The Land of Japanese Mythology
The Japanese see the mountains, forests, and coasts of Shimane as a land of gods. On the Shimane Peninsula, you'll find a beautiful natural seaside with intricate inlets and cliffs and significant buildings. In Matsue City, visit Kagano Kukedo to see this mysterious coastal cave, and Matsue Castle (a National Treasure). In Izumo City, visit Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine (officially, Izumo Oyashiro), popularly known as the place to pray for the fulfillment of love. Izumo Taisha is Japan’s oldest and most significant shrine. Each year, eight million Shinto gods from all over Japan gather here for the Kamiarisuki, or month with the gods. This popular shrine is home to a god of marriage and good relationships, attracting two million worshipers annually.
Peaks of Interest
At 1,729 meters, Mount Daisen is the highest peak in the Chugoku region. Hike to the summit for commanding panoramic vistas. On your way down, be sure to visit the historical Ogamiyama Shrine and Daisenji Temple, and walk along Japan’s longest natural stone path. The path to Daisenji Temple features a hot spring, a foot spa, and shops offering relaxation and other conveniences. The 900-meter high Mount Mitoku features Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Temple, an eleventh-century mountain temple. While you can visit several halls around the base of the mountain, climb higher to see the most impressive one—Nageiredo Hall. Supported by wooden poles, this unique national architectural treasure built into the mouth of a cave overlooking a sheer precipice is a true marvel.
In A Sea of Wonders
The Oki Islands consist of four populated islands (Dogo, Nishinoshima, Nakanoshima, and Chiburijima), and more than 180 uninhabited islands in the Sea of Japan. Geologically and culturally unique, these islands became the Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark in 2013. On Nishinoshima, Kuniga Coast offers some of Japan's most impressive natural scenery, including sea cliffs, caves, arches, and stacks. See the 257-meter Matengai Cliff, Akekure-no-Iwaya Sea Cavern, Tsutenkyo Sea Arch, Tenjokai (Heavenly World), and Kannon-Iwa (Buddhist Deity Rock). On Chiburijima, see the dramatic 50–200-meter red cliffs of Sekiheki, and on Nakanoshima, attend a rare night-time ceremony at Oki Shrine where the head priest will perform a sacred ritual using an amulet upon which you may write your prayers and take with you afterward.
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