Shimane Prefecture stretches west to east along the northern coast of western Japan. The country’s second-smallest prefecture by population, it is a rural hidden gem, well off the beaten path but with plenty to offer. Known as the land of the gods, the area is rich with tradition and often mentioned in Japanese folklore. With its wide Chugoku mountain range, stunning Oki Islands just off the coast and cities rich with history, Shimane has something for everyone.
Shimane is accessible by limited express train, highway bus and car. You can also fly into one of its three airports.
Okayama Station, on the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, is the main transport hub for access to Shimane. From there, express trains operate and stop at Yasugi, Matsue, and Izumo-shi stations in the north. For Tsuwano Station in the south of Shimane, take the express train from Shin-Yamaguchi Station. You can use the JR Rail Pass on all the above routes. Highway buses offer an alternative to rail. From Tokyo, expect the journey to take between 11 and 13 hours. Major airports in Japan offer flights to Shimane's three airports: Hagi Iwami Airport in the west, and Izumo and Yonago Airports in the east.
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Spring brings in festivals and celebrations with horseback archery rituals, and parades featuring locals in elaborate samurai garb. The pink-wash backdrop of cherry blossom makes its anticipated appearance from the end of March.
Spend Shimane summers swimming in the cool waters of the Oki Islands or jet-off to the mainland coast for watersports, night fishing, and grand fireworks displays
Celebrate Shimane’s autumn makeover with events in Izumo, and a drum parade and ritual in Matsue. The cooler climate is ideal for visits to the area's many temples and shrines, all framed by fiery leaves of red and gold.
Grab your ski gear and take on the area's slopes. Replenish by the sea with freshly-caught snow crab. Keep out the cold with a warming dip in bubbling onsen waters.