5 - - History -
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Shimane and the World
The Four Seasons
Location, Climate, Population
Regional Specialties
Shimane in Figures
For further details
Dotaku excavated at the Kamo Iwakura Ruins (Unnan City)
photo Ancient Times
Shimane is composed of three regions, Izumo, Iwami and Oki, but antiquity places most importance on Izumo. As many of Japan's myths are set in Izumo, it is known as "the home of the Gods". Ruins dating from the Jomon and Yayoi periods are also abundant. In particular, the excavation in 1984 of 358 copper swords from the Kanba Kojindani Ruins (Hikawa Town) followed by the excavation of 39 dotaku (bronze bell-shaped vessels) from the Kamo Iwakura Ruins (Unnan City), being the highest number of such dotaku excavated anywhere in Japan, have drawn national attention to the ancient history of Izumo.
In Iwami early in the 8th century, the famous poet Hitomaro Kakinomoto served as governor, where he composed many waka-style poems eulogizing the beautiful scenery and women of Iwami.

Kanba Kojindani Ruins (Hikawa Town)

Takatsu Kakinomoto Shrine (Masuda City)

- column Legend / Yamata no Orochi
The Middle Ages
During this period political power transferred from the nobility to the warrior class. At the center of government, the retired Emperor Gotoba in 1221 and the Emperor Godaigo in 1332 made failed attempts to topple the Shogunate and were exiled to the Oki Islands. From the time of their designation as "islands of exile" in 724, the Oki Islands remained a place of exile until the Edo era.
The Sasaki Clan during the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and the Amako Clan during the Warring States period wielded power in Shimane, but in 1566 the region came under the domain of the Mori Clan.
The burial site of the retired
Emperor Gotoba (Ama Town)

A street in Omori (Oda City)
Early Modern History
In 1600 Yoshiharu Horio assumed rule of Izumo and Oki, constructing Matsue Castle and the town of Matsue. Later, in 1638 Naomasa Matsudaira succeeded the Horio family, giving rise to the Matsue Clan, which persisted until the Meiji Restoration. Iwami was divided into the two fiefdoms of Hamada and Tsuwano and the Iwami Silver Mine Estate, which came under the direct rule of the Shogunate.

- column Iwami Silver Mine

Modern History
The Meiji government which brought down the Edo Shogunate introduced a succession of reforms to restructure the Japanese state. Shimane produced many capable people who were active in the new government, including the philosopher Amane Nishi and writer Ogai Mori.
During this period the administrative districts underwent complex changes, with the formation of the present Shimane Prefecture occurring in 1881. In 1890 Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo) came to Shimane as an English teacher at the then Matsue Middle School. With a passionate interest in Japanese traditional culture, he used Matsue as a stage to introduce Japanese culture to the world through his eloquent English writings.
The former residence of Ogai Mori
(Tsuwano Town)
The former residence of Lafcadio Hearn (Matsue City)