Matsue is the center of Shimane, located in the eastern part of Honshu on the Matsue Plain surrounded by Lake Shinji, Nakaumi Lagoon, and the Shimane-hanto Peninsula. The Ohashi River flows through the city’s center and a network of canals and rivers makes Matsue a city of water.
Matsue Castle was constructed by feudal lord Horio in 1611. It has the only remaining castle tower in the San-in Region (on the Sea of Japan) and is designated as a national treasure. It was constructed on a hill of 29 meters high called Mount Kameda and is surrounded by the river and a moat for defense. You will be impressed when you see the huge stone wall which can be seen from the entrance square.
The castle has a black color and it is nicknamed as Chidori-jo or Plover Castle because of its shape. It is actually very rare that there is a well inside the castle. There is a view spot in the castle tower that commands a great view of Lake Shinji and Mt. Daisen, 1,729 meters high.
A wooden Western-style building on the premises, Geihinkan Guest House, was built in the early 20th century is now a provincial museum, and nearby you will find Shiroyama Park which offers a relaxing and recreational area for the people of Matsue.
Horikawa River Cruise
The water network was created for military reasons when the Matsue Castle was constructed in 1611. Today, you can enjoy a pleasant boat cruise through the waterway surrounding the castle. You will be on a small wooden boat that fits only about 10 passengers. The boat has to go under low bridges and when it passes the roof of the boat goes lower so you have to lay down in order to pass. It is great fun!
Yushien is a Japanese garden on an island called Daikon-jima in Nakaumi Lake. Though it is an island, you can go there by car. It is famous for growing peonies and ginseng. In the garden, you can see the peony flowers throughout the year. But if you visit between late April and the beginning of May, you may see some gorgeous sceneries of floating peony flowers on the pond!
Lake Shinji is a brackish water lake. It is connected to the Nakaumi Lake which is connected to the Sea of Japan. They grow freshwater clams in the lake. The clams are mainly used as an ingredient of miso soup. You can enjoy a boat cruise on the lake.
Ejima Ohashi Bridge
Ejima Ohashi is a bridge between Sakaiminato City and Ejima Island. It is one of the steepest bridges in Japan and it goes up to 45 meters high. If you use a zoom lens and take a picture of the bridge from some distance away, it looks almost vertical even though it only has a 6.1% angle. It was used for a TV commercial once and has since become very popular. It is nicknamed as Betabumi-zaka which means you have to drive the car at full throttle.
Information of Matsue Castle
Access: 10 minutes ride on the bus from Matsue Station (JR Line) to Otemae (大手前) stop
Entrance: 680 for adults/290 yen for junior high school students and under
Hours: From April to September 8:30 – 18:30, From October to March 8:30 – 17:00