| Quick Facts
|| Japanese Prefecture
|| Japanese Yen (¥)
|| 6,707.95 km2
|| 667,465 (2021 est)
|| Japanese(No official language)
|| 100V/50 or 60Hz (U.S. plug, commonly 2-prong without ground)
| Time Zone
|| UTC +9(No DST)
Shimane Prefecture (島根県 Shimane-ken) is in the western Chugoku region of the main island of Honshu in Japan. It is the 2nd least populous prefecture in the country.
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. It's famous for "Izumo Soba". Also known as "the town of Japanese Myth".
- Hamada [浜田] — Fishing port and recreation area.
- Tsuwano [津和野] — Referred to as "Little Kyoto," home to a steam train, the birthplace of Mori Ogai, and a famous Christian martyr site.
- Masuda [益田] — The westernmost city in Shimane and long-time home of Sesshu, one of the most famous garden designers in Japanese history.
- Gotsu [江津] — A small industrial city between Hamada and Oda.
- Oda [大田] — A reasonably sized city close to Iwami Ginzan and Mt. Sanbe.
- Yasugi [安来] — Site of the Adachi Art Museum, Yasugi borders Yonago in Tottori Prefecture. On a clear day you can spot the snow-capped Mt. Daisen up north.
- Ohnan [邑南] — Small mountain town with great skiing, natural scenery, and giant salamanders.
- Iwami Ginzan Silver Mines (石見銀山) — A World Heritage Site and formerly one of the world's most prolific mines for high grade silver ore.
- Yunotsu [温泉津] — An old onsen (hot spring) town perfectly preserved in the 1920s.
Shimane has airports in Izumo (IZO), the Oki Islands (OKI), and Masuda (IWJ). When travelling to Matsue then nearby Yonago Airport is also an option.
Shimane is on the Japan Rail Sanin Main Line, which runs along western Honshu's sea coast between Kyoto and Shimonoseki.
Japan Rail's "Sunrise Izumo" night train runs between Tokyo, Matsue and Izumo. Prices vary depending on the accomodations booked, which range from simple berths to private cabins.
The "Super Yakumo" express train connects Matsue and Izumo to Okayama.
The "Super Okii" JR train line originating in Shin-Yamaguchi stops at a number of cities and town in Shimane prefecture.
Long Distance Express Buses
Overnight ferries depart twice a week from Sakaiminato DBS 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: 085-930-2332
The best way to get around Shimane is to drive. Most towns and cities, especially those on the coast, can also reached by train, though they are slow and infrequent. 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.
- Iwami Kagura - A performance art originally based in Shinto and now entertainment with bright costumes and artists telling ancient tales.
- Oki Islands (Oki Islands) Oki Islands, Oki-gun. 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. edit
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.
- Oki Islands. Beautiful islands with amazing scenery, marine sports, fishing, swimming, hiking, shrines, festivals, farming...so much to see and do in these remote islands. edit
- 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.
- Seafood. Sample the delicacies of the sea in the Oki Islands. Turban shells (sazae), hiyogi-gai (rainbow-scallops), rock oysters (iwa-gaki), crab (kani), rock seaweed (iwa-nori), squid (ika)...you will not be disappointed. edit
- Oki Sake. Visit Oki-Shuzo (Oki Sake Brewery) in Dogo Island, Oki Islands. Sample some of the amazing local sake. edit
- For cheap accommodations, the prefecture has a number of youth hostels.
- Nishinoshima, . Contact the Nishinoshima Tourism Association for information in English about accommodation in Nishinoshima and the other Oki Islands. edit
For the latest info on events and sights, contact the Shimane Tourism Association (島根県観光連盟, Shimane-ken Kankō Renmei) Tel. 085-222-5579.