*Updated 8/3* Coronavirus in Shimane Prefecture: Latest Information and Advice

There currently is an outbreak of a novel coronavirus all over the world, centering around Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. We are trying to collect needed information and tourist facilities and accommodations in Shimane have already taken measures to prevent infections. The Government of Japan has declared a state of emergency (until May 6, 2020) applying to all 47 prefectures, including Shimane prefecture. *(edited 5/22)*Currently the State of Emergency has been lifting in most prefectures, not all, but residents and foreign nationals living in Japan are recommended to still follow safe practices in order to maintain the safety of themselves and everyone around them. Please check the Shimane Prefectural Homepage link below for more information on safety practices for Shimane Prefecture residents. *(edited 6/22)* State of emergency throughout all prefectures of Japan has been lifted. From 6/18 all travel restrictions throughout all prefectures of Japan have been lifted. Please take caution and practice proper infection prevention safety when traveling. We kindly ask tourists for their cooperation. Take care and stay safe! For more information click on the links below: <<<Shimane Prefecture Official Homepage (COVID-19 Related)>>> <<<Information on Closed Facilities>>> <<<Information on Cancelled/ Postponed Events>>> <<<Information on Suspended Transportation Services>>> JNTO Emergency Hotline  

Cycling through Shimane

“The route less traveled in Shimane”

There are many ways to travel through Shimane. We’ve talked about ways you can go by train, bus, rental car, and even airplane.  But one we haven’t really introduced yet is by bicycle. You can bring your own or even rent one and pedal through the prefecture at your own pace. Ride along the lakeside, pass by farms, go down to the beach, up a famous bridge,  and take in all the blessings of nature that Shimane has to offer. Find hidden spots not easily accessible by train or by car. Check out our cycling video a the bottom. Showing around by bicycle   Goen Cycle Station Sticker   And to assist you on your cycling journey through Shimane are the 200+ Goen Cycle Stations that offer services to cyclists. Identifying a Goen Cycle Station and its services are made easy by just looking for this sticker. >>>JPN WEBSITE<<<       Here are some articles written by the cyclists on their journey through the Iwami Region of Shimane. Check them out!
Tsuwano Ride: Cycling Explorations in Hagi and Iwami
Coast to Coast in West Japan: The Iwa Iwa Ride from Iwakuni to Iwami
Explore Hagi Iwami
  We rented some bicycles and a guide and went on two cycling routes taking us across the Shimane peninsula and into Yonago, Tohori prefecture. The courses we used were the “En Musubi Kaido” cycling course (縁結び街道サイクリングコース) and the “Nakaumi Shuuyuu” cycling course (中海周遊サイクリングコース). We were also able to ride the Ichibata electric trains with our bikes back from Izumo (purchase of a separate bike ticket is necessary). Click on >>>CYLING ROUTES<<< to find out more about the cycling routes in Shimane. (JPN only site)   Bicycle Renting Info >>>JPN WEBSITE<<< There are many routes that go to and from Shimane through the neighboring prefectures. Explore some of the other routes that go through Shimane. Check out the Cycling Map below ↓↓↓ Goen Cycle Map FrontGoen Cycle Map Back   Bicycles on rack      

The Iwami Kagura Performance “Shoki”

Message from Iwami Tourism Promotion Committee. “The novel coronavirus is having an impact on big cities leading to crisis in countries all over the world and including Japan as a whole. The epidemic has caused scheduled festival performances of Iwami Kagura to be continuously canceled. And now, the heroic performances of Iwami Kagura are no longer performed in front of big audiences and the nostalgicsounds of the flute are no longer heard. However, looking through the 30 different stories of Iwami Kagura, we have found a story, relatable to the current situation, about praying for the end of a disease. Once again, after learning more about the traditions and wisdom passed upon us by the older generations, we, at this time, would like to introduce the story “Shoki”. We hope that this video, specially dedicated to the quick end of this epidemic, can provide emotional support for everyone.”   Iwami Tourism Promotion Committee Official Website     

Useful links for travelling in the Oki Islands

Let’s go out for the unique island adventure!

The Oki Islands are made up of 4 main islands and several more uninhabited ones. Oki’s unique natural environment has led to its being designated as a Global Geopark by UNESCO. Erosion has created several magnificent coastline views, including the Kuniga Coastline on Nishinoshima, which features a stone arch and a sheer cliff face that stands at 257m tall. Candle Island off the coast of Dogo Island stands in such a way that if you catch the sunset at the right angle, it looks like a candle’s flame sits atop it.
Matengai_Cliff_Hiking_Trail

Kuniga Coastline

Candle Islands

Candle Island

Oki Islands Tourism Association Official website. Please use the language selector in the top-right corner for translation.   Visit the Oki Islands Joint Facebook page of all Tourism Associations of the Oki Islands. Please follow them for the newest information about events and festivals!   Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark Official Facebook page of The Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark. The Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark is a place where you can discover the deep connections between the earth, nature, and culture. Designated a Global Geopark in September 2013.        

Shimane Brand Wagyu Beef

History of Wagyu Beef in Shimane

Shimane wagyu cattle were not actually used for their meat originally. When Tatara “iron manufacturing” was in its prime, cattle and horses were the essential means of transportation between the mountainous regions where iron was produced. As a result, the mountains of the Chugoku region became known throughout the country for its cattle breeding production. During the Edo period, cattle were then needed for their manure which was then used as fertilizer for the rice fields, but in the mid 1950’s the demand for cattle dropped and breeders turned to a more economical solution of using them for meat instead. The rest is history with Shimane’s breeders producing many fertile bulls such as “Itozakura the 7th” which holds a country wide reputation.

What is Shimane Wagyu Beef?

Shimane wagyu beef cookedShimane wagyu beef is meat from Japanese black cows that were born and raised in Shimane. The Shimane born cattle feed includes barley and corn, which they will continue on for about 2 years where they will then be sold as Shimane born, Shimane raised, “Shimane Wagyu Beef”. They are distinguished by their “Shimane Brand” seal that marks the packaging to show its superior quality over normal local wagyu beef. It is known for its white flecks of fat that run through the bright red muscle creating a beautiful marbling pattern. One of the biggest traits of Shimane wagyu beef is that it has a deeper umami flavor that lingers on the tongue longer than normal beef. And because of that, special attention has to be given while cooking. It is recommended that it be cooked on high heat to your desired doneness and then sprinkled with salt to retain the juiciness of the beef.

Where Can I Try Shimane Wagyu Beef?

Shimane Brand

This seal is given to beef that meet the standards to be called “Shimane Brand Wagyu Beef”. Look for it at restaurants serving Shimane Brand Wagyu Beef.   Note: all links are in Japanese. Kobe-ya (west of the station location) [map] [link] Meat Shop Kitagaki [map] [link] Hokuyo Meat Center [map] [link] Fujimasu Meat Store [map] [link] Lapita [map] [link] Shimane Winery Barbeque House Chateu Misen [map] [link] Steak House Moebino [map] [link] Ookubo Discount Market [map] [link] Enya Meat Shop [map] [link] Yakiniku Restaurant [map] [link] Yakiniku Yamato [map] [link] Miyamoto Meat Shop (Matsue Kodawari Market location) [map] [link]

Awards and Achievements

In 2002 during the 8th National Wagyu Competitive Exhibition also known as “Wagyu Olympics”, which is held every 5 years, Shimane wagyu cattle received the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Award for best beef cattle in Japan. In addition, it also won the Prime Minister’s Award twice in the ten times that it has been held.

The Shimanean: Stories from our CIR’s

Twice a year, spring/summer and autumn/winter, CIRs (Coordinators for International Relations) visit places throughout Shimane and write about their experiences in their bi-annual magazine Shimanean. The CIRs represent their different countries and through their articles offer their own perspective to unfamiliar cultural experiences. The bi-annual magazine is also translated into Korean and Chinese. You can find them through this [link] *Japanese text version is also included w/ each article  Each issue features 4 articles. Information on places and activities in the articles may have changed since the time of publication. 2019 Autumn/Winter Momenkaido – Where Old Meets New Vol. 79 Memories of Momenkaido Tastes of Tradition in Momenkaido Momenkaido Hereafter Umi Shrine: Meeting the Deity of Separation Spring/Summer Come to Masuda! Wasabi, Kagura, and Friendly Locals Vol. 78 Masuda: One City, Many Journeys Michikawa Kagura Wasabi Cultivated by Nature The Charming Points of a Japanese Guesthouse  2018 Autumn/Winter The Yama Kujira and a Lively Town Vol. 77 The Mountain Whales of Misato “Through Yamakujira, the Community of a Widespread Area” – Creative Space of Hand-Stitched Wild Boar Leather Crafts at Aozora Craft A Bright Person in Misato Town Aozora Salon Spring/Summer Oki Islands Vol. 76 Hassaku Bull Sumo Oki – A Seafood Lover’s Paradise On an Island, Surrounded by Stunning Views Where Time Stands Still, Kuniga Coastline 2017 Autumn/Winter Shimane’s World Heritage Selection – 10 Years On Vol. 75 A Blend of Tradition and Modernity in the Streets of Omori Welcome to Okubo Mabu Mineshaft: A Wild Adventure in the Historic Remains of Iwami Ginzan From the Town, a Taste of the World Finding the “Perfect” Onsen in Yunotsu Spring/Summer Bringing Shimane’s Traditional Crafts to the World Vol. 74 Looking Through Traditions to a Clear Future Zap Glass Studio The Harmony of Tradition and Modernity The Birthplace of Kumiko and the Yoshihara Wood Workshop Hiromitsu Blacksmith Workshop: Flickering of Flames and Passion Sekishu Washi・A Powerful Tradition 2016 Autumn/Winter What I Discovered Living in the Countryside of Shimane. Vol. 73 The Place I Decided to Live From Now On New York and Shimane: Small Community, Big Heart Matsue is the Countryside? Did You Say The Countryside?? Spring/Summer Creating Togethor: The people of Shimane engage in the Arts! Vol. 72 A Stroke of the Brush, the Pouring of the Soul The Mysterious World of “Rice Paddy Art” The Ashibue Performance Group: Food for Connected Hearts Taiko and Community 2015 Autumn/Winter Learning Experiences in Shimane Vol. 71 Conveying the Simple Humanity in us All: The Yasugi-bushi and Dojo-sukui Experience The Izumo Soba Making Challenge Report! Experience Zen at Yasugi’s Kyomizudera Temple You Should Learn It! -The Unshuu Soroban- Spring/Summer Kimachi Stone – A Stone Inseparable from Life in Shimane Vol. 70 Kimachi Stone Museum and the Stone that Lives with Nature Carving the Soul of the Kimachi Stone Kimachi Stone and Izumo-Nankin: Shimane’s Original Brand The Connection between Kimachi Stone and the Home 2014 Autumn/Winter A Way To Enjoy Matsue  Wear a kimono and take a stroll Vol. 69 Japanese Beauty, Breadth of Mind -The Charm of Japanese Clothing- The Tea Culture of Matsue Kimono and Sweets: Experiencing Matsue’s Traditional Tastes The Round Dango are Art Spring/Summer My Favorite Color of Shimane Vol. 68 ‘Lake Shinji Sunset’ – A Stunning Sunset Spot Colours of the Earth Treasured Views of a Mountain Village The Riches of Lake Shinji 2013 Autumn/Winter Washoku: The Traditional Food Culture of Shimane’s Citizens Vol. 67 The Power of Humans & Nature Combined Appreciating The Craft & Beauty of Kamaboko Fish Cakes Chopsticks of Love Learning Tea Ceremony Culture Spring/Summer International Exchange Programs In Shimane Vol. 66 Cultural Exchange in the Grass: A Japanese & North American Story The Road of Flowers ~Russia and Shimane~ Youths Pouring Passions Into Their Dreams & Futures Give Me Wings – Youth Exchange Programs in Ningxia Protecting The Ocean – Coastal Cleanup Works 2012 Autumn/Winter The People Living in a World Heritage Town Vol. 65 Learn History with an English Guide! Taking Pride in your Hometown: A Resident of Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Why Not Try a Meal at an Old Samurai House Memories of History  The Oil Lamps of Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Spring/Summer Culture Born from Water & Iron: Okuizumo Town Vol. 64 Learning Traditional Japanese Ironwork: The Okuizumo Tatara & Katana Museum If You Are Fond of Japanese Swords… Harmony Between History, Culture and Nature at the Itohara Memorial Museum The Gourmet Food of Okuizumo  

2020 Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking🍓With the start of the new year comes the season of strawberry picking.  Why not try strawberry picking which is only offered for a limited time? 🍓Also, check out our video from last year’s strawberry picking season. Places are sorted by the start of their season. Reservations are required.

January

🍓Watanabe Kankou Farm (渡辺観光農園) [map] Location: Yasugi City Season: January ~ Hours: 9:00 ~ 16:00 Pricing: Junior High School ≤ 2,000 JPY Elementary School ≥ 3 yrs. 1,000 JPY Tel: 0854-22-6627 *reservations required. Call 0854-23-7667 Yasugi Tourism Associaton 🍓Kinta Farm Berryne (きんた農園ベリーネ)[map] Location: Hamada City Season: January ~ Hours: 10:00 ~ 16:00 Closed on Tuesday Pricing:[Weekdays] Adult 1,700 JPY Elementary School 1,300 JPY [Weekends / Holidays] Adult 1,900 JPY Elementary School 1,500 JPY *[Ladies Day (Wed.)] 1300 JPY Tel: 0855-42-2515 HP: https://www.berryne.co.jp/ (JPN) *reservations required. Call 0855-42-2515 

February

🍓Akatsuki Farm (あかつきファーム今在家) [map] Location: Izumo City Season: February ~ Hours: 10:00 ~ 15:00 Pricing: Adult 1,700 JPY Elementary School 1,200 JPY Toddler (3 ≥) 600 JPY Tel: 0853-72-4915 HP: http://akatsuki-farm.jp/ *reservations required. Call 0853-72-4915 

March

🍓Akari Farm (あかり農園) [map] Location: Yasugi City Season: March ~ Hours: 8:00 ~ 17:00 Pricing: Junior High School ≤ 1,500 JPY Elementary School ≥ 1,000 JPY Toddler 500 JPY Tel: 080-5236-1779 *reservations required. Call 0854-23-7667 Yasugi Tourism Associaton 🍓Ishibashi Farm (石橋農園) [map] Location: Yasugi City Season: March~ Hours: 10:00 ~ 14:00 Pricing: High School ≤ 2,000 JPY Junior High / Elementary School 1,000 JPY Tel: 080-3888-0971 *reservations required. Call 0854-23-7667 Yasugi Tourism Associaton 🍓Ichigo Farm Kokoro (いちご農園 こころ) [map] Location: Yasugi City Season: March ~ Hours: 9:00 ~ 16:00 Pricing: Junior High School ≤ 2,000 JPY Elementary School 1,000 JPY Elementary School ˃ 3 yrs. 500 JPY Tel: 080-5616-2522 *reservations required. Call 0854-23-7667 Yasugi Tourism Associaton 🍓Omori Farm (大森ファーム) [map] Location: Yasugi City Season: March~ Hours: 9:00 ~ 17:00 Pricing: Elementary School ≤ 2,200 JPY Elementary School 1,200 JPY Elementary School ˃ 3 yrs. 500 JPY Tel: 070-2637-6505 HP: https://farmomori.com/ *reservations required. Call 0854-23-7667 Yasugi Tourism Associaton  

2020 Cherry Blossom Season and Popular Spots

According to the Cherry Blossom Forecast by Weather Map (3/2/2020), the 2020 cherry blossom season starts 3/20 and flowers in full bloom on 3/27. The page is only in Japanese, but you can look at the graphs showing the peak blossom season. [link] *(updated 3/2/2020)

Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle

Why not visit the National Treasure Matsue Castle while in Matsue?

Matsue Castle and Matsue Castle Grounds [map] Matsue city, Shimane

Tamatsukuri Onsen 

Tamatsukuri cherry blossoms

Stroll through the onsen town, along the stream, and under the blooming cherry blossom trees.

Tamayu River Bank in the Tamatsukuri Onsen area [map] *Cherry blossom trees are illuminated at night (18:30~22:00) until the middle of April Matsue city, Shimane

Senjyu-in Temple

Senjyu-in Temple

Did you say 200 year-old weeping cherry blossom tree??

Senju-in Temple [map] Senju-in Temple is hidden spot which is famous for 200 year-old weeping cherry tree. Located in the auspicious North-east direction of Matsue Castle, it is said to protect the castle and its occupants from evil spirits. This temple is located uphill near the Matsue Castle so visitors can have a great view of the castle. Matsue city, Shimane

Hii River Bank (the best 100 cherry spots in Japan)

Cherry Trees in Mitoya

Through a tunnel of cherry blossom trees?

Rows of cherry trees along the Hii River Bank [map] Check out the article on the Kisuki Cherry Blossoms Tunnel. Also, check out our youtube video from last year. Unnan city, Shimane Gyoikoh-cherry blossom with yellow-green flowers (the latter half of April) “Gyoiko” is  one of the more rare species of cherry with yellow-green flowers. Its blooming season comes after ordinary cherry blossoms  from the latter half of April. Venue : Mitoya River Bank [map] Unnan city, Shimane      

Yasugi Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizudera Temple

Tucked away in the mountains with a climbable pagoda that will give you the best views of the area.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple [map] Yasugi city, Shimane

Misumi Oohirazakura

Mizumi Oohirazakura

Even at night, its illumination is beautiful.

Misumi Oohirazakura [map] A precious breed of sakura that was designated as a Natural Monument in 1936. The tree is guessed to be around 660 years old with a trunk circumference of 5m and branches that span east to west at 24m and north to south at 29.6m. When in full bloom it is said to be overflowing with brilliance. Hamada city, Shimane

Washibara-Hachimangu Shrine (Tsuwano)

Archery on a hource back

Check out the horse-back archery festival while you are there!

Washibara-hachimangu Shrine [map] 

Check out our article of the Washibara-hachimangu Shrine and Yabusame Ritual. Tsuwano town, Shimane

Oki Islands

Oki Shrine

Popular spot on the islands with around 250 cherry blossom trees!

Oki Shrine [map] Check out our youtube video of our time at the Oki Islands. Ama town (Oki Islands), Shimane   While planning your trip to Shimane don’t forget about our many discounts offered to foreigners and especially our En-Musubi Perfect Ticket!

TOP 50 Japanese Gardens of 2019

Japanese Garden Rankings by Sukiya Living 

In December of 2019, the U.S. magazine Sukiya Living (The Journal of Japanese Gardening), has released its rankings for the years top 50 Japanese gardens. The magazine Sukiya Living was started in 1998 and is widely read across 37 English-speaking countries. The ranking is carried out as part of the Shiosai Project, which makes its selection of the finest Japanese gardens by focusing on the quality of the garden itself. International experts decide on their ranking by conducting surveys on more than a thousand gardens all over Japan. Shiosai Project “The Japanese Garden Rankings of Japan” Seven gardens from Shimane have been ranked in the top 50 Japanese Gardens of Japan. ↓↓↓Check the rankings below↓↓↓   The Sukiya Living Environment Rankings (presented December 2019)

Japanese Garden Rankings of 2019

No.1 Adachi Museum of Art(足立美術館) [map]

White Gravel and Pine Garden

White Gravel and Pine Garden

And this year, for the 17th year in a row, Adachi Museum of Arts has been ranked as the No. 1 Japanese garden in Japan. In addition to being the No.1 Japanese garden in Japan, the Museum has also obtained three stars, the highest rank, from the Michelin Green Guide and the Guide Bleu Japon. The gardens have not only gained popularity domestically, but also internationally.  https://www.adachi-museum.or.jp/en/

No.3 Minami-kan(皆美館)  [map]

minami-kan garden Minamikan is a ryokan located in an onsen resort in Matsue. Along the Ohashi river that leads to Lake Shinji, guests can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the sun setting over the lake.>>Click and see the sunset. http://www.minami-g.co.jp/minamikan/18_english.php

No.25 Yuushien Garden(由志園) [map]

Yuushien Yuushien Garden is one of the most splendid Japanese gardens with seasonal flowers, trees, ponds, waterfalls, and paving stones creatively organized over 40,000 beautiful square-meters. Visitors are free to walk around and enjoy the gardens at their leisure. Read more>>> https://www.yuushien.com/language/en.html

No.28 Choraku-en(長楽園) [map]

chorakuen garden Chorakuen is a ryokan located in Tamatsukuri onsen resort in Matsue. http://www.choraku.co.jp/en/

No.29 Kokokuji Temple(康国寺) [map]

Dry landscape garden that was completed at the end of the Edo period. The garden is another good example of borrowed scenery as it incorporates the reservoir and mountain range behind the garden.

No.35 Kasui-en Minami(玉造温泉 佳翠苑 皆美) [map]

kasuien-minami garden Kasui-en Minami is a traditional style ryokan located in a popular onsen resort, Tamatsukuri Onsen. http://www.kasuien-minami.jp/english/index.html

No.45 Saginoyusou ROSEN(さぎの湯荘 鷺泉) [map]

Located within a 2 min walk from Adachi Museum of Art, this ryokan also boasts its own garden that made it into the top 50. As part of the ROSEN villa of Saginoyusou , enjoy the open-air onsen baths and relax in the quiet atmosphere of the area. http://www.saginoyusou.com/    

2019-2020 Shimane Ski Resorts Information

Shimane_Asahitengusuton_01 As we get closer to winter and it starts to get colder, staying indoors with friends and enjoying a nice hot pot, oden, or even grilled crab sounds like winter activity.  But what about going outside and playing in the snow. We aren’t just talking about a snowball fight, what about trying skiing or snowboarding? How about checking out the slopes at the local ski resort?  Kotobiki Forest Park Rental Gear Beginner, intermediate, or even advanced, there are different courses on the slopes for everyone to have fun on. And if you don’t have gear, don’t worry because the gear is available for rent at the local ski resorts.  Kotobiki Forest Park 2  

Kotobiki Forest Park

Kotobiki Forest Park[Official Website] (English site) [Facebook Page] Open Season: December 13th, 2019  ~  March 7th 2020 *closed 12/30 thru 1/3 Hours of Operation: [weekdays] 8:30 ~ 16:30 [weekends/holidays] 8:30 ~ 17:00 Address: 1151, Sami, Iinan Town, Iishi-gun, Shimane [map]    

Miinohara Ski Resort

Open Season: December 21st, 2019 to March 8th, 2020 *end date is subject to change Hours of Operation: [weekdays] 8:30 ~ 17:00 [weekends/holidays] 8:00 ~ 17:00 Address: Miinohara, Yakawa, Okuizumo Town, Nita-gun, Shimane [map] For more information contact Okuizumo Tourism Assocation 0854-54-2504 [website]

Mizuho Highland

mizuho ski run snow[Official Website] [Facebook Page] Open Season: December 14th, 2019 ~ April 5th, 2020 Hours of Operation: 8:00 ~ 17:00 Night Skiing Hours: 17:30 ~ 21:00 [every Sat. thru Jan. and Feb. including 1/12/2020] Address: 6242-19, Ichigi, Ohnan Town, Ochi-gun, Shimane [map]  

Asahi Tenguston Snow Park

asahi tenguston snow[Official Website] [Facebook Page] Open Season: December 27th, 2019 ~ March 8th, 2020 *closed every thursday, except 1/2/2020 Hours of Operation: 8:30 ~ 16:30 Address: 7600, Ichigi, Asahi-cho, Hamada City, Shimane [map]
Overnight Course Model : An Active Holiday in Western Shimane