Traveling in Shimane

 

matsue 

Trains

Despite Shimane’s rural nature has a pretty good train system connecting most parts of the coastal regions and frequent connections to other prefectures. However, there is no Shinkansen or bullet train in Shimane and is only possible through connections to Okayama(direct train from Izumo/Matsue) or Hiroshima(bus from most Shimane towns).

Train routes and timetables

Both these websites will give you information on the quickest/cheapest/most convenient way to get from A to B. Hyperdia has more options for limiting the search (Ie untick shinkansen at the bottom to get local trains only).

http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/norikae/

http://www.hyperdia.com/

Izumo sunrise

Overnight train to/from Tokyo, leaves Izumo at 7pm and arrives around 7am. Costs start from ~12,000yen one-way depending on room choice.

Seishun 18 Kippu

The Seishun Juhachi Kippu is a seasonally available railway ticket, which gives you five days of unlimited, nationwide travel on local and rapid JR (Japan Railways) trains for only 11,500 Yen, or 2,300 Yen per day.

Highway Buses

Buses are the cheapest and usually most common choice of travel for Shimane JETs. The website above offers booking only from Matsue to Tokyo and Hiroshima, unfortunately it’s the only English website for Shimane buses. All highway buses leaving Matsue and Izumo can be book through this website, however, it’s only in Japanese (not impossible to navigate with google translate, though). Although if you don’t speak Japanese it can be much easier to use a travel agent. Usually the fee is small for booking bus tickets.

Buses from Hamada, Izumo and Matsue connect to most places in Japan, overnight buses can be a good option and are often more comfortable than night buses elsewhere.

Toll roads

Toll roads, are not cheap in Japan but can be worth the money if travelling in a group or as a matter of convenience. This website will calculate the cost of using the toll roads between any two points in Japan.

This website is in Japanese but the following site explains how to use the calculator in English.

http://www2.kumagaku.ac.jp/teacher/~masden/tolls/index.html

ETC Cards

Electronic Toll Collection Cards, or ETC Cards are commonly used in Japan and are cheaper and more convenient way of using Toll Roads. An ETC card can be obtained in one of two ways. The first and likely the most difficult route is to get a Japanese credit card with ETC built in. These cards have the fee taken directly out of your credit card account. The second way is to get a personal ETC card. These cards can only be used at ETC booths and are linked to your bank account. This requires a 40,000yen deposit that is returned to you when you are finished with the card.

Flights

Shimane has three airports: Izumo, Hagi-Iwami(Masuda) and Oki. Domestic flights, unless booked well in advance are usually a lot more expensive than bus or train alternatives, although occasionally can be a good deal with an international connection. From Izumo there are JAL flights to Oki, Fukuoka, Osaka, Tokyo and the budget airline, Fuji Dream fly to Nagoya. Hagi-Iwami has flights to Tokyo with ANA and seasonal flights to Osaka. From Oki, JAL is the sole operator with flights to Izumo and Osaka(if you book between two to three months in advance, the cost is only 11,000 yen-similar to what you’d pay for the ferry and bus).

Yonago airport just over the Tottori border is a good option for those living in Eastern Shimane with a direct bus from Matsue Station and international flights to Korea and Hong Kong too. Hiroshima and Okayama Airports are also good options for those flying domestically and internationally with buses and Spring Japan flights often being one of the quickest and cheapest ways of getting to Tokyo.

Osaka Kansai is the airport of choice for most Shimane JETs travelling internationally with flight connections to all corners of the world. The cheapest way to get there is normally a bus to central Osaka and a train out to the airport.

JAL – Japan Airlines

Super saver fares

Ferries

There are several ferries a day that operate between the Mainland and the Oki Islands departing from Shichirui and Sakaiminato(Tottori). Beware, the ferries are often cancelled during the winter months and typhoon periods due to high waves. The Rainbow, or fast ferry is often cancelled on days of high winds. See more travel information here.

Although the most common ferry route to Korea is through Fukuoka-Busan in Kyuushu there are two ferries in Shimane neighboring prefectures.

Eastern Dream, leaves once a week from Sakaiminato(30 mins from Matsue), Tottori to Donghae, Korea(and then on to Vladivostok, Russia) and is probably the cheapest way to travel overseas from Eastern Shimane.

Kampu Ferry departs daily from Shimonoseki (3 hours drive from Masuda).

Camping

This site has information on campsites across Japan. Many of them are free and most aren’t marked on Google Maps. They usually have toilets and outdoor cooking facilities. The website is in Japanese but use Google Translate or Rikaichan (internet addon) to help. Type in your location and the nearest campsites to you will be listed. There are links to Google Maps, images of the campsite and the campground website if it is available.

 

Holidays in Japan  –  This website has a list of the public holidays along with a description of the holidays meaning. Good to know when you’ll have time off, and when to avoid the crowds!

 

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One thought on “Traveling in Shimane

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