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Okayama, Shimane, and Tottori: Home of the Gods!

I purchased (juseki) non-reserved ticket and I boarded the Yakumo bound for Yasugi Station, Shimane Prefecture.   From my train window Okayama looks like any other rural Japanese town.    Going deeper into the backbone of  Shimane you'll see acres upon acres of rice fields, dated houses with modern insulated tile roofs, quiet, and sleepy.    

Okayama Station
I could've flown to this part of Japan, but I would've missed out on so much of the verve and energy of the place.   Shimane and Tottori Prefectures are regarded as spiritual places untouched by time.   The birthplace of the Nation of Japan and the birthplace of Japanese sake, two of the most important reasons for visiting this region, make it one of the most spiritual places in the whole country, the place where all Japanese gods intersect and mingle - 8 million gods.  

In the second map you can see how my route cuts through from the Pacific coast to the Sea of Japan side.   From Niimi on you'll take in pristine views of the backbone of one of Japan's most quiet and most well -preserved vistas.   Winding through valleys and lowlands, you'll see flowing rivers meandering around tiny man-made waterways and eddies.  

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I had  organized a lunch box for this two hour trip.   When visiting this region of Japan just about every train station will have its own unique lunchbox.  Having lunch during a long train ride is the quintessential Japan experience, and has been for many rail fans.  I tend to focus a little more on the local sake of whatever region I am visiting.   The picture below is of a bottle of  Shimane Prefectures  own Rihaku Nama Tokubetsu Honjozoshu.    Can't think of a better sake that paired so well with the lunchbox I was having.   This is a nice all-around sake that's light on the palate.  Seimaibuai 58%. unpasteurized.   I didn't notice any distinguishable fruity notes, just a perfectly well-balanced sake that I am officially in love with.

 The first lunch box is Shimane beef miso with egg.   If you love the taste of beef and miso, you'll love this one.
 You lightly poke the egg so that the yoke flows out over the beef.   This enhances the flavor of the miso and beef by adding texture and consistency to the flavor.   Eat the white part last or with a large portion of meat and rice at the same time.  Divine.

 The lunch box below was something I had to get, but didn't need.  Izumo Beauty.  Looking at it as it is you would think it was just an ordinary lunch box.  Look more carefully at the rice and you'll see some slight coloration in it.  Red.  This is because the rice has been steamed in red wine which completely blew me away.   It actually worked.  Very faint taste of wine on the rice which worked well with the sake and the seafood.

 As the sun began to wane, we sped by a small water flow glistening in the foreground.  I was satisfied with my trip thus far.  I was heading deeper inward to mingle with the gods!

 Welcome to Japan.


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