Best known for its blowfish dish, Yamaguchi is the westernmost prefecture in the Chugoku region on the main island of Honshu. It is also one of Japan’s prefectures that keep traditional Japanese culture alive and stay true to the history of the country. If you like Japanese history, Yamaguchi is the place for you. Here are five interesting things to do in the area!
Rurikoji Temple is a Buddhist temple well known for its five-story pagoda. It is designated as a National Treasure and known as one of the oldest five-story pagodas in Japan. The pagoda’s height is approximately 31 meters and is considered the third most beautiful pagoda in the country after Horyuji in Nara and Daigoji in Kyoto.
Built in 1673, this five-arched bridge in Iwakuni, known as Kintaikyo Bridge, is one of the biggest attractions in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Its elegance made it a popular place among tourists, particularly during spring (cherry blossom season) and autumn (autumn foliage season). It was originally built to stop invading armies from crossing Nishigawa River in the past.
If you visit this place, you will be able to visit Iwakuni Castle too, which lies just beyond the bridge. You can reach it by hiking a mountain or riding a cable car.
Blowfish, or “fugu” in Japanese, is one of the riskiest fish to be eaten as it is believed to contain a large amount of poison, especially its liver and eyes. Although it is very dangerous, Japanese people love to eat fugu. In Japan, only well-trained chefs are allowed to prepare dishes including fugu so it is always 100% safe. It is usually served as sashimi or chirinabe, a Japanese hot pot dish of fugu, vegetables, and broth. I recommend Shunrakukan if you want to eat blowfish while in Yamaguchi.
Apart from Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Yamaguchi is also a popular tourist spot in Japan. There are 123 shrine gates (torii) that stand in a row here, stretching over 100 meters. You can also enjoy the beautiful scenery of Dragon Palace Geyser if you walk toward the ocean past the shrine gates.
Sake is a Japanese alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. It is also known as “Nihonshu” in Japanese. Having lived in Japan for about five years made me drink many kinds of Nihonshu, and I can say that Yamaguchi Sake “Dassai” is the best. If you have a chance to visit Yamaguchi, you can try to drink it at any izakaya (Japanese-style bar).
Japan has 47 prefectures and every prefecture has their own local food specialty. Before visiting Yamaguchi, I thought that it was just a small area without anything interesting to offer, but to my surprise, it has many beautiful places worth seeing!