San'in – the shadow side of the mountains – is the nickname of this region of western Honshu along the Sea of Japan. But as we discovered, San'in is just as beautiful as the rest of the country with Shimane and Tottori prefectures brightly lit by today’s sunshine. We visited Adachi Museum of Art, founded by Adachi Zenko in 1970. The magnificent gardens combining borrowed landscape with the traditional karesansui dry garden make for a lovely entrance to the museum, which houses an impressive collection of paintings. We saw works from multiple artists but the most prominent one is Yokoyama Taikan – a true pioneer of Japanese fine arts.

We also visited Matsue Castle, one of the few remaining castles in Japan that has survived earthquakes, fires, and wars. Mostly built of stone and painted wood, it is an imposing structure that reminds us of the powerful daimyo feudal lords of the Edo period. The castle has six levels connected by wooden stairs or ladders that lead to a top view of the city, the surrounding mountains, and Lake Shinji.