Japan National Route 9

The San'in Road

Brief Introduction

Route 9 is a national highway that runs around 638 kilometers, from Kyoto City to Shimonoseki City in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The highway follows the path of the old San’in road which allowed access to the San’in region (northern Chugoku Region) from ancient capital of Kyoto. Besides providing a gateway to Kyoto, Route 9 is the main artery of the entire San’in district.

The meaning of San’in derives from the Chinese characters for mountain and “yin” which means shady or shadowy. This is in contrast to the San’yo (“yo” is the Japanese reading of the Chinese “yang”) region to the south which is represented by the characters for mountain and light or sunshine.

Route 9 hugs the coast of the Japan Sea for most of its course, occasionally disappearing momentarily beneath mountains always re-emerging to face the sea. There are a variety of places of interest along the route such as shrines, temples, beaches, campgrounds and the convenient “Michi No Eki” or Road Stations. These rest areas come in various sizes and offer an opportunity to relax, have a meal and do a bit of shopping.

Tottori, Kurayoshi, Yonago, Yasugi and Matsue Cities are all in the path of Route 9, with Mt. Daisen being easily accessible as well. Perhaps the most alluring thing about the route is that it starts right near Kyoto Station and takes you to the Japan Sea. In the Sannin Area the road connects the major cities of the region. In many ways it serves as a landmark for travelers who are navigating the region.

At times Route 9 seems like quaint country road and at others it transforms into a high speed bi-pass.What does not change is the ever present sea that fades in and out with every twist and turn of this important artery.

Prefectures crossed: Kyoto, Hyogo, Tottori, Shimane, Yamaguchi

Access: By car or by train on the Sannin Line