Shimane Prefecture (島根県, Shimane-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu. Shimane Prefecture is the second-least populous prefecture of Japan at 665,205 (February 1, 2021) and has a geographic area of 6,708.26 km2. Shimane Prefecture borders Yamaguchi Prefecture to the southwest, Hiroshima Prefecture to the south, and Tottori Prefecture to the east.
|Subdivisions||Districts: 5, Municipalities: 19|
|• Governor||Tatsuya Maruyama|
|• Total||6,708.26 km2 (2,590.07 sq mi)|
(February 1, 2021)
|• Density||99/km2 (260/sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||JP-32|
|Bird||Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus)|
|Flower||Moutan peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)|
|Tree||Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii)|
Matsue is the capital and largest city of Shimane Prefecture, with other major cities including Izumo, Hamada, and Masuda. Shimane Prefecture contains the majority of the Lake Shinji-Nakaumi metropolitan area centered on Matsue, and with a population of approximately 600,000 is Japan's second-largest metropolitan area on the Sea of Japan coast after Niigata. Shimane Prefecture is bounded by the Sea of Japan coastline on the north, where two-thirds of the population live, and the Chūgoku Mountains on the south. Shimane Prefecture governs the Oki Islands in the Sea of Japan which juridically includes the disputed Liancourt Rocks (竹島, Takeshima). Shimane Prefecture is home to Izumo-taisha, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan, and the Tokugawa-era Matsue Castle.
The history of Shimane starts with Japanese mythology. The Shinto god Ōkuninushi was believed to live in Izumo, an old province in Shimane. Izumo Shrine, which is in the city of Izumo, honors the god. At that time, the current Shimane prefecture was divided into three parts: Iwami, Izumo, and Oki. That lasted until the abolition of the han system took place in 1871. During the Nara period, Kakinomoto no Hitomaro read a poem on Shimane's nature when he was sent as the Royal governor.
Later on in the Kamakura period, Kamakura shogunate forced emperors Go-Toba and Godaigo into exile in Oki. Emperor Go-Daigo later escaped away from Oki and began rallying supporters against the shogunate, which succeeded.
During the Muromachi period, Izumo and Oki were controlled by the Kyogoku clan. However, after the Ōnin War, the Amago clan expanded power based in Gassantoda Castle and the Masuda clan dominated Iwami Province. The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was located between Amago territory and Masuda territory, so there were many battles between these clans for the silver. However, in 1566 Mōri Motonari conquered Izumo, Iwami, and Oki. After over 30 years of Mori control, in 1600 Horio Yoshiharu entered Izumo and Oki as the result of Battle of Sekigahara, which Mori lost. Following the change, Horio Yoshiharu decided to move to build Matsue Castle instead of Gassan-Toda, and soon after Yoshiharu's death the castle was completed. Later in 1638, the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Matsudaira Naomasa became the ruler because the Horio clan had no heir, and his family ruled until the abolition of the han system.
The Iwami area was split into three regions: the mining district, under the direct control of the Shogunate, the Hamada clan region, and the Tsuwano clan region. The Iwami Ginzan, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site produced silver and was one of the nation's largest silver mine by the early 17th century. The Hamada clan was on the shogunate's side in the Meiji Restoration, and the castle was burned down. The Tsuwano clan, despite then being ruled by the Matsudaira, was on the emperor's side in the restoration.
In 1871, the abolition of the han system placed the old Shimane and Hamada Provinces in the current area of Shimane Prefecture. Later that year, Oki became part of Tottori. In 1876, Hamada Prefecture was merged into the Shimane Prefecture. Also, Tottori Prefecture was added in the same year. However, five years later, in 1881, the current portion of Tottori Prefecture was separated and the current border was formed.
Shimane Prefecture is situated on the Sea of Japan side of the Chūgoku region. Because of its mountainous landscape, rice farming is done mostly in the Izumo plain where the city of Izumo is located. Another major landform is the Shimane peninsula. The peninsula is located across the Sea of Japan from Izumo to Sakaiminato, which is located in Tottori prefecture. Also, the peninsula created two brakish lakes, Lake Shinji and Nakaumi. The island of Daikon is located in Nakaumi. Off the main island of Honshū, the island of Oki belongs to Shimane prefecture as well. The island itself is in the Daisen-Oki National Park. Shimane also claims the use of Liancourt Rocks, over which they are in dispute with South Korea.
As of 1 April 2012, 6% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely Daisen-Oki National Park; Hiba-Dōgo-Taishaku and Nishi-Chūgoku Sanchi Quasi-National Parks; and eleven Prefectural Natural Parks.
Most major cities are located either on the seaside, or along a river.
Eight cities are located in Shimane Prefecture, the largest in population being Matsue, the capital, and the smallest being Gōtsu. The cities Masuda, Unnan, Yasugi, and Gōtsu had a slight population increase due to the mergers in the early 2000s.
Towns and villagesEdit
|April 1976||January 2011||January 2012|
|Izumo Region||Matsue City (Old System)||Matsue City (New System)||Matsue City|
(August 1, 2011 Merger with Higashiizumo Town)
|Yatsuka District||Kashima Town|
|Yasugi City (Old System)||Yasugi City (New System)||Yasugi City|
|Nogi District||Hirose Town|
|Nita District||Yokota Town||Okuizumo Town|
|Izumo City (Old System)||Izumo City (New System)||Izumo City|
(October 1, 2011 Merger with Hikawa Town)
|Hikawa District||Taisha Town|
|Ōhara District||Daitō Town||Unnan City|
|Iishi District||Mitoya Town|
|Tonbara Town||Iinan Town|
|Iwami Region||Ōda City (Old System)||Ōda City (New System)||Ōda City|
|Nima District||Yunotsu Town|
|Gōtsu City (Old System)||Gōtsu City (New System)||Gōtsu City|
|Ōchi District||Sakurae Town|
|Ōchi Town||Misato Town|
|Iwami Town||Ōnan Town|
|Hamada City (Old System)||Hamada City (New System)||Hamada City|
|Naka District||Asahi Town|
|Masuda City (Old System)||Masuda City (New System)||Masuda City|
|Mino District||Mito Town|
|Kanoashi District||Tsuwano Town (Old System)||Tsuwano Town (New System)||Tsuwano Town|
|Muikaichi Town||Yoshika Town|
|Oki Region||Oki District||Saigō Town||Okinoshima Town|
The prefecture has a sub-tropical climate. Winter is cloudy with a little snow, and summer is humid. The average annual temperature is 14.6 °C (58.3 °F). It rains almost every day in the rainy season, from June to mid-July. The highest average monthly temperature occurs in August with 26.3 °C (79.3 °F). The average annual precipitation is 1,799 millimetres (70.8 in), higher than Tokyo's 1,467 mm (57.8 in) and Obihiro with 920 mm (36.2 in).
|Oki||Izumo (Coastal)||Izumo (Inland)|
|Iwami (Coastal)||Iwami (Inland)|
Three airports serve Shimane. The Izumo Airport located in Izumo is the largest airport in the prefecture in terms of passengers, which has regular flights to Haneda Airport, Osaka Airport, Fukuoka Airport, and Oki Airport. The Iwami Airport has two flights each day to Haneda and Osaka and 2 arrivals. Oki Airport has scheduled flights to Osaka and Izumo Airports.
JR West and Ichibata Electric Railway serves the prefecture in terms of rail transportation. The Sanin Main Line goes through the prefecture on the Sea of Japan side going into major cities such as Matsue and Izumo. Izumoshi and Matsue stations are the major stops in the prefecture. The Kisuki line, which forks from Shinji Station on the Sanin Line, connects with the Geibi Line in Hiroshima Prefecture, cutting into the Chūgoku Mountains. Ichibata Electric Railway serve the Shimane peninsula from Dentetsu-Izumoshi Station and Izumo Taisha-mae Station to Matsue Shinjiko-Onsen Station.
JR West has three Limited Express trains to Shimane, which are Super Matsukaze, Super Oki, and Yakumo. Additionally, the overnight limited express Sunrise Izumo operates daily between Tokyo and Izumoshi.
- West Japan Railway Company
- Ichibata Electric Railway
- Japan National Route 9
- Japan National Route 54
- Japan National Route 180
- Japan National Route 184
- Japan National Route 186
- Japan National Route 187
- Japan National Route 191
- Japan National Route 261
- Japan National Route 314
- Japan National Route 375
- Japan National Route 431
- Japan National Route 432
- Japan National Route 485
- Japan National Route 488
The four expressways in the prefecture connect major cities with other prefectures. The Matsue expressway connects Matsue with Unnan and Yonago in Tottori prefecture. Hamada Expressway forks from the Chūgoku Expressway at Kita-Hiroshima and stretches to Hamada.
Ferry/High Speed BoatsEdit
In Shimane, the largest employer is the retail industry, employing over 60,000 workers. The supermarket, Mishimaya, and the hardware store, Juntendo, are examples of companies based in Shimane. The manufacturing industry has the second number of employees with 49,000 workers.
Companies based in ShimaneEdit
One-third of the prefecture's population is concentrated in the Izumo-Matsue area. Otherwise, over two-thirds of the population is on the coastline. The reason is that the Chūgoku Mountains make the land inland harder to inhabit. The capital, Matsue, has the smallest population out of all the 47 prefectural capitals. Shimane has also the largest percentage of the elderly. The province had an estimated 743 centenarians per million inhabitants in September 2010, the highest ratio in Japan, overtaking Okinawa Prefecture (667 centenarians per million).
Population by ageEdit
Total Population in age groups
2007 Estimated Population
|0 - 4||30|
|5 - 9||33|
|10 - 14||35|
|15 - 19||37|
|20 - 24||32|
|25 - 29||38|
|30 - 34||44|
|35 - 39||41|
|40 - 44||38|
|45 - 49||44|
|50 - 54||51|
|55 - 59||66|
|60 - 64||44|
|65 - 69||45|
|70 - 74||50|
|75 - 79||45|
|80 and over||64|
Population in age groups by gender
2007 Estimated population
- Source：Graph 10/Prefectures Age（In Age groups）, Gender divided population－Total Population
(Ministry of Internal Affairs Statistics Bureau)
|Comparison of Population Distribution between Shimane and Japanese National Average||Population Distribution by Age and Sex in Shimane|
|2015 Census, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications - Statistics Department|
- World Cultural Heritage
- National Treasures
- Izumo-taisha Main Shrine (Izumo City)
- Kamosu Shrine Main Shrine (Matsue City)
- Toiletry case with autumn field and deer design (Izumo-taisha)
- Armour Laced with white thread (Hinomisaki Shrine)
- Bronze bells from the Kamo-Iwakura site Unearthed bronze bell-shaped vessel (Unnan City)
- Kojindani Ruins Unearthed ruins (Izumo City)
- Important Traditional Building Preservation Area
- Ōmori (Ōda City)
- Yunotsu (Ōda City)
Universities in Shimane PrefectureEdit
- Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Shimane Province" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 859, p. 859, at Google Books; "Chūgoku" at p. 127, p. 127, at Google Books
- Nussbaum, "Matsue" at p. 617, p. 617, at Google Books
- "Izumo Shrine website". Archived from the original on August 23, 2007. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
- Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" at p. 780, p. 780, at Google Books
- Shimane Prefecture introduction Archived March 3, 1997, at the Wayback Machine
- 古川清行 Furukawa Kiyoyuki (2003). スーパー日本史 Super Nihon-shi. 講談社 Kōdansha. ISBN 4-06-204594-X.
- History of Shimane Prefecture Archived November 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- 新編 中学校社会科地図 Updated Social studies map for Junior High school. 帝国書院 Teikoku Shoin. 2007. ISBN 978-4-8071-4091-6.
- Liancourt Rocks
- "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. April 1, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
- 考える社会科地図 Kangaeru Shakaika Chizu. 四谷大塚出版 Yotsuya-Ōtsuka Shuppan. 2005. p. 113.
- Flight schedule of Oki Airport Archived August 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Route map for JR West
- Route map of Ichibata Electric Railway
- JR West website on limited express trains
- Japan Times “Centenarians to Hit Record 44,000”. The Japan Times, Sept. 15, 2010. Okinawa Prefecture also had the largest loss of young and middle-aged population during the Pacific War.
- Shimane 1995-2020 population statistics
- Shimane 1920-2000 population statistics
- Shimane University
- University of Shimane
- Symbols of Shimane Prefecture: From Shimane Prefecture website Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shimane prefecture.|
- Official homepage of Shimane Prefecture
- National Archives of Japan ... Shimane map (1891)[permanent dead link]
- Sightseeing In Shimane