Visit Mount Sanbe in autumn for the best views, natural hot springs and a fun day outdoors.By Laura Payne
Rising dramatically from surrounding grasslands, Mount Sanbe is a “family” of ancient volcanic peaks, which include Osanbe (Man Sanbe), Mesanbe (Woman Sanbe), Kosanbe (Child Sanbe) and Magosanbe (Grandchild Sanbe). Osanbe reaches 1,126 meters above sea level, making it one of the tallest peaks in Shimane Prefecture. Locals and travelers alike visit Sanbe throughout the year to join a plethora of seasonal activities, including hiking, camping, hot spring bathing and autumn leaf viewing.
Mount Sanbe also plays an important role in Shimane’s creation mythology, making it a local cultural treasure.
According to the Izumo no Kuni Fudoki (a record of regional geography, traditions and myths compiled in the 8th century), a god named Yatsukamizuomizunu formed Mount Sanbe. Believing the land of Izumo (what is now eastern Shimane) was too small, he pulled some unused land from the Korean Peninsula across the sea with ropes. He then fastened the new land to Izumo with stakes. These stakes became Mount Sanbe and Mount Daisen (in Tottori Prefecture). This story explains the shape of the Shimane Peninsula, which is connected to the prefecture by rope-like land bridges.
Mount Sanbe maintains six climbing courses that vary in difficulty. The shortest is Himenogaike—a route to Osanbe’s summit that is recommended for beginners. The most challenging is the “traverse course,” which makes a loop around all of Sanbe’s peaks and is recommended for intermediate or advanced hikers.
The Higashinohara course is the most unique because it offers the option to scale part of the trail with a sightseeing chairlift. The observation area at the end of this trail treats visitors to a panoramic view of Sanbe and its surroundings.
Hot Springs and More
After a day of hiking, you can recharge in one of the mineral-rich hot springs at Sanbe’s base. Sento (public baths frequented by local residents) like Kamenoyu and Tsurunoyu are recommended for day visitors who prefer casual settings. Hotels like Sanbeso, on the other hand, provide fancier facilities for day use or overnight accommodations.
Surrounding campgrounds are another popular option for overnight stays. Various accommodation styles such as tents and cabins are available, and pet-friendly sites welcome visitors with dogs. Campgrounds also provide convenient access to attractions such as Sahimel—an interactive nature museum that includes exhibits on Mount Sanbe’s flora, fauna and volcanic history.