‘Tatara Samurai’ wins Best Artistic Contribution Award at Montreal World Film Festival

Posted on: 16th September, 2016

The film ‘Tatara Samurai’ wins Best Artistic Contribution Award at Montreal World Film Festival. On 5th September 2016 the film ‘Tatara Samurai’ produced by Izumo-born film director Yoshinari Nishikori and Hiro of EXILE received The Best Artistic Contribution Award at this year’s Montreal World Film Festival.    http://tatara-samurai.jp http://www.ffm-montreal.org/en/press-releases/158-2016_montreal-world-film-festival-awards.html  ‘Tatara’ is an ancient Japanese steel-making

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Masuda Puppets perform at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

Posted on: 14th September, 2016

Masuda Puppets perform at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London On Sunday 1st May London’s Victoria and Albert Museum hosted a Japan Family Festival event to celebrate the renewal of the Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Arts at the V&A. There were many UK-based Japanese culture groups giving performances and workshops; among them Masuda String

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Matsue Castle designated a National Treasure

Posted on: 19th November, 2015

Matsue Castle in Matsue City, Shimane, was designated a National Treasure in Spring of this year for the second time (see below). This designation of a Japanese castle was the first in the last sixty three years. Since the announcement in May the number of tourists to Matsue is increasing. The designation this time was

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UK Shimane Kenjinkai Society – 英国島根県人会

Posted on: 27th July, 2015

UK Shimane Kenjinkai Society We have recently re-named London Shimane Kenjinkai (ロンドン島根県人会) as the new UK Shimane Kenjinkai (英国島根県人会) to appeal to people living around the UK to join us.  Anyone born in Shimane Prefecture, lived there or has an association are welcome to become a member. We are holding the first dinner party on

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Oki Islands Flower Brochure

Posted on: 27th March, 2015

This is Oki World Geopark’s new brochure using the photographic works of the photographer Mr Hidenaga Miyamoto, Okinoshima Island’s well-known botanist. The brochure was designed by Mr Masayuki Saito of Oki Geopark Tour Desk.  We are hoping to introduce it in English very soon. After viewing, press back button to return to the blog.  

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Sengu Photo Exhibition in London

Posted on: 17th March, 2015

Last Thursday 5th March an opening preview and reception of Yukihito Masuura’s photographic exhibition was held in London.  Yukihito Masuura is an official photographer of Sengu (shrine renewal and re-positioning of enshrined god or goddess) held in 2013 at both Izumo Taisha and Ise Jingu, which are the most important grand shrines in Japan.  Ise

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Aerial Views of Shimane’s Beauty Spots

Posted on: 17th March, 2015

Mr Tetsuo Yamamoto, a fellow Shimane Kentohshi ambassador for tourism, is promoting Shimane’s beauty spots taken from a drone.  He had been using a radio-controlled helicopter for the last twenty five years, but recent drone development has made his activity easier and safer. Apart from tourism he is also providing aerial assessments of bridge and building constructions

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Sake brewing

Posted on: 13th March, 2015

The winter season is the busiest time for the Sake breweries; at Oki Shuzo brewery in Shimane some extra people are hired for the preparation called Shikomi before the fermentation processes. Shinto priest giving a prayer for safe production.   Washing sake rice   They use special rice suitable for sake brewing, milled specially to

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Masuda Puppeteers’ Kabuki

Posted on: 1st December, 2014

Please see our new page, Masuda Puppeteers, in the Performing Arts index (link below).  They are designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane. Their miniature theatre resides within the Grand Toit theatre in Masuda City, located in south-western Shimane. Ningyo-Joruri, puppet-Kabuki known as Bunraku in Japan is more well-known than the string

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Wild flowers of Okinoshima Island

Posted on: 26th November, 2014

We have received new images from Oki, taken by local wild plant researcher Mr Hidenaga Miyamoto.  Mr Miyamoto is a taxi driver in Okinoshima Island and famous for his dedication to Oki’s wild flower research and photography. The photos below are some examples; wild orchids and unusual plants. Please see more in the Oki pages

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The Wedding of Izumo Taisha Priest Senge Kunimaro and Princess Noriko

Posted on: 6th October, 2014

Yesterday the most celebrated wedding of the year in Japan took place at Izumo Taisha grand shrine. The eldest son of the Head Priest Senge Takamasa, Deputy Head Priest Senge Kunimaro, married Princess Noriko of Takamado-no-miya. It was everyone’s concern that a typhoon was approaching Japan, but as usual, the gods in Izumo stopped the

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New Sake Brewery Museum page

Posted on: 23rd May, 2014

We have uploaded a new page on Kakeya Sakagura Shiryoukan (Kakeya Sake Brewery Museum).  It is in the brewery Takeshita Honten (established 1866). Adjacent to the Takeshita residence which is the birthplace of former Japanese Prime Minister Takeshita (1987 – 1989) Noboru Takeshita during the time of Prime Minister Thatcher, Presidents Bush Senior and Reagan.

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New music page

Posted on: 22nd May, 2014

We have uploaded a new music page where you can enjoy beautiful music pieces from Shimane.  We are particularly keen to introduce traditional music associated with the historical culture of Izumo, and talents hidden in local communities. You can go straight to the music page via this thumbnail. We hope you enjoy it!

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Tatsuo Hino

Posted on: 10th April, 2014

Japanese flute craftsman Tatsuo Hino from Izumo is well known and admired by many people for his most beautiful flutes to look at and listen to.  He makes them for Japanese traditional music groups such as Noh and Kagura players. He was born in 1942.  When the young Tatsuo Hino heard Chikuzan Takahashi, the Tsugaru

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The winner of Shimane’s ‘Spectacular Scenery Competition’

Posted on: 24th March, 2014

The 21st and most recent First Prize winner of Shimane’s ‘Spectacular Scenery Competition’ is Kawasumi known as the ‘Village closest to Heaven’. The award was given on 5th February this year. It is an annual event organized by Shimane Prefectural Government.   Kawasumi Village, Kamikuchiba, Ohnan Town, Shimane Kawasumi Village is located on the border

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Mt Sanbe’s Hiire (Burning)

Posted on: 19th March, 2014

On 25th of March field burning will take place on the Nishinohara Plain of the Sanbe Mountains organized by Ohda City Council.  It started 26 years ago for the prevention of bush fires and is part of the field management system.  This ‘Hiire’ or fire-lighting has become an annual tourist attraction. The Sanbe Mountains are

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Setsubun-sai Festival

Posted on: 6th February, 2014

Setsubun-sai Festival Newspaper estimates three thousand people gathered at Susa’s Setsubunsai festival despite rain. On the 3rd of February the annual tradition of Setsubun-sai festival was held at Susa Jinja shrine.  As usual Somin Shorai’s Chinowa rings were given to the visiting worshippers (see information on last year’s blog), and more than 600 kg of

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Kitcho and Ban-nai

Posted on: 16th January, 2014

New Year’s celebration Kitcho and Ban-nai at Izumo Taisha In Japan the New Year celebrations during the first three days are the most important of the calendar for Japanese families and many people visit their local shrines, wishing New Year’s happiness and prosperity for themselves and their families.  Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine received around 450,000

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Eight Million Gods Descend on Izumo

Posted on: 19th November, 2013

On the evening of 12th November Yaoyorozu (eight million) gods of Japan descended upon the Inasa-no-hama beach near Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine.  Yaoyorozu does not mean exactly eight million but represents the meaning of  ‘a vast number’. All over Japan the month of October in the old calendar is known as ‘Kan-na-zuki 神無月’, the month

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Hitomaro, Lord Masuda and Sesshu

Posted on: 27th September, 2013

We have created a new page in Index ‘Most Famous’, History of Masuda City.  Link Shimane’s southern city of Masuda has a cultural history brought by Kakinomono-no-hitomaro (AD 660 – 720), a prominent aristocratic Japanese poet.  He is said to be the first poet of the oldest collection of Japanese poetry ‘Man-yo-shu‘, contributing 94 poems.

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Wasabi

Posted on: 24th September, 2013

Wasabi in Hikimi Gorge Hikimi Gorge is one of Shimane’s most beautiful gorges.  The water from the spring source is pure and is highly-ranked in the Japanese river water quality surveys. It is here that wasabi is grown. Wasabi is an internationally recognized condiment for Sushi but not many Western consumers know the plant itself.

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Oki Geopark is now Oki World Geopark

Posted on: 10th September, 2013

Oki World Geopark After Tokyo was chosen as a host city of the 2020 Olympics, we now have a double celebration.  Yesterday in Korea the Global Geoparks Network voted to designate Shimane’s Oki Geopark as Oki World Geopark. It is the 6th Japanese World Geo-park after: 1. Touyako lake/Usuzan mountain in Hokkaido, the northern-most island

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Susa Jinja Natsu-matsuri, Summer Festival

Posted on: 22nd August, 2013

Susa Jinja Natsu-matsuri, Summer Festival On 15th August the Kiriake Shinji ritual was held at Susa Jinja shrine. ‘Susa Jinja Nenbutsu-odori, Buddha Dance’ is said to be at least 1500 years old and is designated a Shimane Intangible Cultural Property. Above Nichinichi Shinbun newspaper article 22/08/13.  There was an earlier article on 16/08/13. According to

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Izumo Tiasha Senzasai Photographs

Posted on: 22nd August, 2013

Izumo Taisha’s Senzasai photos We are delighted to share the wonderful photos taken by photographer Makoto Furukawa during Izumo Taisha’s Senzasai festivals which started in spring 2013.  Many of his photos can be seen in the Heisei Daisengu book published by Sanin Chuuou Shinpou Sha, now in circulation. See here (Japanese) tel: 0852-32-3420 We have uploaded the

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New Oki Kagura page

Posted on: 16th August, 2013

New Oki Kagura page We have uploaded a new Oki Kagura page in our Performing Arts page.  Please press Index for access to this or click this thumbnail to go straight there. We credit Okinoshima Education Council for Dougo Kagura photos including the old Harada Kagura mask collection shown below.  It is preserved by Okinoshima

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Experience of Iwami Kagura

Posted on: 8th August, 2013

Iwami Kagura Video Please enjoy in full screen (press Escape when finished).   Iwami Kagura Exhibition in Taisha Town, Izumo, till 8th September 2013 An Iwami Kagura exhibition is currently held at Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo, located adjacent to Izumo Taisha grand shrine.  Actual performances are given at near-by Taisha Bunka Place ‘Urara Hall’,

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Kunibiki Messe Conference Facilities

Posted on: 5th August, 2013

Kunibiki Messe We have added a new page, Shimane Convention Facilities, in our Index. Kunibiki Messe is in Matsue City where visitors can sample Shimane’s culture and history in between the conference sessions.  Within biking distance, you can see Matsue Castle, Lafcadio Hearn’s museum, Tanabe Museum, Buke Yashiki (warlord’s house), Shimane Art Museum and the

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Flood in Tsuwano

Posted on: 29th July, 2013

Flood in Tsuwano On 28th July more than 350 mm (14 inches) of rain fell in Tsuwano, the average rainfall for the whole of July.  Some citizens are still evacuated but the town centre escaped damage. The steam locomotive line services and JR train services between Yamaguchi and Tsuwano are out of operation but bus

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Oki’s Yurahime Jinja Festival

Posted on: 17th July, 2013

Oki’s Yurahime Jinja Festival 27th and 28th July 2013 One of Oki’s major festivals, Reitaisai Ritual at Yurahime Jinja, Nishinoshima Island is held in alternate years. It has been in every odd year, during the last Saturday and Sunday of July. In the morning of the first day, the rituals take place at Yurahime Shrine.

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Kote-e, Plastering Art

Posted on: 8th July, 2013

In the old days life in the Iwami Region was hard, as there is no large plain between the mountains and the coastline suitable for agriculture as there is in the Izumo Region. Iwami men therefore tried to gain skills for work in or out of the region. They are highly regarded as Sekishu Shokunin

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Renge-e mai Revisited

Posted on: 3rd July, 2013

Here is some more information on the mysterious dances from Kokubunji Temple in Okinoshima Town in the Oki Islands.  We have done a bit more research since our visit to the Oki Islands. The name ‘Renge-e mai’ comes from the Renge flower season in Oki at which time the dances were performed.  In AD 741

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Visit to Shimane – Oki Islands

Posted on: 24th June, 2013

Our trip to Shimane – Oki Islands Okinoshima Arrived at Saigo in Okinoshima Island after a short flight from Izumo Airport on 20th May 2013. Oki Airport is on the other side of the right hill shown in the photo below on the left. We were lucky enough to meet staff from Okinoshima Town Council,

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Shimane Visit

Posted on: 18th June, 2013

Our visit to Shimane We spent most of May in Shimane. May in Japan is nice, full of spring flowers and 5th May is Japan’s Boys’ Day. It’s a national public holiday and celebrations of the birth of boys and young boys are visible everywhere in flying carp fish flags and samurai doll displays. Girls’

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Susa Jinja Spring Festival

Posted on: 3rd May, 2013

Spring Festival at Susa Jinja shrine On 18th April the annual Spring Festival was held at Susa Jinja shrine, Sada Town, Izumo City. Although the ritual is the same every year this year it was extra special. The head priest Taketoshi Susa has recently received the honour of the highest position called ‘Joukai (浄階)’ from

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Oki Islands, Renge-e mai

Posted on: 3rd May, 2013

Oki Renge-e-mai Renge-e-mai dances are performed to commemorate Kōbōdaishi on every 21st April at Kokubunji Temple in Oki’s Okinoshima Island. Kokubunji Temple in Oki was built during the Tenpyo Period (AD 729 – 749), one of the Kokubunji temples in Japan built on the order of Emperor Shōmu (45th Emperor).  The record shows that the temple was

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Tsuwano – Gap Year Students and High School

Posted on: 2nd May, 2013

Gap Year Students in Tsuwano Tsuwano is the southernmost town in Shimane and is known as “Little Kyoto”.  It is a beautiful castle town going back over seven hundred years but unfortunately the castle is in ruins (having been struck by lightning and burned down in AD 1686).  Tsuwano is famous for its association with

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Izumo Taisha Sengu Promotion in London

Posted on: 29th April, 2013

Sengu Promotion in London Japanese organizations such as JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization), CLAIR (Japanese Council of Local Authorities for International Relations), travel companies (Japan Travel Centre/PIC-UK) and Japan Centre Group Ltd. a major Japanese food shop in Regent Street are kindly giving their support to advertise Izumo Taisha Sengu by displaying special posters and

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Masuda City’s Three Secrets …

Posted on: 8th April, 2013

 Masuda City’s Three Secrets … Cleanest water, most sunshine and lowest crime rate in Japan! Takatsu River The Takatsu River has been named by MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) as Japan’s best river for water quality in 2006, 2007, 2010 and  2011. It is the only river in the first rank of

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Kōjindani’s Ancient Swords Meet Ancient Lotus Flowers

Posted on: 19th March, 2013

Kojindani is located at the south western corner of Lake Shinji, near Izumo Airport, in the Hikawa Plain. Here 358 swords, 6 bells and 16 spearheads all in bronze were found during an archaeological survey in 1983 prior to a new major road construction. The narrow bronze sword was introduced to Japan from China early

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Izumo Taisha Sengu Celebratory Event Schedule

Posted on: 19th March, 2013

The schedule of the Izumo Taisha’s Sengu (Shrine Renewal) celebratory events has become available. It is a parade of Japanese traditional performing arts by top Japanese artists and Shimane’s cultural groups. After the Honden Senzasai on 10th May, in the grounds of Izumo Taisha, Izumo City, Kagura from various parts of Shimane is performed on

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