The Hinomisaki Lighthouse in Izumo is definitely one of the more unique spots in all of Shimane prefecture. This massive white structure towers in stark contrast over the dark and rugged Northern coastline. It’s said to be the tallest lighthouse in all of Japan, and for 200yen, you can have yourself a climb to the top. While it’s open year round, be prepared for strong winds and cold floors. Here, like most places in Japan, you’ll be required to remove your outside footwear, and if you’ve got big gaijin feet like me, the tiny slippers provided to you will not fit. I declined use of these “half–slippers” and this being February, shivered my way up in only socks. After ascending the roughly forty meters to the top, take a firm grasp on your camera before stepping onto the outer platform!
The view from the top, if I’m honest, isn’t it spectacular. The Northern coast is extremely rocky and holds a tinge of brown to it, not exactly complementing to the murky, icy blue water. But if you’re like me and you simply appreciate seeing the ocean, then some satisfaction will undoubtedly come your way. If you happen to be scared of heights, then prepare to challenge yourself. Not only is it a long way from the ground, it’s even further from the ocean beneath. The Hinomisaki Lighthouse is situated on a cliff about twenty–five meters above sea level, making for quite a drop.
Once you’re back on solid ground, make your way west along the coast. But do mind the cliff! With no barrier or fence of any kind, one can easily wander to the earth’s edge and if you dare, steal a peak down the wall. Should you travel with children, do heed some caution to the aforementioned drop. Continuing on, you will find a small outcropping island, which is home to hundreds if not thousands of birds. If you’re lucky, you can catch the flock take flight, swooping first out to sea before heading back to shore. During my visit, at least five tripods were set up, their owners waiting patiently to capture this all on camera. I caught only a glimpse on film, but do have a look.
All in all this is a very peaceful place for a visit. You can sit alone, in virtual solitude, or be part of the tourist crowd. Either way, an appreciation for the site will surely ensue. Before leaving town, why not wander the tiny streets of Hinomisaki. While there is barely room for a car, you’ll find streets lined with vendors selling toys for children and fresh seafood for all ages. This coastal town, well off the beaten path, holds a movie set like atmosphere, carrying an almost un–lived in vibe. It’s uniquely different from most towns in Shimane. You can travel by bus from Izumo station, but if you have a car, then driving here will certainly be part of the fun. As you follow the coast, making switchback turns, no doubt you’ll find yourself in one of those uniquely “Japan” moments.
Photo Story: Sunset at Hinomisaki Lighthouse
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My Japan story starts from a rather young age. When I was nine years old, my Father was offered the opportunity of a lifetime, a transfer to Tokyo. I attended the American School in Japan (ASIJ) for three years before moving to Singapore for two. I absolutely LOVE traveling and experiencing different cultures. So, my love for Japan is routed deep in life experience. After studying Japanese and visiting a Fraternity Brother in Tottori prefecture in 2007, I applied to and was accepted into the JET Programme, which sent me back to the Chugoku region to Shimane prefecture for one year. I am now based in Atlanta, GA and spend summers on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Over the past few years I've traveled back and forth to Tokyo, even living there during the March 11 earthquake. It was a trying time, but it only bonded me tighter with this island nation and it's people. Please keep up with me on twitter and feel free to contact me however you see fit! Cheers, Adam Hacker