Mountains united in history and nature~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. The center of San’in features the rich scenic beauty of Daisen-Oki National Park, which includes the mountains of Daisen, Hiruzen, Kenashi, and Senjo, along with the entirety of Mount Mitoku and Mount Sanbe.
In the surrounding regions is the former largest silver mine in Japan, Iwami Ginzan, and the mountain town of Tsuwano, often called ‘little Kyoto’. You can really feel the merging of history and nature in this area.
Topography and Scenery
Mount Daisen (1,729m above sea level), the highest peak in the Chugoku region, is a stratovolcano topped with a lava dome. The steep cliffs on the northern and southern faces leading to the summit show a rough and mountainous landscape.
Mount Sanbe possesses a lava dome too, and the three surrounding lakes were formed by volcanic activity.
Mount Tsuwano, on the other hand, lies in a basin created by the Chugoku Mountains and is surrounded by other mountains, such as Mount Aono. It features a miniature garden-like landscape.
Animals and Plant Life
Aside from the dwarf Japanese yew shrub, which has been designated as a special natural monument, the summit area of Mount Daisen contains populations of mountain shrubs (Tsugazakura and Akamono) and flowering plants (Iyofuro and Nangokukugaiso).
The mountain also contains the largest Japanese beech forest in western Japan, dogtooth violets, and a variety of animals including the Japanese luehdorfia (Gifu butterfly).
The rare Melitaea protomedia butterfly, found only in the Chugoku region, can also be seen inhabiting Mount Daisen.
Mount Daisen is an object of worship and has long been regarded as a place where gods live. Daisen-ji Temple, with 1,300 years of history, bustles with worshippers and the pilgrimage route (Daisen-michi in Japanese) remains even now. Mount Daisen, along with Mount Senjo and Mount Mitoku are called ‘hokisanrei’ and have become the subjects of mountain worship.
The town of Tsuwano still retains traces of its roots as a Tsuwano Domain-era castle town. The ‘Sagimai’ parade during Gion Festival proceeds through the streets during early summer and has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural property of Japan.
Where to Visit
Daisen-Oki National Park
- Mount Daisen
Mount Daisen, the symbol of Daisen-Oki National Park, rises to 1,729m above sea level – the highest peak in the Chugoku region.
Revered as a mountain of gods since ancient times, there still remain temples, shrines, and historic sites. Mount Daisen also boasts beginner to expert mountain climbing courses in the summer, fresh greenery in the spring, autumn colors in the fall, and skiing in the winter. All four seasons can be enjoyed at Mount Daisen!
The approximately 900m-tall Mount Mitoku is located entirely within the grounds of Sanbutsu-ji Temple and contains facilities for mountain worship. The most famous of them is the national treasure ‘Nageiredo’, built into the side of the mountain. The founder of the Shugendo Buddhist sect is said to have thrown the buildings up from the base of the mountain.
The peaks of Osanbe, Mesanbe, Kosanbe, Magosanbe, Taihei, and Hikage formed the caldera that surrounds the Muronouchi crater. There are three ponds in the area surrounding Mount Sanbe, Ukinuno-ike, Himenoga-ike, and Muronouchi-ike. The summit of Mount Sanbe looks out over the Chugoku ranges and the Sea of Japan.
- Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Center
Silver was extensively mined at Iwami Ginzan - the largest silver mine ruin in Japan - since the 16th century for approximately 400 years. Developed in the early Edo period (1603-1868), the Ryugenji Mabu mineshaft is the only underground tunnel open to the public.
- Tsuwano Town
Tsuwano, where you can feel its history as a castle town, is nicknamed ‘little Kyoto’. It contains the well-visited Taikodani Inari Shrine, one of the five major Inari Shrines in Japan. The classical theatre ritual of Yasaka Shrine, ‘Sagimai’, is the only continuous ritual of its type left in Japan.
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