Have you ever been to Yamaguchi prefecture? This is not a famous tourist destination in Japan like Tokyo or Kyoto, however this place has a lot to offer. If you are looking for something outside of the normal, this charming country prefecture will surely win you over. Yamaguchi is the home to the most number of Japanese prime ministers, in fact the current prime minister; Abe is from here. As a tourist destination, Yamaguchi has a rich history, some of the best seafood in all of Japan, and picturesque sights. Here are some of my favorite things about Yamaguchi.
#1. Tsunoshima Bridge
Although difficult to get to without a car, Tsunoshima is one of the most picturesque places in Japan. With beautiful white sand beaches and a fresh seafood, you might think you are on a tropical island. But before you get to Tsunoshima, you have to cross over one of the most exciting bridges in Japan.
Spanning just over a mile in length, Tsunoshima Bridge is a big destination for bikers and sightseers. Driving over the bridge makes you feel like you are driving on top of the water. This illusion is created by the bridges close proximity to the ocean surface. Tsunoshima island itself is small enough to get around on foot. There are also a few options to enjoy some of the freshest seafood you’d ever eat.
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Address : Hohokucho Oaza Kanda, Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture 759-5331
Access : 20 minutes bus ride from JR Sanin Honsen “Kottoi Station”
Phone : +81(0)83-782-1914
Opening Hours : 24 hours
Website : Tsunoshima Bridge (Japanese)
#2. Hofu Tenmangu Shrine
Hofu Tenmangu Shrine is one of the 3 greatest Tenmangu in Japan. This one was built in the year 904 AD and it’s known for housing the god of education (Sugawara no Michizane). This shrine hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year.
And during the test season, students from around Japan line up in the hopes of getting bless by Sugawara no Michizane. In the picture above, you can see one of the many beautiful sights at the shrine. There is also a tea house where you can have matcha green tea while enjoying the perfectly manicured Japanese garden.
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Hofu Tenmangu Shrine
Address : 14-1 Matsuzakicho, Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture 747-0029
Access : 15 minutes walk from JR Sanyo Honsen Line “Hofu Station”
Phone : +81(0)835-23-7700
Website: Hofu Tenmangu Shrine (Japanese)
#3. Eat Fugu (Japanese Puffer Fish)
If you are familiar with Japanese food, you’ve probably heard of the infamous Fugu, or puffer fish. In most articles, this dish is sensationalized and people often warn that an ill-prepared fish can kill you. But in Japan, you don’t really have to worry. But If you are cautious, then you may as well try fugu from the best place in the world, Yamaguchi.
Fugu can be prepared in a number of different ways. You can have it in a soup, deep fried, in a hot pot, in sake, but my ABSOLUTE favorite way to enjoy fugu is fugu sashi (shown above). Don’t be scared of its raw preparation, the flavor and texture is truly a match made in heaven.
Akiyoshido is a must see destination while in Yamaguchi. Did I mention that it’s a giant cave? In fact, it is the longest cave in Japan. It has over 8 km of passages but only 1 km is open to the public. This cave has a consistent temperature of 62 F (17℃) year round. It takes about an hour to go through the whole thing.
Within the cave there are number of impressive geologic formations. This cavern houses one of the largest limestone stalactite. The pictures online don’t do the cave justice. This is one of those places you have to place in person.
The Karst topography landscape running above Akiyoshido is a sight you normally wouldn’t associate with Japan. The rolling hills dotted by the karst formations is truly spectacular. It is also Japan’s largest karst topography.
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Address: Mine, Yamaguchi Prefecture 754-0511
45 minutes bus ride from JR Shin-Yamaguchi station
1 hour car ride from Ube Airport
Opening Hours: 8:30am ~ 5:30pm (Mar – Nov), 8:30am ~ 4:30 (Dec – Feb)
Fees : 1,200 yen (Adult and High School), 950 yen (Jr. High), 600 yen (Elementary)
#5. Hinoyama Observatory
Yamaguchi has many scenic views. One of the most iconic views is of the Kanmon Kaikyo Bridge which connects Honshu and Kyushu. The best place to view this bridge is from the Hinoyama Observatory.
From this lookout, you can see both Kyushu and Honshu, the bridge as well as other surrounding islands. There is even a rotating restaurant that gives you a full 360 degree view of the scenery while you eat delicious authentic Japanese cuisine.
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Address: 750-0000 Yamaguchi-ken, Shimonoseki-shi, Fujigatani
Access: 15 min bus ride from JR Shimonoseki Station to Hinoyama Ropeway stop. 30 min walk from there.
Opening Hours : 8:00am ~ 10:00pm (Mar – Oct), 8:00am ~ 9:00pm (Nov – Feb)
Fees : free
Website: Hinoyama Observatory
#6. Motonosumi Inari Shrine
Motonosumi Inari Shrine made the list of 31 of the most beautiful places in Japan according to an article published by CNN in 2015. It runs along a cliff over looking the ocean.Walking down the path to the final Torii gate, donation box requires you to walk through a 123 torii gates. The tunnel like effect created by these gates, makes a spiritual atmosphere.
The donation box at the last gate is placed at the top of the gate and is believed that if you can successfully throw in money, your wish will be granted.
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Motonosumi Inari Shrine
Address : 498 Yuyatsuo, Nagato, Yamaguchi prefecture
*When using a GPS, you can also search 竜宮の潮吹 (Ryugunoshiohuki)
20 minutes from Nagato Furuichi station (closest station) by car
*There are no station or bus stop within the walking distance. Getting there by car is highly recommended.
Osaka to Nagato Furuichi station: Shin-Osaka station to Shin-Yamaguchi station on Nozomi towards Hakata/Shin-Yamagata station to Asa station on San-yo line/Asa station to Nagatoshi station on Mine line/Nagatoshi station to Nagato Furuichi station on San-in line
Website : Motonosumi Inari Shrine (Japanese)
#7. Kintaikyo Bridge
The Kintaikyo Bridge is a historical wooden bridge in Yamaguchi, Japan. The bridge was originally built in 1673 and is made up of 5 wooden arches. In 1922, this bridge was made a Japanese national treasure. The pictures just don’t to the bridge justice, when walking over each arch, you really get a feel of how steep it is. You can also feel the wood breathing under your feet.
Each season brings new life to the bridge and the surrounding scenery. No matter when you go, you will be treated to a great view and a glimpse into Japanese history.
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Address: 1-14-51 Imazumachi Iwakuni city Yamaguchi 740-8585
Access: 30 minutes walk from JR Kawanishi Station
Opening Hour : 8:00am ~ 5:00pm
Admission Fee: 300 yen (Jr. High and older), 150 yen (Elementary School)
Website: Kintaikyo Bridge
#8. Rurikoji Temple
Rurikoji Temple is best known for its 5 stories pagoda. It was built in 1442 and is among Japan’s 3 best pagodas. This structure is made entirely out of wood. And like many other places in Yamaguchi, each season offers a different view. Nestled in a valley behind Yamaguchi city, the ground of the temple creates a serene and warm atmosphere. Adjacent to the temple is the Mori family burial site. If you are a history buff, you may already know that the Mori family was one of the most influential families in Japan in moving towards modernization. It is one of my favorite places in all of Yamaguchi.
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Address: 7-1 Kozancho, Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Prefecture 753-0081
Access: 30 minutes bus ride from JR Shin-Yamaguchi Station to Kencho-Mae stop. 10 minutes walk from there.
Opening Hours : 9:00am ~ 10:00pm
Fees : free
Website: Rurikoji Temple
#9. Higashi Ushirobata Rice Terraces
There are not too many reasons to come to Nagato city, Yamaguchi, but Higashi Ushirobata Rice Terraces might just be worth the trek. Whether it’s the contrast scenery of the green fields against the deep blue of the Japanese sea or the dream like scenery created at dusk, this destination is truly a magnificent sight.
Coming here, you can really experience the Japanese countryside. This place really takes you to a different world.
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Higashi Ushirobata Rice Terraces
Address: Yuyashirobata, Nagato, Yamaguchi 759-4711
Access: 15 minutes taxi ride from JR Nagato Furuichi Station
Website: Higashi Ushirobata Rice Terraces (Japanese)
#10. Senjojiki Kogen Campground
Getting to Senjojiki Kogen Campground may not be the easiest, but it is definitely worth it. The campground is located on the top of the hill some 1000 feet above sea level (333 meters). The views from this camp offers a panorama of ocean and open field scenery.
Some of the activities you can do here include BBQ, kids can enjoy the play ground, and campground offers free use of their binoculars. Other views include surrounding islands. This is a place where you can really escape from the stress of your daily life.
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Senjojiki Kogen Campground
Address: Hekinka, Nagato, Yamaguchi 759-4401 Japan
Access: 5~10 minutes taxi ride from JR Nagato Furuichi Station
Website: Senjojiki Kogen Campground
These are not the only thing that Yamaguchi has to offer. These are just a few of my favorite things about Yamaguchi. If you get a chance to come here, you will definitely come back here every time you visit Japan. If you want a truly unique experience in Japan, add Yamaguchi to your itinerary.