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Coming from the beautiful English Cotswolds, tour leader Richard Pearce has made his home in rural Tottori prefecture on the Japan Sea Coast since 2006. Like many of the InsideJapan Tours team he ended up in Japan on the JET programme teaching English in schools. Richard was shipped out to a little place called Sakaiminato in Tottori which you have probably never heard of….well that’s just how he likes it. Here is what he has to say about Tottori and his favourite place in Japan…..
Tottori-Ken is considered to be the most rural of prefectures in Japan, with the smallest population. Set along the Sea of Japan coast, Tottori-Ken is one of my favourite places in the world – A beautiful coastline, breathtaking mountain views, delicious seafood, friendly people and brimming with wildlife. Tottori has it all.
However, if I have to narrow it down further, I would have to say that my favourite place in Japan is the Mihonoseki Peninsula, just across the border into Shimane-Ken (sorry, Tottori!).
The whole area is part of the Daisen-Oki National Park, and is considered to be a “power spot” in Japan, spiritually and historically speaking. The Miho-jinja Shrine is particularly special and dates back to the 8th century. It is said to have been a favourite spot of legendary writer Lafcadio Hearn, who resided in nearby Matsue (his book Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things is a fascinating read). I used to visit on a near weekly basis for a spot of spiritual cleansing and found it particularly good at clearing a fuzzy head on a Sunday morning.
Atop a nearby 150 metre hill is the Gohon-matsu park, which offers spectacular views of Mount Daisen, rising majestically from the ocean across the bay. According to literature dating back to the year 733, this mountain was formally called Ōkami – take , literally meaning ‘ Mountain of the Great God’, as it was regarded as one of the most important mountains for the Japanese Shugendo. The Gohon-matsu park is definitely my favourite “unofficial” camping spot in Japan.
At the end of the peninsula is the Mihonoseki Lighthouse, built from stone in the late 19th Century. Here you can experience stunning panoramic views of the ocean and watch the numberous hawks circling overhead. However, be warned! It is said in local tradition that if you take your girlfriend here, you then have to marry her! I tend to go alone.
On the northern side of the peninsula is the Mihono-kitaura coastline. Here you can enjoy an array of natural beauty, including inlets, precipices, caves and beaches. One particularly impressive beach is Sasago. The water here is crystal clear and the beach is very clean. I honestly believe it to be one of the best in Japan, outside of Okinawa. This stretch of coastline is also a wildlife lover’s paradise. I myself have been lucky enough to dive with two metre jellyfish and observe a variety of rare birds.
I have spent many a day and night hiking, camping, barbequeing, bike riding, swimming, relaxing and generally enjoying the Mihonoseki Peninsula. I hope to spend many more in the years to come.
Looks beautiful and a top tip from Richard there. I need to discover Tottori further….into the Shimane ‘district’ of the prefecture. I am sure that all from Shimane ken will be sending a big ‘Dan dan’ your way for the suggestion.