If you're looking to add an off the beaten path spot to your Japan travel itinerary and you'll be here before the 31st of March, there's a cheap and easy way to do it! And when I say cheap, I mean only one coin cheap. Sounds like a pretty good deal for a 3 hour bus journey, right? If you'll be in Hiroshima anyway, perhaps visiting the Peace Memorial Museum or Peace Park, you can get all the way to Shimane on a highway bus for only 500 yen. The journey is usually valued at 3990 yen, so you're getting a pretty amazing discount - as well as getting to explore one of Japan's hidden gems. It's likely that Shimane won't be a hidden gem for long, though - even publications like the National Geographic are catching on to the wonders that the prefecture has to offer, calling it "Japan's best kept secret". Interested? Here are some of the fascinating spots you can check out in Shimane, if you're thinking about adding it to your travel itinerary.
Adachi Museum of Art
As well as having fascinating art exhibits, the museum is well known for having one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. The founder of the museum here had the belief that “the garden is also a picture” - and you'd almost believe it was a painting if you were just looking at a photograph of it. The museum is open year round, with more details on hours and admission costs on their website here.
Izumo Taisha Shrine
Want to visit one of Japan's oldest (and most important!) shrines? Izumo Taisha has no official record of exactly when it was built, but it's said to be somewhere around the year 700. The shrine is located about an hour on public transport from Matsue, but if you're headed to Shimane anyway this is one you can't miss.
Experience some local cuisine
Shimane is known for a special type of soba, called Izumo Soba - which has a bit of a different taste to other soba noodles in Japan. What makes it different? The noodles are darker and have a stronger buckwheat flavor, owed to the fact that the full buckwheat seed is ground to make the noodles. They're also said to be a little chewier than their other soba counterparts! As well as their soba, clams are popular in this region of Japan - in particular, a dish called Shijimi Jiru, or clams served in a broth. They're seasoned with either soy sauce or miso, making for a perfect comfort food!
There are more details about the 500 yen highway bus at the link here - the offer for the 500 yen fare is available up until March 31st. If you're also looking for more of what Shimane has to offer, check out their prefectural tourism page here.