Japan (April 2019): San-in Coast


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The San-in coast of Japan lies on the northern side of the westernmost part of Honshu. From west to east, the region successively covers the northern part of the Yamaguchi prefecture, the Shimane prefecture, and the Tottori prefecture. The name ″San-in″ refers to the northern shady side of the mountain, while the name of ″San-yo″ of the region to the south (where Hiroshima is located) refers to the southern sunny side of the mountain.


Compared to many other regions of Japan, the San-in coast is sparsely populated and significantly less developed economically. It also receives much fewer visitors, especially non-Japanese ones, probably because traveling there takes time. Nevertheless, the region has played, and to some extent still plays an important role in Japan. The silver mine of Iwami Ginzan that has been active between 1526 and 1923 was one of the world most productive. During the late Edo and the Meiji eras the town of Hagi contributed to the rise of the Japanese heavy industry. New ideas taught in Hagi also led to the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate and the restoration of power to the emperor (Meiji restoration). The region also plays an important role in the maintenance of cultural traditions, such as the very popular Kagura dance. Its agricultural output remains high.


My trip started in Hagi in the southwestern part of the San-in coast and ended in Kurayoshi near its northeastern end. I stopped in Hagi, Tsuwano, Hamada, Iwami Ginzan, Izumo, Matsue, Nishinoshima (one of the Oki islands north of Matsue), Yonago (to climb Mt. Daisen), and Kurayoshi (to climb the modest, but religiously significant Mt. Mitoku). Hagi and Tsuwano are two castle towns with well-preserved former residences and old temples. Hamada is an excellent place to attend performances of the Iwami Kagura dance. Iwami Ginzan is not just a collection of mining shafts; its small old town is pretty and very well preserved. Izumo is the site of the second most important Shinto shrine in Japan (after the one of Ise). Nishinoshima is a quiet, extremely beautiful island in the Sea of Japan. Yonago is a good base to climb Mt. Daisen, the highest mountain in the region (1729m) and still partially snow-covered in April. Kurayoshi has a beautiful former merchant quarter and gives access to the Nageiredo (a Buddhist hall precariously built on a cliff below the summit of Mt. Mitoku). I entered and left Japan in Fukuoka in Kyushu, which led me to spend a small amount of time on Kyushu at the very beginning and end of the trip.


To see photos of this trip click on the links below.







Iwami Ginzan






Matsue and Izumo



Yonago and around

Kurayoshi and Mt. Mitoku




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