Shimane Prefecture can be found by heading towards the West of Shikoku, and it follows along the coast of the Sea of Japan. It can appear to be quite a unique Prefecture at just a glance, as it is the second least populated region in the whole of Japan. The actual capital city, Matsue, has the smallest population when compared to the other Prefectural capitals.
If you travel West of Matsue for around an hour, then you will come across the city of Izumo. It is the home of Izumo Taisha, which is considered to be the oldest Shinto Shrine in the whole of Japan. It has been dated all the way back to the 8th century. Something rather unusual is said to happen there during the Lunar month, as it is believed that all 8 million Shinto gods gather there.
Travelling to Oda City will lead you to Iwami Ginzan, a historically important silver mine. It is so prominent to the historical culture of the area that it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. It was mined for around four centuries after it was initially discovered in the 16th century. Around the area, you can find a mixture of both temples and shrines, and within the mine, you can see the original shafts and ruins that were once used. Head over to the local Omori town to learn more about the history of the mine in the local museum, or visit historical residences.
You can even see one of the original twelve castles while you are in Shimane Prefecture, in the form of Matsue Castle. Luckily, it never saw a battle, simply due to the time at which it was first constructed. The actual construction of the castle was not finished until 1611. You can find it sat on top of a hill, surrounded by a moat and a thick exterior wall. Don’t expect it to look as light as other Japanese castles, as it is often compared to Okayama Castle in the neighbouring Okayama Prefecture. This is because the exterior of the castle is black.