Will this be Mr. Sato’s last adventure?
Shimane Prefecture awards a college student’s family a settlement in restitution for the roadside accident that took her life.
As you may have heard, the population of Japan is getting older and smaller. While other (smarter) people have debated the problems and complexities of this issue, we do know one thing: It’s left a lot of prefectures without many young people. Some places are celebrating when the community has even a single wedding, but Tsuwano in Shimane Prefecture thinks they’ve hit upon an idea for injecting some new, young blood into their town. They’re giving houses away for (kind of) free! Of course, there are a few stipulations…
When European writer, Lafcadio Hearn, wrote about Shimane prefecture in 1894, he described a land steeped in tradition and nature. Since then, all of Japan seems to have ignored this sleepy area of the Chugoku region whose most recent claim to fame is having the country’s largest population of the elderly. But if Shimane prefecture is stuck in the olden days, the Oki Islands are lost in time. Lazily floating out at sea in what is technically Shimane, but is actually an entire world of its own, Oki is a forgotten gem tucked in a dusty corner of Japan. Rambling down the overgrown back roads, you’re sure to come across a wrinkled face and a hearty “konnichiwa,” a small experience that seems to have become a rarity in the always busy metropolises of this country.
It is in this uncommon place that we had the privilege of staying in a home that has stood for over a century. Join us as we share our experience staying at the Japanese guesthouse called Tsukudaya.
Want to go to the least popular prefecture in all of Japan? Of course you do! Pack your bags, you’re going to Shimane!
Though Shimane is home to Izumo Shrine, one of the most significant shrines in all of Japan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the indescribably beautiful Oki Islands, this particular area of the Chugoku Region gets overlooked by most of Japan. In fact, year after year Shimane is ranked as Japan’s most forgotten and least identifiable prefecture.
But not to worry, that’s where Yoshida-kun, Shimane’s brutally honest mascot, comes in. We’ve seen this fellow before, pointing out Shimane’s shortcomings and proclaiming the area to be the the 47th most famous prefecture in a country that only has 47. Well, he’s back at it again with the Shimane x Takanotsume Super Deluxe Masochism Calendar 2014! Now with 20% more snark.
Shimane Prefecture, ever heard of it? If your answer is a resounding “no,” you’re not alone. The oddly shaped prefecture stretching along the western coast of Japan is barely known within its own country, let alone abroad. But one disgruntled mascot is out to bring Shimane’s shortcomings to light, making fun of the prefecture’s lack of popularity and population, and giving the area a little boost in positive publicity online.
Did you know that Japan has 16 locations on the list of UNESCO World Heritages? Could you name them all with any sum of money on the line?
Survey Research Center, Co. Ltd. conducted a survey that showed that most people could not. When asked whether they were interested in Japan’s world heritages, 67.8% of those surveyed responded affirmatively. However, only 4% of respondents knew all 16 Japanese sites.
See how many you can name before looking at the list below: