Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Shimane

Glimpse at an unfamiliar Japan

The secrets' out in Shimane where the attractions are undeveloped and far-flung—and all the better for it.

Stretching along the San-in coastline bordering the Sea of Japan, Shimane prefecture is about as remote as you can get on Japan’s main island of Honshu. Rural traditions and unspoiled landscapes remain as they have for centuries, thanks to efforts to preserve the region’s cultural heritage.

From the prefectural capital Matsue, you can cross the sea to explore the spectacular Oki archipelago, the home of exiles. Shimane’s most famous sight is the magnificent Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine. Here, all 8 million of Japan’s Shinto gods gather for an annual meeting to decide the fates of us mortals.

Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle Shimane

One of Japan’s 12 remaining wooden castles.

The capital city of Shimane, Matsue, is home to one of Japan’s few remaining wooden castles. Matsue Castle was constructed in 1611 and features its original tower. The castle sits on Lake Shinji’s shore and is one of Japan’s “Three Great Lake Castles.”

Shimane’s historical treasures go beyond the capital. The city of Oda is home to the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine which once produced a third of the world’s silver. This World Heritage Site and the surrounding town are a portal into the past, with perfectly-preserved samurai houses and mom-and-pop shops lining quiet streets.

For those who want to witness a one-of-a-kind Iwami Kagura performance, tourists can pay a visit to the Tatsu no Gozen Shrine. The performance is typically held from 8 pm to 9 pm every Saturday evening.

Tsuwano

tsuwano shimane

Get a bird’s eye view from the castle ruins

Located in western Shimane, this town is sometimes referred to as “Little Kyoto” and for good reason. Strolling among the old samurai mansions, storehouses, sake breweries, and traditional sweets stores, it’s easy to agree.

One of the most famous shrines in Tsuwano called Taikodani Inari Shrine is reminiscent of the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine where you can see thousands of red torii gates line mountain slopes. We can guarantee you the relaxing rural town is less crowded than Kyoto, too.

If you still have some time left, head over to the Tsuwano Castle Ruins. Whether you hop on the chairlift to the top or take a leisurely half-hour hike, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful sweeping views of the

Izumo

Izumo Taisha Shrine

One of the most important Shinto shrines in the country.

The biggest draw to Izumo is undeniably Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine. This shrine is particularly thought to be the oldest in Japan, dedicated to the god of relationships and marriage. To summon marital bliss, worshippers clap four times instead of the usual two in the Shinto tradition. The extra two claps are for your current (or future) partner.

For one week in October, Izumo transforms into the spiritual meeting place for all of the Shinto gods across Japan who gather for a sake-fuelled destiny conference. Festivals and ceremonies are held to encourage the deities to act kindly.

Discover Shimane with the links below!

Places to visit

Aquas Shimane Aquarium

Famous for its beluga whales, this aquarium will entertain young and old alike with its extensive aquatic life and superb performances.  

Tamatsukuri Onsen

Tamatsukuri Onsen

One of the oldest hot springs in Japan, and famous for waters that promote beautiful skin.


Tachikue Gorge

Tachikue Gorge (Tachikuekyo)

A hidden gem near the second biggest city in Shimane Prefecture

Ichibata Yakushi

Ichibata Yakushi

Founded over 1,000 years ago, Ichibata Yakushi is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Shimane Prefecture. It’s a pilgrimage site and a popular autumn leaf viewing destination among other claims...


Mount Sanbe

Mount Sanbe

Visit Mount Sanbe in autumn for the best views, natural hot springs and a fun day outdoors.

Gakuen-ji

Gakuen-ji Temple

The most famous autumn leaf viewing spot in Shimane Prefecture


Oni no Shitaburui

Oni no Shitaburui Gorge

A prefectural nature park and a hidden gem for hikers and culture buffs.

Kaka no Kukedo

Kaka no Kukedo Sea Caves

The birthplace of a deity, a place of spiritual limbo and the scenery of the coast.


Fumon-in - Temple gate.1

Fumon-in Temple

If the ghost stories don’t scare you away, you can enjoy some local tea culture.

matsue bridge

Matsue Ohashi Bridge

Travel to the bridge’s southern side and see remnants of two local legends


5 Famous Foods You’ll Find in Shimane

Wagyu beef, traditional tea culture and sake brewed by the gods.

Kyomise Shopping District

A historic area where both travelers and locals eat, shop and enjoy annual events.


Iya Shrine

Iya Shrine

The setting of one of Japan’s oldest legends.

Lake Shinji

The seventh largest lake in Japan and one of the most famous natural sights of Shimane Prefecture.


Ichibata Electric Railway

Ichibata Electric Railway

Access the region’s most famous sightseeing spots and scenic views of Lake Shinji via this beloved local train.

Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo

Archeological evidence, historical texts and oral traditions trace the story of Shimane Prefecture so far that eventually, one exits the realm of concrete records and enters the world of myths. This is...


Yaegaki Shrine

A popular sightseeing destination due to its deep connections to Japanese mythology and the tradition of predicting one’s fortune in love with a sacred pond.

Unnan (Shimane)

A town known for its long cherry blossom season.


Matsue Vogel Park

A flower park complete with a large greenhouse, lakeside observation deck and resident birds.

Otome Toge Saint Mary’s Chapel

Whether for religion or to learn history, the chapel and its grounds have something to teach.


Tsuwano

A pocket of old Japan with attractions consisting of traditional-style buildings that house historical sites and modern additions.

Shimane Art Museum

A museum featuring 40 exhibits a year and spectacular sunset views of Lake Shinji.


Yushien Garden

A Japanese garden with close connections to local farmers and tea ceremony culture.

Karaoto Suisen Park

Over two million daffodils bloom in this seaside park during the winter.


Matsue Historic District

Beyond the castle moat, learn more about the history of Matsue along with its rich samurai and tea culture.

Taikodani Inari Shrine

Journey through the boundary between the ordinary and the sacred.


Adachi Museum of Art

Named the most beautiful traditional garden in Japan for two decades.

Gessho-ji Temple

The center of one of Matsue’s most famous ghost stories.


Matsue Castle

One of the best places in Shimane to enjoy cherry blossoms or take in views of Lake Shinji.

Izumo Taisha Shrine

Delve into the land of the Gods and pray for your future soulmate at Shimane Prefecture's most holy site.


Oda shimane Kagura

Where to See Kagura Dance in Japan

A wild — yet dying — tradition. Catch these dance performances before they're gone.

Iwami Ginzan houses

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine

The ancient silver of the far east. What once was Japan's largest silver mine is now its most historic.


Oda shimane Kagura

Yunotsu Onsen

Home of rustic onsen and fighting demons.

Oki Islands Lead

Oki Islands Beaches

Beach week, anyone?


Hinomisaki Shrine

Worship the sun.

Hinomisaki Lighthouse

Japan’s tallest lighthouse is also one of the world’s oldest.


Benten Jima Shrine on Inasanohama Beach

Other Destinations in Chugoku

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Hiroshima

Discover tranquil shrines, quaint port towns, and welcoming, friendly people.

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Okayama

If you'd like to experience charming rural living straight out of a picture book, Okayama is for you.

Tottori

From camel riding to skiing and manga to monks, Tottori Prefecture is full of surprises.

Yamaguchi

The departure point for Kyushu and Korea, Yamaguchi bridges the urban and rural, the traditional and modern.

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