August 4th, 2019, We pedaled from Matsue city to Izumo, which is called “the Land of the gods”.
8:15 AM, We left the guest house and ate breakfast at a convenience store in Matsue city.
9:00 AM, We dropped at Giant Store Matsue to buy a new 20 inche tyre tube because I broke the front tyre tube valve and replaced it with the last tube I brought on the trip the day before.
Lake Shinji Ride
We rode on the north coast of Lake Shinji. First we found a good bike path but it ended soon.
Lake Shinji is the seventh largest lake in Japan with a circumference of 48 km (30 mi.)
It’s brackish water cultivates various types of fish. Shijimi clam in Lake Shinji is very famous in Japan for it’s good quality.
On the road along the coast, we enjoyed the view of the lake but felt uncomfortable because of the busy traffic on a road with no shoulder.
We found the signboard of “Shinji Lake Cycling Road” north of the train tracks of Ichibata railways which runs between Matsue to Izumo but it ended soon.
FYI, you can carry your bicycle in the car of Ichibata Railway all day.
Izumo Cycling Road
At the west end of Shinjiko Lake, we started riding on Izumoji Cycling Road.
The hot weather and strong sun rays on the river bank made us tired, and we left the bike path and went to a restaurant for an early lunch.
We found lots of Unagi, eel restaurants during the ride since the day before. We felt like eating it. Unagi is also one of the local specialities of Lake Shinji.
12:00 AM We ate Unadon at Takeshiya-saryo (たけ志や茶寮). The unagi was soft and didn’t have any smell. The sauce was sweeter than one in Tokyo.
Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo
We arrived at Izumo Grand shrine. Before entered the shrine, we visited Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo 古代出雲歴史博物館 to get more information.
One of the attraction of the museum are the “Uzu” pillars unearthed within the shrine, which was built in 1248. The diameter of each pillar is 130 cm in average, they consists of a 3 meter thick pillar which supported the giant main hall.
This is the 1/10 model of the main hall of the 10th century from the legend. The Izumo Grand Shrine was a huge wooden building and the height was 48 meters.
The museum houses lots of ancient bronze swords and vessels excavated in the shrine (national treasures) These bronze implements are thought to have been used in the religious festivals.
We watched a video about Japanese myth at the theater. A long time ago, Okuninushi, one of gods of the lands in the myth, is believed to be the ruler of Izumo, but finally he handed over his land to Ninigi, a god from the heaven, who is believed to be a great-grand father of Emperor Jimmu (The first Emperor of Japan). As the condition, he asked the god to build Izumo Grand Shrine to be enshrined.
Izumo Grand Shrine
After visiting the museum, we visited Izumo Grand Shrine. There is a long approach to the shrine with lots of pine trees and I felt the serene atmosphere.
First, we visited the main worship hall. We love the plain and natural buildings. The main worship hall was built in 1744 and designated a national treasure. The height of the Honden, where the Kami, god resides inside the sanctuary is 24 meters.
We visited Kagura-den (The hall of Shinto Music and Dance) ,west of the main hall. It’s giant Shimenawa, a sacred straw festoon. It weights 5.2 tons and is about 13 meter wide.
After visited the shrine, we stopped off a restaurant near the shrine, which serves Shimane Icecream, because we met an entrepreneur at the inn the day before and he runs the ice cream factory. He said he uses various local ingredients to make ice cream because he wants to promote the products of Shimane pref.
While we ate the ice cream, we coincidentally met again the man . In order to meet tourists and interesting local people to exchange information, we usually stay hostels, not large hotels.
Tomato ice cream (brown), Sake Koji (malted rice used for sake brewing) ice cream (white), and strawberry ice cream (white and pink)
There are lots of restaurants near Shimane Grand Shrine, but very few of of them open at night. I enquired about a good restaurant from the owner of the inn, “Izumo Guest House” near the shrine we stayed, and went to the Izakaya “Ooshime”, which was one of his recommendations. It was located in a quiet residential area and only neighbors visit there. It has a very cozy atmosphere and the owner and waitress were very kind. My husband and I drank beer and ate Ika Sashimi (Raw squid), which is one of the summer fish in this region.
Distance: 59.2 km
Elevation: + 191 / – 183 m