To the west-end of Honshu, the main island of Japan
For our annual summer bike trip, we went to “San’in region“, which is located in the west-end of Honshu, the main island of Japan. It was my first visit but I really savored a lot of heritage sites and beautiful places there.
Day 1 : Yonago to Matsue, a famous bridge, Nakaumi, and Matsue castle (36.3 km)
Day 2 : Matsue to Izumo, Lake Sinji and Izumo Shrine (59.2 km)
Day 3 : Izumo to Iwami region, Iwami Silver mine and Yunotsu hot spring (75.9 km)
Day 4 : Hagi (No bike day) (Rode trains from Yunotsu to Hagi)
Day 5 : Hagi to Akiyoshidai, Akiyoshi plateau and limestone caves. (50.5 km)
Day 6 : Akiyoshidai to Tsunoshima bridge ( 84.4 km)
Day 7 : Shimonoseki to Fukuoka, Shimonoseki, Moji and Munakata Shrine. (51.2 km)
Day 1:Yonago to Matsue
From Tokyo to Yonago Airport
As usual we left home in the very early morning. Packed our bikes before, we went to Haneda Airport carrying bike bags and belongings on the Airport Limousine bus.
Arrived at Yonago “Kitaro” Airport, 米子鬼太郎空港, we unpacked bikes and started riding.
Mizuki Shigeru Road 水木しげるロード
First we visited Mizuki Shigeru Road. Sakaiminato city is the home town of Mizuki Shigeru, the author of “Gegege no Kitaro” which is the popular manga of Yokai, monsters in Japanese folklore.
Mizuki Shigaru Road is 800 meter long arcade with some 153 bronze statues of Mizuki’s characters.
Ejima Ohashi Bridge 江島大橋
10:30 AM We crossed Ejima Ohashi Bridge, which is famous for Daihatsu commercials on TV.
The bridge has a gradient of 6.1% actually, but it looks steeper from a distance with a telephoto lens.
On top of the bridge of 44 m height, I felt a little bit scared and could not take video.
After crossed the bridge, we pedaled on the islands in Nakaumi brackish lake, the fifth largest lake in Japan. I enjoyed the view of the lake. The traffic was relatively light.
We found a bike path on the bank, but it ended soon.
Then we went along the Ohashi river which connects Nakaumi lake and Shinjiko lake.
Matsue City 松江市
12:00 AM We arrived the central area of Matsue city and had lunch at PASTA FACTORY ORTAGGIO. Everything was delicious!
13:30 We visited Matsue Castle. The castle was constructed in 1611 and is one of twelve castles in which original castle towers remain and is designated as national treasure.
We joined a unique tour held by “Matsue Jidai Annnai nin”.
The tour guide was like an entertainer, funny but knowledgeable.
He wore Samurai costume and said “I am Horio Yoshiharu, 400 years old. I built this castle.” and told us why Matsue castle is called the strongest castle in Japan.
Horio Yoshiharu (1643-1611) was a daimyo, a feudal lord during the end of warring state and in the early Edo period. He was good at battle and a rare daimyo who served three powerful daimyo, Oda, Toyotomi and Tokugawa.
The guide said, “If you visit a castle, think how to penetrate the inner castle as a warrior of a hostile. After you enter the stone walls, think how to protect the castle as a guardian. It is one of the ways to enjoy the castle”.
We heard lots about the military apects of Matsue Castle during the tour, but I mention the large square in front of the main gate and how to protect the castle.
In front of the main gate, it has a huge 45 m square called “masugata”. If a hostile troop attacked the castle, some ten thousands warriors stayed in the square waiting to enter the narrow main gate. Then guardians fired from behind loopholes on top of the stone wall.
At that time, the range of rifle was about 45 m and the square widths designed to match the range. The height of stone walls accelerate the velocity of bullets and the guardians just fire toward the square haphazardly. The square could become a “kill zone” in the battle.
It is the mud wall on top of 13 m stone wall facing the square. When enemy troops attack the castle, first the guardians fire the rifles. If they run out of their bullets, they throw hot water or human waste into the square. Finally they kick and drop the mud wall on the enemy troops.
Matsue Castle has a lots of fortifications.
The guide passed their mock rifle to my son and told us how to guard the castle. On top of the stone wall near the main stairs, guardians could fire at the enemy troops.
After the tour, we visited Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo) museum, he collected and published Japanese legends and ghost stories in the late 19th century.
Then we went to the hostel “Kitatono Guesthouse” where we stayed.
After check-in, we went to “chidori-yu” , a public bath in Shinjiko Onsen. The bathing fee was only 350 yen but we can enjoy the hot spring.
In the evening, the largest firework festival in western Japan was held on Shinjiko-lake and the lakeside was very crowded. But we were very lucky to enter a Izakaya named “Oideyasu Ookiniya”. We ate delicious fish and sake. The fish from the Sea of Japan was fresh and delicious, and we ate fish everyday during the tour.
After dinner, we went to the lakeside and enjoyed the firework festival.
Distance: 36.3 km
Elevation: + 129 / – 118 m