Japan City Guides: Hamada
Hamada Shimane Prefecture 浜田
- population just over 62,000.
- unspoilt, forested mountains nearby.
- located in Shimane Prefecture on the Japan Sea coast.
- Heian Period poet Kakinomoto Hitomaro was the area's first governor.
- good beaches on the coast.
- hiking in Hikimi Gorge.
- Aquas aquarium - largest aquarium in Western Honshu
- Tatamigaura rock formations and cave.
- within reach of Hagi and Tsuwano.
Things to see and do
Hamada has the only deep-sea port in the area, though there are no ferries, and most boats are taking out logs, or used cars to Russia.
The stone walls and stone steps leading to Hamada Castle in Shimane Prefecture
Like the rest of the Shimane coast, the Hamada area is home to many fine, white, sandy beaches, 5km of which are included in the Iwami Seaside Park. The park has many facilities, including picnic and barbecue areas, campsites, cabin rental, showers etc. The beaches are popular with surfers, and in the summer season windsurfing and parasail rentals are available.
To the east of Hamada is Aquas, the largest aquarium in Western Honshu ( JR Hashi station). Built in 2000, the aquarium houses over 10,000 animals and fishes from over 400 species, including many Flying Fishes (the Prefectural fish).
The main attraction is a show of performing Beluga Whales. There is also Aquas Land, a huge playground/amusement park for the kids. Entrance 1,500 yen, 500 yen for kids. Free parking and free audio guide in English. Closed Tuesdays.
It is believed that the first governor of Iwami Province, the famed poet Kakinomoto Hitomaru, was based in Hamada in the late 7th century.
Tatamigaura (JR Shimoko station). In 1872 the Hamada Earthquake struck, resulting in a section of seabed rising and remaining exposed. There is a pedestrian tunnel through the cliffs, passing through a sea cave with a small Buddhist shrine, leading to the interesting geological formations and fossils. On weekends and holidays a pamphlet in English can be had from local volunteer guides.
On a hill overlooking the harbor stands the ruins of Hamada Castle. Built in 1620, it was destroyed by its lord in 1866 to stop it falling into the hands of the advancing pro-Meiji forces from Choshu. He then committed suicide. All that remains are the gate and the stone walls and foundation, but there are fine views over the town and harbor, and is popular particularly during the cherry blossom season.
This impressive wooden gate still remains at Hamada Castle in Shimane Prefecture
One of several versions of Japanese history says Sesshu died in Masuda, and a museum with many of his works and other items related to his life, Sesshu Memorial Hall, was built at the site of his final resting place. 300 yen entrance fee.
The skyline of Hamada is dominated by the Great Marine Bridge, a 305m long suspension bridge that runs from the fishing harbor to the tiny Setogashima Island . Built at a cost of 4.5 billion yen, the city paid 7 billion yen for it. Setogashima was already connected to the mainland by a 10m long bridge!
Osakana Center, located in the fishing harbor section of the port, is a fish market as well as restaurant, craft centre, and event space. Lots of squid products for sale as Hamada exports a lot of squid, both throughout Japan and abroad.
The University of Shimane is located on the hills above the town, and includes the Institute of North Asian Research.
A footpath behind the University leads to the top of Sankai Mountain (378m) which has an interesting shrine and expansive views over the town and along the coast.
Just in front of the University is the Hamada Children's Museum (Tel: 0855 23 8451) that has shows and interactive exhibitions that are of interest to adults as well.
Iwami Adachi Art Museum (Tel: 0855 28 1920) is a small, private museum of Japanese art situated across the road from Aquas.
Down the west coast a few kilometers is Taimayama (Hemp Mountain). Starting in Sufu, the Chugoku Nature Trail climbs up an over the mountain passing through an interesting shrine. On top of the mountain at 599m is an observation tower with superb views over Hamada and all the way down to Yamaguchi Prefecture. The steep valleys on the western slope are visited by many photographers for the views of steeply-terraced rice paddies, and in the Fall, farmhouses bedecked with drying persimmons.
Hamada is a centre for Iwami Kagura, a unique, colorful, exciting form of sacred dance-theater hardly known outside the area. The town has many decorations illustrating kagura and its stories, not least of which is a new mechanical/animated clock in front of the train station. During the summer and fall there are all-night performances at all the local shrines, and the rest of the year there are public performances at the Osakana Center, Yuhi Park road station, Arifuku Onsen, and Mimata Onsen. The Nagahama area of Hamada is the origin of, and is home to many of the regions Kagura mask-makers.
Asahi and Kanagi, along with nearby Arifuku and Mimata, are onsen hot-spring villages in the mountains south of Hamada. Kanagi is also home to the Kanagi Western Riding Center which offers riding lessons and horse rides for beginners and experts.
Misumi is known for Obira, an ancient cherry tree believed to be 600 years old. Misumi shrine has an imposing, broad approach lined with stone lanterns, and up on the top of the hill is Ryu-un-ji a nice old temple.
Hamada International Center can be reached on 0855 23 8223
Hamada Tourist Information office is located in Hamada JR station.
There are plenty of all types of accommodation in the Hamada area, including ryokan, business hotels, love hotels, etc. Recommended are Kaze no Kuni a modern spa resort in the mountains near Asahi with many facilities including limosine pick-up, and Yoshidaya - an onsen ryokan in the mountainside spa resort of Arifuku.
Iwami-Hagi Airport is the nearest airport, and has flights to Tokyo Haneda Airport (85 mins.) and Osaka Itami Airport (65 mins.)
Hamada is a main station on the JR San-in line, and is only 90 minutes from Hiroshima and the Shinkansen by car via the Hamada Expressway which links to the Chugoku Expressway.
Hamada is located on Route 9. By car, Hamada is 50 from Masuda.
The ruins of Hamada Castle remain an evocative sight