Yamaguchi Guide

  • Published on : 27/12/2012
  • by : Japan Experience

All the way on the southern end of Honshu Island, just north of Kyushu, is Yamaguchi Prefecture. Often cited as “the Kyoto of the West,” Yamaguchi boasts a very rich history, blessed with many ancient structures like temples and shrines while maintaining a charming feel that allows for a more intimate experience. Yamaguchi is fully accessible with the National Japan Rail Pass as well as the JR West All Area Pass that allows for unlimited travel via Shinkansen, local train, and more on the western half of Honshu Island! Visitors can take the Shinkansen bullet train out to Shin-Yamaguchi Station and use that as a basis to get to other parts of the prefecture.

Of the many Shinto shrines in Japan, Inari shrines are some of the most distinct, characterized by their fox-themed motifs, bright red decorations, and rows of torii gates. Motonosumi is often seen as a companion to the iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine, and the two share some distinct similarities. The shrine is located in Nagato in Yamaguchi and can be accessed from Shin-Yamaguchi Station with a couple of transfers on JR Lines. 

With a winding row of crimson-red torii gates lining a stone staircase that goes out to the coast, travelers will instantly be reminded of the similar scene at Fushimi Inari, but rest assured, it has an atmosphere all-its-own. Something unique about Motonosumi is the placement of its traditional offering box, which is actually placed atop the first torii gate. Typically, this box is placed on the ground, so there’s a bit of luck and skill in play in order for your wishes to be heard by the Gods at Motonosumi. 

Rurikoji Temple in Spring

Rurikoji Temple in Spring

@Wikimedia

Motonosumi Shrine

Motonosumi Shrine

@flickr/ Akira Takiguchi

St. Xavier Church Yamaguchi

St. Xavier Church Yamaguchi

@Wikimedia

Akiyoshido Cave

Yamaguchi’s most notable natural attraction is Akiyoshido Cave, the largest limestone cave in the entirety of Japan. It can be dated back over 300 million years ago and stretches out around 10 kilometers. The cave interior is filled with awe-inspiring natural formations, from the cave ceilings to the floor. 

These naturally include stalagmites and stalactites, but also interesting, layered rock formations that appear frozen in time. The cave interior is also consistently a temperate 17 degrees Celsius throughout the year, regardless of season. Those who go into the cave are sure to be caught up in its wonder. The cave is accessible via direct bus from Yamaguchi Station. 

Entrance to Akiyoshido Cave

Entrance to Akiyoshido Cave

@Wikimedia

Hagiyaki ceramics

Hagiyaki ceramics

@Wikimedia

Tokoji Temple

Tokoji Temple

@flickr/ ume-y

Yamaguchi’s fugu is known for its delicate flesh with a fair amount of bite to it. Rest assured, the only deaths for fugu come from people, without proper training and certification, catching and attempting to prepare the fish in their own homes, and any reputable or well-established restaurant will know what they're doing. 

Kawara Soba

Also synonymous with Yamaguchi is Kawara Soba. Kawara Soba is a type of soba noodle made with green tea powder, and it has a distinct color that reflects this. The soba is as visually appealing as it is delicious, served on a roof tile and mixed with a number of toppings. 

Kawara Soba

Kawara Soba

@Wikimedia

Fried Fugu

Fried Fugu

@Wikimedia

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