New Sites in Shimane and Tottori Added to Michelin Green Guide
Over 20 new sites in Shimane and Tottori prefectures in the western San’in region have been added to Michelin’s Green Guide, which is now available to view online.A total of 24 new sites has been added to the latest web edition of the Michelin Green Guide, bringing to a total of 63 the number of sites across the San’in region listed in the guide. New sites including the double-starred Oki Islands, Yushien Garden, and the Kuniga Coast & Matengai Cliffs, with many more interesting yet undiscovered places either newly listed or awarded a coveted Michelin star.
The San’in region is an area in the southwest of Japan’s largest island of Honshu consisting of Shimane and Tottori prefectures and the northern part of Yamaguchi prefecture. Sandwiched between the Sea of Japan to the north and the Chugoku mountain range to the south, the region’s large coastal and mountainous areas are protected as national parks, and many are now gaining popularity as rural tourist destinations.
According to the Michelin Green Guide, a trip to the region will take you well off the beaten track and deep into “Ura-Nihon”, the “secret and authentic heart of Japan”. Lying as it does off the main transport routes, this rural region has remained “unspoiled, mysterious, genuine and under populated”. Bypassed by most sightseeing tours, it is nonetheless “rich in grandiose scenery” such as the Tottori sand dunes and Oki Islands, “fascinating cultural sites” such as Iwami Silver Mine and Izumo Taisha - one of Japan’s oldest shrines - and dotted with “relaxing onsen and ancient feudal cities steeped in history”.
The following sites in the San'in region are newly listed:
★★ : Recommended
Oki Islands (Oki Islands)
Kuniga Coast & Matengai Cliffs (Nishinoshima Town)
Yuushien Garden (Matsue City)
★ : Interesting
Mihonoseki Lighthouse (Matsue City)
Okuizumo Tatara and Japanese Sword Museum (Okuizumo Town)
Iwami Kagura (Hamada City)
Tamawakasu-no-mikoto Shrine (Okinoshima Town)
Saigo-misaki Cape (Okinoshima Town)
Takuhi Shrine (Nishinoshima Town)
Other newly listed sites
Mihonoseki (Matsue City)Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Museum (Ohda City)Sekishu Washi Center (Hamada City)Ushi-tsuki (Bull Sumo) (Okinoshima Town)
Where To Visit in the San’in Region
Oki Islands [★★]
Formerly a place of exile for ruined dignitaries, this volcanic archipelago is composed of four main islands that are home to a unique ecosystem protected as a UNESCO Geopark. Green pasturelands, steep sheer cliffs, luxuriant primeval forests, crystal-clear water, few inhabitants and many religious shrines all combine to endow this maritime paradise with a singular and authentic atmosphere.
Kuniga Coast & Matengai Cliffs[★★]
Take a hike along the 2km/1.3mi long hiking trail furrowing the wild coast of Kuniga, and you may be lucky enough to encounter wild horses, along with many other species native to the Oki region. With its weathered cliffs and green grazing lands, the trail offers breath-taking coastal and mountain views, such as those from the crest of the spectacular basalt cliffs of Matengai, which rise to over 250m/820ft. Along the way you’ll pass the natural stone arch of Tsutenkyo and an underwater grotto (Akekure-no-iwaya).
Yuushien Garden (Matsue City)[★★]
Perched on a small island in the middle of Naka-umi, a brackish lake which is Japan’s fifth largest, Yuushien Garden is blessed with a mild climate and fertile black volcanic soil which offer a bountiful home to a multitude of different plants. Thousands of tree peonies, camellias, iris, hydrangeas, water lilies and azaleas populate a recreated mountain landscape, sprouting up from amidst boulders, waterfalls and clumps of decorative moss all over the islet. Down the narrow paths, gardeners in traditional straw hats carefully tend rare plants in the shade of maple trees and black pines of Shimane.
Iwami Kagura (Hamada City)[★]
The Shimane region is the source of many of Japan's oldest myths and legends, and the Iwami Kagura, or ritual dances of Iwami, were first created to entertain the gods. Visit Sanku Shrine in Hamada to watch the ritual being performed: musicians accompany dancers dressed in colourful costumes and elaborate masks as they energetically roam the dance floor. The most famous myth enacted is that of Orochi, featuring a famous fight between the god Susanoo and a terrifying eight-headed serpent.
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Museum (Ohda City) [newly listed]
Now little-known or forgotten, in the 16th and 17th century this silver mine produced vast quantities of silver on an international scale, contributing greatly to Japan’s national development. Visitors can descend the 156m/512ft-long Ryugenji Mabu mine shaft to the underground gallery to get a taster of the terrible working conditions faced by the miners, who had a life expectancy of just 30 years. A small museum housed in the former mine offices has displays of mining tools and the shogin (silver coins) which the miners risked their lives to produce. Nearby, Rakan-ji Temple is dedicated to the miners’ memory.