Largest City


Glimpse 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.

Carp-filled canals in Tsuwano, Shimane Japan

Photo by: ©Shimane Prefectural Government/©JNTO It’s common to see carp swimming through the canals of Tsuwano city!

See bright carp swimming through streetside waterways in picturesque castle-town Tsuwano before heading along the dramatic coastline towards the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine. From the prefectural capital Matsue, you can cross the sea to explore the spectacular Oki archipelago, the home of exiles.

The surrounding town is a portal into the past, with perfectly-preserved samurai houses and mom-and-pop shops lining quiet streets.

Shimane’s most famous sight, however, 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.

Izumo Taisha Shrine in Shimane, Japan

Izumo Taisha is Shimane Prefecture’s biggest draw.

Shimane Prefecture Highlights

Tsuwano, in western Shimane, is sometimes referred to as “Little Kyoto.” Strolling among the old samurai mansions, storehouses, sake breweries, and traditional sweets stores, it’s easy to agree. Upon first glance, you may think the photo at the top of this page is Kyoto’s famous Fushimi Inari Shrine.

You’d be wrong—it’s actually Tsuwano’s Taikodani Inari Shrine where thousands of red torii gates line mountain slopes. We can guarantee you the relaxing rural town is less crowded than Kyoto, too.

Photo by: yuen yan The quiet streets leading to the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine.

Shimane’s historical delights go beyond shrines, though. 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.

To access the spectacular Oki Islands, you’ll need to take a ferry from Shichirui Port. Get away from it all with camping, hiking, or just plain beach buming on these remote islands. After you’re done exploring treat yourself to warigo soba, a specialty in Izumo city, for lunch.

Warigo soba Izumo local cuisine in Shimane prefecture, Japan

Warigo soba is darker in color and richer in flavor than other varieties around Japan.

Speaking of Izumo, Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine is 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.

Still, Shimane has even more sacred treasures and traditions in store for curious visitors. Use the locations below to start planning your trip.

Places to visit

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

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