Wondrous Western Japan

March 08, 2019
Blue lake

THE  Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) conducted a familiarization tour of Chugoku Region in Japan for selected media representatives from the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia from Jan 25 to 31.

The selected media group was given a passing yet exhaustive glimpse of Western Japan, particularly the less-explored western frontier. The group toured four prefectures: the Tottori Prefecture, Shimane Prefecture, Hiroshima Prefecture, and Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The familiarization tour aimed to help disseminate knowledge and raise awareness  on exciting western Japan.

Unlike bustling Tokyo, western Japan offers a calmer respite for discriminating travelers who prefer serenity and privacy. Chugoku region is full of rural beauty, great historical significance and is home to many well-known tourism destinations.

Tottori

Tottori, a least populated prefecture in Chugoku Region Japan, is ideal area for discriminating tourists who prefer smaller cities and less crowds.

Although Tokyo, Hokkaido and Osaka are usually included in most visitors’ IT in Japan, Tottori is a competitive must-see because of its diversity in terms of landscape.

Tottori charms effortlessly with its breath-taking nature, rich history, comics, food and onsen.

The massive Tottori Sand Dunes which are a short distance from Tottory City is a good starting point when exploring the prefecture. From atop, they offer a spectacular view of the Sea of Japan.

Tottori sand dunes

Walking around the dunes is amazing enough. But then there’s more exciting activities like paragliding, sandboarding and leisurely rides on camels. A best view of the coast can be enjoyed by  boarding the chairlift to the Sakyu Center’s observation deck.

Tottori lift

When you visit the Sakyu Center, make sure to try their crab burger and pear juice.
 

Crab burger

The pear soft-serve ice cream is also highly recommended while roaming around the gift shop.
 
One other thing to try while in the prefecture are the Matsuba Crabs, which  fully grown male snow crabs. These delicacies are caught early November to March. It has become a winter favorite because of the rich meat and flavor.
 

Matsuba crab

Make sure to also stop at the Sand Museum, a unique and fascinating indoor art museum that houses sand sculptures.

Chūgoku region’s highest peak at 1,709 meters can also be found at the Tottori Prefecture. Mt. Daisen, a paradise for hikers and a top ski destination, is incredible all year round. It is perfect for mounting climbing or trekking or skiing in winter.

Mt. Daisen is a popular playground for locals and tourists. It is one of western Japan’s top ski destinations.

The Daisen White Resort offers beginner practice slopes to black diamond ski runs.
 

Daisen snow

 

Daisen snow

No trip to Japan is complete without a relaxing dip in an onsen. Natural hot springs are highly popular across Japan.

Tottori offers an onsen experience in the mountains or by the sea. To name a few, you can visit Kaike Onsen, one of the largest Onsen towns in the San’in area, Hawai Onsen, Togo Onsen and Sekigane Onsen.

One can spend one full day in the Manga Kingdom, since the Prefecture is home to the creators of a number of world-famous manga series including Mizuki Shigeru, Taniguchi Jiro and Aoyama Gosho. Visitors can also immerse for hours in the Japanese traditions of washi paper hand-making experience and soba making with a day trip to Shikano Onsen.

Magical Tottori is best experienced when you stay for at least three days.

Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi Prefecture is a serene paradise that offers sites of great historical significance. It is known for its stunning scenery, hidden shrines, beaches, the largest limestone cave in Japan and offers some of Japan’s best seafood delights.

You can reach Yamaguchi easily by bullet train from most of Japan’s major cities or by flying to Ube Airport from Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

Motonosumi Jinja Shrine is considered one of Japan’s most  extremely beautiful places. A walk down  the tunnel of red torii gates up to the small shrine is simply exhilirating.
 

Red gates

Winds on top of the cliff are strong as the place faces the Sea of Japan.

Cliff waves

On top of the hill visitors are challenged to toss coins into an offering box for their wishes to come true. One can next visit the Tsunoshima Bridge  located off the northwest coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture by the Sea of Japan.

Ocean bridge

Another must-see attraction, Akiyoshidai Plateau is Japan’s largest karst plateau.

Plateau

Akiyoshido, the limestone cave under Akiyoshidai, beckons with breathtaking sights and a steady 17 celsius all throughout the four seasons.

The cave is large, with gentle lighting that illuminates the limestone pools, stalactites and stalagmites.

From Akiyoshidai, a five-minute walk to the elevator entrance of the cave. If you started from this path, you can exit to the descending route where you walk above the rushing water.

Forest river

 

Pagoda
Another must-see is Rurikoji Temple, a five-stories pagoda that is a national treasure.

Exploring the Yamaguchi Prefecture will surely make you hungry. Make sure to try Kawara Soba, noodles with powdered green tea and served with beef and other toppings atop a heated roof tile and Fugu, the poisonous blowfish delicacy so carefully cooked and prepared by Japanese licensed chefs.
 

Soba
Kawara Soba