Carp, Tsuwano, Shimane

Tsuwano

Tsuwano

Tsuwano, located in the westernmost part of Shimane Prefecture, is a small castle town that prides itself on traditional arts, crafts, and literature. It developed along the Tsuwano-gawa River and surrounded by nature, and is also called “Little Kyoto” in the San-in region.

Tonomachi Street

Tsuwano
Main street, Tonomachi-dori.

Tonomachi-dori is the main street of Tsuwano and it the center of the tourist attraction. They remain the atmosphere of the olden time when there was a castle. There are some historical sites such as ruin of the school owned by the local feudal government, entrance gate of former feudal minister’s house and Catholic church.

There is a stream along the street. This waterway was constructed for irrigation and fire prevention, as emergency provisions in case of famine in the period from the 17th century to the 19th century. The water reflects the white mortar walls and green trees. In the water, there live 300 to 500 colorful carps. This stream and carps with old walls and houses are the symbolic scenery of Tsuwano.

Tsuwano Castle Ruin

Tsuwano
The view of Tsuwano from the Tsuwano Castle ruin.

Tsuwano Castle was constructed during Kamakura period (from 12th to 14th century) on top of the 367-meter-high mountain by Yoshimi. There remain only stone walls and stone pavement, but you will be surprised by the huge scale.

You can go up to the ruin by the chair lift. The view of the town of Tsuwano from the mountain is magnificent!

Anno Mitsumasa Museum

Anno Mitsumasa is a world famous painter who mainly paint pictures for the children’s books. He was born in Tsuwano. He received Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1984. This award is regarded like a Nobel Prize for the picture book painters. And he was chosen as a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government in 2012.

The museum opened in 2001. They keep a great number of his paintings and change the exhibition in each season.  They show his picture books and landscape paintings.

But that’s not all. There are many interesting facilities in the museum. They reproduce an old classroom of elementary school which makes you feel as if you go back in time of your childhood. They have a reproduction of his workplace which is a Japanese style room with tatami mats. They also have library which keeps Anno’s books, picture books from all over the world and other books of art. And surprisingly they have planetarium, too. They show the story from the book of Anno.

Entrance: 800 yen for adult / 400 yen for senior and junior high school student / 250 yen for elementary school student

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (closed on Thursday)

Taikodani Inari Shrine

This is a Shinto shrine founded about 250 years ago. It is one of the five main Inari shrines in Japan. Inari means rice cropping, so people have worshiped at the Inari shrine for the good harvest from long time ago.

Is is found at the foot of Shiroyama Mountain. There are about 1,000 red torii gates lining up to the shrine building like a tunnel. There are statues of foxes which are regarded messengers of gods in Inari shrine. They love fried tofu, so when you worship at this shrine, it is a good manner to offer it.

Tsuwano Catholic Church

Tsuwano
Tsuwano Catholic Church with Gothic facade.

It was constructed by the German priest in 1931 in Gothic style. It is made of wood with mortar. Very unique aspect is that there are tatami (straw mats) inside. The combination of stained glass windows and tatami mats is really interesting.

Entrance: Free

Hours: 7:30 to 17:00

Local Festival

On the second Sunday of April, Tsuwano holds its own Yabusame Festival. It is a horseback archery event dedicating to the Shinto god. You can enjoy the festival under the cherry blossoms.

Furuhashi Sake Brewery

Because there are good water, good rice and good climate, they make good sake. There are three sake breweries in Tsuwano. Furuhashi Brewery started the business in late 19th century.

After you visit the brewery, you can taste sake and buy them as a souvenir. Please try Uijin ice cream. It has a sake flavor but non-alcoholic.

Steam Locomotive

Tsuwano
Steam Locomotive, Yamaguchi-go between Shin-Yamaguchi and Tsuwano.

On weekend and national holidays, they operate Steam Locomotive from Shin-Yamaguchi to Tsuwano Station. There are two SLs and both are made in 1930’s.

They leave Shin-Yamaguchi at 10:50 and arrive at Tsuwano at 12:59. It takes a little more than 2 hours for 62.9 km. It takes one hour more compare to taking express train, but it will be an unique experience to take it.


Information

Access:

From Shin-Osaka to Shin-Yamaguchi, take Shinkansen (bullet train), then take Supe Oki Express to Tsuwano. It takes about 3.5 hours. Or you can take steam locomotive from Shin-Yamaguchi to Tsuwano as explained above.


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