The Highlights of Chugoku region
Chugoku region is located in the western part of Japan and is sandwiched between the Seto inland Sea and the Japan Sea. The region consists of five prefectures: Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi. It is furthermore divided into two areas: the San-in area that faces the Japan sea and the San-yo area that faces the Seto inland sea.
The climate of the San-in area is greatly influenced by the Japan sea. Therefore, all parts of Tottori, the inland of Shimane, a part of northern Okayama and Hiroshima experience heavy snowfall during winter. In contrast, the climate of the Sanyo region is influenced by the Seto inland sea and throughout the year, it rains only a little.
There are some of the famous sightseeing spots in Chugoku region: such as the Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine in Shimane, Tottori sand dune in Tottori, the townscape of Kurashiki city in Okayama, Itsukushima in Hiroshima, and Akiyoshi-do cave in Yamaguchi. They are popular even among foreigners.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) was the only building left near the hypocenter of the atomic bomb that dropped on August 6, 1945, for the first time in the world. With the efforts of many people including Hiroshima citizens, the dome has been preserved in the same state as it was just after the atomic bomb had exploded.
The Atomic Bomb Dome is not only an overwhelming symbol of the nuclear bomb, which is the most destructive force the humankind, has ever created, but also expresses hope for world peace and eradication of nuclear weapons.
Originally, it was designed by Jan Letzel, a Czech architect, as a place to display the local products of Hiroshima prefecture. Therefore, it was called Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, including the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, is important for what it symbolizes rather than its aesthetic and architectural value. In 1996, it was listed as a Cultural Heritage.
World Heritage Site, Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
The Itsukushima Shrine is a very rare shrine whose wooden building stands aligned in the sea. In 1996, it was listed as a Cultural Heritage Site. The building of the Itsukushima Shrine is built at the foot of the mountain by the construction method of traditional Japanese Shinto so that we can worship the mountains and nature, which are objects of faith. Buildings such as shrines are arranged to blend with the sea and the landscape. The shrine thus becomes trinity with the sea in the foreground and the mountain in the background. It is recognized as a classic of Japanese beauty.
The Itsukushima Shrine has been restored twice so far, but both have been done in a very elaborate way to preserve the architectural style from the latter half of the 12th century to the early 13th century. It is certainly worth seeing.
World Heritage Site, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine is a pioneer of silver mining development in Asia before the early modern period, and is a World Heritage Site. It is a former silver mine where all work, from mining to refining, took place from the 16th century to the 20th century. In 2007, it was listed as a Cultural Heritage. High-quality silver produced by Iwami Ginzan was widely known not only in East Asia but also in Europe. Because of the exhaustion of the silver ore resources, the production of silver ended, but cultural landscape deeply involved in silver mining developed within the rich nature left behind, and you can still see its remnant.
■Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape
Traffic notes in Chugoku region
In Chugoku region, especially the area facing the Seto inland sea, many ferry routes that connect to Shikoku and other islands are in service. However, here there are no ports for long distance ferries. You can use Kobe Port, Osaka Port, and Izumiotsu Port in Kansai area, Maizuru Port (Kyoto prefecture), Tsuruga Port (Fukui prefecture) and Tokushima port (Tokushima prefecture) in Shikoku. From Tokushima, it is convenient to use the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge.