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Fully enjoy Shimane’s Japanese heritage through Zen, Kagura, and Samurai in three nights and four days

Suggested Time : 3 Nights, 4 Days Main modes of transportation : Train, Bus, Taxi, Walk Regions : Iwami, Oki, Izumo

A course to fully enjoy and experience the history and traditional culture of the popular Tsuwano townscape, dazzling Iwami Kagura performances, and the Iwami Ginzan silver mine world heritage site.

Day 1

Departure point : Depart JR Shin-Yamaguchi Station

SL Yamaguchi (2 hours 10 mins.)

01

Tonomachi-dori (Tonomachi Street), Tsuwano

The white plaster walls and schools of swimming carp are symbols of beautiful Tsuwano

Tsuwano, which is also known as “Little Kyoto,” is a castle that resembles a hidden village in a quiet valley. In the area around Tonomachi Street in particular, the oldest features of the still remain, and schools of countless carp of various sizes swim in the canal on the street, which is lined with white plaster-walled buildings. The season when the white and purple Japanese irises are in bloom is especially beautiful, with the area seeming to transform into an elegant painting. Tonomachi Street is the symbol of Tsuwano – there are a large number of historic sites gathered in the area, including a Catholic church, the site of the former school and the remnants of samurai residences. Furthermore, you will also find stores and stylish cafes selling local cuisine in the vicinity, as well as stores selling general merchandise and souvenirs. If you venture a little way down the lanes you will discover the white-walled earthen storehouses of merchants that are preserved as they were long ago, and you can capture a sense of the calm lifestyle of an old castle. There are also a large number of spots with connections to well-known figures whom the fostered, such as literary master Ogai Mori, philosopher Amane Nishi and artist Mitsumasa Anno.

Show Details
Address 島根県鹿足郡津和野町後田
Tel. No. 0856-72-1771

Walk (20 mins.)

02

Taikodani Inari Jinja (Taikodani Inari Shrine)

Houses the guardian deity of Tsuwano and features a beautiful corridor of 1,000 vermillion-lacquered torii gates

Taikodani Inari Shrine is popular for the path leading up to it, which is densely lined with vermillion-lacquered torii gates that can even be seen from the of Tsuwano. The shrine is located at the end of an approximately 300m ascent through a tunnel formed by these approximately 1,000 torii gates, which makes for an enjoyable walk. It ranks alongside shrines such as Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, and is known as one of Japan’s five greatest Inari shrines (shrines used to worship the deity Inari). Among shrines in Shimane Prefecture, Taikodani Inari Shrine ranks second after Izumo Taisha for the number of worshippers it attracts annually, and is popular with foreign tourists also for its picture perfect qualities. If you are visiting Tsuwano, you should definitely make the effort to visit the shrine and not limit yourself to just a stroll through the.

Show Details
Address 島根県鹿足郡津和野町後田409
Tel. No. 0856-72-0219
Holidays Open all year round

Walk (20 mins.)

Tsuwano (night)

Train + Bus (1 hour)

Day 2

04

The Shimane Arts Center “Grand Toit”

Works of art housed in a beautiful complex under a sekishu-gawara-tiled roof

The Shimane Arts Centre, ‘Grand Toit’ has beautiful architecture with its roofs and walls being decorated with ‘sekishu-gawara’ (traditional roof tiles of the Iwami region). There is a basin of 25 sq m in a 45 sq m courtyard surrounded by a glass corridor which is known as a place for visitors to relax. Iwami Art Museum, located in ‘Grand Toit’, has 4 exhibition rooms with permanent and seasonal special exhibitions.

Show Details
Address 島根県益田市有明町5番15号
Tel. No. 0856-31-1860
Operating Hours 【Iwami Art Museum】 [March 31, 2020] 10:00 to 18:30 (Admission until 18:00) [April 1, 2020] 09:30 to 18:00 (Admission until 17:30) 【Iwami Arts Theatre】 09:00 to 22:00
Holidays 【Iwami Art Museum】EveryTuesday 【Iwami Arts Theatre】2nd and 4th Tuesdays *May change according to events

Bus + Walk (8 + 6 mins.)

05

Manpuku-ji (Manpuku Temple)

Famous for a rock garden created by Sesshu, a master artist

Manpuku-ji is famous nationwide for its stone garden, which was constructed by Sesshu, a master artist (it is also a nationally-designated historical site and beauty spot). Sesshu created numerous famous gardens, but this garden is said to be the only one to express the world of Buddhism using a technique known as the shumisen style. It blends beautifully with the architecture of the main temple building, which is itself designated an important cultural property of Japan. The temple houses a large number of treasures and cultural assets as well, including precious illustrated fusuma (vertical rectangular sliding panels) and statues, so it also offers visitors a glimpse of Japanese medieval culture.

Show Details
Address 島根県益田市東町25-33
Tel. No. 0856-22-0302
Operating Hours 08:00 to 17:00
Holidays Open all year round

Walk (10 mins.)

06

Iko-ji (Iko Temple)

Be inspired by the beauty of an artistic Japanese garden

Iko Temple is an ancient temple that was established in 1363. The main gate employs a majestic and magnificent design, with grand doors attached to two thick pillars, upon which sits a two-tier roof. Also incredibly beautiful is the temple’s garden. It was created in the 15th Century by Toyo Sesshu, who was also a celebrated artist. The garden delights the eyes of tourists in all four seasons. It is an ancient yet artistic Japanese garden that utilizes a hill and precipice in their natural state, and which also features an island in its pond. The garden makes skillful use of a broad area, and even among Sesshu’s gardens, it can be described as a high point. Sesshu’s versatility is palpable – in contrast to the garden at Mampuku-ji (Mampuku Temple), where a Buddhist temple garden style provides the underlying tone, Iko Temple Garden incorporates a samurai style. An interesting collection of architecture and carving is also preserved at the temple.

Show Details
Address 益田市染羽町4-29
Tel. No. 0856-22-1668
Operating Hours [December to February] 08:30 to 17:00 [March to November] 08:30 to 17:30

Walk + Bus + JR Train + Taxi (10 + 20 + 10 + 5 mins.)

07

Sekishu Washi Kaikan

Experience the appeal of washi (Japanese paper), an Intangible Cultural Heritage

Sekishu Washi Kaikan is a facility for providing training in the technical tradition of Sekishu washi (Sekishu Japanese paper), a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is a place for nurturing the next generation of papermakers, and for disseminating information on Japanese paper and on international exchange. Sekishu Washi Kaikan also manufactures its own unique Japanese paper and undertakes the development of new products. In addition to an exhibition room, there is also an area that sells paper, and an area where you can try making paper by hand. Sekishu Washi Kaikan is a precious facility where you can experience for yourself the process by which the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Japanese paper is made.

Show Details
Address 浜田市三隅町古市場589(三隅中央公園内)
Tel. No. 0855-32-4170
Operating Hours 09:00 to 17:00 *Contact required for groups of 20 or more
Holidays ・Every Monday (Excluding holidays) ・December 28 to January 4

JR Train + Bus

08

Iwami Kagura

Traditional Shimane performing art with flamboyant dancing and hypnotic musical accompaniment

Iwami is said to be the birthplace of Kagura. In ancient times Kagura was a dance performed for the enjoyment and appeasement of the gods, but since the Meiji Era it has been practiced as a type of folk entertainment. There are many different performances, but the one depicting Susano-no-mikoto’s battle with the eight-headed serpant, Yamata-no-Orochi, is the most famous.

Show Details
Address 浜田市、大田市、益田市、津和野町 ect.
Tel. No. 0855-25-9530

Bus

Hamada (night)

Train + Bus (1 hour 30 mins.)

Day 3

10

Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center

Helpful dioramas and hands-on exhibits about world heritage site Iwami Ginzan

Serving as the introductory entrance of Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine districts, this museum features exhibits and simple dioramas that clearly provide an overall perspective about Iwami Ginzan to the visitors. A fun short play by museum staff introducing the life of miner families in the Iwami Ginzan in the Edo period is held from time to time. Visitors can join workshop of making Chogin, one of the silver coins used during 16th to 19th century in Japan, using an alloy of tin and bismuth. (Reservation is required to join workshops)

Show Details
Address 島根県大田市大森町イ1597番地3
Tel. No. 0854-89-0183
Operating Hours 08:30 to 17:30 (Admission to the exhibition room is until 16:30) *Extended by 30 minutes from March to November
Holidays ・Last Tuesday of every month ・New Year Holidays

Bus (10 mins.)

11

Townscape of Omori (Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Site)

The silver mines, the long history, and the life of local people and Japanese traditional lifestyle to live together with nature

A really special sight in the Iwami Ginzan area is Omori Town. Today this town has a population of around 450 people and stretches 1.5 km long between the mountains. There are many preserved old houses, samurai residences, shops, shrines, temples and many other sights, which are all worth a visit. It is possible to rent bicycles and explore this quiet place on your own. It is really impressive to walk through the ancient streets along the river and experience the feeling of the old Japan during the silver rush. But not only the town itself is a sight, you should also explore the wild nature around Omori. There are many nice paths, which are mostly easy to walk. What makes the surrounding nature so unique is the existence of many ruins of ancient castles, temples, shrines and settlements in the middle of the forest. They are covered with moss and you can really see how the nature tries to regain its space. There are also many hidden mine shafts and places with an amazing view in the beautiful nature scenery. These things create a mysterious and ancient atmosphere, which let you feel like in a dream. So it is really worth it to visit this secret place in the mountains, if you want to experience this unique sight of Japanese history.

Show Details
Address 島根県大田市大森町ハ147

Walk (40 mins.)

12

Ryugenji Mabu Mine Shaft (Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine)

Mine shaft at Iwami Ginzan with year-round public access

During the middle of Edo period, silver was massively produced in the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine. These mine shafts are known as ‘mabu’ and there are over 700 of them in various sizes in this area. Ryugenji Mabu was operated under the direct management of the magistrate’s office. Visitors can walk inside of the tunnel and the rough chisel marks made by miners in the Edo period can still be seen clearly on the walls. We recommend taking a relaxing 40 min walk along the beautiful stream in the forest as you go between the mining shaft and Omori.

Show Details
Address 島根県大田市大森町ニ183
Tel. No. 0854-82-1600
Operating Hours [March to November] 09:00 to 17:00 [December to February] 09:00 to 16:00
Holidays New Year's Day

Bus + Train (1 hour 30 mins.)

13

Yunotsu Onsen (Yunotsu Hot Spring)

A retro hot spring district where the history and life of Mount Iwamigin breathe

Yunotsu Hot Spring constitutes one part of the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site. The hot spring district has a history of thriving as a shipping port in ancient times. The well-known hot springs, which gush forth abundantly, once soothed the silver mine’s workers. The district is lined with buildings from various eras, starting from around the 19th century, and people continue to live in the area even today. It genuinely resembles a museum where time has stopped. It is the only hot spring district in Japan to be designated a Historic Streetscape Preservation District. Yunotsu is a hot spring paradise where you can nourish your mind and body while experiencing the’s charm and history.

Show Details
Address 島根県大田市温泉津町温泉津
Tel. No. 0855-65-2065
Operating Hours Depends on each facility
Holidays Depends on each facility

Train + Bus (2 hours)

Day 4

14

Matsue Castle (National Treasure)

Remnant from samurai times and one of only five Japanese keeps designated as a national treasure

Constructed over a period of 5 years from 1607 to 1611 by Yoshiharu Horio, a feudal lord and founder of Matsue. Currently it is one of the only 12 remaining original castles in Japan and the only one in the San’in region. It was designated National Treasure in 2015. The elegance of the castle’s swooping roofs and decor is often compared to the wings of a ‘chidori’ (plover bird) which has led to the castle’s nickname,’Chidori-jo’ (Plover Castle). The castle features an architectural design specifically chosen for battle, but retains a grand majestic appearance.2

Show Details
Address 島根県松江市殿町1-5
Tel. No. 0852-21-4030
Operating Hours 【When the Honmaru gates open】 [April to September] 07:00 to 19:30 [October to March] 08:30 to 17:00 【Castle tower entry】 [April to September] 08:30 to 18:30 (Reception is until 18:00) [October to March] 08:30 to 17:00 (Reception is until 16:30)
Holidays Open all year round

Walk (5 mins.)

15

Horikawa Sightseeing Boat

Boat ride through Matsue's waterways and castle moat

This small passenger boat will take you through the history, nature and people of Matsue. The moats surrounding Matsue Castle (National Treasure) remain unchanged from when it was first constructed over 400 years ago. This 50 min sightseeing boat guides you along the moats through the historical Japanesescape of the castle Matsue, the places related to Lafcadio Hearn, forests which have been there 400 years since the construction of the castle, charming changes of seasons and the beauty of moats itself.

Show Details
Address <Boarding Points> Matsue Horikawa Freai Square, Kyomise Karakoro Square, Ote-mae Square
Tel. No. 0852-27-0417
Operating Hours [March 1 to June 30] 09:00 to 17:00 [July 1 to August 15] 09:00 to 18:00 [August 16 to October 10] 09:00 to 17:00 [October 11 to November 30] 09:00 to 16:00 [December 1 to February 28] 09:00 to 16:00 *Departs every 20 minutes from March 1 to November 30, and every 30 minutes from December 1 to February 28
Holidays None (may be closed in stormy weather or to change courses)

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