Welcome to Oda! Oda is a smallish town, as many in Shimane are, but one that has its share of interesting things to see and do. Well known for being the home of Mt. Sanbe, Shimane’s tallest mountain, as well as World Heritage Site Iwami Ginzan (a silver mine), Oda is practically the midpoint of the prefecture along the coast. Because of this, you will often see beautiful seascapes along the main road, Route 9. Also, you’ll find yourself conveniently able to reach most places in the prefecture without too much trouble. With a modest population of about 40,000 people, the town is quaint but friendly and welcoming. Although Shimane is one of the more rustic and rural parts of Japan, you’ll quickly find yourself acclimated to the relaxing and easy-going lifestyle many here have come to take for granted. If you’re concerned about living in the country, fear not! Oda has all you need and lots more that’s waiting to surprise you.
- Iwami Ginzan: Active from the 16th century until its closing in the early 1900’s, Iwami Ginzan was the largest silver mine in Japan’s history. The silver from Iwami Ginzan was exported worldwide and became a staple within the East Asian trading lines because of its high quality. The impact of Iwami Ginzan and its surrounding areas received recognition in being named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, which denote important international landscapes that hold aesthetic or cultural significance. Iwami Ginzan has tours in both Japanese and English in which guides explain the history of the area while tourists can explore the mining areas themselves.
- Omori: Town that was built around Iwami Ginzan which was bustling and flourished back in the days of the silver mine’s international exporting. Designated part of Iwami Ginzan’s World Heritage Site, Omori has been preserved by Japan’s government and is a picturesque locale of what rural Japan represents. With small businesses still surviving and tourist attractions such as The Merchant House, Omori’s small population, shopping, and sights make it one of the must see places in the Oda area.
- Mt. Sanbe: Standing at 1,126 meters high, Mt. Sanbe is the highest mountain range in Shimane Prefecture. With a beautiful view from the top and a juicy “Sanbe Burger” at the bottom, a day at Mt. Sanbe is a good hiking workout combined with a taste of big American style burgers.
- Nima Sand Museum: Holding sand from the Oda’s own Maji beach, the Nima Sand Museum has the world’s largest hourglass which is perfectly timed to elapse at 1 year – an annual party on the night of December 31st hosts people to join in the celebration of the New Year by flipping the hourglass to restart the clock. Immediately recognizable by the building’s glass pyramid structure from outside, the Nima Sand Museum is another one of Oda’s tourist attractions for everyone in Japan.
While small in size and population, Oda still has all the basic amenities necessary to keep JETs happy and healthy during their stay. The city has numerous medical clinics for treating common ailments, though more acute conditions and emergencies are generally handled by the prefectural hospital in Izumo. Oda also has a number of dental clinics capable of treating any problem. A variety of drug stores will keep your medicine cabinet well stocked, provided you know what you’re looking for, and know how to say it in Japanese. Banking for all JETs in Oda is handled by San-in Godo Bank, which has multiple branches and ATM locations throughout the city. Post offices can also be found in varied locations around town, often within walking distance of JETs’ residences.
Though Oda lacks the multistoried mega-malls of Izumo or Matsue, the Loc Town Shopping Plaza, located on Route 9, provides a serviceable alternative. Oda has numerous grocery stores, but most JETs do their food shopping at the Loc Town Jusco due to its large variety (they even stock peanut butter and taco shells, a rarity for Japanese grocers). Costs for food, particularly fruits and vegetables, are high though not prohibitively so. Also located in the Loc Town plaza are a Juntendo (home improvement center), Haruyama (business attire), Fujiki (Japanese souvenirs), Mac House (casual clothing), Daiso (100 yen store), Kitamura Camera store, and more. Loc Town is also home to the city’s two fast food restaurants, a KFC and Mos Burger.
For those looking to give their legs a stretch after work, Oda boasts a number of athletic facilities to choose from. JETs in Oda have access to:
- Tennis courts
- A modest fitness center (stationary bikes, weight machines, free weights)
- A golf driving range
- Basketball courts
- Baseball diamonds
- Martial arts dojos
- Batting cages
- Various paths and trails for walking or running
Japanese Cultural Activities JETs Have Participated In
Being a JET Programme participant provides the unique opportunity to participate in activities seldom offered in our home countries, and many JETs in Oda take full advantage of this. One of the most popular cultural activities among JETs here is taiko, or Japanese performance drumming. The Iwami Ginzan Tenryo Daiko group holds yearly workshops for beginners, and admittance into the core drumming group is generally granted to those who complete the workshop. Other JETs practice various martial arts, including karate, judo and kendo (Japanese fencing). If physical activities aren’t your thing, you can try your hand at shodo (Japanese calligraphy), or ikebana (flower arrangement). Opportunities abound here, and we fully encourage you to try everything you can!
Things JETs Do in Their Spare Time
The great thing about JET is it brings people of all different types of backgrounds and personalities together. So while many people have come upon this program because of their interest in Japanese language and culture, there are equally as many people who come to Japan out of a need for adventure while making an impact in a community. Therefore, people enjoy or join just as many activities that pertain to Japanese culture as they do activities they bring from their lives before JET. Current ALTs in Oda have joined groups to sing with, sports clubs from school, and different types of groups to help others with speaking English or help themselves study Japanese. Maybe you like surfing, fishing, or time on the water. Maybe you love listening to music or late night gaming. Maybe you are a sports buff who enjoys playing competitively or simply watching. No matter what you are interested in, someone here does it or knows how you can get involved with people who do it. While your interests may not exactly line up with all of your friends you find on JET, your individual interests and experiences make for a better dynamic within your group of ALTs in Oda and the JETs around Shimane. Weekends with ALTs nearby can be expected regularly and monthly organized events usually bring most JETs from Shimane together for various activities depending on the season.
Festivals and Town Events
- Kute Fireworks Festival (early August): Held in the port side village of Kute, this festival is one of the largest fireworks displays in Shimane! Put on your yukata and take a walk by the sea while enjoying delicious festival foods. When night falls, the fireworks go up!
- Spring/Fall Equinox Festival (March 20th/September 20th): These festivals to celebrate the changing of the seasons take place in the heart of Oda’s downtown area. Most of the city comes out to enjoy the food and various taiko, yosakoi, and martial arts performances. A lot of your students will be there as well, so make sure to say hello!
Restaurants and Nightlife
The weekend nightlife in Oda has become a regularly held event hosted weekly by Oda’s own ALTs and frequented by fellow JETs from around Shimane Prefecture. While the small town doesn’t have many young adults in their 20’s, the hospitality felt at the bars/restaurants in Oda makes everyone feel at ease and able to enjoy a night out with friends after the work week. In recent memory, it’s not out of the ordinary to find JETs joining the bartender and helping serve drinks by the end of the night! A typical night out usually begins with dinner, continues with drinks, and finishes up with karaoke until the early hours of the morning. Whether or not drinking/singing is your thing, the food, conversation, and new friends you meet on any given night provide enough entertainment for anyone to enjoy. Favorite spots include (but are by no means limited to):
- Hakenden (izakaya)
- FuFu Ramen
- Osaka Osho (gyoza, Chinese food)
- Ahmed (Indian)
- Sakai (yakiniku)
- Bullet (Drinks, Darts)
- No Name Bar (Drinks, Karaoke)
- Rim Shot (Drinks, Karaoke)
- SALSA (Karaoke)
Oda is a good place for road trips. Due to it being about halfway down Route 9, not to mention it actually is crossed by Route 9, Oda’s a great starting point. There’s also some great eating choices in town that are along Route 9 so whether you’re stopping by Oda in the middle of a road trip or filling up before you go, you’re all set!
Hiroshima: 2 hours by car, bus once a day
Matsue: 90 minutes by car
Hamada: 1 hour by car
*There is a JR station in town with trains running to all cities in Shimane from about 6 am to 9 pm.