MASUDA, Japan -- This January I visited the city of Masuda, an unspoiled spot with a rich cultural history in Shimane Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast of Honshu, Japan's largest island. Adjoining the city is Iwami Airport, which is just a 90-minute flight from Tokyo's Haneda Airport, making the city perfect for an uncrowded weekend getaway with a difference.
Surrounded by a rich agricultural plain with a warm climate, Masuda is famous for its produce -- melons, grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, yuzu, wasabi and persimmons. Shimane beef is also delicious, and the rivers abound with sweet fish. Majestic nature lies all around the city, with the changing seasons in the Chugoku Mountains and the beautiful sunsets on the coast both clearly visible.