Congratulations, Oki Islands Geopark! It was announced on September 9, 2013, that they are to be a new member of the Global Geoparks Network.

Click for photo source and English article on Kyodo News.

The islands can now be accessed by ferry ports in Matsue and Sakaiminato, as well as by flights from Osaka and Izumo. Although archeological evidence suggests the islands have been inhabited since at least the Jomon era (1000~300 b.c.), they had been regarded as a far removed place suitable for sending a couple of banished emperors in the Heian era (794-1185 a.d.). I’ve heard that because of this, the local dialect somewhat resembles the Kyoto dialect. I wonder how many people would agree with that? I frequently hear about the culture in Matsue being compared to Kyoto, but the Izumo dialect is more often compared to the zuzu-ben way of speaking in the Tohoku region!

Despite the distance in the past, they were frequently ruled by the same clans that ruled the Izumo region, but when the prefectural system replaced the provincial system, Oki Prefrecture existed for about five months in 1869. After that, it was a part of Tottori Prefecture for about seven years before becoming a part of Shimane Prefecture, as it still is today.

I haven’t been there yet, but they’re on my list of priorities for next summer. I want to be able to enjoy both the land and the ocean! Thankfully, JAPANiCAN has recently opened a very helpful, informative English guide to the islands, including pretty photos.

To learn a bit more about what a Geopark is, please visit this National Geographic article: UNESCO’s Geoparks “Clarify” Geotourism