nearly 400 years! Now, you can enter a part of the mine shaft to observe the old mining technology and routes.

Omori Town (大森町)

After visiting the Iwami Ginzan Silver mine, you can also enjoy exploring this town that is full of well-preserved historic sites and old buildings. Visit the only samurai residence, the Kawashima Residence, or the merchant residence called the House of the Kumagai Family.

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Photo by Travel-Picture is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

West Shimane

Taikodani Inari Shrine (太皷谷稲成神社)

Located in Tsuwano Town (津和野町), this is one of the five most important shrines in Japan. The enshrined kami was invited from Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine to pray for peace and security for Tsuwano’s citizens.

Day 5: Tsuwano
Day 5: Tsuwano” by Aapo Haapanen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Day 5: Tsuwano
Day 5: Tsuwano” by Aapo Haapanen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Oki Islands (隠岐諸島)

Take a day trip from Shimane and head to the Oki Islands for a different experience! Learn about the unique ecosystem and local culture in Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark (隠岐ユネスコ世界ジオパーク) which is located in Dogo Island (島後). The others belong to the Dōzen group of islands, consisting of Nishinoshima, Chiburijima and Nakanoshima.

Kunagi Coastline, Nishinoshima Island, Oki, Japan
Kunagi Coastline, Nishinoshima Island, Oki, Japan” by GanMed64 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

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