Recently, I visited a friend of mine who teaches at Aishin Senior High School, located on a mountain called Asari-Fuji in the city of Gotsu in Shimae. Facing the Sea of Japan on the north coast of western Honshu, Gotsu is in the center of Shimane Prefecture, but it is less well known than other cities in this area. Most of the spotlight is on Izumo and it’s grand shrine, the Adachi Museum of Art, Matsue Castle, or even the World Heritage Sites of the Iwami Silver Mine and the hot spring resort of Yunotsu, yet Gotsu has its own natural beauty and friendly people.
Having arrived at Hamada Station at night, we had dinner at a nabe (hot pot) restaurant nearby. We then went to the beach on the west side of Gotsu. Walking around, we enjoyed the fresh cold air as well as the waves dancing and playing beautiful songs. Along the seaside, there are many windmills generating electricity from the coastal breezes. We also hiked up to the top of Asari-Fuji where we could take in an overview of Gotsu City. We made a stack of balanced rocks to commemorate our arrival.
There were many cafes to enjoy in the area, both with contemporary and vintage decor. We enjoyed local specialties such as matcha, or special green tea, and cake in these cozy environs. Trying the local cuisine is one of the musts when exploring a new place. In Shimane, the most famous food is soba. Like Hakata ramen in Fukuoka, the soba in Shimane is the most delicious dish in the area.
For me, visiting Aishin Senior High School was the highlight of this trip. It’s a school that attracts students from all over Japan and even from other countries. There’s a school dorm to accommodate students from far away. As part of the program, students learn how to raise chickens, how to farm, and how to cook and serve their own food. There’s also a high amount of access to the international world through newspapers and books in the school’s library. I think it’s a model high school.
By taking leave of Gotsu and Shimane in heading back to Kyushu, I had to say goodbye to all the students and teachers. I’ll never forget them and hope to return someday to such a peaceful place in Japan.