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Western Honshu

Old May 22nd, 2018, 03:05 AM
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Western Honshu

Planning a 5-7 night trip to Western Honshu in September and as this is the first time weve had the luxury of planning in advance, wanted to tap into the expertise here.

The rough idea: fly down to Matsue (Yonago airport) from Tokyo and base ourselves there for two to three nights to see the sights, notably the Adachi Garden. We are s l o w travellers but is three nights too much? I booked the Dormy Inn, mostly because Ive always wanted to stay in one and its right by the train station but would it be better to be someplace else, location-wise? We will stay in a ryokan the final night in Miyajima and are old hands with ryokans so no need to prioritise ryokan over convenience

At the end of our stay In Matsue, well hire a car and drive to Izumo Taisha, then head to Izumo Ginzan and hope to find a place to stay in the vicinity. I am very intrigued by the old silver mine anyone been? Any suggestions for where to stay in the area?

Next day drive to Hagi. Not sure whether this deserves two nights or if one will suffice. Any recos for accommodation in this area? Places to stop on the drive?

Next day drive to Yanai and then on to Suo-Oshima. Has anyone been to the Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii there? Hawaiiantraveller?! Any suggestions on where to stay? Some 30 years ago we visited this island which was absolutely beautiful but now it seems to have rebranded itself as a mini Hawaii in the Inland Sea and I have steeled myself to expect the worst Japanese schlock.

From there we will drive to Hiroshima, give up the car and take the train and ferry to Miyajima. Looks like we can book one night at Auberge Watanabe (thank you, Kavey!) but have back up at Iwaso on booking.com. Would be open to any strong arguments to stay two nights vs. one.

Final day shinkansen from Hiroshima home to Tokyo.

Ive read old threads and found them helpful (especially mrwunrfl) but though there are plenty of posts at the planning stage, not much post-trip, ie trip reports. I hope some of you knowledgeable travellers can weigh in and point me in the right direction. Many thanks.
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Old May 22nd, 2018, 08:37 AM
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Not sure if these old threads were among the ones you read, but I wrote a panegyric to Matsue in this one Must see Cities in Japan and to Hagi in this one Hagi or Tsuwano??

The pdfs on the JNTO page are a bit more useful than the Japan Guide for these locations. Here's Hagi:
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-605.pdf
And Matsue: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-601.pdf

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Old May 22nd, 2018, 01:21 PM
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I don't think three nights is too much for Matsue, but I spent most of a day on the Adachi Gardens - getting there, eating lunch and getting back, plus time for the museum itself. I found the Dormy Inn very convenient.

I went through Tsuwan o on the train and it looked really small, so for my day trip from Yamaguchi i went to Hagi instead.
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Old May 22nd, 2018, 05:44 PM
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Thank you, someotherguy. Your posts, among others, led us to focus on Matsue and Hagi. It's just a question of how long to allot to each. A general note though - the first thread you refer to dates from 2009 and I am cautious about relying on info that old. We've seen some incredible changes during our five years living in Japan. And as the country gears up for 2020, the rate of change is accelerating. Thursdaysd, thank you for your comment. It's factoring in the trip to Adachi Museum which makes me think we need the extra day in Matsue.
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Old May 23rd, 2018, 08:20 AM
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I'd be interested to learn of the changes you've seen.

I've been visiting Japan for 30 years and there's been a lot of construction in the big cities (I can remember when Kyoto station was a single storey shack) and latterly a massive increase in tourism--and I'm sure there are cultural changes I'm not tuned in to. But rural Japan seems little changed, although I do read of an ageing and declining population. I'd be very surprised if the San'in coast has altered much, but look forward to reading your description.

BTW. I stayed at the Grand Hotel in Hagi. I wouldn't actively recommend it but there's not a lot of choice and it's OK for a day or two.

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Old May 23rd, 2018, 06:23 PM
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Thank you for the Grand Hotel in Hagi suggestion, someotherguy. There seem to be two options for hotels in Hagi- stay as close in as possible or choose a resort/onsen property on the outskirts and depend on the shuttle bus. We are opting for the former, looking at the Royal Intelligent Hotel (love the name) which is a bit smaller and newer than the Grand. Question: is Hagi a walkable city, eg from the GrandHotel area?

This will be our first visit to the San'in Coast so I will be unable to comment on changes. But rural Japan is definitely changing. An interesting result of the aging population has been a regeneration thanks to young people resettling from urban areas.
https://media.economist.com/news/asi...are-atrophying One happy outcome for travellers: craft galleries, organic food, good coffeeshops in rural backwaters.

But not all changes are so positive - I've mentioned that I've steeled myself for a shock when we get to Suo Oshima (also known as Yashiro Island). Thirty years ago (when it was known simply as Oshima), the island was a sleepy paradise, populated by mikan farmers and fishermen. Looking online though, the island is selling itself as a mini Hawaii, luaus, grass skirts and all.
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Old May 23rd, 2018, 06:25 PM
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We stayed in Matsue a few years ago and split our stay between the Dormy Inn and Tamatsukuri Onsen staying at the Chorakuen Ryokan.
We visited Izumo Shrine via the Ichibata Railway which departs from Matsue. A fun two or three car rail line that goes along Lake Shinji and by quick transfer takes you right into Izumo
We also visited the Ginzan Silvermine as a day trip by rail and bus and quite enjoyed it, traditional architecture, nice craft and art shops, out in the country but not that far by rail. I don't know about lodging in the area as we stayed in Tamatsukuri for the onsen. There is a B&B there run by Gugendo, a company that has restored a lot of houses/shops in the area, Takyo Abeke | ?????
Besides Adachi Gardens, outside of Matsue is a famous place devoted to Peony cultivation, Yuushien Daikonshima, nice spot for a visit if interested in gardens, don't know what the bloom will be like in September.
Castle and Samurai District, Canal tour, all fun. Didn't get to the Quilt Museum out near Izumo so we have to go back.
Have a great time and hope to hear about the other places you plan on seeing
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Old May 24th, 2018, 01:06 AM
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I enjoyed your Kyushu report, Kalihiwai - hadn't realised you'd stopped in Matsue. How many days did you allot to the Matsue area? Thank you for reminding me about the quilt museum! That's definitely going on the list. It was an article about Gugendo which alerted me to the silvermine - Takyo Abeke sounds idyllic and I'd jump at it if we were in a large enough group to take over all three rooms. As it is, I am of of the age when private 'facilities' are a must. 'Shared bathroom' meaning ofuro is of course fine but we like our own loo.....

Everyone's making it sound very easy to get around by train. Do you think a car is unnecessary for this portion of the trip? We definitely need it for the seto-uchi island but perhaps we should just rent one in Hagi before driving to the opposite coast.

Really appreciate these responses. Wish I'd titled this something other than Western Honshu. Not quite sure why this region is called that - surely it is more ' Southern Honshu'.....

Nobody's been to Yanai and the Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii on Suo-Oshima???
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Old May 24th, 2018, 09:40 AM
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The Grand Hotel is close to the Hagi East station but there's not much else around. The hotel seemed to be mostly Japanese tour groups so I looked for alternative dining...and didn't find much. I did find a ramen place and asked the lady what the meat was and she said "iroiro", which I interpreted as "it is what it is"...as I say, not a lot of choice.

There are two circular bus routes (one in each direction) that take in the main sights. Tokoji is excellent (500 lanterns) and you can walk downhill from there or the next stop to Shoin Yoshida's place.

I often rent cars in rural Japan but had no trouble doing this area by train and bus (and the odd taxi).

The Economist article was interesting. As it happens, I've been to (or through) both places mentioned. Shimanto is on the route from Kochi to Uwajima, which is one of the prettiest train journeys I've taken in all of Japan, and Hirado is where William Adams (the real guy behind the hero of James Clavell's Shogun) had his base and is full of interest.

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Old May 24th, 2018, 11:11 AM
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Boveny,
Our trip to Matsue was a few years apart from the Kyushu report trip.

As to train versus car, I'd say that to Ginzan a car would afford more time and flexibility to see more sights and cover more ground seeing some of the more outlying attractions.
When we took the train from Tamatsukuri Station (reached by short taxi from ryokan) to Ginzan, I got off at Oda Station by error, the destination was Odashi station, still a way down the line.
Fortunately, a taxi driver was there to take us the rest of the way, otherwise a one hour wait for the next train. At Odashi you take a bus to Omori which is in the center of the Ginzan area.

As I said before the Izumo Shrine is a fun train ride on the Ichibata line, so a car would not be necessary unless you had other destinations after the shrine.
Dividing your time into three days will be a challenge, Adachi, Izumo Shrine, Ginzan would each get a day and before and after each day you could see the castle, samurai district, Lafcadio Hearn house.

About taxis, on our trip to Kyushu this spring our plans of hiking Kunisaki were changed by rainy cold weather. We hired a taxi for the day and saw some of the main sights.
the driver was friendly and helpful although not much English which complemented my not much Japanese.
I was worried about the fare going up past $100 but at a certain point, I think it was around $100 the driver turned off the meter, I think we had reached the daily hire threshold.
The time we saved by driving gave us an extra 4 hours to see more sights. That waiting for bus-train combo times two adds up
This might be a good topic for those more knowledgeable about Japanese taxi rules to weigh in on.
You could go to the Matsue tourist office and ask for driver recommendations.

We took a bus from in front of the train station to get to Daikonjima.
We really enjoyed the Shimane area and hope to return working our way south.

Looking forward to hearing about your trip
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Old May 24th, 2018, 05:42 PM
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Very helpful! Thank you,both.

Just to clarify: we were thinking of 2-3 days for Matsue including the Adachi Garden and THEN moving on to Izumo Taisha and Iwami Ginzan silver mine area. The train ride to Izumo sounds convenient and scenic but we didn't want to have to backtrack to Matsue. Our thought was drive to Izumo Taisha,see the shrine, quilt museum, drive to Hinomisaki lighthouse and then drive (about 50 minutes as calculated by e Rome2Rio) to the ryokan in Omori which at 3 minute drive/half hour walk to the Silver Mine, positions us well for a visit the next day. .

Rome2Rio shows the drive on to Hagi from Omori taking about an an hour, compared to 3 hours 40 minutes via train.

Re rural regeneration: There was a great exhibition last autumn at d/47 (gallery showcasing design from the 47 prefectures), Hikarie in Shibuya. It's the broadband speeds that makes this return to the countryside movement possible. In my country, the UK, rural connectivity is a huge problem, preventing people who want to downsize out of London and work remotely.
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Old May 24th, 2018, 07:18 PM
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I'd agree a car is good for your itinerary. Who do you use? I was pleased to discover JR Ekiren recently developed a decent English site.

I didn't know about the Hinomisaki lighthouse--I'll have to go back. Do you know about Brunton, the (Scottish) father of Japanese lighthouses? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Henry_Brunton

I owe you thanks as while I was looking up that page I found his autobiography on sale for $1.99!

Internet speeds hah! I grew up in England and now live in Silicon Valley and I can assure you my internet here is slower (thanks ATT DSL!) than anywhere in the UK--it took me nearly an hour and two reboots to buy that book.

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Old May 25th, 2018, 01:33 AM
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Rental car - not sure who we'll use this time but for a Noto Peninsula trip a few years ago we used Toyota. Apologies for quoting myself but I looked up the TR: " Booking a car for the Noto daytrip was easily done via a phone call to the national office of Toyota Rental Car (one day for 6,480 yen). The agent spoke perfect English and asked me to note the national number as well as the local Kanazawa office number so that if we encountered any language difficulties at branch level, the national office could translate. This proved unnecessary but it was nice to know backup was there."

No, didn't know about Brunton. Fascinating - but looks like the Hinomisaki lighthouse isn't one of his. Glad you lucked out with the $1.99 autobiography. My favourite Meiji-era Westerner is Edward Morse. His books are worth it even at full price.....

I'll bet your Silicon Valley broadband speed beats ours in London - in the Shoreditch area rebranded as Tech City, just off 'Silicon Roundabout'. Oh the irony!
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Old May 25th, 2018, 12:55 PM
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someotherguy and Boveney,
Thanks for the book recommendations. I found Edward Morse available on the Internet Open Library.
https://openlibrary.org/authors/OL35...ylvester_Morse
No digital Richard Brunton as of yet but following a little research, I now have a new destination in the Seto Inland Sea.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Toovey_Lake
Looks like there will be a celebration there this year.....
On 5 August 2018, celebrations to mark the 150 anniversary of his death will take place around his grave.
Recently we stayed in Kobe close to the site of the Sannomiya Incident, interesting times for the first foreign visitors to Japan
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Incident
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Old May 25th, 2018, 04:32 PM
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ooh, I have a copy of Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings but now, thanks to you, kalihiwai2, I now have Japan day-by-day. Great! For anyone interested in the Meiji era, a visit to the Meiji Picture Gallery in Tokyo is a must. Domed building at the end of avenue of double gingko trees housing 80 murals depicting the Emperor's life.First 40 are in Japanese style, second 40 in Western to symbolize the transitional character of the period. Interesting link to manga too - the visual narrative element.
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Old May 26th, 2018, 05:15 AM
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I stayed at the Royal Intelligent Hotel....I also love the name....for two nights when I was in Hagi in April. I usually stay in business type hotels like Toyoko Inn, Comfort Inn, etc. and I was quite impressed by the RIH. The room was large and instead of the usual business hotel modular bathroom this hotel had a separate toilet room, sink in an alcove and the fanciest shower I have ever seen with all kinds of faucets...lol....and breakfast included....

I ate at the restaurant on the hotel's second floor...food was good as far as I can remember but there wasn't much else around.

I originally was going to stay at the hotel someotherguy mentioned by changed to the RIH for a reason I no longer remember. ;-)

I walked from the hotel to the historical section of Hagi but as said above there is a circular bus route - I think I used that coming back.
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Old May 26th, 2018, 04:44 PM
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That's helpful, Mara. Thank you! Surprised there is not much around hotel area in terms of food - both you and someotherguy made that point. The hotel is across from the station so I thought at least there'd be usual station-type fare available but sounds like if there's anything there, it all shuts up early. I am trying to alternate 'business type hotels' with ryokans to give us a break from nightly kaiseki. Sounds like Hagi will be that break.
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Old May 27th, 2018, 05:45 AM
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Other than the restaurant in the hotel, there was a small place around the back but I just had some noodles there as I hadn't eaten since breakfast my first day in Hagi. There is some kind of restaurant across the way but not sure what it was...maybe izakaya? It is definitely not your usual city station complex....lol....I don't even recall a nearby combini.....
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Old May 27th, 2018, 06:25 PM
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IIRC, Matsue station was not a great location. I stayed at a hotel across Shinjiko from the Shimane Art Museum (which is a spot for seeing a nice sunset). The view across the water with the shinjimi fishermen in the morning was nice. It was a typical tourist hotel and a bit overpriced. The town gets a lot of wedding parties because of Izumo Taisha. Best, I suppose, would be to go when it is not a popular time for weddings. There are a couple of Lafcadio Hearn sites in Matsue.
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Old May 28th, 2018, 01:34 AM
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Yes, the Hearn sites are a draw for us - we plan to visit the residence and the memorial museum. I guess the strength of his feeling for Matsue trumps the length of time he lived there - only one year.
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