The Chugoku region consists of 5 prefectures: Hiroshima – home to two World Heritage Sites, the Atomic Bomb Dome and Miyajima’s Itsukushima Shrine, Okayama, Yamaguchi, Tottori, and Shimane.Hiroshima has other sightseeing spots like Onomichi, Tomonoura – the town that became the setting of a Ghibli film, and the rabbit island, Okunoshima. From the Shimanami Sea Route in Onomichi, you can get to Shikoku by going past the various islands on the Seto Inland Sea. Going by car is the most convenient, but it’s recommended to bike there on certain seasons. There are rental bikes that even overseas tourists can use to enjoy the trip! One dish that you’ve got to try is the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, which is called “Hiroshima-yaki”! Other iconic Hiroshima foods are Miyajima’s specialty anago meshi and momiji manju.Okayama has several interesting spots as well. For example, there’s Korakuen – a garden that was made by the feudal lord of the area during the Edo period, as well as Kurashiki – a place that still retains its historical cityscape, with warehouses lining its canals. You’ll also find Kojima, which has been gaining attention lately as a city for denim. This prefecture produces peaches and grapes, so if you come during the right season, you might even be able to go fruit picking!Tottori’s Sand Dunes follow the Sea of Japan as far as the eye can see, making you feel like you’re not even in Japan. If you’re thinking about visiting, it’s recommended to come at sunrise, which is when you’ll be able to glimpse the beautiful wind patterns on the sand. There’s a variety of activities, including paragliding! Those who want to get up close and personal with the great outdoors can try mountain climbing, hiking, or driving around Tottori.Shimane is where you’ll find Izumo Taisha, which is famous for its enshrined deity that’s said to help with love and marriage. Inside its vast precinct, you’ll find traditional structures like the main hall. One particularly stunning sight is the shimenawa (rope used in rituals) in the kagura hall that you can observe up-close! Other recommended places to visit are the World Heritage Site, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape, Oki Islands, and Tsuwano – known for its beautiful, white-walled townscape.Yamaguchi has several tourist areas, such as Shimonoseki – known for its blowfish cuisine, the castletown of Hagi, and Iwakuni. Shimonoseki’s Tsunoshimao Bridge is a great place to view the sea from. Make sure to visit the wooden Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, which is known for its five beautiful arches. The best time to visit is during the fall. Also, if you go to Japan’s largest karst plateau, Akiyoshidai, and head underground, you’ll find Japan’s biggest limestone cave, Akiyoshi-do.The Chugoku region is also home to a lot of famous hot springs. Some examples are: Yubara Hot Spring, Yunogo, and Okutsu in Okayama; Misasa and Kaike in Tottori; Tamatsukuri and Sanbe in Shimane; Yuda and Kawatana in Yamaguchi; and Hiroshima’s Tomonoura. Choose the hot spring that you prefer based on factors like how accessible the place is from popular sightseeing spots, the regional specialties available, and the hot spring’s characteristics and effects.Looking for souvenirs? What about pottery like Hagi ware (Yamaguchi), Bizen ware (Okayama), or Yumachi ware (Shimane)? They’re all amazing pieces that are different in their own way. The makeup brushes from Kumano in Hiroshima are also extremely popular!The bullet train (shinkansen) runs through Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi, making them easy to access from Osaka or Fukuoka. While you can get to Shimane and Tottori by plane, it is recommended to take the local train there so you can sit back and take in both the scenery and the journey.
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