Gotsu is a charming little town right next to the Sea of Japan. While it is the smallest official city in Shimane, it offers a lot of heart. Gotsu doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of city life, but is only 15 minutes from Hamada, 2 hours from Izumo, and 2 hours from Hiroshima if you feel like a weekend trip. What Gotsu does offer is the beauty of the sea, the majesty of the mountains, and and the honest compassion of good-hearted people.
It is easy to get discouraged when you find out you aren’t going to be somewhere you’ve never heard of before, but don’t let that get you down. Gotsu offers a chance to REALLY experience Japan. You are close enough to visit some bigger cities, but your day-to-day life is going to offer you an invaluable insight into what it’s really like to live in Japan. Gotsu is rich in culture and heritage and the people are proud to share it with you! Get ready to discover that life in the big city has nothing on life in the ‘inaka.’
- Being right next to the Sea of Japan offers you several great opportunities to see the ocean in all its glory. A drive to school is usually a scenic route through mountains right along the coast. Some great beaches to check out include Asari Beach (near Koto JHS; beautiful windmills) and Hashi Beach (Near Aquas; popular for surfing).
- While you are in the scenic mood, why not check out Star Mountain? You can see it from almost anywhere in Gotsu and you can’t miss the large star-shaped crater that will bloom with flowers in the spring and fill with snow in the winter.
- If you are looking for some fishing or general relaxing places, Gono River has a great Riverside area for soccer, picnics, or if you want to venture in, fishing.
- There are tons of places in Gotsu and most of them are local treasures that you would never find without some exploring. Make some friends (which is really easy!) and they will be glad to show you all the secret treasure troves of Gotsu.
Not exactly a bustling metropolis, Gotsu doesn’t have a ton of amenities, but we make up for it with personality! Route 9 will take you through most of Shimane and is great for a road trip if you feel adventurous. But to get to most of the amenities in Gotsu, you will have to venture off the main road. Just off the main road you can find:
- Gotsu Boxing Gym
- Tabira: This is a wine and cheese shop and actually IS on Rt. 9. They offer wine tasting and have a great selection of wine and foreign imported alcohol.
- Dodo Ichi Cafe: A secret treasure, this shop is run out of a local’s home. Onishi-san is a friend to lots of ALTs and enjoys speaking English with foreign customers while serving some of her homemade ice cream.
- South Pole Karaoke: A small quaint place, but the owners are really nice and will sing and socialize with you!
- Arifuku Onsen Town: With 8 hotels/ryokans and 3 public baths it’s a great spot to relax and unwind. The adult fee for the baths is only 300 yen!
Japanese Cultural Activities JETs Have Participated In
- Rice Planting
- Kagura: A traditional Japanese drama/dance with elaborate costumes and masks that is particularly famous in this area.
Things JETs Do in Their Spare Time
- Yoga (Classes offered at the civic center)
- Gardening: Previous JETs have rented and maintained plots to grow and maintain vegetables.
- Hang out in Hamada! Hamada is only 20 mins away by car and JETs often join in on their weekly Thursday sushi night.
Festivals and Town Events
Gotsu hosts celebrations on the major Japanese holidays like most cities, and a majority of them are held near the Gono River or near City Hall. This is where Gotsu really likes to use its small town charm by advertising mostly by word of mouth.
Restaurants and Nightlife
So you are super excited about Gotsu right? Great, because now comes a bit of bad news if you are a party goer. Gotsu is a small town and the extent of the night life is friendly nights out at a restaurant with karaoke after. But there are often events close by in Hamada and nothing can top a crazy night out with some of your friends. Remember it’s the company you keep not the place that you go! Some of the best nights out have been dinner parties at a Japanese friend’s house. But, it’s not all bad news. In the last year, two great spots have opened up;
- 52 Bar (“Go-tsu Bar”): It’s small, but it has a nice atmosphere. More pub-like than a standard izakaya. The owner lived in New York for several years and he and his wife designed the place themselves. You can sometimes get home-made Indian style curry. The drinks are delicious and the staff are very friendly!
- Yurusato: Opposite Tabira Wine shop there is a small car park and at the back, up on the embankment in what looks like an old granny’s house, you’ll find one of the coolest little bars in Shimane. Barn on the outside, hip surfer digs on the inside. It’s run by the super friendly Yomura-san and is a great place to go and chill on the comfy couches.
It is really easy to get from Gotsu to Hamada, Izumo, or even Matsue. Follow Rt. 9 and it is pretty much a straight shot. If you don’t want to drive, there are also trains available. However, the Gotsu train lines don’t connect to the Shinkansen, so don’t expect to be able to hop a train to Tokyo or Osaka. If you want to make the long haul trip to a really big city, Hiroshima is your best bet. You can drive yourself, but be prepared to pay tolls and for parking. Or you can take the bus from Hamada.
If you are confident enough, you can drive to just about any place in Shimane using Rt. 9. A great road trip to try is to tour all the sites in Shimane that are sites of ancient Shinto legends. Take a trip to Izumo Taisha (the home of the Gods), then see the place where the 8 heads of Orochi are buried, and the boulder that is blocking the entrance to the Underworld!
Gotsu may be a smaller city, but you aren’t just living in Gotsu. You are living in Gotsu in SHIMANE. The area is like an extended family and you should see all parts of it. Check out the other pages to see what you can do all over Shimane!