Shimane is a rural prefecture in Chugoku region of south Honshu facing the Sea of Japan. It's population is just under 700,000, which is the second lowest in Japan and also having the third lowest crime rate in Japan. Most of these people are living in the northern area near the Sea of Japan while the Chugoku mountain range makes up much of the southern area. The Izumo area in the east is said to have been the birthplace of Japan and thus known as the province of the gods, steeped in mythology and home to many shrines and temples in the forests. The capital city, Matsue, which is Matsue is referred to as the "water city" because of its lakes, rivers and canals, has a population just over 200,000.
While there is some industry in Shimane including electronic equipment and machinery, the retail sector is the major employer in the prefecture, which also has a lot of agriculture, fishing and forestry activities. There are only about 30 English conversation schools that hire native English teachers and about half as many other types of educational institutions that may employ foreign teachers.
Traditionally a somewhat isolated area, untouched beauty is said to remain hidden in Shimane's abundant natural settings, which comprise the majority of things to see in Shimane. Matsue Castle is located in the capital city with Edo-period samurai residences and Lake Shinji nearby. The Shimane Art Museum with ukiyo-e woodblock prints, sculptures and paintings is on the lakeshore, and there is a bird sanctuary, Vogel Park, which shelters owls and penguins. Izumo is home to the Izumo-taisha shrine, the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo, the Kojindani Ruins and Tachikue Gorge which has many Buddhist statues. The Nima Sand Museum in located in Oda City along with the historic Remains of the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its cultural background.
The number of festivals in Shimane are almost too numerous to count because nearly every shrine has one in this land of many shrines. Of particular note, however, is the Shikinen Shinkosai festival of Jozan Inari Shrine (Matsue City), which is referred to locally as “Horan-enya," It is one of the three largest Shinto rituals involving ships and is held to seek good harvests from the gods but only held once every 10 years. The Morotabune-Shinji Shinto ritual is a boat race held annually on Dec. 3 to reenact an event from the Kojiki (written 1,300 years ago). Then, there is an Irish festival held in March and a Warrior Parade in April
The best known food in Shimane may well be Izumo soba, which is made with a kind of whole grain soba (including the husks). It is served with three lacquer bowls and toppings on the side to flavor as you like. You then pour the sauce on the soba rather than dipping it. Taimeishi makes use of locally caught tai (sea bream) for a fish together with rice dish. Local soups include Shimane imoni, which is a taro (glutinous potato) soup with citrus fruit yuzu and herbs, and shijimi jiru, which is a clam broth, seasoned with soy sauce and miso. For desert there is yaki manju, which is a fried version of the traditional manju with is a bun filled with red bean paste, and genji maki, which are sweet crepes with red bean paste rolled inside them and cut into pieces for eating.