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.
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.
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