This is a post a hike to Iwami Ginzan, the UNESCO World Heritage Silver Mines. Truth be told, we were already there–the silver mines stretch throughout the area and were in active use and points of contention between the warring Mori and Amago clans and otherwise, and they were so influential on the economy of the region that 16th century missionaries made sure to note it in their reports and it was included in early Western maps of Japan. At their peak, they accounted for 1/3 of the world’s silver production.

Recall Kotogahama and the Nima Sand Museum.

Sounds very cool, expect that most of the tunnels are out of sight what you can see is better seen in person, and seeing as photography is prohibited in the highly informative museum, I’m left primarily with photos from the hike. It was November, the leaves were changing, and the weather was perfect. Although most of the forest looked green, the red/orange/yellow trees stood out against the backdrop–trees or rocks–and looked especially bright in the sunlight.

There were a few restaurants offering locals the usual cafe items and local specialties, as well a few gift shops I haven’t run into elsewhere. For instance, a silver shop full of jewelry and other items, as well as a little shop specializing in fragrance pouches–priding itself on being the one place in all of Japan that sells metal-scented potpourri pouches.

Of course, this being the inaka, there was lots of inaka character to be found, from persimmons floating in the streams to… well… tanuki.

I’ll introduce my favorite of the little places in the next entry.


It’s Kouyou season!

Kouyou (紅葉) literally means “red leaves,” and while maple leaves do tend to take center stage, there are plenty of shades of other colors to enjoy as well. I had a little free time yesterday so I took a walk around the castle grounds, and was very refreshed to see all the different colors and how the fallen yellow leaves contrast the black stones, and how the green and red leaves contrast the black castle, and how bright they all were against the grey sky. I took the time to take note of what kinds of trees were in which places so can look forward to seeing them again in future seasons. For now, there are still more colors to come–it’s nice that autumn takes its time here!

Kouyou is not simply of a matter of noticing the leaves are changing–Japan has nature-viewing down to a science.

As much as I like noticing the leaves throughout town, there are certain spots that are very well known as leaf-viewing spots (thank you, Luc, for assembling the list corresponding to this map!):

1. Kagikage Valley 鍵掛峠(かぎかけとうげ)
2. Mount Daisen Sky Resort 大山スキー場 (だいせんスキーじょう)
3. Kinmon Gate 金門 (きんもん)
4. Lake Ono 大野池(おおのいけ)
5. Sekka Valley 石霞渓(せっかけい)
6. Kiyomizu-dera Temple 清水寺(きよみずでら)
7. Yuushien Garden 由志園(ゆうしえん)
8. Matsue Castle Jozan Park 松江城山公園(まつえじょうざんこうえん)
9. Gakuen-ji Temple 鰐淵寺(がくえんじ)
10. Adachi Museum of Art 足立美術館(あだちびじゅつかん)
11. Tachikue Valley 立久恵狭(たちくえきょう)
12. Ichibata Yakushi Temple 一畑薬師(いちばたやくし)

While there are stunning pictures of these places around the net…

…I’m still fond of the little places nearby.