Shimane is located at the western end of Honshu, the main island of Japan.
There are 3 main regions, Izumo the northern part, Iwami the southern part and the Oki Islands.
Matsue City: East of Lake Shinji (protected wetlands of international importance), capital of Shimane. Matsue Castle and many shrines of historical importance.
Izumo City: West of Lake Shinji, Izumo Taisha grand shrine standing near the sea is one of the biggest and most important shrines in Japan.
Yasugi City: the base of Izumo warlord Amago, internationally famous Adachi Art Museum with ‘the best Japanese garden’ award by the American magazine “The Journal of Japanese Gardening”. The Adachi Museum garden has now won this award for ten consecutive years.
Unnan City, Oku-izumo Town: South of Lake Shinji, where there are many places connected with Izumo’s ancient myths, also Tatara ancient steel-making
Ohda City: Iwami silver mine, the largest in Japanese history (1526 – 1923) , in the early 17th century this mine produced one third of the world’s silver. The mine is now a World Heritage site. Mount Sanbe
Gotsu City: Sesshu garden
Hamada City: A port town, the base of Iwami Kagura
Masuda City: Grand Troit Art Museum and Art Theatre, one of the best facilities in western Japan
Tsuwano Town: Known as “Little Kyoto”. Here is seen the famous Sagi-mai, Heron Dance and Yabusame horse archery.
The Oki Islands are in a unique location where cold currents and warm currents mix to produce an unusual climate and habitat. Here we find scallops with colourful shells, black tuna, and sub tropical plants mingle with alpine plants. Oki was designated as a Japanese Geopark in 2009.
The culture of the Oki Islands is so different from the mainland. The Rengei Mai dance is said to be performed only here and at the Imperial Court. (Incidentally two emperors were exiled to the Oki Islands.) Bull fights (bull against bull) , Yabusame archery and traditional Sumo are found in Oki’s unique culture.