Hagi

Hagi (萩) is a castle town, little visited by foreign tourists. The town is full of history, particulary from the Meiji Restoration period. The town is also known for its traditional pottery, called Hagi-yaki. Budget travel tips It’s quite a journey to get here, so seriously consider taking a night bus or use a Limited Express trainContinue reading “Hagi”

Tsuwano

Tsuwano (津和野), often called “little Kyoto”, is a small castle town in Chugoku. Budget travel tips Like nearby Hagi, a great place to explore on foot or bicycle (800 yen per day) in a day. Things to do Site of Tsuwano Castle The towns castle was a huge mountain top one, and the remains areContinue reading “Tsuwano”

Bitchu-Takahashi

For some reason completely unknown to most tourists, including Japanese tourists, Bitchu-Takahashi (備中高梁) presented one of the most surprising castles we have ever visited. After visiting nearby cities and towns such as Okayama and Kurashiki, Bitchu-Takahashi  was a breath of fresh air. It’s an average town, but with a scattering of fascinating and traditional relicsContinue reading “Bitchu-Takahashi”

Tottori

Tottori (鳥取) is the most popular city in northern Chugoku, best known for its sand dunes (the largest in Japan) and associated sand museum. Budget travel tips Pick up a Look Kirinjishi Bus pass from the train station Tourist Information Center, which takes visitors to all the main tourist spots. Available on weekends, national holidaysContinue reading “Tottori”

Kurashiki

Kurashiki (倉敷) is a historic town near Okayama known for its merchant past and old-fashioned canal, which dates back to the Edo period. The area has some interesting museum, cafes and restaurants to experience, most of which are housed in tastefully converted merchant buildings. A lovely place to spend a relaxing day, just strolling around andContinue reading “Kurashiki”

San’in-Okayama Area Pass

The JR San’in-Okayama Area Pass allows for unlimited use of JR local, rapid and express trains in the northern Chugoku area for 4 consecutive days. It includes popular tourist spots such as Okayama, Kurashiki, Tottori and Matsue, as well as access to near Izumo-Taisha. What does it cost? Bought before entering Japan: Adults 4500 yen (about $45), ChildrenContinue reading “San’in-Okayama Area Pass”

Shimanami Kaido – cycle across Japan’s forgotten islands

The Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道) is an increasingly popular, but still relatively quiet cycling route across the islands connecting the Chugoku region near Hiroshima and Shikoku. The 60 kilometre route has been designed for cyclists in mind and the temperate climates helps to make the ride enjoyable and not too physically tough. Along the way thereContinue reading “Shimanami Kaido – cycle across Japan’s forgotten islands”

Izumo-taisha

Izumo Taisha (出雲大社) is a grand shrine, considered one of Japans top 3. Located in northern Chugoku, it is an essential stop if you are in the region. It is therefore a hugely popular shrine, but never feels overly crowded. The folklore behind the shrine says that the gods from all over Japan gather atContinue reading “Izumo-taisha”

Okayama

Okayama (岡山) is a large city in Chugoku, known across the country for it’s Korakuen Garden, a superb example of Japanese gardening. It’s not just a transportation hub to Chugoku and Shikoku, and can take up a good day. Budget travel tips As Okayama is an major commercial and transportation hub, it’s a cheap place to stayContinue reading “Okayama”

Matsue

Matsue (松江) is a pleasant castle city, known as the ‘city of water’ due to its spiralling canals and setting on a lake. Best known for its original castle due to the previous status as a feudal stronghold, Matsue also has some fascinating local history and is a lovely city for a quiet stroll. Budget travel tipsContinue reading “Matsue”

Mount Daisen

Mount Daisen (大山) is a volcanic mountain in the Chugoku region with amazing views over the northern mountains from 1,729 metres above sea level. This makes it the highest in the region, so it has a lot of significance to Japanese people. The mountain is therefore dotted with stunning shrines and temples, and has becomeContinue reading “Mount Daisen”