10 Best Things to Do in Shimane

Shimane Travel Guide: What to Do in Shimane Now

With a tendency to fly under the radar, Shimane Prefecture is Japan’s well-kept secret, brimming with divine charm and earthly delights. It’s where Shinto gods vacation annually, according to local lore, and where humans can find a slice of heaven on earth. From exploring ancient shrines to savoring Izumo soba, the best things to do in Shimane offer a unique blend of spiritual, natural, and gastronomic experiences. This is not your typical tourist trail; it’s a journey into the heart of Japan’s mystical past and vibrant present. So, buckle up and get ready to discover the divine in the everyday!

With this Chugoku Region Bucket List, let’s also check out the surrounding tourist attractions: Best Things to Do in Chugoku

1. Visit Matsue Castle, a Timeless Sentinel

Matsue Castle (松江城), known as the “Black Castle” for its distinctive dark exterior, is one of the few remaining original castles in Japan. Unlike many other castles that were destroyed and later rebuilt, Matsue Castle has stood the test of time since its completion in 1611. This National Treasure is a testament to the architectural prowess of the Edo period, with its imposing watchtowers and intricate wooden interiors. As you ascend the steep, narrow staircases, each floor reveals a new perspective of the castle’s history and the city of Matsue. The top floor offers a panoramic view of the city, Lake Shinji, and the Sea of Japan, a sight that has remained largely unchanged for centuries. A visit to Matsue Castle is not just a step back in time, but a journey into the heart of Japan’s enduring spirit.

▶ Matsue Castle official website: https://www.matsue-castle.jp/

2. Discover Where Deities Convene at Izumo Grand Shrine

The Izumo Grand Shrine, or Izumo-taisha (出雲大社), is one of Japan’s oldest and most important Shinto shrines. Every year, according to mythology, Shinto deities from across the country gather here for a meeting. This divine assembly makes the shrine a spiritual hotspot, attracting millions of visitors seeking blessings for relationships, marriage, and happiness. The shrine’s architecture is equally captivating, with its towering pillars and the largest shimenawa (sacred straw rope) in Japan. The air of tranquility and the sense of connection to the divine make a visit to Izumo Grand Shrine an unforgettable spiritual journey.

▶ Izumo Grand Shrine official website: https://izumooyashiro.or.jp/

3. Enjoy the Harmonious Blend of Art and Nature from Adachi Museum of Art

Photo by 663highland (Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The Adachi Museum of Art (足立美術館) is a unique fusion of visual and natural arts. While the museum houses an impressive collection of modern Japanese paintings, including works by the celebrated painter Yokoyama Taikan, it’s the museum’s stunning gardens that often steal the show. Designed by the museum’s founder, Adachi Zenko, the gardens are a living canvas that changes with the seasons. Viewed through carefully placed windows, the gardens become a series of living landscape paintings, blurring the lines between art and nature. The Adachi Museum of Art is a testament to the beauty that can be achieved when art and nature are in perfect harmony.

▶ Adachi Museum of Art official website: https://www.adachi-museum.or.jp/

▽More information about Adachi Museum of Art▽

4. Marvel at the Sights from Izumo Hinomisaki Lighthouse, a Beacon of Beauty

Standing tall on the rugged cliffs of the Shimane Peninsula, the Izumo Hinomisaki Lighthouse (出雲日御碕灯台) is a beacon of beauty against the backdrop of the Japan Sea. As one of the tallest lighthouses in Japan, it offers breathtaking views of the coastline and the azure sea. The lighthouse is surrounded by the small but charming Hinomisaki town, home to the Hinomisaki Shrine and a colony of friendly wild rabbits. Whether you’re basking in the panoramic views from the lighthouse, exploring the quaint town, or making some furry friends, Izumo Hinomisaki Lighthouse offers a delightful blend of natural beauty and local charm.

▶ Izumo Hinomisaki Lighthouse official website: https://www.izumo-kankou.gr.jp/677

5. See a Mirror of the Setting Sun at Lake Shinji

Lake Shinji (宍道湖) is a brackish lake known for its spectacular sunsets and abundant wildlife. As the sun dips below the horizon, the lake transforms into a mirror, reflecting the vibrant hues of the twilight sky. This natural spectacle has inspired countless artists and poets over the centuries. The lake is also home to a variety of bird species and is famous for its eel and shijimi clams, which are considered a local delicacy. A boat ride on Lake Shinji, especially at sunset, is a serene experience that encapsulates the quiet beauty of Shimane.

▶ Matsue City official tourism website with information about Lake Shinji:  https://www.visit-matsue.com/discover/city_centre/lake_shinji

6. Unearth the Silver Lining at Iwami Ginzan

Iwami Ginzan (石見銀山), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a silver mine that was once the largest in the world. Its tunnels, which stretch for hundreds of kilometers, are a testament to the ingenuity of the m iners who worked there. Today, you can explore the Ryugenji Mabu mine shaft, which offers a glimpse into the harsh conditions miners endured. The nearby town of Omori, once a bustling hub of activity, is now a quiet, picturesque village with beautifully preserved samurai residences and temples. A visit to Iwami Ginzan is like stepping back in time, offering a unique perspective on Japan’s industrial history.

▶ Iwami Tourism official website with information about Iwami Ginzan: https://www.all-iwami.com/feature/detail_58.html

7. Discover a Canvas of Culture at the Shimane Art Museum

Photo by Bernard Gagnon (Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Perched on the shores of Lake Shinji, the Shimane Art Museum (島根県立美術館) is a treasure trove of Japanese and Western art. The museum’s architecture is a work of art in itself, designed to blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. The collection includes works by local artists, as well as masterpieces from around the world. The highlight, however, is the stunning view of the setting sun over Lake Shinji, a sight so beautiful it’s considered a “masterpiece of nature”. The museum is a testament to Shimane’s rich cultural heritage and its enduring love for art.

▶ Shimane Art Museum official website: https://www.shimane-art-museum.jp/en/

8.  Become Enchanted by a Symphony of Colors at Matsue Vogel Park

Matsue Vogel Park (松江フォーゲルパーク) is a paradise for bird lovers. Home to a variety of exotic birds from around the world, the park offers visitors the chance to interact with these colorful creatures. But it’s not just about the birds. The park also boasts one of the largest greenhouses in the world, filled with vibrant begonias and fuchsias. Whether you’re serenaded by the song of a tropical bird, or mesmerized by the beauty of the flowers, Matsue Vogel Park is a sensory delight that’s not to be missed.

▶ Matsue Vogel Park official website: https://www.ichibata.co.jp/vogelpark/en/

9. See a Naturally Lit Beacon of Beauty at the Candle Rock

Rosoku-jima Island (ローソク島), also known as Candle Rock, is a natural monument that stands tall in the Sea of Japan, in the northwest side of Okinoshima Island. This unique rock formation, resembling a lit candle, is especially enchanting at sunset when the setting sun illuminates the top of the rock, making it appear as if the candle has been lit. Accessible only by boat, the journey to the island offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline. It’s a sight that captures the raw beauty of Shimane, making it a must-see for any visitor.

▶ Okinoshima Town tourism official website with information about Candle Rock Island https://oki-dougo.info/data01/room/sroom/sroom_nature.html

10. Soak in the Healing Waters of Shimane’s Onsen

Shimane is blessed with a wealth of onsen (hot springs), each offering a unique experience. Tamatsukuri Onsen (玉造温泉), known as the “bath of the gods”, is famed for its skin-beautifying properties. The alkaline water, rich in minerals, leaves your skin feeling smooth and rejuvenated. Further afield, nestled in the heart of the Sanbe Mountain Range, is Sanbe Onsen (三瓶温泉). Here, you can soak in the healing waters while surrounded by the beauty of nature. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, or a bit of both, Shimane’s onsens offer a soothing end to a day of exploration.

▶ Tamatsukuri Onsen official website: https://tamayado.com/

▶ Sanbe Onsen official website: https://www.sanbesan.jp/onsen/

Shimane Prefecture is a treasure trove of cultural, historical, and natural wonders. From ancient shrines to serene onsens, every corner of Shimane offers a unique experience. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to discover the divine, the delightful, and the downright fascinating in Shimane.

▽Check out the attractions you should experience across Japan with this Japan Bucket List!▽

▽Check more things to do in other prefectures in Chugoku Region below!▽

▶︎10 Best Things to Do in Tottori

▶︎10 Best Things to Do in Okayama

▶︎10 Best Things to Do in Hiroshima

▶︎10 Best Things to Do in Yamaguchi

▽Subscribe to our free news magazine!▽

For more information about traveling in Japan, check these articles below, too!

▽Related Articles▽

Editor’s Picks

Written by

Photographer, journalist, and avid urban cyclist, making sense of Japan since 2017. I was born in Caracas and lived for 14 years in Barcelona before moving to Tokyo. Currently working towards my goal of visiting every prefecture in Japan, I hope to share with readers the everlasting joy of discovery and the neverending urge to keep exploring.