Less than an hour by bus or train from Sakaiminato is the lakeside city of Matsue, capital of Shimane Prefecture and home to one of Japan's few still-standing 17th-century samurai fortresses, Matsue Castle. Another excellent piece of traditional architecture is the nearby Koizumi Yakumo Memorial Museum, dedicated to Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn.
Believed to be Japan's oldest Shinto shrine, Izumo Taisha is a revered sanctuary dedicated to Okuninushi, the god of marriage. The shrine is famous for its enormous shimenawa sacred ropes, and while its design dates back to the mid-18th century, this spot has been a place of worship since at least the year 950. The Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo next door has a comprehensive account of local history.