A coastline imbued with mythology and gorgeous scenery~Visit Daisen-Oki National Park and its surrounding areas~
San’in, which consists mainly of Tottori and Shimane Prefectures, originally means “North Face of the Mountains”. The southern area contains the majestic mountains of the Chugoku region, and the north faces the beautiful Sea of Japan. In the center of San’in is Daisen-Oki National Park, which includes the coastal area of the Shimane Peninsula, the Oki Islands, and other areas facing the Sea of Japan.
The gorgeous scenery continues with the Tottori Sand Dunes - the largest sand dunes in Japan open to visitors, the walkable 1,600-year-old Iwami Tatamigaura Rock-Flats Beach, and Ebisu Shrine that sits atop a coastal reef.
Topography and Scenery
The Shimane Peninsula is characterized by its coastal landscape with stretches of cliffs, tunnels, and caves. It features submerged coastline to the east and raised coastline to the west. The Oki Islands is a collective term for the island group containing Dozen, Dogo and several smaller islands. They display varied coastal landscapes including tunnels, caves, and cliffs eroded by the Sea of Japan.
The Tottori Sand Dunes are made from the rocks of the Chugoku mountains that have weathered and swept out to sea. Sand, carried by the wind from the beach, has formed the dunes over the last 100,000 years. They are the largest sand dunes in Japan, measuring 2.4km north to south and 16km east to west.
Animals and Plant Life
The Oki Islands are known as the habitat of Caulerpa scalpelliformis seaweed, the only seaweed designated by the government of Japan as a natural monument. The islands also boast the largest seaweed forest in the Sea of Japan, containing all six types of local seaweed. A large Japanese cedar tree named ‘Iwakura-no-Chichisugi’, approximately 800 years old, stands at the eastern foot of Daiman-ji Temple on Dogo Island’s highest peak. This mystical tree is designated as a prefectural natural monument.
The inland areas are the habitats of the endemic Oki salamander. On the Shimane Peninsula, seabirds gather on the rocky coast of the Shimane Peninsula. Of these seabirds, the black-tailed gull has one of its foremost breeding grounds on Fumishima Island, off Cape Hinomisaki.
The Oki Islands and Shimane Peninsula feature heavily in Japanese mythology and have long been considered areas with a strong connection between the natural and human world. Shimane Peninsula, in particular, is dotted with famous historical and mythological sites, such as Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, Hinomisaki Shrine, and the Kakanokukedo Cave Mouths.
The Oki Islands practice Japan’s oldest form of bullfighting called ‘ushitsuki’, which has been passed down and preserved as a traditional cultural property.
Where to Visit
Daisen-Oki National Park
- Kuniga Coast
Located on Nishinoshima Island in the Oki Islands with picturesque scenery that Oki is famous for. You can explore the coast along the Sea of Japan and enjoy the scenery of cliffs created by erosion from the stormy seas. Take in the 257m Matengai Cliff, one of the tallest in Japan, and see superb views from a sightseeing boat.
- Chibu Sekiheki
A rock wall located on the west coast of Chiburijima Island in Oki. Generally called the ‘red cliffs’, its height ranges from 50m to 200m. Take the sunset cruise to see traces of a past volcanic eruption.
- Kakanokukedo Cave Mouths
‘Kukedo’ means ‘cave’ in Japanese. The cave closest to the sea near Kukedohana is called ‘Shinkukedo’, while the cave closest to land is called ‘Kyukukedo’. From April to October, visitors can ride a sightseeing boat and explore the inside of the caves.
Located on the westernmost point of the Shimane Peninsula and facing the Sea of Japan. The area is made up of raised coastline with impressive complex topography. Izumo Hinomisaki Lighthouse and Hinomisaki Shrine are located here as well.
- Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine
Famous as a shrine to the god of marriage, many worshippers visit Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine from all over the country. The shrine has an inner sanctuary designated as a national treasure, as well as the largest sacred straw rope (shimenawa) in Japan. You can immerse yourself in the mythological world of Japan even today.
- Tottori Sand
Windswept patterns and concave landscapes – a variety of scenic delights await you at the Tottori Sand Dunes. You can also enjoy camel-riding, paragliding, and sandboarding!
- Iwami Tatamigaura Rock-Flats Beach
The Iwami Tatamigaura Rock-Flats Beach are located in Hamada City, a leading city of the western region of Shimane Prefecture. The seabed here has risen approximately 30cm due to earthquakes and you can see 1,600-year-old nodules of eroded rock, along with rock flats that resemble tatami mats.
- Ebisu Shrine
Located on the Kohama coast in Masuda City, this shrine sits atop a rocky reef on Miyagajima Island. As the white sand road that leads to the shrine disappears under the ocean during spring tide, Ebisu Shrine is also called the Mont Saint-Michel of San’in.
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