If you’re looking for something completely different — something remote, wild, and unspoiled — look to the cluster of islands on Honshu’s west coast, the Oki Islands, and let Japan surprise you. There are four main islands — the biggest, called Dōgo (Okinoshima), and three Dōzen islands (Nishinoshima, Chiburijima, and Ama).
Shimane Prefecture sits on the southwestern portion of Japan's main island, and is the perfect spot to visit if you're looking for an off the beaten path travel experience. Often overlooked by visitors in favor of better known destinations, the region has culture, nature and history by the bucketload – just without the massive crowds to battle!
There are plenty of restorations, but if you want to stand at the castle gate and see the same feudal keep that stood centuries before, you’ll have to make a special trip to one of the twelve. Matsue city, capital of Shimane prefecture, is home to one such castle, built in 1611 by Horio Yoshiharu.
Japan is home to one of the largest indoor bird & botanical parks in the world, and moreover, it’s not in Tokyo. It’s in Shimane, little old Shimane. If you’ve never been swarmed by a flock of tiny, flamingo-like birds, put it on your bucket list now.
I’m fond of telling my friends that Okinoshima exports a lot of nice views. We have little nightlife, no otaku hub to speak of, no trains, but we put together a mean photo album. We are home to an international geopark, after all.