Shimane prefecture, together with Tottori prefecture is known as the Sanin region, meaning "the shady side of the mountains". There is a mountain range separating these two prefectures from Hiroshima and Okayama, which means that the weather here is drastically wetter than further to the south.
Matsue[松江] — The prefectural capital, Matsue has an original castle (most in Japan are modern remakes/rebuilds).
Izumo[出雲] — Site of Izumo Taisha, one of Japan's most famous shrines.
Overnight ferries depart twice a week from SakaiminatoDBS Ferry Terminal to Donghae, Korea and then onwards to Vladivostok, Russia a day later.
To get to Sakaiminato DBS Ferry Terminal from Matsue take the train from Matsue Station to Sakaiminato station (transfer in Yonago). There are free shuttle buses to the terminal on Friday and Saturday.
For booking and more information: DBS Cruise Ferry Japan Co., Ltd. tel: +81 859 30-2332
The best way to get around Shimane is to drive. Most towns and cities, especially those on the coast, can also reached by train. Buses go pretty much everywhere, but some places may only have a few buses a day.
Izumo Shrine (Izumo) the second holiest Shinto Shrine in Japan
Matsue Castle (Matsue) Beautiful black castle; One of Japan's few remaining original castles.
Oki Islands, Oki-gun (By ferry from Matsue/Sakaiminato (or plane from Osaka/Izumo)). Picturesque islands located off the coast of mainland Shimane. The way of life and the pace of life here is truly refreshing. There is so much to see and do here.
There are many ski resorts in the prefecture. Most will blow snow when it hasn't fallen, giving a reliable season from late November until late March.
Mizuho Highland is the biggest (10 slopes, 5km longest run) and probably best (the only half-pipe in the region) resort.
The Yabusame (horse-back archery) festivals of Shimane are quite famous, especially that of Tsuwano, which holds the oldest Yabusame range in all of Japan (some 1000+ years old). They usually are held in early April. If one is particularly lucky, the festival will coincide with the cherry blossoms blooming, for the consummate Japanese cultural experience.
During the year there are numerous festivals. Many towns and cities have a fireworks show in August.
Seven Delicacies of Lake Shinji To get a taste of Matsue and the area around Lake Shinji, you should try to sample the famous seven delicacies: Shijimi clams, icefish, eel, sea bass, among others.
Izumo Soba Noodles For the most authentic soba in Izumo, make sure to try Warigo Soba
Akaten A local fish specialty product of Hamada. The name 'Akaten' means red heaven.
For cheap accommodations, the prefecture has a number of youth hostels.