Hi I’m Shin, a local guide in the San’in area (Tottori and Shimane Prefectures), and love taking photos. San’in is the least populated and most untouched area of Japan, yet takes only 3 hours from the Kansai area (Osaka and Kyoto) by bus. Yonago City is located near the center of the San’in area, and some outstanding destinations can be found around Yonago. Mt. Daisen and the Adachi Museum of Art are just as great as Miyajima (near Hiroshima) or Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, but are so much less crowded compared with those major destinations. I highly recommend visiting San’in to find another Japan for those who want to take a break from more well-known tourist areas.
My favorite spot is Mt. Daisen. It is known as having one of the largest freshwater reserves in Japan. There are about 12 freshwater springs around Mt. Daisen, and each of them produces a great amount of beautiful clean water. Mt. Daisen has a vast forest which helps hold a great amount of water.
A major beverage industry has a bottling plant located at Mt. Daisen, and this tells us of how stable the source of water produced there is, as well as the high quality of the water available there. In this article, I would like to introduce three my favorite water places: Goshinsui, Hongu no Izumi, and Ame no Manai. They are amazingly beautiful water springs, and you can enjoy fresh air and nice farm villages around them as well.
As soon as you park your car, you will realize how fresh the air is there, and after a 15-minute hike, you will find the Goshinsui Spring located at the end of the approach to Ogamiyama Shrine. The water is very fresh and has an earthy taste. This spring is closest to the heart of Mt. Daisen, and the atmosphere is very nice. People purify themselves here before visiting the shrine. Please enjoy the atmosphere and the taste of water which might give you a longer life!
Hongu no Izumi：
This is my favorite spring water place. It is amazing how much fresh water we have just in one location of Mt. Daisen, I have been to many mountains in Japan, including Mt. Fuji and the Japan Alps, but I have never seen this much fresh water that people could drink coming out of a spring.
There are a beautiful pond and a bamboo forest we can take a walk around. I love to just sit and listen to the sound of the water and enjoy the scenery of this water spring. Please take your time, sit on a bench, and enjoy the local scenery and trout swimming in the spring.
Ame no Manai：
This is also one of my favorites, but it is also a beautiful spring and a local farmers’ village. Ame no Manai means “the water well of heaven”, and the name tells you how the people in the area gifted with this spring appreciated it.
This place also produces an amazing amount of water (about 2500t/day). Also, we can enjoy a short walk from the parking lot to this spring through the farmland scenery: local rice fields, persimmon trees, flowers, and children playing. If you visit this place, you might want to try soba noodles (buckwheat noodles) in a restaurant just across from the parking lot.
On Mt. Daisen, there is a beautiful Shinto shrine called Ogamiyama Shrine, and it is a great place to visit. It is only a 15-minute walk from the Daisenji parking lot, yet as soon as you walk through the torii gate of the shrine, you will see a beautiful green promenade with red lanterns all the way to the shrine.
In autumn, you can enjoy beautifully colored leaves along the same path. The mountain air and mist are so refreshing. After walking up the path to the shrine to its beautiful entrance, you will see the majestic shrine in the middle of a deep green forest.
For lunch, please try the soba noodles in this area. Ever since I have started guiding around this area, I just cannot stop eating those delicious noodles. Soba is very famous in this area and tastes very delicious. It does not have as strong a flavor as ramen noodles, but instead has a very delicate and Japanese taste. Kowake-soba is the original style of this area, small portions of soba with condiments served in three stacked dishes. Also, you can see the tiny white soba flowers around this area from summer to fall.
Another strong recommendation is the Adachi Museum of Art, known for having the best Japanese garden for over 16 consecutive years. Simply put, the garden is incomparable.
It is that beautiful, and you can enjoy the dramatic differences of the garden during all four seasons. The great thing about this museum is we can enjoy different types of Japanese gardens: with water, without water, with moss, etc. On top of this, the museum has innovative art such as the living scroll and living picture, through which we see the garden as if it is in a picture frame. These make a significant difference, even when looking at the same garden. Most of time, there will be many people in your pictures if you try to take pictures there, which can add an interesting spice to the pictures. However, if you wish to enjoy these spots without people in them, please go to the museum 1 hour before closing.
Moreover, there are a great amount of Japanese paintings on display here, and the highlight is the works of Taikan Yokoyama, who is famous for drawing Mt. Fuji. Please enjoy the other Japanese art on display as well, such as ceramics and antiques. If you have time, please stop by the museum café, because its location is right beside the main gardens.
Although Mt. Daisen and the Adachi Museum of Art are located a bit distant from city centers, they are surely worth a visit. Please enjoy and discover another Japan!