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Iwami Tatamigaura Fossil Beach

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Iwami Tatamigaura Fossil Beach


Explore the under-the-sea world of 16 million years ago at this beach in Shimane

Shimane Prefecture



Iwami Tatamigaura is a picturesque beach in the west of Shimane Prefecture that has been designated a National Natural Treasure. The fossils found across this unique, rocky landscape provides an insight into the sea creatures historically living here, as it is actually the sea floor from 16 million years ago raised to the surface by a powerful earthquake in 1872.

To reach the beach you need to walk through a 200 meter long cavern. You will emerge onto a vast, rocky area that feels like a fantasy world. Protruding from the ground like rounded stone benches are nodules – rounded lumps of hard stone that are formed from compacted fossils. The rocky surface is also covered with vertical and horizontal cracks, making it resemble Japanese tatami mats and explaining how the beach got its name.

Across the beach it’s possible to find the fossils of whale bones, petrified wood and shells. Some of the shell fossils are heart shaped so are known as 'happy shells'.


How to get there


Iwami Tatamigaura is 20 minutes walk from JR Shimokō Station.


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