Guideto JapanCulture History
Located in the southwest of the island of Honshū, Shimane Prefecture is in the region of Chūgoku, with the Sea of Japan to its north. The main population centers lie on the Izumo Plain in the northeast. The prefecture includes the volcanic Oki Islands, much of which are a national park.
Shimane Prefecture at a Glance
- Established in 1881 (formerly Iwami, Izumo, and Oki provinces)
- Capital: Matsue
- Population: 671,000 (as of Oct. 2020)
- Area: 6,708 km2
The Izumo region of Shimane Prefecture has long been associated with Japanese deities, and Izumo Taisha is one of Japan’s most sacred Shintō shrines. Ōkuninushi, the legendary creator of Japan, is enshrined there. The capital city Matsue is known for Matsue Castle, a national treasure with architecture dating back 400 years. In the same city, Adachi Museum of Art is renowned for its outstanding garden. The historic Iwami Ginzan silver mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Lake Shinji in the northeast of Shimane Prefecture is associated with shijimi clams, for which the prefecture is the nation’s top producer. It is also notable for sea fishing and leads Japan in catches of conger eels. In traditional crafts, the prefecture is known for its Unshū abacuses; Unshū is another name for the province of Izumo.
- Mori Ōgai (1862–1922): Writer known for works including “Maihime” (trans. by Richard Bowring as “The Dancing Girl”), who was also an army surgeon and bureaucrat.
- Mori Hanae (1926–2022): Fashion pioneer, who was the first Asian to become an official member of the prestigious La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris in 1977.
- Takeuchi Mariya (1955–): Best-selling city pop singer known for her song “Plastic Love,” which became a global hit via YouTube.
(Originally published in English. Banner photo: Izumo Shrine in Shimane Prefecture. © Pixta.)
For the complete list of the country’s 47 prefectures, see “The Prefectures of Japan.”