A journey through Shimane, complete with skin-beautifying hot springs and gods of love [PR]

Shimane Prefecture, located in Western Japan, is a popular destination for both Japanese and overseas tourists. Even the Kojiki (Japan’s oldest written historical record, written in 712) contains numerous myths set in Shimane. The area has been known since ancient times as “the land of mythology”.

There are other major reasons that most people visit Shimane, however: love and beauty.

There are several shrines in Shimane dedicated to matchmaking so that people can fulfill their dreams of love and romance—and they draw lots of visitors. There are also a large number of hot springs, and Shimane is always among the top prefectures for promoting beautiful skin in the Bihadaken Grand Prix rankings issued by one of Japan’s leading cosmetics manufacturers each year. In 2018, it earned the Best in Japan title for the fifth time.

This reputation for beauty is inspiring more women to travel together to Shimane to pray for love at the shrines and enjoy the hot springs. Read on to get our recommendations on a love- and beauty-inspired trip to the area.

Pray to the gods of love, who come from all over Japan to Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine

Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine is one of the most famed shrines in Japan, and is a must-see for anyone visiting Shimane—drawing some six million people each year. But it’s not just humans who like to frequent the shrine. It’s also said that every year during the tenth month of the old calendar, the gods also come from all over Japan to visit Izumo Taisha.

And what they all gather to discuss is human romantic partnerships. It’s for this reason that Izumo Taisha is known as being the home of the gods of matchmaking.

Matsu-no-Sando, the pine-strewn path to the shrine

Izumo Taisha sits on a huge site that contains several buildings. There is the magnificent haiden (the front shrine used for worship), and the kaguraden, which is used for festivals and events and is decorated with an enormous shimenawa rope that is 13.6 meters long and weighs 5.2 tons, designating the area as a sacred space. The gohonden is the main shrine, and behind it, tucked at the base of the distant mountains, is the Soga-no-yashiro shrine.

The kaguraden, marked by a massive shimenawa rope
Praying at the haiden

Once you’ve paid your respects at the shrine, you should definitely pick up one of the “matchmaking braids” that they sell on the shrine grounds. They say that if you attach these red and white silk braids to your clothing or wear them on your wrist as a bracelet, you’ll create a bond with your romantic interest.

In front of the Seidamari-no-Otorii gate, which serves as the front entrance to Izumo Taisha, is the Goen Yokocho shopping facility, which is lined with eateries and souvenir shops. One of them, the Goen Shimenawa Workshop, offers hands-on experiences where you can create your own mini shimenawa rope made from the same materials as the one at the shrine. You’re sure to increase your good fortune if you take a handmade shimenawa home with you!

The Seidamari-no-Otorii gate at Izumo Taisha
Goen Yokocho

While you’re at Goen Yokocho, make sure to eat Izumo soba noodles—the local specialty of Shimane. The soba noodles contain rutin, which is a type of polyphenol.

There are lots of different ways to eat soba, but one of the most classic ways in Shimane is kama-age soba, which is eating the noodles in the broth they were boiled in. It’s a great way to enjoy them, since you don’t miss out on any of the nutrients.

Kama-age soba

Once you finish your meal, try some sweet Izumo zenzai soup, which is also packed with polyphenols.

Izumo zenzai (a dessert made by stewing mochi and adzuki beans together with sugar)

Get plump, youthful skin at Tamatsukuri Onsen, also known as “the hot spring of the gods”

Tamatsukuri Onsen, is about 90 minutes to the east of Izumo Taisha by bus and train. Tamatsukuriyu Shrine is also known for being just as great for matchmaking as Izumo Taisha.

Since ancient times, the shrine has made magatama beads, a type of jewelry that is said to possess spiritual power, to present to the emperor. There is also a large stone here known as the Negai-ishi, or wishing stone.

There are also Kanai-ishi, or “wish-granting rocks” sold on the shrine grounds. They say that if you purify them in water and repeat your wish while touching the Negai-ishi stone, the gods will infuse their power into the rock. You can then put the Kanai-ishi into a pouch to create your own personalized charm.

Kanai-ishi wish-granting rock sold on the shrine grounds
Try holding your Kanai-ishi rock while touching the Negai-ishi stone and repeating your wish

There is also a bridge called Miyabashi located at the front of Tamatsukuriyu Shrine. Also known as the Koikanai-bashi, or love-granting bridge, it is said to bring love if you take a picture of it with the torii gate to Tamatsukuriyu Shrine in the background. There’s even a camera stand set up in front of the bridge for selfies. Lots of women have posted selfies of themselves taken there on Instagram.

Miyabashi (the love-granting bridge)

Once you’ve soaked up all the love energy at the shrine, head to Tamatsukuri Onsen, which is located right next to it. This hot spring has been known to beautify the skin for so long that even historical records on the Izumo area written 1,300 years ago say that anyone who takes one soak will become beautiful, and with two soaks will be cured of their ailments—and since this has never failed, people call it “the hot spring of the gods”.

Tamatsukuri Onsen

When a pharmaceutical company ran a scientific analysis of the components, they actually found that the water did have a powerful ability to moisturize the skin and keep it hydrated. With water celebrated as a “natural lotion”, this is a popular hot spring with women.

At Yuyakushi Hiroba in the Tamatsukuri hot spring village, you can purchase spray bottles at an unmanned stand and fill them with the hot spring water to take home with you.

There is also a cosmetics series called Hime Labo that is made with the hot spring water from Tamatsukuri Onsen. You can pick up their soaps, lotions, and body moisturizers in the area, and they also make the perfect souvenirs.

Hime Labo cosmetics

The various inns at Tamatsukuri Onsen allow you to rent colorful yukata (cotton kimono) to wear as well. Once you’ve soaked in the hot springs and relaxed, take a stroll around the hot spring village with your hydrated, youthful skin and experience one of the classic joys of being in Japan.


Gaze into the mysterious Kagami-no-Ike (mirror pond) and get a glimpse of your romantic future

The last shrine we’ll tell you about is Yaegaki Shrine, which is also located to the east, beyond Tamatsukuriyu Shrine. It is said to be the place where the Japanese mythological hero Susanoo no Mikoto married his wife Inada-hime no Mikoto and came to live in their new home. This is how the shrine became known as a place where the gods of love reside.

Step through the gate and see the main honden shrine

Once you’ve paid your respects at the regal-looking honden, head around back to an open area. Here lies a mysterious forest known as the Sakusame Forest. As you venture into the trees and become surrounded by the pure air, you’ll come across the Kagami-no-Ike, or mirror pond.

Kagami-no-Ike

Around the pond, you’re sure to see women crouched down and staring intently into the water. They’re reading their love fortunes—something you can only do at Yaegaki Shrine.

It’s done by floating a fortune-telling paper in the pond and carefully placing a coin on it. If it sinks in fifteen minutes or less, you’ll find love soon. If it takes 30 minutes or more, your romantic dreams will come true later in life. If it sinks right next to you, your future partner is someone that lives close to you, and if it’s further away, you’ll make a match with someone from a more distant place.

Buying fortune-telling papers
Float the paper in the pond and watch as your fortune appears

Tell your romantic future as you gaze into the pond, surrounded by the beautiful forest. Just feeling the time pass quietly and imagining your future is the perfect way to wrap your trip to pray for love.


What’s the best way to get to Shimane from within Japan or from nearby countries in Asia?

Flights run to Izumi Airport from most major cities in Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and Fukuoka. There are also convenient flights from Hong Kong International Airport to Yonago Airport (a Shanghai-Yonago flight is also scheduled to start service in January 2020).

From other parts of Asia, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Singapore, you can fly to cities like Hiroshima or Okayama and easily take a train or bus from there. (Flights between Hiroshima Airport and Taiwan are scheduled to start service in December 2019).

Getting to Shimane

Visiting Shimane’s many shrines is a great way to encounter Japan’s ancient spirituality and learn your fortune in love. While you’re there, you can also enjoy the area’s wonderful hot springs and delicious food—and leave with beautiful-looking skin. If you’re planning a girls’ trip, Shimane is a perfect place to visit and truly “the land of mythology”.

Information

Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine

Address: 195 Taishacho Kizukihigashi, Izumo, Shimane Prefecture

Getting there: 25 minutes by local bus from JR Izumo-shi Station or right next to Izumo-Taisha-mae Station on the Ichibata Electric Railway

https://www.izumo-kankou.gr.jp/english/4760

 

Tamatsukuriyu Shrine

Address: 508 Tamayucho Tamatsukuri, Matsue, Shimane Prefecture

Getting there: About five minutes by taxi from JR Tamatsukuri Onsen Station or ten minutes by local bus

https://www.tripadvisor.jp/Attraction_Review-g298136-d1991142-Reviews-Tamatsukuriyu_Shrine-Matsue_Shimane_Prefecture_Chugoku.html

 

Hime Labo

Address: 46-4 Tamayucho Tamatsukuri, Matsue, Shimane Prefecture

Getting there: About five minutes by taxi from JR Tamatsukuri Onsen Station or ten minutes by local bus

http://www.hime-labo.com/

 

Yaegaki Shrine

Address: 227 Sakusacho, Matsue, Shimane Prefecture Getting there: About 20 minutes by local bus from JR Matsue Station

Access information

https://www.tripadvisor.jp/Attraction_Review-g298136-d1310390-Reviews-Yaegaki_Shrine-Matsue_Shimane_Prefecture_Chugoku.html

 

Access information

●JR Pass

https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/setouchi/



Highway bus tickets

 



Rental car subsidies

 



Enmusubi Perfect Ticket

Discount ticket for visiting sites in the Matsue/Izumo area