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'''Original Castles'''
'''Original Castles'''
Only twelve original castles remain in Japan, and the Chugoku region is home to two of them:
Only twelve original castles remain in Japan, and the Chugoku region is home to two of them:
* '''Bitchu Matsuyama Castle''' - One of the least visited of all the original castles by foreign tourists, this castle, located in [[Takahashi]], [[Okayama Prefecture]], is Japan's highest castle.
* '''Bitchu Matsuyama Castle''' - One of the least visited of all the original castles by foreign tourists, this castle, located in [[Takahashi]], is Japan's highest castle.
* '''Matsue Castle''' - located in [[Matsue]], [[Shimane ]]Prefecture, this is one of Japan's few black castles.
* '''Matsue Castle''' - located in [[Matsue]], this is one of Japan's few black castles.

Revision as of 09:01, 13 March 2009

Japan chugoku map small.png

Chūgoku (中国) is the westernmost part of the main Japanese island Honshu.



Bridges in Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima
  • Hiroshima - site of the infamous nuclear bomb attack.
  • Miyajima - Location of Itsukushima Shrine, the most photographed shrine in all of Japan.
  • Okayama - featuring Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's Top 3 gardens and the brooding black Okayama Castle.
  • Kurashiki - site of one of Japan's largest and most beautiful historic areas, the Bikan Historic District, as well as the famous Ohara Museum of Art, which is full of famous works from Europe.
  • Takahashi - a quaint little castle town most famous for Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, and original Japanese castle, as well as Japan's highest castle.
  • Tottori - Home to Japan's only sand dunes, the Tottori Sand Dunes provide visitors with a highly unique experience, including camel rides.
  • Matsue - Famous for Matsue Castle, one of Japan's few remaining original castles
  • Izumo - Home to the great Izumo Shrine, the second most holy Shinto Shrine in Japan.
  • Iwami - Home to the Iwami Ginzan mines, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 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

Other destinations

  • 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.
  • Niimi - home to the Maki Cave and Ikura Ravine.
  • 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.


Get in

By plane

Hiroshima has a fairly large airport, with domestic and some international connections.

By train

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.

Get around

By train

The JR West San'yo Area Pass [1] 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.


World Heritage Sites

The Chugoku region is home to three of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and Its Cultural Landscape - Located in Iwami, Shimane Prefecture, Iwami Ginzan was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2007.
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) - Located in Hiroshima, Hiroshima (prefecture), Genbaku Dome was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1996.
  • Itsukushima Shinto Shrine - Located in Miyajima, Hiroshima (prefecture), Itsukushima Shrine was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1996.


Original Castles Only twelve original castles remain in Japan, and the Chugoku region is home to two of them:

  • Bitchu Matsuyama Castle - One of the least visited of all the original castles by foreign tourists, this castle, located in Takahashi, is Japan's highest castle.
  • Matsue Castle - located in Matsue, this is one of Japan's few black castles.

Reconstructed Castles

Castle Ruins


  • Korakuen Garden (Okayama) This is the most famous garden in the Chugoku region, as well as one of the top three gardens in all of Japan.
  • RSK Rose Garden (Okayama) A large garden containing a wide variety of roses from all over the world.
  • Tokoen Garden (Okayama)
  • Handayama Botanical Garden (Okayama)
  • Shurakuen Garden (Tsuyama)
  • 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.
  • Shukkeien Garden (Hiroshima)
  • 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.
  • Miho Shrine (Mihonoseki)

Historic Districts

Famous Museums


  • Chugoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage
  • 88 Temples of Innoshima


Famous dishes from the Chugoku region.


Get out

  • Shikoku - Japan's oft-ignored fourth island is easily accessed from the southern coast of Chugoku.
  • Kyushu - Home to the bustling city of Fukuoka, historical Nagasaki, relaxing Beppu, and a variety of natural sites, such as Aso.
  • 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.

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