A Road Trip Guide From Izumo ・ Through the Mountains, Onsen, and Seas of San’in

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Drive through the prefectures of Shimane and Tottori for a tour of central San’in and all its natural beauty.

Mountains, Lakes, and the Sea ・ A Land of Legends, Surrounded by Mother Nature

Look at a map of the Central San'in region, and the distinct landscape jumps out at you. With the sacred Mount Daisen at its back, San'in faces out towards the Sea of Japan, with Lake Shinji and the brackish lake Nakaumi shining like two blue jewels. This landscape has helped bring prosperity to the region, and San'in is resplendent with beautiful natural features, abundance, and local flavors as well. The area has long been home to Japan's oldest myths and stories, and many of those stories reference landmarks still found in the area, from long-preserved shrines and temples, to historical sites with more concrete pasts. These days, travelers come to San'in from near and far, to explore the local culture and beautiful scenery, and to search out the stories of old.

The cities of Izumo, Matsue, Yasugi, Yonago, and Sakaiminato are each landmarks in this area pressed between the mountains and the sea, each with their own unique sights and sounds. To see a little bit of each city, this time the Japankuru team set off on a road trip starting from Izumo Airport!

Have you read about our other trips to Central San'in yet?
San'in in 2020 | San'in in 2021

The Izumo Area

A Walk Through the Momen Kaido

Izumo is known as the "land of the gods," but one sign of the city being firmly rooted in reality is the charming old Momen Kaido (木綿街道), literally "The Cotton Road." It's said that local cotton was first processed and sold along this street back in Japan's Edo period (1603-1868), and the product eventually earned such a gleaming reputation that it was sold in big cities all over Japan. Later on, in the Meiji period (1868-1912), local cotton production slowed down as silk picked up, and mills opened to spin silky fibers into fine threads, attracting merchants to the area.

Many of the historic buildings are still standing along the Momen Kaido, giving the area a touch of old-fashioned charm, and giving it an atmosphere outside the normal flow of time. Duck into shops that have been selling their wares for centuries, or visit one of the many restaurants and shops that have been opened inside the old, preserved buildings.

Kurumaya Ginger Candy

The Kurumaya Ginger Candy Shop is one of the oldest shops doing business along the Momen Kaido, with a history of over 300 years, and an 11th-generation owner upholding centuries of family tradition. The shop still makes their ginger candies the traditional way, using just ginger, sugar, and water, and cooling the candies in old-fashioned copper plate molds to create simple sweets with a naturally delicious flavor. Even the design of the packaging remains unchanged! In addition to their classic candies, Kurumaya has started offering another option in more recent years, which they call the "Doctor's Prescription for Love" (恋の処方箋). These unapologetically adorable heart-shaped ginger candies come in a little paper bag that looks like a prescription for the heart, so you can give it to someone special – or maybe a friend suffering from heartbreak!

A trip to the Kurumaya Ginger Candy Shop doesn't have to just be about bringing home some tasty ginger drops. It's nice to simply hear all about the store's history, and enjoy the old-fashioned atmosphere full of retro candies. Plus, these natural hand-made sweets have a fresher, softer texture when they're just-made, so don't miss the one-of-a-kind chance to try them during your visit!

Kurumaya Ginger Candy Shop (来間屋生姜糖本舗)
774 Hiratacho, Izumo, Shimane
Hours: 9:00 – 19:00
Official Website (jp) | Official Instagram

Oka Moichiro Shoten

Another historical Momen Kaido shop is the Oka Moichiro Shoten, a soy sauce maker that has been selling the product for more than 120 years. The building looks, essentially, just like it did back in the Edo period, and it has a unique style of second floor peculiar to merchant houses of the era called a "tsushi nikai," with a strikingly low ceiling! The soy sauce is full of tradition too, and they specialize in a variety called "saishikomi" soy sauce (再仕込み醤油), brewed using a rare double-fermentation process, making a product prized in San'in and all the way down to Kitakyushu.

Oka Moichiro Shoten still brews their soy sauce in big wooden barrels, and visitors can call ahead to make reservations for a soy sauce brewery tour and check out what the behind-the-scenes of soy sauce making really looks like. The brewery also offers soy sauce tastings for all the different varieties they make, so visitors can hear all about Oka Moichiro soy sauce from Shigeru Oka (the 8th generation owner), and then sample all the subtle flavor differences. Their saishikomi soy sauce ice cream is also a must-try for any sweet-tooth visiting the Momen Kaido!

Oka Moichiro Shoten (岡茂一郎商店)
861 Hiratacho, Izumo, Shimane
Hours: 9:00 – 19:00 (closed Tuesdays)
Official Website (jp)

Karakama Shrine

High in the mountains, uphill from the famous autumn leaves of Izumo's Gakuenji Temple, is a Shinto shrine that has long been hidden away in the woods: Karakama Shrine. Tucked in among the cedars, in a secluded little spot (with extremely poor reception), a long set of rugged stone steps leads up the mountain to a narrow stone crevice. Just a sliver of sky is visible through the rock faces, a little like the entrance to another world. It's a popular local "power spot" said to relieve worries and anxiety, and people also come looking for help growing their families. Each visitor is born from the stone as they carefully edge sideways through the tight path.

Karakama Shrine was established so long ago that the exact origins are hard to nail down, but its presence in ancient legends makes it clear that it's been around for quite a while. The shrine's name literally means something along the lines of "Korean stove," referencing the sea crossing of the enshrined deity Susanoo-no-mikoto and his son Isotakeru-no-mikoto, who brought back forestry techniques and the culture of ironware from the Kingdom of Silla, on the Korean peninsula.

Karakama Shrine (韓竈神社)
408 Karakawacho, Izumo, Shimane
Official Page (jp)

The Matsue Area

Karakoro Art Studio

Housed in the former 1930s Matsue branch of the Bank of Japan, Karakoro Art Studio opened in the spring of 2000 as an "artisan house," where visitors can check out boutiques, eateries, and workshops for everything from art to accessory making, traditional crafts, cooking, and more – including traditional Japanese wagashi sweets classes, or natural stone accessory making! The retro building is a design from architect Uheiji Nagano, who designed a number of notable former Japanese Bank buildings and even Taiwan's Office of the President, but these days the facility's courtyard becomes a special destination during tsuyu, the Japanese rainy season. The space is turned into the "Enishizuku Umbrella Sky" for just a handful of weeks each year, when Karakoro Art Studio turns rainy day sunlight into rainbows with more than 200 colorful transparent umbrellas overhead.

Perfect for travelers who like to snap (and share) lots of pictures, Karakoro Art Studio has plenty of photo spots, like the lucky pink mailbox out front. Visitors can even visit the former bank vault in the building's basement! There aren't any piles of riches left in the vault these days, unless you count the art and exhibitions sometimes displayed in the space, but you can pick up a pile of replica 10,000 yen bills to see how much it would way down your pockets if you won the lottery. This armful adds up to 100 million yen!

*Karakoro Art Studio will be closed temporarily for repairs in 2023, and is expected to open again in 2024.

Karakoro Art Studio (カラコロ工房)
43 Tonomachi, Matsue, Shimane
Hours: Workshop 9:30 – 18:30 | Restaurant 11:30 – 18:30 (closed 12/30~1/1)
*Individual business hours may vary, please check the official website before going.
Official Website (jp)

Shimane Art Museum

The Shimane Art Museum is perched right on the shore of Lake Shinji, the setting for one of the "100 Best Sunsets in Japan," and the museum is a particularly popular viewing location. The C-shaped building has a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, and the vast panes of glass let the glow of the sunset shine into the museum each evening as one enormous natural work of art. Of course the sunset isn't the only art found at the Shimane Art Museum, and even outside on the lakeshore there are sculptures scattered around the grassy trails, but it is known as the "sunset museum," and visitors frequently arrive to take photos of the museum, its art, and the sunset from every angle. The museum even adjusts closing times to accommodate the natural cycle of the sunset.

The museum collection encompasses more than 7,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, industrial crafts, photographs, and more from artists around Japan and abroad. Ukiyo-e lovers will be particularly dazzled by the Shimane Art Museum's collection of almost 3,000 pieces from famous artists like Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Hiroshige, and more.

Shimane Art Museum (島根県立美術館)
1-5 Sodeshicho, Matsue, Shimane
Hours: Oct~Feb 10:00 – 18:30 | Mar~Sep 10:00 – 30 min after sunset (closed Tuesdays/year-end holidays)
Official Website (en)

Marine Park Takobana

At the very northernmost tip of the Shimane Peninsula is a promontory that slopes up into the heavens, called the "Cape in the Sky." The Takobana area is full of complicated terrain thanks to its formation as a deeply indented Rias coastline, and in 2004 seaside resort Marine Park Takobana opened on the cape to help travelers enjoy the unique natural beauty. Now a line of simple two-story cabins snakes along the edge of the promontory, each one with a magnificent sea view, along with convenient shared facilities like a barbecue area and a camping site. (Barbecue and camping gear is available for rent!)

One of the most popular spots at the resort is the observation platform, where you can feast your eyes on a panoramic view of Takobana's verdant forested coastline. Anyone, resort guest or not, can climb up and enjoy the view from the observation platform, but visitors who stay the night have the luxury of looking out at the blue sea as the sun sets, the clear starry night after dark, and the pale dawn as the sun rises in the east. It's a romantic spot, and many couples like to leave their own "lovers' lock" behind, including local sweethearts.

Marine Park Takobana (マリーンパーク多古鼻)
1050 Shimanecho Tako, Matsue, Shimane
Official Website (en)

*Onsen Recommendation*

Tamatsukuri Onsen

Looking for a little rest and relaxation around Matsue? This hot spring has been around since Japan's Nara period (710-794), and it's earned a reputation as a "hot spring of the gods." The onsen owes its popularity in part to a feudal lord from the Matsudaira clan, who came to convalesce at Tamatsukuri during the Edo period, starting a trend that lasts to this day. The name Tamatsukuri (玉造) refers to working with precious stones, uncommon for a hot spring, but the region was once known for crafts made with stone agate mined from nearby Mt. Kasenzan, including a part of the Imperial Regalia!

The area is known for old-fashioned Japanese ryokan hotels with traditional architecture, large open-air baths surrounded by beautiful gardens, and connections to Japanese mythology. Even visitors just dropping by can take a moment to enjoy the warm hot spring water at the natural foot bath along the Tamayu River, while looking out at the mountains in the distance.

Tamatsukuri Onsen (玉造温泉)
255 Tamayucho Tamatsukuri, Matsue, Shimane
Official Website (jp)

The Yasugi Area

Gassantoda Castle Ruins

If you've ever played a Japanese video game that harkens back to history, particularly Nobunaga's Ambition or Samurai Warriors, then you might know the name of the great commander Yamanaka Yukimori and the Amago clan, or even Gassantoda Castle itself, where they spent their time. The massive scale and strong defenses of Gassantoda Castle gave it a reputation as an impregnable fortress – an important stronghold for the Amago clan as they conquered the San'in and Sanyo regions during the Sengoku/Warring States period (1467-1568).

As the years passed, Gassantoda Castle eventually fell into ruin, leaving only remnants in its mountaintop clearing. But a road still leads up to where the castle once towered above its territory, 190m (623ft) above sea level. Looking out over the old castle walls, you can almost imagine yourself as part of the Amago clan during their battles for the San'in and Sanyo regions, fighting alongside Yamanaka Yukimori half a millennium ago. The area now has a statue commemorating the commander, and a memorial tower as well.

Gassantoda Castle Ruins (月山富田城跡)
Hirosecho Toda, Yasugi, Shimane
*If using a car navigation system, please search for the Yasugi City History Museum (安来市立歴史資料館).
Official Page (jp)

Yasugi-Kiyomizudera Temple

Yasugi-Kiyomizudera Temple is deep in the mountains, with a long path approaching the main temple building, and lush forest lends the grounds a calm, tranquil atmosphere. Walking along the quiet trails, it's hard to believe that the temple was once a battleground for the war between the Amago and Mori clans during the Sengoku period. The temple has been around since long before those days, though, and can be traced back as far as the year 587, to the Kofun-era high priest Sonryu. According to legend, the temple's 1420-year history began in a place where ancient pines grew thickly and towered overhead, and visitors to the area often found themselves uneasy in this remote wilderness. Once the temple monks built their first thatched huts and enshrined an image of the Buddha, they went on to search for a water source, despite water being rare on the mountain. Miraculously, they found a fresh spring right next to a hut, giving the temple the name "Kiyomizu," which means pure water.

Back when the temple was constructed, it didn't clearly belong to any particular Buddhist sect, but during the Heian period (794-1185) the priest Ennin (also called Jikaku Daishi) brought Tendai Buddhism to Yasugi-Kiyomizudera Temple from Mount Hiei in Kyoto. It's now one of 33 sacred sites of the Kannon bodhisattva in the Chugoku Region. With its millennium-and-a-half history, and its grand but simple monastery architecture (the only one of its kind in the region), Yasugi Kiyomizudera Temple has a majestic atmosphere worth experiencing. The grounds also include a Shinto shrine to the god Inari, with all its many red gates, and beautiful hydrangeas that bloom nearby, in addition to an observation deck at the back of the temple with a fantastic view of the Nakaumi and Mount Daisen. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of Japan while visiting one of Chugoku's sacred Kannons.

Yasugi Kiyomizudera Temple (安来清水寺)
528 Kiyomizucho, Yasugi, Shimane
Official Website (jp)

The Daisen Area

Daisenji Temple

Mount Daisen has been a sacred place since ancient times, and there's evidence of worship going back 1,300 years, but the Buddhist priest Konren officially established Daisenji Temple in Japan's Nara period (710-794). The temple later became part of the Tendai sect in the Heian period, and through the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and Muromachi period (1336-1573), the temple saw peace and prosperity. As a result, Daisenji Temple was compared to Kongobuji Temple on Mount Koya in Wakayama, or Mount Hiei's Enryakuji, and said to be home to 3,000 warrior monks.

Daisenji isn't quite so lively these days, and the temple has been trimmed down to just four worship halls and ten courtyards, but the venerable grounds and ancient atmosphere remain. The huge gate remains scarred but standing on the temple approach, and many visitors also come to enjoy the surrounding mountain greenery, and the neighboring Ogamiyama Shrine. In the fall, the spot is known for its beautifully colorful foliage!

Daisenji Temple (大山寺)
9 Daisen, Saihaku District, Tottori
Official Website (jp)

Ogamiyama Shrine Okunomiya

Mount Daisen has been a sacred mountain for the people of San'in for as long as anyone can remember, so Ogamiyama Shrine was established to honor the "great god mountain." The shrine's two major shrine halls are both dedicated to the god Okuninushi, a god of industry and prosperity, abundant harvests, horses, cattle, magic, medicine, and warding off evil as well.

The main shrine hall at the foot of the mountain is a famous spot for hydrangea viewing in June, while the okunomiya (inner or rear shrine) is hidden away deeper in the mountain, although people make the trek to visit this famous power spot. The 700m approach, set with stone, is the longest of its kind in Japan, but towering trees make the hike a pleasant one, and at the end of the path an ancient gate leads to a grand set of steps, and the largest gongenzukuri-style shrine building in Japan. Ogamiyama Shrine also has ceilings covered in beautiful circular paintings, and the largest scale work of sandalwood lacquer in Japan. The natural stone road, the grand gongenzukuri-style shrine hall, and the sandalwood lacquer work are said to be "the three #1s" of Ogamiyama Shrine.

Travelers considering a trip to the shrine should keep in mind that the mountain weather is prone to change, which can make the area inaccessible. Always check the Daisen Drive Navi to check conditions before heading out!

Ogamiyama Shrine Okunomiya (大神山神社奥宮)
1 Daisen, Saihaku District, Tottori
Official Website (jp)

*Onsen Recommendation*

Kaike Onsen

After a day hiking through Yasugi or Daisen, Yonago's Kaike Onsen is the perfect area to spend the night, thanks to the ultra-relaxing resorts of this seaside hot springs zone. The onsen baths of Kaike Onsen are particularly hot and high in sulfur, making them good for relieving aching feet, but locals also swear by the waters for more chronic pain. There's nothing more relaxing than soaking away in the steaming waters of an outdoor onsen, looking out at the blue ocean waters, and listening to the waves crash below.

Even if the luxurious ocean-view baths of an upscale seaside onsen ryokan are out of your budget for this trip, Kaike Onsen still offers the simple pleasures of a good onsen bath, a comfy hotel yukata, and a walk along the beach! On this trip the San'in, the Japankuru team stayed in the cozy Ikoitei Kikuman Ryokan, which has a modern Japanese-style lobby, and massage chairs inside the Japanese rooms. Unlike many ryokan, the hotel yukata at Ikoitei Kikuman come in a variety of designs, and you can wear your favorite while you relax around the hotel.

Ikoitei Kikuman Ryokan(温泉旅館 いこい亭 菊萬)
4-27-1 Kaikeonsen, Yonago, Tottori
Phone: 0859-38-3300 (available 9:00 – 21:00)
Check-in/Check-out: 15:00 – 19:30 / ~10:00
Official Website (jp)

Kaike Onsen is full of luxurious baths, and the sandy beaches glow as the sun sets, glitter under a starry sky, and provide a perfect place for early-morning walks as the sun rises. A handful of restaurants by the beach also offer outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying the warm summer weather and a cool sea breeze.

Kaike Onsen (皆生温泉)
Kaike Onsen, Yonago, Tottori
Official Website (jp)

The Yonago Area

Yodoe Japanese Umbrella Museum

The Yodoe area of Tottori was once one of just a few areas around Japan that specialized in crafting traditional washi umbrellas, and in the golden age of umbrella production, rows of colorful paper umbrellas could be seen spread out to dry on the sandy beaches of the nearby Hino River. Although clear vinyl umbrellas have mostly taken the place of traditional paper ones in the daily lives of people in Japan, the artisan craft of Yodoe umbrellas is still passed down in the region, and the Yodoe Japanese Umbrella Museum is at the forefront of preserving the beauty of this tradition.

Yodoe umbrellas are made from local bamboo and San'in's famous Inshu washi, making them both classically elegant, and also impressively waterproof. Whether you want to call the end result a high-end product or a work of art, these traditional umbrellas have been favorites of Japan's upper crust for a long time, and one has even been presented to Princess Kako.

Visitors to the Yodoe Japanese Umbrella Museum can not only watch generations of crafting tradition put to work right before their eyes, but also check out interesting exhibitions like umbrella light displays, and plenty of finished umbrellas to ooh and ah over – big and practical, or small and decorative.

Yodoe Japanese Umbrella Museum(淀江和傘伝承館)
796 Yodoecho Yodoe, Yonago, Tottori
Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 (closed Sun/Mon/holidays)
Official Website (jp)

Sightseeing in Kamogawa & Around the Nakaumi

The Kamogawa and Tenjin Bridge area of Yonago was once part of a busy castle town, with boats and their cargo coming and going on the canal. These days the area is a little sleepier, but it's still crowded with old-fashioned houses and white-plastered Japanese warehouses along the water, along with Teramachi Street/Otera Ginza (寺町通り/お寺銀座), which is home to nine different old temples (tera/otera in Japanese).

The Kamogawa River is popular as a spring cherry blossom destination, and one of the best ways to enjoy the cherry trees is a riverboat cruise along the river and the Nakaumi. The river is also home to a number of mythical kappa, including creations by the mangaka Mizuki Shigeru, known for his manga Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro, which focuses on the traditional Japanese mythical creatures called yokai.

Okamoto Issen-ya

A retro snack shop in the old-fashioned district of Kamogawa, Okamoto Issen-ya offers customers a wide range of classic treats, and they've been at it for more than 70 years. The name "issen-ya" implies that the store's wares can be bought with small change, and the huge copper coin sign out front was made in 1950 to commemorate the Yonago Fair. Okamoto Issen-ya has always catered to little kids with a few coins and an appetite, and the colorful little space is crowded with nostalgic sweets and unique snacks.

Okamoto Issen-ya is popular with local children and adults, and the shop attracts quite a few nostalgia-seeking sightseers as well. The old-fashioned building and toys are a treat, but the real charm comes from Ms. Okamoto, who still runs the shop with a cheerful smile. Even when traveling far from home, a chat at Okamoto Issen-ya feels like chatting with a friendly neighbor!

Okamoto Issen-ya (岡本一銭屋)
1-4 Tatemachi, Yonago, Tottori
Official Website (jp)

Nagacha Cafe 1801

The Nagata tea shop has been in business for 220 years, specializing in authentic Japanese tea grown organically or with low levels of pesticides, and the main shop in the Kamogawa River area has long been a go-to for Yonago souvenirs. Since 2019, the old shop has been taking on the world of modern sweets as well thanks to a public fundraising effort, with their new takeout cafe Nagacha Cafe 1801. The menu is full of sweets that make the most of the shop's high-quality Japanese green tea/matcha, definitely worth a taste for those exploring the area.

Out of all the tempting tea-based items, some of the most popular are the tiramisu-like chabatake latte (茶畑ラテ/tea field latte), and the 475 parfait, which comes with its own little mini Yonago Castle. Why 475? With a little finagling, the numbers 4-7-5 can be pronounced "yo-na-go" in Japanese! The shop also has lunch specials on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays (11:00 – 13:00), so stop by if you're looking for some tasty bites.

Nagacha Cafe 1801(長田茶店 岩倉町本店)
76-2 Iwakuramachi, Yonago, Tottori
Hours: 11:00 – 17:00 (closed Wed)
Official Website (jp) | Official Instagram

The Sakaiminato Area

Mizuki Shigeru Road

Knowledgable anime fans might know that Tottori Prefecture is home to Detective Conan (AKA Case Closed), but the city of Sakaiminato is also the hometown of Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro author Mizuki Shigeru, and Mizuki Shigeru Road is a "yokai street" that stretches 800 meters east from Sakaiminato Station. The area includes fun yokai spots like the Yokai Shrine, the entertainment-focused Yokai Rakuen, and the Mizuki Shigeru Museum, too. Retro souvenir shops and coffee shops line both sides of the road, along with 177 yokai just waiting to say hi. You don't have to be a Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro fanatic to enjoy this fun destination!

Mujara Handicrafts Center

Next to the Yokai Shrine along Mizuki Shigeru Road, Mujara Handicrafts Center acts like a shrine office, selling omamori charms and ema plaques, where you can write your dreams and wishes to be hung up outside at the shrine. But the shop also offers t-shirts, themed beer, snacks, and more great souvenir options for yokai lovers!

Mujara Handicrafts Center (手作り工芸館 むじゃら)
62-1 Taishomachi, Sakaiminato, Tottori
Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 (subject to seasonal changes)
Official Page (jp)


The city of Sakaiminato is sandwiched between the Nakaumi and the Sea of Japan, so fantastic seafood is a matter of course when you visit the city! Less than five minutes from the Mizuki Shigeru Museum, Katsukimaru serves up the seasonal flavors of the San'in coast in the form of colorful kaisendon (海鮮丼), fresh seafood rice bowls. Their famous lunch special is the teppei kaisendon, which includes a whole crab in its vibrant orange shell, and a luxurious selection of sliced sashimi to top it all off. This decadent meal is only 2,200 yen, making it a pretty sweet deal as well.

The restaurant has other tasty seafood options on the menu, and it's not just the great food that has earned Katsukimaru plenty of local fans, but also the retro fishing village atmosphere. The old-fashioned tunes playing in the background add extra spice to this already delicious seafood spot.

Katsukimaru(旨いもん市場 海月丸)
16 Aioicho, Sakaiminato, Tottori
Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 (closed Wed)
*Only open for lunch, but may be able to accept dinner reservations.
Official Website (jp)

Yumeminato Tower & Park

Perched on the water on the east side of Sakaiminato, Yumeminato Tower is one big glass and steel observation deck with panoramic views of the Sea of Japan, and although this particular "tower" is actually not very tall (about 43m/141ft), the transparent walls offer a unique view of the sun and the blue sea stretching out in every direction. When the weather cooperates and visibility is good, visitors can see Mount Daisen, Miho Bay, all along the Shimane Peninsula, Yumigahama Beach, the Nakaumi, the streets of Yonago, and even the beaches of Kaike Onsen all at once. At the end of a trip through the heart of San'in, you can make your way up the tower and look back on all the places you've seen so far!

Inside Yumeminato Tower there's also a cafe, a souvenir shop, and an exhibition area, and the building next door even has onsen facilities! Locals often take walks in Yumeminato Park or fish along the edge of the water, and benches along the paths offer great views of the San'in surroundings. (If you happen to visit during the winter, make sure you stay past sunset to see Yumeminato Tower lit up at night, too!)

Yumeminato Tower & Park (夢みなとタワー&公園)
255-3 Takenouchidanchi, Sakaiminato, Tottori
◎Observation Deck/Exhibition Area (closed 2nd Wed of the month)
April ~ Sep 9:00 – 18:00|Oct ~ March 9:00 – 17:00
*Final admission 30 min prior to closing.
◎Tower's Cafe (closed Wed)
10:00 – 16:00 (last order 15:30)
Official Website (en)

A Land of Legends, Full of New Discoveries

For the Japankuru team, this was our third visit to the heart of the San'in region in recent years, and our third time exploring all of the sightseeing spots that make San'in special. San'in may be a region of ancient history, myths and legends, gods and magical creatures, and timeless natural beauty, but each visit has brought new delights to the surface, thanks to changes in season and new perspectives, along with quite a few new friendly faces.

In the end, isn't that what travel is all about? We look forward to hearing about your visit to the region – we want to hear how your stories of San'in fit in with the stories of old!

Have you read about our other trips to Central San'in?
San'in in 2020 | San'in in 2021

Check out the official Heart of San'in tourism page, too!

For more info and updates from Japan, check Japankuru for new articles, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!


NAME:Central San'in (山陰まんなか)


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Which snacks make the best Japanese souvenirs?~ Jaga Pirika ~
일본과자 선물 뭐하지?~자가피리카 편~
#pr #calbee #jagapokkuru #japanesesnacks #japanesefood #japanesesouvenir #japantravel #japantrip #naritaairport #hokkaido #나리타국제공항 #일본여행선물 #흔하지않은기념품 #일본쇼핑리스트 #일본과자추천 #고구마과자 #일본간식추천 #일본면세점쇼핑 #개별포장 #일본감자칩 #도쿄나리타공항면세점 #현지인추천 #일본여행 #일본기념품리스트 #자가포쿠루 #자가피리카

Which snacks make the best Japanese souvenirs?~ Jaga Pirika ~ 일본과자 선물 뭐하지?~자가피리카 편~ #pr #calbee #jagapokkuru #japanesesnacks #japanesefood #japanesesouvenir #japantravel #japantrip #naritaairport #hokkaido #나리타국제공항 #일본여행선물 #흔하지않은기념품 #일본쇼핑리스트 #일본과자추천 #고구마과자 #일본간식추천 #일본면세점쇼핑 #개별포장 #일본감자칩 #도쿄나리타공항면세점 #현지인추천 #일본여행 #일본기념품리스트 #자가포쿠루 #자가피리카

Asakusa's Sanja Matsuri, one of the biggest festivals in all of Tokyo, is almost here! Make sure you check out the festival route so you don't miss all the festivities this May.
#asakusa #sanjafestival #sanjamatsuri #asakusashrine #sensoji #sensojitemple #japanesefestival #shintoshrine #japaneseculture #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #asakusasightseeing #matsuri #japantrip #japantravel #springinjapan #tokyotravel #japankuru #산자마츠리 #아사쿠사 #일본마츠리 #일본여행 #일본5월

Asakusa's Sanja Matsuri, one of the biggest festivals in all of Tokyo, is almost here! Make sure you check out the festival route so you don't miss all the festivities this May. #asakusa #sanjafestival #sanjamatsuri #asakusashrine #sensoji #sensojitemple #japanesefestival #shintoshrine #japaneseculture #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #asakusasightseeing #matsuri #japantrip #japantravel #springinjapan #tokyotravel #japankuru #산자마츠리 #아사쿠사 #일본마츠리 #일본여행 #일본5월

Odaiba's DiverCity Tokyo Plaza is home to the famous real-size 20m-tall Unicorn Gundam, and the popular shopping center has even more Gundam on the inside! Check out the Gundam Base Tokyo on the 7th floor for shelves upon shelves of Gunpla, and the Gundam Base Tokyo Annex on the 2nd floor for cool anime merchandise. Both shops have tons of limited-edition items!
#pr #odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #PR #divercity #divercitytokyoplaza #tokyoshopping #gundam #unicorngundam #gundambasetokyo #anime #otaku #gunpla #japankuru #오다이바 #다이바시티도쿄 #오다이바건담 #건담 #일본건담 #건프라 #건담베이스도쿄

Odaiba's DiverCity Tokyo Plaza is home to the famous real-size 20m-tall Unicorn Gundam, and the popular shopping center has even more Gundam on the inside! Check out the Gundam Base Tokyo on the 7th floor for shelves upon shelves of Gunpla, and the Gundam Base Tokyo Annex on the 2nd floor for cool anime merchandise. Both shops have tons of limited-edition items! #pr #odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #PR #divercity #divercitytokyoplaza #tokyoshopping #gundam #unicorngundam #gundambasetokyo #anime #otaku #gunpla #japankuru #오다이바 #다이바시티도쿄 #오다이바건담 #건담 #일본건담 #건프라 #건담베이스도쿄

Evangelion, in miniature!? Tokyo's SMALL WORLDS Miniature Museum is actually a must-see for anime lovers, thanks to the tiny Evangelion Hangar and Tokyo-III... plus a whole universe of other scenes both real and fictional.
#smallworlds #smallworldstokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #evangelion #eva #anime #miniature #miniatures #animefigure #japantrip #japantravel #에반게리온 #스몰월드 #에반겔리온 #スモールワールズ #오다이바 #아리아케

Evangelion, in miniature!? Tokyo's SMALL WORLDS Miniature Museum is actually a must-see for anime lovers, thanks to the tiny Evangelion Hangar and Tokyo-III... plus a whole universe of other scenes both real and fictional. #smallworlds #smallworldstokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #evangelion #eva #anime #miniature #miniatures #animefigure #japantrip #japantravel #에반게리온 #스몰월드 #에반겔리온 #スモールワールズ #오다이바 #아리아케

Have you sat down for a snack at Sumida Aquarium yet? This aquarium next to Tokyo Skytree is known for its penguins and garden eels, but we can't get enough of their cute snacks! There are lots of good seats around the aquarium, too, so it almost feels like one big cafe. 🐧
Find out more at Japankuru.com! (Link in bio.)
#japankuru #sumidaaquarium #skytree #tokyoskytree #solamachi #sumida #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #aquarium #japanesesweets #themecafe #すみだ水族館 #Japan #日本 #일본 #Japon #ญี่ปุ่น #Japão #япония #japantravel #日本旅行 #日本旅遊 #japan_of_insta #japantrip #traveljapan #japan🇯🇵 #igerstokyo #explorejapan

Have you sat down for a snack at Sumida Aquarium yet? This aquarium next to Tokyo Skytree is known for its penguins and garden eels, but we can't get enough of their cute snacks! There are lots of good seats around the aquarium, too, so it almost feels like one big cafe. 🐧 • Find out more at Japankuru.com! (Link in bio.) • #japankuru #sumidaaquarium #skytree #tokyoskytree #solamachi #sumida #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #aquarium #japanesesweets #themecafe #すみだ水族館 #Japan #日本 #일본 #Japon #ญี่ปุ่น #Japão #япония #japantravel #日本旅行 #日本旅遊 #japan_of_insta #japantrip #traveljapan #japan🇯🇵 #igerstokyo #explorejapan

For anime fans, the Evangelion areas at Small Worlds Miniature Museum are a must see! The tiny miniature people in the Evangelion Hangar look like ants beneath the moving Unit-01, Unit-00, and Unit-02! And over in Tokyo-III, characters like Shinji, Rei, and Katsuragi live life on a miniature scale.
#odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #ariake #smallworlds #miniaturemuseum #smallworldstokyo #tokyotravel #evangelion #eva #anime #miniature #miniatures #animefigure #japankuru #스몰월드 #에반게리온 #오다이바 #오다이바관광 #오다이바스몰월드 #미니어쳐

For anime fans, the Evangelion areas at Small Worlds Miniature Museum are a must see! The tiny miniature people in the Evangelion Hangar look like ants beneath the moving Unit-01, Unit-00, and Unit-02! And over in Tokyo-III, characters like Shinji, Rei, and Katsuragi live life on a miniature scale. #odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #ariake #smallworlds #miniaturemuseum #smallworldstokyo #tokyotravel #evangelion #eva #anime #miniature #miniatures #animefigure #japankuru #스몰월드 #에반게리온 #오다이바 #오다이바관광 #오다이바스몰월드 #미니어쳐





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      Hokkaido (北海道) is the northernmost of the four main islands that make up Japan. The area is famous for Sapporo Beer, plus brewing and distilling in general, along with fantastic snow festivals and breathtaking national parks. Foodies should look for Hokkaido's famous potatoes, cantaloupe, dairy products, soup curry, and miso ramen!

    • Niki, in south-west Hokkaido, is about 30 minutes from Otaru. The small town is rich with natural resources, fresh water, and clean air, making it a thriving center for fruit farms. Cherries, tomatoes, and grapes are all cultivated in the area, and thanks to a growing local wine industry, it's quickly becoming a food and wine hotspot. Together with the neighboring town of Yoichi, it's a noted area for wine tourism.

    • Niseko is about two hours from New Chitose Airport, in the western part of Hokkaido. It's one of Japan's most noted winter resort areas, and a frequent destination for international visitors. That's all because of the super high-quality powder snow, which wins the hearts of beginners and experts alike, bringing them back for repeat visits. That's not all, though, it's also a great place to enjoy Hokkaido's culinary scene and some beautiful onsen (hot springs).

    • Otaru is in western Hokkaido, about 30 minutes from Sapporo Station. The city thrived around its busy harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to active trade and fishing, and the buildings remaining from that period are still popular attractions, centered around Otaru Canal. With its history as a center of fishing, it's no surprise that the area's fresh sushi is a must-try. Otaru has over 100 sushi shops, quite a few of which are lined up on Sushiya Dori (Sushi Street).


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      Sapporo, in the south-western part of Hokkaido, is the prefecture's political and economic capital. The local New Chitose Airport see arrivals from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, alongside international flights. Every February, the Sapporo Snow Festival is held in Odori Park―one of the biggest events in Hokkaido. It's also a hotspot for great food, known as a culinary treasure chest, and Sapporo is a destination for ramen, grilled mutton, soup curry, and of course Hokkaido's beloved seafood.

    • Consisting of six prefectures, the Tohoku Region (東北地方) is up in the northeastern part of Japan's main island. It's the source of plenty of the nation's agriculture (which means great food), and packed with beautiful scenery. Explore the region's stunning mountains, lakes, and hot springs!

    • Akita Prefecture is on the Sea of Japan, in the northern reaches of Japan's northern Tohoku region. Akita has more officially registered important intangible culture assets than anywhere else in Japan, and to this day visitors can experience traditional culture throughout the prefecture, from the Oga Peninsula's Namahage (registered with UNESCO as a part of Japan's intangible cultural heritage), to the Tohoku top 3 Kanto Festival. Mysterious little spots like the Oyu Stone Circle Site and Ryu no Atama (Dragon's Head) are also worth a visit!


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      Fukushima Prefecture sits at the southern tip of Japan's northern Tohoku region, and is divided into three parts with their own different charms: the Coastal Area (Hama-dori), the Central Area (Naka-dori), and the Aizu Area. There's Aizu-Wakamatsu with its Edo-era history and medieval castles, Oze National Park, Kitakata ramen, and Bandai Ski Resort (with its famous powder snow). Fukushima is a beautiful place to enjoy the vivid colors and sightseeing of Japan's beloved four seasons.


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      Yamagata Prefecture is up against the Sea of Japan, in the southern part of the Tohoku region, and it's especially popular in winter, when travelers soak in the onsen (hot springs) and ski down snowy slopes. International skiiers are especially fond of Zao Onsen Ski Resort and Gassan Ski Resort, and in recent years visitors have been drawn to the area to see the mystical sight of local frost-covered trees. Some destinations are popular regardless of the season, like Risshakuji Temple, AKA Yamadera, Ginzan Onsen's nostalgic old-fashioned streets, and Zao's Okama Lake, all great for taking pictures. Yamagata is also the place to try Yonezawa beef, one of the top 3 varieties of wagyu beef.

    • Japan's most densely populated area, the Kanto Region (関東地方) includes 7 prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa, which means it also contains the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. In modern-day Japan, Kanto is the cultural, political, and economic heartland of the country, and each prefecture offers something a little different from its neighbors.

    • Gunma Prefecture is easily accessible from Tokyo, and in addition to the area's popular natural attractions like Oze Marshland and Fukiware Falls, Gunma also has a number of popular hot springs (Kusatsu, Ikaho, Minakami, Shima)―it's even called an Onsen Kingdom. The prefecture is popular with history buffs and train lovers, thanks to spots like world heritage site Tomioka Silk Mill, the historic Megane-bashi Bridge, and the Watarase Keikoku Sightseeing Railway.


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      Tochigi Prefecture's capital is Utsunomiya, known for famous gyoza, and just an hour from Tokyo. The prefecture is full of nature-related sightseeing opportunities year-round, from the blooming of spring flowers to color fall foliage. Tochigi also has plenty of extremely well-known sightseeing destinations, like World Heritage Site Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, and Ashikaga Flower Park―famous for expansive wisteria trellises. In recent years the mountain resort town of Nasu has also become a popular excursion, thanks in part to the local imperial villa. Tochigi is a beautiful place to enjoy the world around you.

    • Tokyo (東京) is Japan's busy capital, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. While the city as a whole is quite modern, crowded with skyscrapers and bustling crowds, Tokyo also holds onto its traditional side in places like the Imperial Palace and Asakusa neighborhood. It's one of the world's top cities when it comes to culture, the arts, fashion, games, high-tech industries, transportation, and more.

    • The Chubu Region (中部地方) is located right in the center of Japan's main island, and consists of 9 prefectures: Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi. It's primarily famous for its mountains, as the region contains both Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. The ski resorts in Niigata and Nagano also draw visitors from around the world, making it a popular winter destination.

    • Nagano Prefecture's popularity starts with a wealth of historic treasures, like Matsumoto Castle, Zenkoji Temple, and Togakushi Shrine, but the highlight might just be the prefecture's natural vistas surrounded by the "Japanese Alps." Nagano's fruit is famous, and there are plenty of places to pick it fresh, and the area is full of hot springs, including Jigokudani Monkey Park―where monkeys take baths as well! Thanks to the construction of the Hokuriku shinkansen line, Nagano is easily reachable from the Tokyo area, adding it to plenty of travel itineraries. And after the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, ski resorts like Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are known around the world.

    • Aichi Prefecture sits in the center of the Japanese islands, and its capital city, Nagoya, is a center of politics, commerce, and culture. While Aichi is home to major industry, and is even the birthplace of Toyota cars, it's proximity to the sea and the mountains means it's also a place with beautiful natural scenery, like Saku Island, Koijigahama Beach, Mt. Horaiji. Often used a stage for major battles in Japanese history, Sengoku era commanders like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu left their own footprints on Aichi, and historic buildings like Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle, and those in Meiji Mura are still around to tell the tale.


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      Niigata is a prefecture on Japan's main island of Honshu, situated right on the coast of the Sea of Japan, and abundant with the gifts of nature. It's known for popular ski resorts such as Echigo-Yuzawa, Japanese national parks, and natural hot spring baths, plus local products like fresh seafood, rice, and sake. Visitors often spend time in the prefectural capital, Niigata City, or venture across the water to Sado Island.


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      Shizuoka Prefecture is sandwiched between eastern and western Japan, giving the prefecture easy access to both Tokyo and Osaka. Not only is it known for beautiful natural attractions, with everything from Mount Fuji to Suruga Bay, Lake Hamanako, and Sumata Pass―Shizuoka's Izu Peninsula is known as a go-to spot for hot springs lovers, with famous onsen like Atami, Ito, Shimoda, Shuzenji, and Dogashima. Shizuoka attracts all kinds of travelers thanks to historic connections with the Tokugawa clan, the Oigawa Railway, fresh eel cuisine, Hamamatsu gyoza, and famously high-quality green tea.

    • Kansai (関西) is a region that includes Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures. Kansai contained Japan's ancient capital for hundreds of years, and it's making a comeback as one of the most popular parts of Japan. Kyoto's temples and shrines, Osaka Castle, and the deer of Nara are all considered must-sees. Plus, the people of Kansai are especially friendly, making it a fun place to hang out.

    • Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan between the years 794 and 1100, becoming a center for poilitics and culture, and to this day it's a great place for close encounters with Japanese history. The cobbled streets of Gion, the atmospheric road to Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkakuji's golden walls and countless historic attractions, even Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge―Kyoto is a place of many attractions. With new charms to experience throughout the seasons, travelers can't stop themselves from returning again and again.

    • Nara Prefecture's important history reaches back to 710, a time now called the Nara era, when it was once capital of Japan. Called "Heijo-kyo" during its time as a capital, it's said that nara was once the end of the silk road, leading it to flourish as a uniquely international region and produce important cultural properties of all kinds. To make the most of each season, travelers head to Nara Park, where the Nara deer who wander freely, or climb Mount Yoshino, a famous cherry blossom spot.

    • Osaka is known for friendly (and funny) people, but its history is nothing to laugh at, playing a major part in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century unification of Japan. Thanks to long years of economic activity, it's one of Japan's biggest cities, and Osaka's popular food culture earned it the nickname "The Kitchen of the Nation." To this day Osaka is the model of western Japan, and alongside historic structures like Osaka Castle, it also has major shopping malls like Umeda's Grand Front Osaka and Tennoji's Abeno Harukas. Osaka is a place to eat, eat, eat, with local specialties like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushi-katsu, and for extra fun, it's home to Universal Studios Japan.


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      The Chugoku Region (中国地方) consists of five prefectures: Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi. In Chugoku you’ll find the sand dunes of Tottori, and Hiroshima’s atomic bomb site, plus centers of ancient history like Grand Shrine of Izumo.


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      Hiroshima Prefecture has everything, from world heritage sites to beautiful nature and delicious local cuisine, and it's either an hour and a half from Tokyo by plane, or four hours by train. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Atomic Bomb Dome, two Hiroshima UNESCO sites, are famous around the world, but in Japan it's also famous for food. Seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, especially oysters, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and Setouchi lemons are all popular, and the natural scenery alone is worth seeing.


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      On the other side of the Seto Inland Sea opposite Japan’s main island, Shikoku (四国) is a region made up of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima. The area is famous for its udon (in Kagawa), and the beautiful Dogo Onsen hot springs (in Ehime).

    • Kagawa Prefecture is on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, facing Japan's main island and the Seto Inland Sea. It's known for being the smallest prefecture in Japan, by area, but at the same time Kagawa is called the "Udon Prefecture" thanks to its famous sanuki udon. Aside from Kotohiragu Shrine and Ritsurin Garden, the prefecture's small islands are popular, and Kagawa is full of unique destinations, like Angel Road. They say that if you lay eyes on Zenigata Sunae, a huge Kagawa sand painting, you'll never have money troubles ever again.

    • Located in the most southwestern part of Japan, Kyushu (九州) is an island of 7 prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima. The island's unique culture has been influenced by Chinese and Dutch trade, along with missionaries coming in through Nagasaki's port. Modern-day travelers love the lush natural scenery and fresh food, plus the natural hot springs found all throughout the area (thanks to volcanic activity)!


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      Fukuoka Prefecture has the highest population on the southern island of Kyushu, with two major cities: Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. Thanks to growing transportation networks, Fukuoka is more accessible than ever, and so are the many local attractions. On top of historical spots like Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, travelers shouldn't miss Fukuoka's food scene, with motsu nabe (offal hotpot), mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and famous Hakata ramen―best eaten from a food stall in the Nakasu area of Hakata. Plus, it's full of all sorts of destinations for travelers, like trendy shopping centers, and the beautiful nature of Itoshima and Yanagawa.


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      Kagoshima Prefecture played a major role in Japan's modernization as a backdrop for famous historical figures like samurais Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi, who pushed Japan out of the Edo era and into the Meiji. Because of that, Sengan-en Garden is just one of many historical destinations, and when it comes to attractions Kagoshima has plenty: the active volcano of Sakurajima, popular hot springs Ibusuki Onsen and Kirishima Onsen, World Heritage Site Yakushima Island, even what Japan calls the "island closest to heaven," Amami Oshima. Kagoshima might be found on the very southernmost tip of the southern island of Kyushu, but there's plenty to see.


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      The island chain of Okinawa (沖縄) makes up the southernmost tip of Japan, which is why it's also the most tropical area in the country. Thanks to a history of independence and totally distinct political and cultural events, Okinawa has a unique culture, and remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom are still visible all over the islands. Food, language, traditional dress, it's all a little different! It's also said to be the birthplace of karate.