VIDEO: Head to the mountains in Tsuwano for a traditional Japanese feel

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

VIDEO: Head to the mountains in Tsuwano for a traditional Japanese feel

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Tsuwano Town is a small but fascinating castle town in Shimane Prefecture. Tsuwano is surrounded by green mountains and is about a two-hour drive from MCAS Iwakuni. You’ll find old samurai houses, long-stretching beautiful stone-paved streets, white Namakokabe walls, and more.

The town is often referred to as the “Small Kyoto” of the region because it retains the atmosphere it established in 1324 when the castle was built on Mount Reiki.

On the weekends from March through November, take the two-hour ride aboard the Yamaguchi-go steam locomotive that runs between Shin-Yamaguchi and Tsuwano Station daily.

Outside Tsuwano Station, you’ll also find the retired black steam locomotive which used to run through the area. You can climb on the locomotive and visit the operation room for a close look inside.

Stroll the merchant district where breweries, traditional confectionery, and tea shops stretch to the Tonomachi, the former samurai district.

Tonomachi maintains a traditional ambiance and you can learn more about the inhabitants at a few of the museums in the area. Stop in at the Tsuwano Catholic Church for a history lesson and a look at the mix of Japanese design and gothic architecture. During the feudal era, Christians in the area were harshly persecuted. The church museum exhibits this trying time in religious history. The church was constructed in 1931 and the interior features tatami mats instead of the usual pews you’d expect to see in a church.

Complete your visit to Tsuwano with a stop at the former home of Mori Ogai, an important novelist in modern Japan. Take a close look at the well-preserved old house before going into the contemporary museum with displays demonstrating the town's influence on the writer’s personality and work, located next to the home.

The quaint town of Tsuwano is a great day trip spot with many attractions and a picturesque center for great photos. So make plans and head to this beauty in the mountains!

Tsuwano Town
Location: 71-2 Ushiroda, Tsuwano Town, Kanoashi-gun, Shimane Prefecture (Tsuwano Town Tourism Association)
Tel: 0856-72-1771

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