When you visit Japan for vacatipn, a trip to the countryside allows you to see a dofferent side of country. Iwami is far off the beaten track, the nearest big city is Hiroshima, but it can be accessed via Hagi-Iwami airport from Tokyo, JR buses from Hiroshima, JR trains, and even an old ateam train. At night, Yunotsu looks like something straight out of  Studio Ghibli's 'Spirited Away.'  Traditional inns and bathhouses, old houses and retro stores abound. The village retains the charm of old Japan. Combine with a visit to Iwami Ginzan to understand the historical significance of this area and why it became a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007.

Park at Yu Yu Kan or walk from the local station through the atmospheric streets of Yuntosu or stay at one of the many traditional inns and be sure to see Iwami kagura performed in the local shrine on a Saturday night. The local troupes ham up their performance of Orochi, the eight-headed serpent legend and do their best to scare small children sitting near the front. If you're bringing kids, the pottery making experience is also good and they'll send your creations to you after they've been painted and baked.

Don't miss taking a bath at one or two of the local hot springs, and enjoy local food in some of the many cafes on the onsen street. YuYuKan has lots of tourist information but none of it is in English. The staff were really helpful about phoning a few cafes for us so if you can speak a little Japanese or try to speak slowly and clearly in English, they will do their best for you! If you won't have online access during your trip, please be sure to take a memo of a few places to eat and visit. For vegetarians, Cafe Toki was able to accommodate the one member of our party who doesn't eat meat… but does eat fish. And don't miss the cute cappucinos at Cafe Shinnyu, with the onsen sign in the foam!

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