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Shiga Travel Guide

Nestled in the heart of Japan, Shiga Prefecture is a captivating destination renowned for its natural splendor and profound historical heritage. At the forefront of Shiga's allure is Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake and a symbol of the region's breathtaking landscape. Covering a significant portion

by Travel Editor
Japan Travel

Shimane Travel Guide

by Travel Editor

Nestled in the western part of Japan's Honshu Island, Shimane Prefecture stands as a hidden gem, offering a glimpse into the country's rich history, captivating culture, and stunning landscapes. Known for its serene beauty and traditional charm, Shimane is often referred to as the "Land of the Gods," with a landscape that is steeped in mythology and ancient legends. Shimane boasts a historical tapestry that dates back centuries. 

Throughout history, Shimane has played a crucial role in the formation of Japan's cultural identity. Matsue Castle, also known as the "Black Castle," stands as a testament to the region's samurai heritage and offers panoramic views of Lake Shinji. The Adachi Museum of Art seamlessly blends art and nature, presenting exquisite Japanese gardens and a renowned collection of contemporary paintings.

While steeped in history, Shimane's natural beauty is equally captivating. The Oki Islands, an archipelago off the coast, provide an opportunity to explore rugged landscapes, pristine beaches, and a unique local culture. The prefecture's coastline along the Sea of Japan is dotted with picturesque fishing villages, offering a tranquil retreat from the bustling city life.

Where To Visit

Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine
Start your journey at Izumo Taisha, one of Japan's oldest and most important and sacred sites, with a legacy that stretches back over 1,500 years. This shrine is dedicated to Okuninushi, a deity associated with love and good fortune, making it a popular destination for those seeking blessings in their relationships. Shimane is also recognized for its pivotal role in Japanese mythology, as the region is believed to be the meeting place of the gods during the tenth month of the lunar calendar.

Matsue Castle
Immerse yourself in history at Matsue Castle, also known as the "Black Castle." This well-preserved feudal castle provides a fascinating glimpse into Japan's samurai era, offering panoramic views of Lake Shinji.

Adachi Museum of Art
Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Adachi Museum of Art, renowned for its stunning Japanese gardens and a notable collection of modern Japanese paintings.

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine
Step back in time at the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the historic mining town and learn about the region's pivotal role in Japan's economic development.

Festivals and Happenings

These annual events add a dynamic and cultural dimension to your visit, allowing you to witness the vibrant traditions and natural beauty that define Shimane throughout the seasons. As you plan your trip, be sure to check the specific dates of these events to ensure you don't miss the opportunity to participate in these enriching experiences.

Iwami Kagura Performances (ongoing)
Plan your visit around the Iwami Kagura performances, a traditional Shinto dance with elaborate costumes and mesmerizing storytelling. The Iwami Kagura festivals, held throughout the year, showcase the region's folklore and mythology. The captivating performances provide a unique insight into the cultural heritage of Shimane, with each dance narrating tales of gods, heroes, and mythical creatures.

Cherry Blossom Season (End of March/ April)
Spring is a magical time in Shimane when cherry blossoms bloom, transforming parks and landscapes into a sea of delicate pink petals. The cherry blossom season typically occurs in late March to early April, and one of the perfect spots to experience this breathtaking spectacle is Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Yasugi. The temple's serene surroundings complement the beauty of cherry blossoms, creating a picturesque setting for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) picnics.

Gassan Toda Castle Festival (October)
Celebrate history at the Gassan Toda Castle Festival held in autumn, usually in October. This festival pays homage to the region's rich heritage with vibrant parades, traditional performances, and a lively atmosphere. The Gassan Toda Castle, a historic site, becomes the backdrop for cultural displays and events, offering visitors a chance to step back in time and immerse themselves in the traditions of Shimane.

Flavors of Shimane

Izumo Soba
Indulge in Izumo Soba, a regional specialty featuring buckwheat noodles served with a flavorful dipping sauce. The simplicity of this dish highlights the quality of local ingredients.

Shimane Wagyu Beef
For meat lovers, Shimane Wagyu Beef is a must-try. Known for its exceptional marbling and tenderness, this local delicacy can be savored in various preparations, from sukiyaki to grilled steaks.

Saké Brewery Tours
Explore Shimane's thriving sake culture by visiting local breweries. Sample a variety of sake, including the famous Matsue Suishin, and gain insights into the art of sake production. Breweries that support English 

1. Yoshida Shuzo
1216 Hirose, Hirose-cho, Yasugi City, Shimane

2. Itakura Shuzo
468 Enya-cho, Izumo City, Shimane

3. Furuhashi Shuzo
196 Ushiroda Ro, Tsuwano-cho, Kanoashi County, Shimane

4. Kasen Shuzo
221 Ushiroda Ro, Tsuwano-cho, Kanoashi County, Shimane

Where To Play?

Hamada Golf Links
Each hole is entirely separate making the experience feel very premium. 
featuring a richly expressive and strategic design, the out course winds around hills surrounded by forest, with a notable challenge in covering large valleys on the 4th and 5th holes. The inn course takes you on a journey with a distant view of the Sea of Japan. Undulations inspired by waves subtly influence play, and the panoramic view of the ocean from the 16th green is truly spectacular.

Izumo Taisha Country Club
Although a hilly course, it only has elevated tee grounds and relatively flat fairways. The course has no blind holes, and each hole is flanked by trees making the course feel long. The featured holes are the 8th and 9th, the 8th is a long and challenging par 5, and the 9th crosses a beautiful lake with a cool suspension bridge.

Shimane Golf Club
This course has fantastic views of Lake Shinji, and features wide holes with gentle undulations so plays easier than the other two courses mentioned, so a low score is possible. The view of Lake Shinji and the sunset over the sea is magnificent from the clubhouse.

Getting There

By Air
Shimane Airport serves as the main gateway for air travelers. Direct flights from Tokyo Haneda Airport and Osaka Itami Airport make it convenient to reach Shimane in just 2 hours.

By Car
For those who prefer a scenic road trip, renting a car allows you to explore the prefecture at your own pace. The journey is about 2.5 hours from Osaka and offers picturesque views literally all the way.