14 Unique Things You Can Only Experience in Izumo



14 Unique Things You Can Only Experience in Izumo


If you're looking for places to visit in Japan other than the 'classic' destinations of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and the like, chances are that you realized how many other wonderful places there are in Japan. Some of them are still unknown to foreigners but well-known among Japanese people, like the city of Izumo in Shimane Prefecture. Renown and visited for its important shrine, Izumo offers a number of experiences, food and landscapes that are drawing more and more attention to it. 

If you wish to avoid the hordes of tourists and discover some off the beaten path locations, here are 15 things that are unique to Izumo!

Izumo Central Area

1. Visit the Shrine Where All the Gods Meet

Izumo Taisha

Izumo Taisha is one of the oldest and most important Shinto shrines in all of Japan. Once a year, in the lunar month of October, all the gods are said to meet here to determine the destinies of all people. The deity enshrined here is Okuninushi, protagonist of the 'Hare of Inaba' myth. So be on the lookout for the rabbit statues scattered all about. The shrine also hosts the largest shimenawa (rope used to ward off evil) in all of Japan. If you happen to visit during October you will get to see the festivals and ceremonies held to welcome the gods.


Izumo Taisha (Izumo Oyashiro Grand Shrine) | 出雲大社
Address: 195 Kitsukihigashi, Taisha-cho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Hours: March-October 6:00am - 8:00pm / November-February 6:30am - 8:00pm
Access: 5 min. walk from Izumo Taisha-mae Station on the Ichibata Railway / 25 min. bus ride from JR Izumoshi Station. Take the Ichibata Bus bound for Izumo Taisha Renrakusho, get of at Seimonzen bus station.
Website (Japanese-only):

2. Soothe Your Soul With Tea and Tradition

Tea ceremony at the Izumo Cultural Tradition Hall

Ready to take part in the lifestyle of the Izumo people? The Izumo Cultural Tradition Hall offers many experiences that allow you to go hands-on with tradition. First, a stroll through the gardens showcases the meticulously kept flora along with the interesting architecture of the buildings.

Next, step inside and try your hand at one of the many activities. Traditional tea ceremony and Japanese sweets making are just some of the experiences offered. If you just want a more casual day then stop by the restaurant for some Izumo soba, a typical dish here, and enjoy a view of the gardens.
Japanese garden at the Izumo Cultural Tradition Hall
The gardens are beautiful even during Japan's recurring typhoons.


Izumo Cultural Tradition Hall | 出雲文化伝承館
Address: 520 Hamacho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm (entry permitted until 4:30pm)
Closed on Mondays (open if Monday is a public holiday, closes the following day) and New Year Holidays
Access: 15 min. walk from Hamayamakoen-Kitaguchi Station on the Ichibata Railway

3. Savor a Local Triple Treat

Izumo soba

The local customs of Izumo extend to even noodles with their Izumo soba, a specialty dish made from fresh buckwheat flour. It's served with a warm sauce that you get to pour on top yourself. By far the most fun you will have is with the wariko soba. You are served soba noodles in three lacquer containers stacked one on top of the other. Just like before, you pour the sauce and toppings on the top. Then, as you finish the top container, you pour the leftover sauce into the next one.

4. Take Part in the Traditions at a Sacred Beach

Inasanohama beach

In the old Japanese calendar, October was called Kan-na-zuki, or 'the month without gods'. This is because in that month all gods leave their places to meet here in Izumo. In fact, in Izumo the same month is called Kami-ari-zuki, 'the month with gods'. On this occasion, the first ceremony to welcome the gods is held on Inasanohama beach, only about 1km from Izumo Taisha shrine. After sunset priests will light bonfires to greet the visiting gods.

If you can't make the October festivals, you can still take part in a special tradition called shiokumi that is held on the first of every month. In the early morning you take water from the sea with a special bamboo container. Then, you walk to Izumo Taisha stopping at all the shrines along the way.
Shiokumi experience at Inasanohama beach


Inasanohama Beach | 稲佐の浜 
Address: Inasa, Taishacho Kizukikita, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Access: 12 min. walk from Izumo Taisha / 28 min. bus ride from JR Izumoshi Station. Take the Ichibata bus bound for Hinomisaki, get off at Inasanohama bus stop

Shiokumi Experience
Admission fee: 3,000 yen/person, 10 people minimum
Duration: 70-100 minutes
Website (Japanese-only):
Reservations: Ichibata Travel Service 
Tel.: 0120-333-556 (9:00am - 6:00pm). The number can only be called from inside Japan.

5. Indulge in Some Shopping and Try Local Sweets and Drinks

Shinmon-dori street in front of Izumo Taisha

On the road leading up to Izumo Taisha are dozens of shops and cafes. Start at the huge stone torii gate and enjoy the picturesque and tranquil street. This is a great place to try zenzai, a sweet red bean soup with rice balls, said to have originated here. At Izumotaisha-Mae Station you can take advantage of their bike rental service or, buy a ticket for the Ichibata Railway train. The train has a retro look to the cars and takes you on a scenic route.
Local food and drinks from Izumo and Shimane
  From left to right, top to bottom: Ofuku-yaki 130 yen / zenzai (price varies) / Shimane craft beer (800 yen, price varies) /  Tawara manju 130 yen


Shinmon-dori | 神門通り
Access: In front of Izumo Taisha

6. Make Your Own Rope

Make your own shimenawa experience

If you happened to see the huge shimenawa ropes at the shrine you can learn how to make your own! At the Goen Shimenawa workshop the lovely staff will teach you how to craft your own shimenawa rope. The rope is made from rice straw and smaller versions are commonly placed in homes or other places to ward off evil spirits. Aside from traditional rope, you can also make accessories like pins and earrings!


Goen Shimenawa Experience Workshop | ご縁しめ縄体験工房
Price: 1,500 - 2,000 yen
Address: Goen Yokocho B1F, 840-1 Kizukiminami, Taishacho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Reservations: accepted, not required
Access: 4 min. walk from Izumotaisha-Mae Station on the Ichibata Railway / 12 min. walk from Izumo Taisha

7. Sip on Some Local Wine...With a Twist

Shimane winery

Izumo is also home to a winery. The facility offers free factory tours at the end of which you can enjoy a self-service free wine tasting! Once you've sampled some wine you can take your favorite one home with you from their souvenir shop. Additionally they offer a wonderful meal at their barbecue restaurant. Enjoy Shimane wagyu beef along with their wine and they also hold Kagura dance performances so you get to enjoy dinner and a show. The Kagura dance performances are held under request only. Please consult in advance. If you wish to watch a Kagura performance, please contact Izumo Tourism Association (Tel: 0853-53-2112, Mail:
Kagura dance performance at Shimane winery


Shimane Winery | 島根ワイナリー
Address: 264-2 Hishine, Taishacho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Barbecue house hours: 10:30am - 6:30pm (open until 7:30pm from June to September)
Tasting hall and shop hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm (open until 6:00pm from April to September)
Open every day
Access: 15 min. walk from at Hamayamakoen-Kitaguchi Station on the Ichibata Railway / 5 min. bus ride from Izumo Taisha / 19 min. bus ride from JR Izumoshi Station

Factory Tour
Admission fee: free
Hours: 9:30am - 4:30pm

8. Stay at the 'Rabbit Hotel'

Tsukiyo no Usagi hotel

Want to up your hotel experience? Treat yourself to a night of relaxing baths and plentiful meals at Tsukiyo no Usagi. This newly built hotel mixes western and eastern styles giving each room a unique look and feel. They offer a grand buffet-style meal that includes the day's fresh sashimi. After dinner, soak in one of the many onsen baths. Along with the public baths there are a number of spacious private bath available to use without reservation! Dry off then enjoy the complementary soba and ice cream. Finally, finish your evening at the night bar. 
Tsukiyo no Usagi hotel, Izumo


Oyado Tsukiyo no Usagi | お宿 月夜のうさぎ
Address: Hongo, 1443-1 Taishacho Shurimen, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Access: 15 min. walk from Izumotaisha-Mae Station on the Ichibata Railway
Website (Japanese-only):

Hinomisaki Cape Area

9. Greet the Setting Sun at a Bright Red Shrine

Hinomisaki Shrine

About 8km north of Izumo Taisha along the coast is Hinomisaki Shine. A beautiful, bright red shrine nestled in the green mountains and surrounded by pine trees. It is a breathtaking sight, especially at sunset. Inside you will find Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, along with her younger brother Susano, the god of storms and the sea, enshrined within. While you are here, pick up a daruma omikuji, a little wooden doll with a fortune-telling sheet inside. 
Daruma omikuji at Hinomisaki shrine
Daruma omikuji 300 yen


Hinomisaki Shrine | 日御碕神社
Address: 455 Hinomisaki, Taishacho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Access: 20 min. bus ride from Izumo Taisha Shrine / 26 min. bus ride from Izumotaisha-Mae Station. Take the Ichibata bus bound for Hinomisaki, get off at Hinomisaki bus stop /  60 min. bus ride from JR Izumoshi Station

10. Climb Japan's Tallest Lighthouse

Hinomisaki lighthouse

From Hinomisaki shrine you can take a 10 minute hike to the Hinomisaki lighthouse. Bright white and the highest in Japan standing at a towering 43.65m (143 feet). For just 200 yen you can climb all the way to the top. You can also admire the surrounding coastal landscape from one of the observation decks in the surrounding area.


Izumo Hinomisaki Lighthouse | 出雲日御碕灯台
Address: 1478 Hinomisaki, Taishacho Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Closed on December 30-31
Hours: 9:00am - 4:30pm
Access:  20 min. bus ride from Izumo Taisha Shrine / 26 min. bus ride from Izumotaisha-Mae Station. Take the Ichibata bus bound for Hinomisaki, get off at Hinomisaki bus stop, 10 min. walk / 60 min. bus ride from JR Izumoshi Station

Usagi area

11. Stroll Through a Secret Fishing Village

The fishing village of Sagiura, Izumo

There are a few hidden gems and this one is about a 20 minute car ride from Izumo Taisha. The Usagi area represents two villages, Udo and Sagiura, that fused their name to form the nickname Usagi ('rabbit'). This is a small, quiet fishing village that is also known for the production of salt. In the past it flourished as a trading port welcoming ships from Osaka and other parts of Japan. Step into the past and admire the architecture and quiet streets as you stroll through the town.


Usagi | 鵜鷺
Address: 1044-1 Sagiura, Taishacho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken
Access (Sagiura): 20 min. bus ride from Izumo Taisha Renrakusho. Take the "Usagi Line" bus bound for  Hinomisaki (Nakayama)/Sagiura/Udo/Inome and get off at the Sagiura bus stop

12. Enjoy a Homemade Meal in an Art Café

Gallery Shiwakuya

Take a break and grab lunch at Shiwakuya, an art cafe and gallery. Originally a boathouse from the Edo to Meiji period, this was the residence of a shipowner who made a fortune selling salt. The now cafe, showcases and sells craft goods from the local artists. You can enjoy your meal with a view of the small inner garden hosting a scenic pine tree.


Gallery Shiwakuya | ギャラリーしわく屋
Address: 171 Sagiura, Taishacho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Open from March to November on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays (it's possible to contact the cafe for visits on weekdays)
Hours: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Access: 20 min. bus ride from Izumo Taisha Renrakusho. Take the "Usagi Line" bus bound for  Hinomisaki (Nakayama)/Sagiura/Udo/Inome and get off at the Sagiura bus stop
Website (Japanese-only):

13. Allow Yourself Some Relaxation and Learn the Benefits of Camellia Oil

Guest salon tsubakisha, Sagiura

Guest Salon Tsubakisha is a wooden house overlooking the sea where you can have relaxing camellia hand therapy. The shop proprietors rented a house here in Usagi with the mission to make a camelia forest. They explain that the mountainous land around Sagiura is blessed with a rich volcanic soil and a constant sea breeze that makes the flower thrive. Along with the hand therapy you can also experience camelia oil making and camellia oil chocolate making. Or, have them take you for a stroll through the camellia forest. Of course you can purchase the products they make here (for a very convenient price) and chat up Mr. Shiga (in the picture). He speaks perfect English and is keen to share his knowledge.
Upon request, overnight stay at the house can also be arranged.

Camellia oil from the Usagi area, Shimane Prefecture


Guest Salon Tsubakisha in Sagiura, Shimane Prefecture


Guest Salon Tsubakisha | Guest Salon 椿舎
Address: 68 Sagiura, Taishacho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken (MAP)
Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Access: 20 min. bus ride from Izumo Taisha Renrakusho. Take the "Usagi Line" bus bound for  Hinomisaki (Nakayama)/Sagiura/Udo/Inome and get off at the Sagiura bus stop
Reservation: required (090-7112-4917) English available
Website (Japanese-only):

14. Hitch a Ride on a Local's Boat

Tour on a fisherman's boat in Sagiura, Shimane Prefecture

At Sagiura port you can charter a boat from the local fishermen and be taken on a tour of the surrounding coast. You will pass a small shrine island that the fishermen pray to before going out to sea. There are a number of natural caves to visit and docking points (holes in the rocks where sailors used to tie off their boats) to see. You can even try fishing with them. At night you may also be able to see the glowing bioluminescent plankton that float by in the area.


Cruising Experience 
Experience fee: adults 2,500 yen (minimum 3 people). Children must be 3 years or older
Period: May through October
Duration: approx. 1 hour
Starting point: Sagiura Port
Access: 20 min. bus ride from Izumo Taisha Renrakusho. Take the "Usagi Line" bus bound for  Hinomisaki (Nakayama)/Sagiura/Udo/Inome and get of the Sagiura bus stop.
Tel: 0853-53-2112 (8:30am - 5:15pm)
Mail: (Izumo Tourism Association)
Website (Japanese-only):

How to get there

You can get to Izumo using a Japan Rail Pass from Hiroshima, via the Chugoku JR Express Bus. You can also fly to Izumo Airport from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Other connections are available like night buses and trains from Tokyo.

Izumo Tourism Association website (Japanese-only):
English pamphlet:

About the author

Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).

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