This Japanese journey is full of myths, and both culinary and active adventures.

In the southwestern part of Japan’s Honshū Island lies the San’in region. There, twelve spots stretching across more than 430 miles make up the Route Romantique, an area particularly rich in culture. The rolling green mountains between Tottori and Hagi, the start and end points, are speckled with towns brimming with shrines, palatial samurai residences, and castles built by feudal lords for their ladies. 

The journey’s romantic reputation lies not just in the breathtaking architecture and nature but in the matchmaking deities and folk tales that shape its appeal. Car rental and driving here are easy, though a Japan Rail Pass is very useful for traveling longer stretches. Here, three must-see places along the route, the myths behind them, according to San’In tour guides and locals, and the activities you can’t miss.