Izumo (出雲) is a city in Shimane Prefecture with a population of around 150,000 people and a land area of 543.43km². It's located near Matsue.
From Tokyo's Haneda Airport, there are five flights per day (¥28,800) which will get you to Izumo in 80 minutes (plus 30 minutes by bus to Izumo Station).
Izumo's train station is called Izumo-shi Station (出雲市駅). It is located on the JR San'in Main Line.
Izumo is served hourly by the Yakumo (やくも) limited express train, which runs to Okayama station and provides direct connections to the San'yo Shinkansen (3 hours, ¥6700). Connecting with the Yakumo, the trip to Izumo is 4 hours from Osaka (¥10800), 4 1/4 hours from Kyoto (¥12300), 5 hours from Nagoya (¥15300) and 6 1/2 hours from Tokyo (¥19700).
From Hiroshima, the four-hour trip to Izumo via Okayama is best left to holders of the Japan Rail Pass, since taking the bus will be faster and cheaper (see below).
From Hakata station in Fukuoka, take the Shinkansen to Shin-Yamaguchi and change to the Super Oki (スーパーおき) which runs to Izumo three times per day (4 hours, ¥10600).
There is also an overnight train that runs from Tokyo to Izumo called the Sunrise Izumo (サンライズ出雲). The train leaves from Tokyo Station every night at 10 PM, reaching Izumo twelve hours later. The basic fare (¥11,990) is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, but limited express (¥3,240) and lodging charges will have to be paid separately. Lodging charges range from ¥6,480 for a solo, ¥7,560 for a single, and ¥13,730 for an single deluxe. If you want to travel on the cheap side, ¥520 gets you your own floor space... literally, you sleep on the floor with a futon. Unfortunately, reservations are essentially impossible to make from outside the country, and from within the country must be done either at the Midori no Madoguchi (みどりの窓口) reservation window or through a travel agent.
Those wishing to save money on transportation should consider highway buses. Izumo is easily accessible by bus, because buses from a wide variety of locations stop at Izumo.
From Hiroshima, going by bus is the best option. Ichibata Bus and Chugoku JR Bus operate eight round-trips per day from Hiroshima Station and the Hiroshima Bus Center. (3 1/2 hours, ¥4000 one way, ¥7200 round trip)
From Okayama, several companies operate joint service to Izumo on a bus called the Momotaro Express, named after the famous Japanese folklore hero. Six daily round-trips (4 hours, ¥3900 one way).
JR Bus runs the Port Lake service from Kobe's Sannomiya Bus Terminal (4 round-trips daily, 5 1/4 hours, ¥5000). Hankyu Bus and Ichibata Bus run the Kunibiki service from Osaka (8 round-trips daily, 5 1/2 hours, ¥5650), while JR Bus operates the Izumo Express bus service from Kyoto (4 round-trips daily, 6 hours, ¥6000).
The overnight service that runs from Tokyo is strangely called the Susanoo and gets to Izumo in 12 1/4 hours - almost on par with its train counterpart - at a cost of ¥12070 each way.
Izumo is about one hour drive from Matsue on Route 9, the main road through the Sea of Japan side of western Japan from Northern Kyoto to Shimonoseki.
Trains will get you to Izumo Taisha or out of the city, but otherwise bus, taxi or rental car will be your only option.
There are 2 different train companies in Izumo. The JR West Sanin Main Line and the Ichibata Electric Railway  (Ichibata Densha Kabushiki-gaisha [一畑電車株式会社]). The JR West Izumo Station is next to the Ichibata's Dentetsu Izumo Station. Ichibata has 2 lines, the Kita Matsue Line which runs for 33.9 km from Dentetsu Izumo Station to Matsue Shinji-ko Onsen Station in Matsue, and the Taisha Line which runs 8.3 km from Kawato Station (on the Kita Matsue Line) to Izumo Taisha-mae Station, near Izumo Taisha.
The Enmusubi Perfect Ticket (¥3000 for adults, ¥1500 for children) allows free unlimited travel for three consecutive days on a wide range of train and bus services in Matsue and Izumo. The ticket includes full use of the following:
- Ichibata Railway
- Lake Line bus
- All Matsue City buses
- All Izumo City buses
- Ichibata bus services within Matsue and Izumo
- Izumo Airport bus
- Yonago Airport bus
Note that Japan Rail services are not included.
The Enmusubi Perfect Ticket is sold at the following locations:
- Matsue International Tourist Information Office in front of Matsue station
- Izumo Tourist Information Office at Izumo station
- Ichibata Railway stations such as Shinjiko Onsen station
- Ichibata Travel Service ticket offices. Behind the Lawson at Matsue station and next to the Ichibata Hotel in Izumo.
- Shimane Prefectural Products and Tourist Centre, across the road from Matsue Castle parking area.
- Izumo Airport information counter
- Yonago Airport information counter
- Izumo Taisha (出雲大社), 195 Kizuki-higashi, ☎ +81 0853-53-3100, . Although the date of construction is unknown, Izumo Taisha is regarded as one of the oldest shrines in Japan. In the Kojiki, the shrine is said to have been built for Ōkuninushi (god of marriage), who then became the shrine's patron deity. As the god of marriage is worshipped here, it is no surprise that Izumo Shrine is a popular shrine for couples to pray for happy marriages. Although the current shrine is quite large at about 25 meters tall, records suggest that it is only half the size it was 800 years ago. Every year in November, Shinto gods from all over are said to gather inside the shrine for one week. Note that if you wish to pray at Izumo Taisha, it is customary to clap four times instead of the typical two claps, because you are praying for yourself, as well as your partner (or future partner). Watch many people attempting to toss small change into the large rice-straw rope of one of the shrines outside the main shrine until it lodges. If you are able to get ¥45 stuck in or on the rope, you'll have good luck. Free. edit
- Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo, 99-4 Kitsuki-Higashi, ☎ +81 0853-53-8600, . 9AM-6PM March-Oct, to 5PM Nov-Feb. Closed the third Tuesday of each month. This elegantly designed complex is near the shrine. Exhibitions feature speculative designs of the original Izumo Taisha, displays on the history and development of nearby Iwami Ginzan, and a dramatic collection of ceremonial bronze bells and swords. ¥600 adults, ¥400 yen university students, ¥200 children. edit
- Hinomisaki Lighthouse, ☎ 085-354-5341. Open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM. Supposedly, it's the tallest lighthouse in Asia. The lighthouse appears like any other lighthouse, but the bus ride out there and the chance to see a fishing village makes it worth the 1/2 hour trip. Entrance is ¥200. edit
- Tachikue Gorge (Tachikue-kyo), south of Izumo City. A pleasant hike that ends with hundreds of stone figures with red hats on them. Buses go here as well (1/2 hour) and there's an onsen/youth hostel.
- Hinomisaki Shrine, ☎ 085-354-5261. edit
- Shimane Flower Village (shimane hana no sato), ☎ 085-320-1187, . Open from 9:30 AM to 5 PM (4:30 PM in winter). Closed every Tuesday from December through February. Entrance is ¥200. edit
- Gakuenji, ☎ 085-366-0250. edit
- Ichibata Yakushi, 866 Kozakai-cho, ☎ 085-367-0111, . edit
- Susa Shrine, ☎ 085-384-0605, . edit
Izumo soba (出雲そば), the local variety of noodles, is the region's most famous food, but the beef (Shimane wagyu) is good as well.
- Shimane Winery, . Try yakiniku (barbecue). Also offers free tours and wine tastings, though connoisseurs will likely be unimpressed.
- Hara, a good selection of small dishes is available here in addition to soba. Go straight out the north exit of JR Izumo station and look for the purple banner on the right just past the Toyoko Inn. Good food with an interesting crowd of local patrons from construction workers to groups of young women out for a party.
- Trattoria il Delfino (出雲のイタリア料理店 デルフィーノ), Ekiminamimachi 3-3, Izumo (Exit Izumo Station on the south side and continue walking south. Once you cross a small canal it's immediately on your right hand side. 3 min walk.), ☎ +81 853 24-7564, . Lunch 11:30AM-2PM, Dinner 6PM-9PM. A laid back Italian restaurant run by chef Ago and his wife. Mr Ago is an Italophile who has studied home style cooking in Sicily and is very passionate about Italian food and the ingredients he uses. English and Italian are spoken. Suitable for vegetarians, just be sure to consult your waiter when ordering. Set lunch ¥1050, Dinner a la carte or course menu (prices vary). (35.358867,132.756743) edit
Just northeast of Izumo Station is Daikancho, Izumo's drinking district. It's mostly "snacks" and hostess bars aimed at the older crowd, but there are a few venues for young people.
- Marine Thalasso Izumo, 859-1 Taki, ☎ 085-386-7111, . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. A spa that uses Thalassotherapy, which utilizes all its resources from the sea in order to rejuvinate and make you healthier. edit
There are a few low-priced minshuku and ryokan throughout the city. Pick up an English map at Izumo Station.
- Izumo Green Hotel Morris, 6-1 Minami Honmachi, Imaichi-cho, ☎ 085-324-7700 ([email protected], fax: 085-324-7711). A business hotel just south of Izumo Station. Singles from ¥5145. edit
- Izumo Royal Hotel, ☎ 085-323-7211, . A short taxi ride from the JR Station in town. Includes parking and wireless Internet. Rooms from ¥5400. edit
- Matsue Capital of Shimane. Authentic 16th century castle, samurai district, Japanese confectionary.
- Oda Home to the World Heritage Site, Iwami Ginzan
- Daisen Mount Daisen, often called "The Fuji of West Japan". Hiking and skiing.