Is Chugoku the Most Underrated Region of Japan?

Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture
Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture | © cotaro70s/ Flickr

The Chugoku Region of Japan makes up the western part of the main island of Honshu and consists of the prefectures of Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori and Yamaguchi. This part of Japan is often overlooked by tourists, but is home to some of Japan’s most iconic sites. It is an amazing place to explore with fantastic nature, well-preserved samurai castle towns and magical sacred islands. Let’s take a look at some of the best places the Chugoku Region has to offer.

Korakuen Garden (Okayama)

Korakuen Garden is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan and is located in Okayama City. The beautiful landscape garden was built in 1700 by Ikeda Tsunamasa, lord of Okayama and is the city’s main attraction along with Okayama Castle, which is conveniently located next door. You can catch amazing views of the castle from the garden, which was incorporated into the garden’s design as “borrowed scenery”.

1-5 Korakuen, Kita-ku, Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, +81 86-272-1148

Korakuen Garden in Okayama

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Area (Okayama)

Kurashiki has earned the nickname “the Venice of Japan” for its picturesque canal area. It is famous for the Bikan Historical Area, which was chosen as the most picturesque merchant quarter in all of Japan. It contains many beautifully preserved black tiled, white-walled wooden kura warehouses dating from the 17th century. The atmospheric merchant area features a weeping willow lined canal that is filled with carp and illuminated at night, creating a magical atmosphere.

Honmachi, Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, +81 86-426-3851

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Area

Itsukushima Shrine (Hiroshima)

Itsukushima Shrine, on the sacred island of Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture, is famous for its iconic floating torii shrine gate, which spectacularly rises out of the water. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has a history dating back more than 1,400 years and has been regarded as one of Japan’s “Most Scenic Views” since ancient times.

1-1 Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture

Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture

Hagi (Yamaguchi)

Hagi is one of Japan’s most beautiful castle towns and is located on the Sea of Japan, in the north of Yamaguchi Prefecture. Feudal lord, Mori Terumoto constructed Hagi Castle in 1604 with the castle town flourishing next to the samurai castle. The town remains pretty much unchanged and features beautifully preserved white-walled streets and historic samurai residences from the Edo Period (1603-1868).

Horiuchi, Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, +81 838-25-3131

Hagi Castle Town

Kintaikyo Bridge (Yamaguchi)

The Kintaikyo Bridge is a historical wooden bridge in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture. One of Japan’s most famous; it consists of five wooden arches with stone piers that cross the Nishiki River. It was first built by the local feudal lord, Kikkawa Hiroyoshi in 1673 to resist the constant flooding of the area. Now, it is a popular tourist destination, especially during the cherry blossom season when you can enjoy stunning views of the wooden bridge with the beautiful sakura behind it.

1-14-51 Imazumachi, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, +81 827-29-5116

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Tottori Sand Dunes (Tottori)

The Tottori Sand Dunes, located near the city of Tottori in Tottori Prefecture form the only large dune system (over 30 km²) in Japan. The popular tourist destination is part of Sanin Kaigan National Park and features vast expanses of sand, amazing views of the coast and camel rides that will make you think you are in Africa.

2164-661 Fukube-cho, Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture, +81 857-22-0581

Tottori Sand Dunes

Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine (Shimane)

Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine is located in the city of Izumo on the western edge of the Shimane Peninsula. It is one of the most famous and important Shinto shrines in all of Japan. According to Japanese folklore, the Shinto gods from all around Japan gather at the shrine to conduct a meeting once a year.

195 Taisha-cho, Kizukihigashi, Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, +81 853-53-3100

Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine

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