Bringing Shimane to the world, and helping curious travelers share meaningful moments
2 years after first visiting Mt. Sanbe in Shimane Prefecture, wondertrunk & co. Destination Director Daisuke Kasai tells us his thoughts about glamping in this idyllic national park, interacting with the friendly locals, and his growing fondness for this home away from home.
Glamping in the realm of the gods
My favorite experience in the area is our deep dive into the world of Iwami-style “kagura” dancing, with live performances and an interactive mask-painting experience. With Mt. Sanbe towering in the background, this area is the historical setting of Kunibiki mythology, and visitors can literally watch these legends brought to life before their very eyes as kagura dancers perform under the moonlight on a special outdoor stage. Opportunities to see this fascinating performing art are quickly disappearing, exacerbated even further by the recent effects of coronavirus. Our hope is that we can continue introducing kagura to as wide an audience as possible, and contribute to the survival of this beautiful regional tradition.
The intricate masks worn by the performers are an integral part of the kagura tradition, and visitors will have a chance to meet a master mask maker and then paint a mask of their own to take home. It’s a rare opportunity for people to relax and express themselves artistically, almost like a kind of “art therapy”.
Feel the warmth of the local people in this storied landscape
The attraction of Mt. Sanbe lies not only in its natural beauty, but also in the varied stories that permeate the area – the mighty heroes and cunning dragons of traditional Kunibiki mythology, ancient forests buried and petrified long ago, volcanic hot springs bubbling for hundreds of years, and the enduring spirit of the locals who call this place home.
Helping curious travelers share meaningful moments
Regardless of nationality or language, we feel that “kagura” is the common thread that binds together all visitors to the Sanbe region. For the Japanese, nature itself is thought to be one of many Shinto “kami” or gods, and kagura is a celebration of these kami, a way to show thanks to Japan’s pantheon of spirits and deities. At our glamping site at Mt. Sanbe, we’ve tried to create a space where guests can experience this spirituality directly in an open and natural environment.
Harvests and festivals – The perfect time of year!
In the traditional lunar calendar, October in Shimane is known as “Kamiarizuki” – The Month of the Gods. Unique to this area, it is said that Japan’s some 8 million Shinto deities come from all over the country and gather in Shimane, gracing the local shrines both big and small where people hold festivals to entertain these divine visitors before they depart once again, gone until the following year.
As temperatures cool and the trees turn to fiery shades of yellow and red, fall is one of the best times to visit Japan. Besides the beautiful scenery and cool temperatures, the seasonal cuisine can’t be beat with mountain mushrooms, seasonal rice, free range beef, and fresh seafood all grown, raised, and harvested in the Sanbe region!
Rediscover yourself through travel
For me, traveling is a way to reset, to rediscover myself. Visiting new places, meeting new people, witnessing new scenery, trying new foods, it’s all part of growing as people, and reflecting on ourselves. “What has led me to this point?” And how will I be different afterward?” are questions I often ask myself when traveling, and they push me to seek answers through even further new discoveries. In this sense, travel is one of the most powerful agents of change and betterment.
Bringing Shimane to the world! Witness the splendor of the birthplace of Japan
At wondertrunk & co., our continuing mission is to transform unknown regions of Japan into some of the world’s best travel destinations. We want to give back to the local people that have welcomed us into their communities and shown us warmth and hospitality. Although Shimane may not be well-known or a top-ranked travel pick, we’d like to change that by introducing this charming prefecture to the world, where time passes more slowly and visitors can get a taste of a more nostalgic, authentic Japan.
Click here to learn more about our glamping tours in Shimane’s Mt. Sanbe National Park.