It is said that Japan has eight million gods, and Shimane Prefecture is said to be the place where all those gods gather together to have a meeting. Places like the historical Izumo Temple, and Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, which has also been designated as a World Heritage Site, are popular among tourists, and many foreigners also visit them.
Here we are going to introduce three areas of Shimane Prefecture, Izumo in the east, Iwami in the west, and Oki, which floats in the Sea of Japan.
Izumo Temple where the gods gather
More than two million people visit Izumo Temple every year. It is a shrine that has so long history it is recorded even in Kojiki, which is the oldest historical record in Japan. It is famous for being the place where all the gods in Japan gather at for seven days in November.
Once you go through the 23-meter tall torii gate, you should head to the tourist information center. Not only do they have the pamphlet of the shrine, but also pamphlets of the whole Shimane Prefecture, as well as computers that are connected to the internet.
Once you arrive at Izumo Temple, you should cleanse your body at the temizuya (a water ablution pavilion), by first washing your left hand, then your right hand, and finally your mouth.
The correct praying ritual at Izumo Temple is to bow two times, clap four times, and then bow one more time.
World Heritage Site・The historic ruins of Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine
Silver was mined at Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine from 1526 until 1923, and it was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2007.
Even today you can walk in the underground tunnels, where they used to mine plenty of silver without hurting the nature. The townscape, that used to prosper because of the silver mine, has old buildings, that have been preserved from that time, which now serve as cafes and souvenir shops. Even the vending machines in the area were built to have a wooden frame to fit in the old scenery of the city.
shizenkaikinomori (Oki Islands)
The outlying islands in Shimane Prefecture are a true spectacle to behold, with cliffs rising from the surface of the sea, and lush green scenery. Let’s ride a ferry, and enjoy the view of the islands from the sea.
The Semi-Submerged Tour Boat Amanbo has a glass-walled observation room, from where you can view jellyfish and fish swimming in the sea.
Other places with amazing views that make for good photos include Dangyo Falls, which was chosen in the top 100 famous waterfalls in Japan, and the 800-year-old Chichisugi Cedar Tree in Iwakura! When it’s not winter, you can also try diving in the beautiful sea of Oki.
The delicious food and souvenirs of Shimane Prefecture
When it comes to Shimane delicacies, we recommend you try the Izumo soba noodles, that are chewy and have a good aroma. Shimane is also popular as the birthplace of zenzai, which is made of sweet adzuki beans that are mixed in hot water.
Good souvenirs to take home include omamori (Japanese amulet) from Izumo Shrine, and Dojo Sukui Manju (a type of steamed yeast bun with filling), which can be bought from Nakaura Honpo.