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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shimane Prefecture
Japanese: 島根県
Map of Japan with Shimane highlighted
Capital Matsue
Region Chūgoku
Island Honshū
Governor Zenbei Mizoguchi
Area (rank) 6,707.29 km² (18th)
 - % water 2.7%
Population  (October 1, 2000)
 - Population 761,503 (46th)
 - Density 114 /km²
Districts 7
Municipalities 21
ISO 3166-2 JP-32
Prefectural Symbols
 - Flower Moutan peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)
 - Tree Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii)
 - Bird Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus)
 - Fish {{{Fish}}}
Symbol of Shimane Prefecture
Symbol of Shimane Prefecture
Template ■ Discussion ■ WikiProject Japan

Shimane Prefecture (島根県 Shimane-ken ?) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region on Honshū island. The capital is Matsue. It is the second least populous prefecture in Japan, next to the Tottori Prefecture that is a neighboring prefecture on the east side. The prefecture has an area elongated from east to west facing the Chūgoku Mountain Range on the south side and to the Sea of Japan on the north side. Most of the cities are near the shoreline of the Sea of Japan. Izumo Taisha in Izumo City is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan.

The Oki Islands in the Sea of Japan are also part of Shimane Prefecture, which also claims to have jurisdiction over the South Korea-controlled island of Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima).



Matsue Castle

Early history

The history of Shimane starts with the Japanese mythology. Shinto god Ōkuninushi was believed to be living in Izumo, an old province in Shimane. Izumo Shrine, which is in the city of Izumo, honors the god.[1] At that time, the current Shimane prefecture was divided in to three parts: Iwami, Izumo, and Oki. That lasted until the abolition of the han system took place in 1871. During the Nara period, Kakinomoto no Hitomaro read a poem on Shimane's nature when he was sent as the Royal governor.[2]

Later on in the Kamakura period, Kamakura Shogunate forces emperors Gotoba and Emperor Godaigo to exile to Oki. Emperor Godaigo later gets away from Oki and begins rallying against the shogunate, which later succeeds.[3]

Middle Ages

During the Muromachi period, Izumo and Oki were controlled by the Kyogoku clan. However, after the Ōnin War, the Amago clan expanded power based in Gassan-Toda castle and Masuda clan dominated Iwami province. Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was located between Amago clan territory and Masuda clan territory, so there were many battles between these lords for the siver of vast quantity. However, in 1566 Mori Motonari conquered Izumo, Iwami, and Oki.[3] After over 30 years of Mori control, in 1600 Horio Yoshiharu enters Izumo and Oki as the result of Battle of Sekigahara which Mori lost. Following the change, Horio Yoshiharu decides to move to build Matsue Castle instead of Gassan-Toda, and soon after Yoshiharu's death the castle is completed. Later in 1638, the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Matsudaira Naomasa enters the castle since the Horio clan had no heir, and his family ruled until the abolition of the han system. The Iwami area was split in to 3 clans: The mining district (direct control of the Shogunate), the Hamada clan and the Tsuwano clan. The Iwami Ginzan, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site produced silver and was one of the nation's largest silver mine by the early 17th century. Hamada clan was on the shogunate's side in the Meiji Restoration, and the castle was burned down. The Tsuwano clan, despite the Matsudaira (relative of the shogun) rule was on the emperor's side in the restoration.[4]

Modern times

In 1871, abolition of the han system places the old Shimane and Hamada provinces in the current area of Shimane Prefecture. Later that year, Oki becomes part of Tottori. In 1876, Hamada Prefecture merges with Shimane and is named Shimane Prefecture. Also, Tottori Prefecture merges in the same year. However, five years later, in 1881, the current portion of Tottori Prefecture separates and the current border is formed.[4]


Map of Shimane Prefecture.

Shimane prefecture is situated on the Sea of Japan side of the Chugoku region. Because of its mountainous landscape, rice farming is done mostly in the Izumo plain where the city of Izumo is located.[5] Another major landform is the Shimane peninsula. The peninsula is located across on the Sea of Japan from Izumo to Sakaiminato, which apparently is located in Tottori prefecture. Also, the peninsula created two sea water lakes Lake Shinji and Nakaumi. The island of Daikon is located in Nakaumi. Off from the island of Honshū, the island of Oki is in Shimane prefecture as well. The island itself is in the Daisen-Oki National Park.[5] Shimane also claims the use of Liancourt Rocks, which they are in dispute with South Korea.[6]

Most major cities are located either on the seaside, or along a river.[5] Between 2004 and 2005, municipalities across Japan merged, and Shimane prefecture was not an exception. For the list of mergers, see List of mergers in Shimane Prefecture.


Eight cities are located in Shimane Prefecture, the largest being Matsue, the capital, and the smallest being Gotsu. The cities Masuda, Unnan, Yasugi, and Gotsu had a slight population increase due to the mergers in the early 2000s.[7]

Cape Hinomisaki near Izumo

Towns and villages

Tsuwano, Shimane

The number of Towns and villages greatly decreased during the mergers. However, they hold about one-third of the prefecture's population.[7]




The prefecture has a sub-tropical climate. Winter is cloudy with a little snow and summer is a little humid. The year average for temperature is 14.6 degrees Celsius. During the rainy season, June to around Mid July, it rains every day. The hottest average temperature is in August with 26.3 degrees Celsius. The average year preciparation is 1799 millimeters, compared to Tokyo's 1467 mm and Obihiro with 920 mm.[7]



Izumo Airport terminal

Three airports serve Shimane. The Izumo Airport located in Hikawa is the largest airport in the prefecture in terms of passengers, which has regular flights to Haneda Airport, Osaka Airport, Fukuoka Airport, and Oki Airport. The Iwami Airport has two flights each day to Haneda and Osaka and 2 arrivals. Oki Airport has scheduled flights to Osaka and Izumo Airports.[8]


JR West and Ichibata Electric Railway serves the prefecture in terms of rail transportation. The Sanin Main Line goes through the prefecture on the Sea of Japan side going into major cities such as Matsue and Izumo.[9] Izumoshi and Matsue stations are the major stops in the prefecture. The Kisuki line, which forks from Shinji Station on the Sanin Line, connects with the Geibi Line in Hiroshima Prefecture, cutting into the Chūgoku Mountains.[9] Ichibata Electric Railway serve the Shimane peninsula from Dentetsu-Izumoshi Station and Izumo Taisha-Mae Station to Matsue Shinjiko-Onsen Station.[10]

JR West has 3 Limited Express trains to Shimane, which are Super Matsukaze, Super Oki, and Yakumo.[11]



The four expressways in the prefecture connect major cities with other prefectures. The Matsue expressway connects Matsue with Unnan and Yonago in Tottori prefecture. Hamada Expressway forks from the Chugoku Expressway at Kita-Hiroshima and stretches to Hamada.[5]


In Shimane, the largest employer is the retailing industry, employing over 60,000 workers. Mishimaya and Juntendo are examples of companies. The manufacturing industry has the second number of employees with 49,000 workers. In the number of business locations, the retailing industry is first with over 12,000.

Twenty-nine percent of the total industry income is from the service industry, including retailers. Another 13% is from the manufacturing industry.

Companies based in Shimane



  • The Shimane Bank
  • The San-in Godo Bank


Major factories

  • Hitachi Metals


One-third of the prefecture's population is concentrated in the Izumo-Matsue area. Otherwise, over two-thirds of the population is on the coastline. The reason is that the Chugoku mountains make the land inland harder to inhabit. Also, Shimane has the largest percentage of the elderly, and the capital Matsue has the smallest population out of all the 47 prefectural capitals.[7]

Population by age

Total Population in age groups
2007 Estimated Population

Age Population
0 - 4 G30.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.png 30
5 - 9 G50.pngG01.pngG01.png 33
10 - 14 G50.pngG03.pngG01.pngG01.png 35
15 - 19 G50.pngG05.pngG03.png 37
20 - 24 G30.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.pngG01.pngG01.pngG01.png 32
25 - 29 G50.pngG05.pngG03.pngG01.png 38
30 - 34 G50.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.pngG01.png 44
35 - 39 G50.pngG10.pngG05.pngG01.png 41
40 - 44 G50.pngG05.pngG03.pngG01.png 38
45 - 49 G50.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.pngG01.png 44
50 - 54 G50.pngG30.pngG01.png 51
55 - 59 G50.pngG30.pngG10.pngG10.png 66
60 - 64 G50.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.pngG01.png 44
65 - 69 G50.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.pngG01.pngG01.png 45
70 - 74 G50.pngG10.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.pngG01.png 50
75 - 79 G50.pngG10.pngG10.pngG01.png 45
80 and over G50.pngG30.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.png 64

Population in gender
2007 Estimated population

Male Age Female
15 G10.pngG10.pngG03.png 0 - 4 R10.pngR10.pngR03.png 15
17 G10.pngG10.pngG05.pngG01.png 5 - 9 R10.pngR10.pngR05.png 16
18 G10.pngG10.pngG05.pngG01.pngG01.png 10 - 14 R10.pngR10.pngR05.pngR01.png 17
19 G30.png 15 - 19 R10.pngR10.pngR05.pngR03.png 18
16 G10.pngG10.pngG05.png 20 - 24 R10.pngR10.pngR05.png 16
19 G30.png 25 - 29 R30.png 19
22 G30.pngG03.pngG01.png 30 - 34 R30.pngR03.pngR01.png 22
20 G30.pngG01.png 35 - 39 R30.pngR01.png 20
19 G30.png 40 - 44 R30.png 19
22 G30.pngG03.pngG01.png 45 - 49 R30.pngR03.pngR01.png 22
26 G30.pngG10.pngG03.png 50 - 54 R30.pngR10.pngR01.pngR01.png 25
34 G30.pngG10.pngG05.pngG03.png 55 - 59 R30.pngR10.pngR05.pngR01.png 32
22 G30.pngG03.pngG01.png 60 - 64 R30.pngR05.pngR03.png 23
20 G30.pngG01.png 65 - 69 R30.pngR10.pngR01.png 24
22 G30.pngG03.pngG01.png 70 - 74 R30.pngR10.pngR03.pngR01.png 28
19 G30.png 75 - 79 R30.pngR10.pngR03.png 26
20 G30.pngG01.png 80 and over R50.pngR10.pngR05.png 44

Comparison of Population Distribution between Shimane and Japanese National Average Population Distribution by Age and Sex in Shimane
Japan (average)
2005 Census, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications - Statistics Department


Universities in Shimane Prefecture


Garden of the Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi

Prefectural symbols

The prefectural flower is the mountain peony. On the island of Daikonjima, they were grown from at least the 18th century.[14]


  1. ^ Izumo Shrine website
  2. ^ Shimane Prefecture introduction
  3. ^ a b 古川清行 Furukawa Kiyoyuki (2003). スーパー日本史 Super Nihon-shi. 講談社 Kōdansha. ISBN 406204594.  
  4. ^ a b History of Shimane Prefecture
  5. ^ a b c d 新編 中学校社会科地図 Updated Social studies map for Junior High school. 帝国書院 Teikoku Shoin. 2007. ISBN 4-8071-4091-4.  
  6. ^ Liancourt Rocks
  7. ^ a b c d 考える社会科地図 Kangaeru Shakaika Chizu. 四谷大塚出版 Yotsuya-Ōtsuka Shuppan. 2005. p. 113.  
  8. ^ Flight schedule of Oki Airport
  9. ^ a b Route map for JR West
  10. ^ Route map of Ichibata Electric Railway
  11. ^ JR West website on limited express trains
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Symbols of Shimane Prefecture: From Shimane Prefecture website

See also

External links

Coordinates: 35°13′N 132°40′E / 35.217°N 132.667°E / 35.217; 132.667

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : East Asia : Japan : Chugoku : Shimane

Shimane prefecture (島根県 Shimane-ken ; [1],[2]) is in the western Chugoku region of the main Japanese island Honshu. It is the 2nd least populous prefecture in Japan.


Shimane prefecture, together with Tottori prefecture is known as the Sanin region, meaning "the shady side of the mountains". There is a mountain range separating these two prefectures from Hiroshima and Okayama, which means that the weather here is drastically wetter than further to the south.

  • Matsue[松江] — The prefectural capital, Matsue has an original castle (most in Japan are modern remakes/rebuilds).
  • Izumo[出雲] — Site of Izumo Taisha, one of Japan's most famous shrines.
  • Hamada[浜田] — Fishing port and recreation area.
  • Tsuwano[津和野] — Referred to as "Little Kyoto," home to a steam train and the birthplace of Mori Ogai.
  • Masuda[益田] — The westernmost city in Shimane and long-time home of Sesshu, one of the most famous artists in Japanese history.
  • Gotsu[江津] — A small industrial city between Hamada and Oda.
  • Oda [大田] — A reasonably sized city close to Iwami Ginzan and Mt. Sanbe.
  • Yasugi — Site of the Adachi Art Museum, Yasugi borders Yonago in Tottori Prefecture. On a clear day you can spot the snow-capped Mt. Daisen up north.
  • Iwami Ginzan Silver Mines (石見銀山) — World Heritage Site
  • Yunotsu — old onsen town perfectly preserved in the 1920s

Get in

By plane

Shimane has airports in Izumo (IZO), the Oki Islands (OKI), and Masuda (IWJ).

By train

a JR train line originating in Yamaguchi (Local) or Shin-Yamaguchi (Super Okii) stops at a number of points in Shimane prefecture.

By bus

Long Distance Express Buses

By boat

There are no common entry ways into Shimane via boat. However, if you are traveling from South Korea to Shimane, the cheapest way would be to take a ferry boat from Busan to Shimonoseki (Yamaguchi Prefecture) and then take a train into Shimane.

Get around

The best way to get around Shimane is to drive. Most towns and cities, especially those on the coast, can also reached by train. Buses go pretty much everywhere, but some places may only have a few buses a day.

  • Izumo Shrine (Izumo) the second holiest Shinto Shrine in Japan
  • Matsue Castle (Matsue) Beautiful black castle; One of Japan's few remaining original castles.
  • Iwami Kagura [3]


There are many ski resorts in the prefecture. Most will blow snow when it hasn't fallen, giving a reliable season from late November until late March.

Mizuho Highland[4] is the biggest (10 slopes, 5km longest run) and probably best (the only half-pipe in the region) resort.

The Yabusame (horse-back archery) festivals of Shimane are quite famous, especially that of Tsuwano, which holds the oldest Yabusame range in all of Japan (some 1000+ years old). They usually are held in early April. If one is particularly lucky, the festival will coincide with the cherry blossoms blooming, for the consummate Japanese cultural experience.

During the year there are numerous festivals. Many towns and cities have a fireworks show in August.

  • Seven Delicacies of Lake Shinji To get a taste of Matsue and the area around Lake Shinji, you should try to sample the famous seven delicacies: Shijimi clams, icefish, eel, sea bass, among others.
  • Izumo Soba Noodles For the most authentic soba in Izumo, make sure to try Warigo Soba
  • For cheap accommodations, the prefecture has a number of youth hostels.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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Proper noun




  1. a prefecture in Japan, its capital is Matsue.




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