Explore Hagi Iwami
Shimane & Yamaguchi Prefectures
Located a 90-minute flight from Tokyo, Hagi-Iwami Airport is located on the southwestern edge of Shimane Prefecture in the city of Masuda.
While Hagi is located about an hour drive from the airport in neighboring Yamaguchi Prefecture, the latter part of the namesake Iwami is about a 2.5 hour drive away.
Geographically remote from larger cities, Hagi-Iwami Airport offers two daily round-trip flights from Tokyo. Visitors can fly into Hagi-Iwami Airport in the morning and arrive before lunchtime with the rest of the day to spare.
Sightseeing: Ebisu Jinja (Ebisu Shrine)
Surrounded by glistening blue waters and white sandy beaches, the approach to Ebisu Shrine on Miyagajima varies greatly throughout the day. Visitors may take pleasure in portraying Ebisu Shrine as angles and views change ever so subtly with the rise and fall of the tides.
During spring tides (3-4 times a year), the sandy walkway is swallowed up by the high tide and a visit to Ebisu Shrine is all but impossible. Some contrast this phenomenon to Mont Saint-Michel, a tidal island in Normandy, France
Read in Japanese here.
Sightseeing: Grand Toit
An aesthetically pleasing architectural complex, Grand Toit combines the Shimane Prefectural Iwami Art Museum and the Shimane Prefectural Iwami Arts Theater.
Considered the artistic and cultural center in the Iwami region, various art exhibitions, drama performances, and music concerts are held at Grand Toit.
Simplistic at first glance, the exterior of Grand Toit use an astonishing 280,000 sekishu kawara, a type of high quality, shiny, reddish-brown tile known to be the pride of Shimane prefecture. Grand Toit has received several awards for its generous use of the highly acclaimed tiles and attracted many visitors from around the world.
Read in Japanese here.
Since opening in 1967, Tagosaku has established itself as a traditional Japanese izakaya eatery brimming with warmth and comfort. Set in a woody, cozy establishment, Tagosaku offers fresh catches and a wide range of Japanese dishes for those seeking an authentic taste of the Japanese household.
Tagosaku boasts a fish tank boasting seasonal hauls from the Sea of Japan, including live squid, kawahagi (filefish), snapper, stonefish, and sea cucumber, as well as shellfish, such as abalone and sazae (turban shell).
Read in Japanese here.
Stay: Mascos Hotel
Newly opened in April 2019, the Mascos Hotel is a modern hotel outfitted with a large hot spring public bath sourced by Masuda Onsen. Uniquely designed with cyclists in mind, rooms at the Mascos come equipped with bike racks and other convenient features.
Guests may also enjoy the bar and dining options that exquisitely highlight local ingredients from Shimane’s farms and seas. From thoughtful amenities and services, guests are always welcomed to a comfortable experience at the Mascos Hotel
Learn more about the Mascos Hotel here.
Masuda is perfect for cyclists! Whether with or without bike, visitors will be spoiled for choice with cycling routes and bike rental services around town.
Cycle along the Sea of Japan for coastal views or down the Takatsu River and be mesmerized by its sparkling shades of blue – known to be among Japan’s clearest waters. Or, enjoy a brisk ride in the countryside with very little vehicular traffic and a lack of traffic lights.
Not sure where to ride to? We recommend Ebisu Jinja, Manpukuji, and Ikoji, where you will find beautiful Japanese gardens.
Sightseeing: Taikodani Inari Jinja
Located on the western side of Shimane Prefecture, Tsuwano is home to one of Japan’s five great inari shrines, the Taikodani Inari Jinja (Taiko-dani Inari Shrine).
Built in the mid-18th century, this particular Shinto shrine is a visitor-friendly spiritual landmark meant to protect Tsuwano Castle (now in ruins) against evil spirits.
Visitors must pass through a photo-worthy tunnel of more than a thousand vermillion torii gates to reach the main shrine grounds. With nearly 300 steps leading uphill, you’ll want to wear your walking shoes for the 15-minute climb!
From the top, enjoy a panoramic view of the town of Tsuwano or pray for prosperity – you’ll be among more than a million people who visit the shrine annually!
Sightseeing: Tonomachi Street
Symbolic of old merchant activity and traditional Japanese architecture, Tonomachi-dori (Tonomachi Street) is a quaint visitor destination in the heart of Tsuwano.
Enjoy a relaxing walk along the quiet streets lined with traditional buildings made of dark wood and white mortar. From sake breweries and storefronts to well-preserved samurai residences and a folk history museum, the street possesses a nostalgic vibe reminiscent of daily life centuries ago.
On both sides of the street, thousands of large colorful koi swim freely in the canals. Contrasted with the blooming of iris flowers in early June, Tonomachi Street is especially picturesque in the warmer months.
Read in Japanese here.
Drink: Sake Breweries
The town of Tsuwano boasts three breweries making sake from locally-sourced water and locally-grown rice. In particular, groundwater from wells around Tsuwano are thought to be among the cleanest in Japan. Unlike the hard water found in most parts of Japan, the water in Tsuwano is soft and makes for a more satisfying taste.
Why not pop by a sake brewery and sample some Japanese sake?
Eat: Genji Maki (Genji Roll)
A famous Tsuwano confectionery, the genji roll lovingly wraps sweet bean paste in a soft, moist castella spongecake dough. Oval in shape, the rolls are meant to resemble old coins and are a popular souvenir gift among visitors.
Find out where you can sample and purchase genji maki here (in Japanese).
Stay: Norenyado Meigetsu Ryokan
An authentic Japanese-style inn housed in a historical building that has withstood the test of time, the Norenyado Meigetsu is an establishment that values tradition and omotenashi hospitality.
All rooms are Japanese-style with tatami floors, futons for sleeping, and a wooden bath. Guests are invited to try some of Tsuwano’s best cooking made by a chef renown for preparing specialty dishes using locally-sourced seasonal ingredients.
Activities: River Kayaking and Cycling
Hop on a kayak and start rowing! The Tsuwano River and numerous streams trickling through the area offer kayaking experiences – perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Those opting for dry options may be interested in exploring Tsuwano by bike.
Learn more about kayaking experiences in Tsuwano here (in Japanese).
Starting from Hagi Iwami Airport, hop on a two-wheeler and embark on a journey of about 35KM or 22 miles towards Tsuwano! Far from the city, there is very little vehicular traffic and with mostly flat roads, it’s an easy bike ride to town.
On the way, you’ll see large fields sprawl lazily around the river and an idyllic landscape spread out for miles. Leisure cyclists can expect to take about three hours. Learn more about cycling to Tsuwano here.
Sightseeing: Hagi Jokamachi (Hagi Castle Town)
Home to five UNESCO World Heritage sites pivotal to Japan’s first steps towards industrialization in the mid-18th century, Hagi is a former castle town in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The townscape is well-known for maintaining a well-preserved townscape reflective of its fascinating history as the capital of one of the most powerful clans during the feudal age.
Today, Hagi’s streets retain authentic remnants of ancient samurai residences and merchant districts from the Edo period. Visitors may be surprised to learn about the historical and cultural significance of Hagi – plus, visit studios and meet local artisans to learn about Hagi yaki pottery.
Learn about Hagi here.
Sightseeing: Motonosumi Inari Jinja (Motonosumi Inari Shrine)
Located adjacent to Hagi, the city of Nagato is home to one of the most popular scenic spots for visitors from Japan and around the world. Against the backdrop of the Sea of Japan, an impressive display of 123 wooden torii gates lead the path to the Motonosumi Inari Shrine.
Chosen as the third most beautiful place in Japan by CNN Travel, the Motonosumi Inari Shrine is superbly Instagrammable with the bright red torii providing a stark contrast against the surrounding landscape. The last and largest torii gate towers at 6-meters – which, at this shrine, happens to be where the offering box is located. Hung at the very top of the torii gate, the offering box presents an additional challenge for visitors who make the trek to reach the shrine.
Read about Motonosumi Shrine here.
Eat: Fresh Catches from the Sea of Japan
Facing the Sea of Japan, the selection of seafood available at Hagi’s eateries are second to none! Whether you’re craving horse mackerel, squid, sea urchin, or other fishy goodness, you can have it served any way you like – tempura, sashimi, or cooked fresh!
Read more about Hagi seafood restaurants here.
Stay: Hagi no Yado Tomoge
One of the first ryokans built in the area, this hotel captures the history and culture of the area. A beautiful and traditional Japanese design will leave you breathless.
Every meal is made from a treasure trove of fresh ingredients such as fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan and homegrown local beef Choshu Wagyu.
Reserve your next stay here.
Activities Around Hagi
From sea kayaking to yacht races to mountain biking and road cycling, Hagi’s proximity to both land and sea make for exciting outdoor adventures! Pair your activities with a beach picnic or a relaxing stroll amidst the remnants of the castle town – visit Hagi to experience it all for yourself!