Matsue Castle in Sakaiminato, Japan
Less than an hour by bus or train from Sakaiminato is the lakeside city of Matsue, capital of Shimane Prefecture and home to one of Japan's few still-standing 17th-century samurai fortresses, Matsue Castle. Another excellent piece of traditional architecture is the nearby Koizumi Yakumo Memorial Museum, dedicated to Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn.
Statue of Okuninushi in Izumo Taisha grand shrine in Sakaiminato, Japan
Believed to be Japan's oldest Shinto shrine, Izumo Taisha is a revered sanctuary dedicated to Okuninushi, the god of marriage. The shrine is famous for its enormous shimenawa sacred ropes, and while its design dates back to the mid-18th century, this spot has been a place of worship since at least the year 950. The Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo next door has a comprehensive account of local history.
If you prefer to stay in Sakaiminato, check out the legacy of local hero Shigeru Mizuki, a celebrated comic artist who created many yokai (monster) characters including the beloved GeGeGe no Kitaro. Mizuki Shigeru Road features 153 bronze statues of these creations, and the Mizuki Shigeru Museum offers a fascinating look at the artist's life and the world of yokai.
Sakaiminato offers some of the best seafood in Japan, so come hungry. There's sushi, sashimi and kaisendon – a bowl of sashimi and fish roe over rice. If you're lucky enough to visit in winter, don't miss matsubagani, the sweet-tasting regional snow crab: Enjoy it raw sashimi-style, tossed into a hearty stew or grilled with soya-based dipping sauce.
Tottori Prefecture is known for its fine sake rice wine. Browse the selection at Chiyomusubi sake brewery off Mizuki Shigeru Road in Sakaiminato. You can watch the sake craftsmen in action with a brewery tour. During your Sakaiminato cruise vacation, pick up a figurine of GeGeGe no Kitaro or another of Shigeru Mizuki's characters in Sakaiminato centre.
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