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User:Gorilla Jones/WJ1

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Iwakuni Castle

The Chūgoku (中国) region is rich with echoes of samurai life and castle ruins, temples less trafficked by the tourist hordes, and evocative sites from the Edo and Meiji eras.


  • Okayama — a regional transit hub rich in history and folk tales, featuring one of Japan's top gardens and a brooding black castle
  • Kurashiki — explore the vintage warehouses of this old merchant town, situated along a scenic canal
  • Around Okayama — pottery in Bizen, castles and more in Takahashi and Tsuyama
  • Onomichi — a hillside town with dozens of small temples connected by two splendid walking paths and one great cycling trip
  • Iwakuni — two military eras meet in this old samurai town with a U.S. Marine Corps base
  • Tottori — sift through the famous sand dunes and enjoy outdoor sports like hang-gliding, camel riding, and more
  • San'in Main Line — a long trip along the coast with ten cities of craft shops, crazy dances, grand shrines, beaches, and hot springs, along with a UNESCO World Heritage silver mine
  • Hagi — a beautifully preserved castle town, long the cradle of Japanese statesmen
  • Shimonoseki — gateway to Kyushu and the Kanmon Straits, best known for turning poisonous fish into gourmet meals


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.

Modern-day Chūgoku is divided into two halves: the busy, industrial San'yō (山陽) along the Seto Inland Sea, with Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi prefectures; and the quieter, less populated San'in (山陰), with Shimane and Tottori prefectures, facing the Sea of Japan. If you're visiting in winter, expect much colder weather in San'in, which translates roughly as "the shady side of the mountains".

You'll find fairly good English ability throughout the San'yō area, which is well-accustomed to foreign tourism and commerce, but San'in may prove more of a test for your communication skills.


The two major JR lines are named for the aforementioned San'yō and San'in areas. The San'in Main Line originates in Kyoto, and terminates in Shimonoseki. The San'yō Main Line goes one step further to Kitakyushu.

The San'yō Shinkansen, naturally, runs parallel to the the San'yō Main Line. Hikari trains from Tokyo will require a transfer at Shin-Osaka, but Nozomi trains will head straight through, terminating at Hakata on Kyushu.

The Japan Rail Pass [1] is a natural fit for travel here, as elsewhere in Japan. But if you're planning to spend a significant amount of time in this region, the JR West San'yo Area Pass [2] allows essentially unlimited travel in Chūgoku, Kansai, and part of Kyushu, including the Shinkansen (even Nozomi trains). The 4-day/8-day pass is ¥20,000/30,000.

There are several airports in the region, notably in Hiroshima and Okayama, with a handful of international flights to cities in Asia and connections to Tokyo. There's also a major international ferry port in Shimonoseki.