Shimane prefecture is located in the Sanin region, which is on the Sea of Japan side of the Chugoku province. In ancient times, advanced culture blossomed in the Izumo region in the eastern province; it was the most culturally developed area in ancient Japan. The Kojiki and Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan), which were compiled in the Nara era, include the myths of okuninushi and susanoo which were staged in Izumo and have even had a big impact on the Imperial Court. Being the source of the nation’s creation myth, Izumo Taisha is one of the representative shrines of Japan and the symbolic attraction of the land of myths, Shimane.
But Shimane has plenty of other fascinating tourist spots, other than Izumo Taisha. I’ll go ahead and introduce to some secret spots hidden in Shimane.
1. Iwamiginzan ruins
A typical little-known spot is the Iwamiginzan ruins. A large amount of silver was dug up from this silver mine from the 16th to 17th century. It was the financial source of the warring lords and Edo shogunate; a large amount of silver was also exported abroad. With a huge amount of production, it is said that in its heyday, it accounted for one-third of the silver distribution in the world. In the past, it was only known by locals, but it became nationally famous in 2007 , when it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site— the first industrial heritage in Asia. A lot of tourists visit it as a little-known attraction. The area that has become a World Heritage site, in addition to the silver mine and attached facilities, includes the Omori district of the mining town which preserves a traditional landscape, and the Yunotsu district that served as a shipping port for the silver. Ryugenji-mabu is a tunnel that can be visited anytime of the year. Okubo-mabu is characterized by extremely high ceilings and can by visited by appointment with a guide.
2. Adachi Museum of Art
Located in Yasugi, the Adachi Museum of art is a highly regarded art museum and is one of the top secret spots. Once you enter the premises, a garden can be seen on the right side. You can enjoy various types of Japanese gardens with unique characteristics— moss gardens, dry landscapes, white sand and blue pines. This place has even been ranked the top garden in Japan for four consecutive years by an American garden magazine, which makes its decision after observing gardens all over Japan. It’s so well regarded that it overrides famous Japanese gardens such as Kyoto’s Katsura Imperial Villa, Kinkakuji, and Ryoanji. It also has a spectacular collection of famous Japanese artwork, and possesses various genres of work, such as ceramics. With azaleas in the spring, fresh greens in the summer, colorful leaves in the autumn, snow in the winter, every season has something beautiful to offer. It’s a place that you would want to visit several times, each season.
3. Matsue Shinji Lake Onsen
Matsu Shinji Lake Onsen, located in the prefectural capital of Matsue city, is also an attractive spot. Sandwiched between two of the few big lakes in Japan, Shinjiko, and Nakaumi, Matsue city is known to be a water city with Ohashi river, which connects the two lakes, and Horikawa river, which flows through the central parts. There are hot springs dotted around the lake area. The hot spring village, located on the surface of Shinji lake was opened in 1971. It has a short history but, as well as being good for muscle pains and poor circulation, the scenery overlooking is breathtaking. This little-known spot is becoming increasingly popular.
The local railway station is also nearby. The benefit is that, with good access, it is easy to enjoy the hot springs.
This post is also available in: Japanese