Saturday, December 5, 2015

Shimane Guide: Masuda Edition

Just an hour’s drive from Hamada, on the far western coast of Shimane, is the city of Masuda. I had the pleasure of first visiting Masuda as part of the Hagi-Iwami Marathon, in which I ran a 10K at the Iwami-Hagi airport, the smaller of two airports in Shimane. I didn’thave much time to explore on that trip, but I made a point to return to Masuda for the Hanae Mori  exhibit at the Grand Toit.

Just twenty minutes down route 9 from Hamada is Masuda City, population 50,000. I first came to this town to run the Hagi-Iwami Marathon, which begins at the Hagi-Iwami airport, Shimane's only other airport outside of Izumo. 

If you’re in Masuda before 2:00 pm, and looking to relax, I recommend visiting Araiso Onsen., which means “Rocky Cliff bathhouse.” This is one of the most unique onsens in the world, as it is outdoors, facing the rocky shoreline of the Sea of Japan. Sit outside in the steaming hot bath and get sprayed with salt water in the nude. This place is really incredible, but don’t plan on going for sunset; the bathhouse is only open to hotel guests after 2:00 pm. I made the mistake of going once at 3:00, but the concierge was so nice and let me in anyway. That was probably I am foreign and he may have thought that I didn’t read Japanese well enough to understand the “opening hours sign,” so he kindly let me in. However, it is now my duty to pass on the right information.  Don’t be a jerk – go on time and experience this great place for yourself.

view from the indoor bath

view from the outdoor bath

the beach around Araiso

I also recommend having lunch at Araiso. The restaurant offered a great kaisendon 海鮮丼 (raw seafood over rice). 

kaisendon set

Once you are in the city of Masuda, the main attraction is the Grand Toit, Shimane's largest art museum. When I visited the Grand Toit, it was to see the Hanae Mori exhibit, a fashion designer originally from Shimane. 

Inside the Grand Toit

Grand Toit

Grand Toit

Hanae Mori exhibit

Hanae Mori exhibit

Hanae Mori exhibit

Nearby the museum is the best café in town. We don't have much of a coffee culture in Shimane, but Masuda has a world-class joint called Kurikuri Café. Named after the own, Mr. Kurikuri himself, this cafes serves proper espresso and wonderfully seasonal drinks, rivaling that of any Starbucks! My favorites include Red bean mocha, Honey Ginger Latte, and Cinnamon Shake. 

wearing my shirt from the Hagi-Iwami marathon

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