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Izumo Legends, Road of Steel and

Mountain of Silver

  • Get deep inside the world of traditional Japanese steelmaking, and its connection with food and craft traditions, environmental sustainability and ancient mythology

  • Experience the region’s ‘real’ food culture including traditionally brewed soy sauce and sake, heirloom buckwheat soba, and organic wine

  • Stay in an 18th-century country house with organic farmers and get a feel for pre-industrial rural life in Japan

  • Visit world-renowned sights including the 17th-century Matsue Castle and Adachi Museum of Art

  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Iwami-Ginzan silver mining area, including its charming historic towns and ports

  • Unwind over fresh local seafood and onsen in rustic coastal settlements

The Izumo and Iwami regions of Shimane Prefecture are famous as the centre-stage for the ancient Japanese mythology known as Izumo-Shinwa (the Izumo Legends). Stories such as the 8th-century Kunibiki (the ‘land-pulling’) tale—in which a god resolves the shortage of flat land by pulling together pieces of land from around the Sea of Japan with gigantic ropes—contain curious parallels with actual historic or natural events suggesting that the legends are, at least in part, an ancient Japanese chronicle. Izumo and Iwami regions’ history and culture are also intimately linked to their long history of mining, and the Tatara steel-making tradition that established an enduring reputation for high-quality steel and bladesmithing. What is remarkable is how the regions’ people, for centuries, managed the environmental impacts of mining and metal production to maintain co-existence with a healthy, productive and sustainable agrarian ecosystem. Organic farmers and food artisans continue this tradition in environmental sustainability, producing ‘real’ food with minimal impact on nature.  This tour will provide you with a deep understanding of how the culture, history and environment, including ancient legends, mining, steel-making, food and craft traditions, all relate to each other in the beautiful and timeless landscapes of the Izumo and Iwami regions. The tour will conclude in Iwami’s former silver mining area, once the largest producer of silver ore in the world, with its charming historic towns and coastal ports that are nowadays more known for fresh seafood. The harmonious coexistence of mining with the natural environment over four centuries was recognised through an UNESCO World Heritage registration in 2007.


Day 1: Travel Okayama–Yasugi, Yasugi medieval castle ruins walk;

Day 2: Yasugi crafts and onsen indulgence (indigo-dyeing and blacksmithing workshops, sake brewery tour);

Day 3: Adachi Museum of Art, Matsue historic sights (including the Matsue Castle, Shiominawate historic quarters);

Day 4: Matsue Yūshien Gardens, Izumo village onsen experience;

Day 5: Tatara landscape and traditions Part 1 (Japanese sword-making demonstration, rural landscape and mining history walking tour);

Day 6: Tatara landscape and traditions Part 2 (organic farm tour, heirloom buckwheat soba lunch, landscapes of steel-making and Izumo Legends);

Day 7: Izumo ‘real’ food experience (organic winery lunch, artisan soy sauce brewery tour);

Day 8: Tatara landscape and traditions Part 3 (historic steel-making village visit);

Day 9: Izumo-Taisha shrine and Museum of Ancient Izumo;

Day 10: travel Izumo–Iwami-Ginzan (silver mine), Ōmori historic mining town walk/cycling;

Day 11: Ōmori historic mining town walk/cycling OR Iwami-Ginzan historic trail walk;

Day 12: Historic port village walk or fisherman’s boat coastal cruise, Yunotsu-Onsen coastal town and pottery tradition (including an Iwami-Kagura sacred theatrical dance performance);

Day 13: travel Yunotsu-Onsen–Hamada–Hiroshima, end of tour


Accommodation: 2 nights upper-range ryokan (Japanese or Western-style bedding; onsen bath); 2 nights private traditional Japanese farmhouse (minpaku; shared, basic facilities, Japanese-style bedding); 2 nights mid-range ryokan (Japanese-style bedding, shared facilities); 2 nights mid-range city hotels; 1 night upper mid-range ryokan (Japanese-style bedding, onsen bath), 1 night upper mid-range boutique guesthouse (Western-style bedding for up to 2 people and Japanese-style bedding); 1 night upper mid-range boutique hotel (Western or Japanese-style bedding), 1 night traditional Japanese coastal house (private rental, Japanese-style bedding).




Physical fitness requirement: MODERATE (MODERATE/HIGH for the Iwami-Ginzan historic trail walk option on Day 11)


Cultural tolerance requirement: VERY HIGH


Departure date: 20 November 2018


Bookings before: 23 July 2018


Cost: from AUD $5400 per person


Maximum group size: 4 persons

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