Shimonoseki - at the southwestern tip of Honshu, known for fugu (globefish/pufferfish/blowfish. It also has great historical significance as the site of the battle of Dan-no-Ura the final battle in the Gempei Wars and the location where the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed, which ended the Sino-Japanese War.
Hagi - one of the most beautiful castle towns in Japan, also the birthplace of many great statesmen who played important roles in Meiji Restoration
Yamaguchi - a city with many well-preserved temples
Akiyoshidai - Home to the Akiyoshi Plateau, the largest plateau in Japan, as well as Akiyoshi Cave, the largest cave in Japan.
Bizen - home to Japan's oldest and most respected style of pottery.
Tsuyama - a relaxed town famous for the thousands of cherry blossoms around its castle ruins in Kakuzan Park, a historic district, and Shurakuen Garden.
Daisen - Home to the beautiful Mount Daisen, where visitors can hike to see Daisen-ji Temple, climb the mountain or ski down it.
Misasa - a small town most famous for the amazing Sanbutsu-ji Temple, built into a cliff.
Fukuyama - a town with a cultural district featuring many museums, as well as Fukuyama Castle.
Onomichi - hillside town with pleasant paths connecting dozens of small temples
The name Chūgoku literally means "Middle Country", the sole surviving relic of a historical division of Japan into "Near Countries" (近国 Kingoku), "Middle Countries" and "Far Countries" (遠国 Ongoku), based on distance from the capital Kyoto. Strictly speaking, today's Chugoku covers only the Middle Countries along the San'indo and San'yodo roads, and hence Okayama is sometimes not considered a full part of Chugoku, as only three of its five component provinces (Mimasaka, Bizen and Bitchu) were Middle Countries.
In Japanese, the characters 中国 and the reading Chūgoku are also used to mean "China". (The same characters are used in Chinese, but pronounced Zhongguo.) However, as the Chugoku region is always referred to with the qualifier "-chihō" and the People's Republic of China and Republic of China can be referenced by their full names, there is usually little scope for confusion.
Hiroshima has a fairly large airport, with domestic and some international connections.
The San'yo Shinkansen line links Hiroshima, Okayama and other major towns to Kyushu in the southwest and Kansai (Osaka) to the east. The less populated northern Japan Sea coast is served by ordinary train services.
The JR West San'yo Area Pass allows essentially unlimited travel in Chugoku, Kansai and part of Kyushu, including the Shinkansen (even Nozomi). The 4-day/8-day pass is ¥20,000/30,000.
Adachi Museum of Art (Yasugi) Although there is a museum displaying over 1,000 works of art, the highlight of the museum for many is not the museum; it's the garden. Constructed in 1980, the garden is quite new but what it lacks in history it makes up for in size and beauty. This garden has been voted the best garden in Japan by the American Journal of Japanese Gardening.
Vogel Park (Matsue) One of the largest greenhouses in the world.
Yuushien Garden (Matsue) Built for beauty in every season, including winter when the camellia's bloom.
Enchoen Chinese Garden (Yurihama) One of the largest Chinese gardens in Japan. Enchoen was first built in China, disassembled, and then rebuilt in Yurihama as a symbol of friendship between Tottori and China's Hebei Province.
Tulip Fields (Hiezu-son) A garden full of beautiful red and yellow roses.
Sesshutei Garden (Yamaguchi) This garden is a reproduction of a scene from one of Sesshu's most famous landscape paintings.
Famous Temples and Shrines
Although temples and shrines can be found everywhere throughout the nation, here are some of the most important and most interesting temples and shrines in the Chugoku Region.
Izumo Shrine (Izumo) The second holiest Shinto shrine (Ise Shrine in Ise being number one) and certainly one o the most impressive in Japan Izumo Shrine is dedicated to the god of marriage and happiness.
Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima) As Japan's most photographed shrine, one of the top three views in Japan, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site Itsukushima Shrine is highly valued for its spiritual, cultural, and historical significance and has the credentials to prove it.
Saijo Inari (Okayama) Considered to be one of Japan's top three Inari shrines, Saijo Inari is sometimes referred to as a temple, because of its interesting combination of Buddhist and Shinto elements.
Kansai - With the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara and the large metropolis that is Osaka, this area offers visitors with an endless number of cultural and historical sites, along with great shopping and nightlife.