I can take only two long holidays every year; one of them is summer holiday and the other one is a new year holiday. Summer holiday generally involves visits to craftsmen, so I visited a potter in Shimane prefecture this year. Although my main purpose of visiting Shimane was visiting the potter, I continued my journey to visit other touristy areas to complete my summer holiday, so I will write about my summer holiday in Shimane prefecture and introduce you how attractive area Shimane is.
As for the potter I visited, I will write about it in details on another blog post.
Shimane prefecture is located in the south west of Japan mainland facing the Sea of Japan. It will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get there by airplane from Tokyo to Izumo airport, but with shinkansen it will take over 6 hours. I wanted to make this trip special, so I took an overnight train called Sunrise Izumo, which takes about 12 hours from Tokyo leaving at 22:00 and arriving Izumo city station at 10:00 on the following morning.
There are various types of rooms available, but it is extremely popular train, so I could manage booking a small capsule like single room. There are also larger single rooms and also twin rooms as well, but they can be taken really fast, so I could not book them this time. For more details about the Sunrize Izumo, please visit http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/sunrise-izumo.html .
It is not luxurious train without a restaurant nor a bar. It is pretty basic with two shower rooms, which you need to purchase the shower card to use it, but the cards can be sold out within 30 minutes because those train freaks purchase extra cards for their collection. If you want to have a shower on the train, you should try to purchase it as soon as you get on the train.
I have to say the train journey is not the most conformable means of transportation due to the noise and earthquake like constant shakes, but you can use your time effectively and it is also fun, so if you have a chance to get on that kind of train, I suppose you should at least try to use it for only one way trip and you can use more conventional transportation when you return to Tokyo.
I rented a car at Izumo station on my arrival and headed to where the potter was located, which was about two hours drive to the west, but I will skip that this time.
On the following morning, I visited the Iwami Ginzan (Ginzan means silver mountain, where they used to dig out silver from), where is the world heritage site. To find out about the silver mountain, you can visit http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/indepth/scenic/worldheritage/c_13_iwamiginzan.html or you can google “Iwami Ginzan”. It will take about 1 hour from Izumo city by a car, but there are also public transportations which will take you there. You have to take a train to Oota city station from Izumo city station and change to a bus to Iwami Ginzan station and the total journey will be around 2 hours.
You can rent a bike at the information centre and you can ride it to the entrance of the silver mountain, where you can actually go inside of the cave. There used to be a number of people working at the mountain, so there is a village under the mountain, where is now turned into shops and restaurants, but it is also fun to explore the old village, so I would say it is worth visiting the Ginzan.
I, then, went back to Izumo city and headed to Izumo Taisha Shrine, where is supposedly the oldest shrine in Japan. For the literature of this shrine, you can visit http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5804.html. The whole shrine complex extends to a large area covered with the forests, so the atmosphere is somewhat heavenly and peaceful.
Izumo Taisha is famous for making good relationships with others often with life long partners, so it is popular destination for single women, but the relationships can be any kind of relationships including business too, so it will be worth visiting for those people who want to improve their relationships with others in many respects. Izumo Taisha area is very touristy with lots of shops and restaurants, so it will be fun to walk around the city possibly visiting the historical museum located right next to the shrine.
To the east of Izumo city, there is a large lake called Shinjiko (宍道湖). There are several hot spring resorts around that area, so I stayed at Tamatsukuri onsen, where the whole village is filled with large and small onsen hotels. http://www.kankou-shimane.com/en/?p=2461
Chorakuen hotel is where I stayed http://www.choraku.co.jp/en/. The hotel is very large and relatively reasonable for the quality. Japanese ryokan hotels generally include breakfast and dinner, so that is why the room charge is relatively high, but considering the quality of food they serve, I would say it is very reasonable. The hotel is famous for the beautiful Japanese garden and also for the largest open air hot spring bath.
My next destination was Matsue city. Matsue city is located on the east side of Shinjiko lake and it will take about 1 hour to get there from Tamatsukuri onsen.
There is the old wooden castle in Matsue. You can go up the castle to the observatory with a little charge, where you can overlook the whole city. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5801.html
The city itself is not that large, but there are many historical buildings scattered around in the city, so you can spend a day visiting these old buildings.
Adachi Museum of Art is a private museum built by a local millionair called Mr. Adachi and he collected extensive number of famous Japanese drawings mainly of Taikan Yokoyama and he also created one of the top quality Japanese gardens in the museum, so you can enjoy both Japanese arts and garden at the museum. You should defenately visit there if the time allows.
You can take a JR train from Matsue station to Yasugi station, where you can arrange a free bus service. For more details about the museum, please visit their HP https://www.adachi-museum.or.jp/en/.
I rented a car to visit all these places and my time was pretty limited, so I went around all these places within two days, but if you are not familiar with Japanese transportation system and if the trains and buses are your only options to travel around these areas, I suppose you will need at least 3 days and if you want to spend more time at each locations, 4 days might be more comfortable for you.
Thank you very much for reading my travel blog and if you are interested and thinking about visiting these areas, I will be happy to help you to organaize your trip to these areas, so please feel free to contact me by email.
You can find a contact information on my HP http://www.mabysoshite.com/.
MA by So Shi Te