Matsue, the City of Water
Shimane Prefecture is known as the “Country of Myth,” and is world-famous for the Izumo Taisha Shrine and World Heritage Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine.
While the shrine and silver mine are located in Izumo City and Ota City, respectively, the prefectural capital, Matsue City, also offers a diverse selection of tourist attractions.
Here are some of our highly recommended sightseeing destinations in Matsue.
Selected as a National Treasure, Matsue Castle is the only one of the twelve castles with tenshu (main keeps) found in the Sanin region.
Enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the tenshu, or join the crowd to appreciate the beautiful grounds, decorated with cherry blossoms or azalea flowers depending on the season.
Horikawa River Excursion Boat
A small boat will take you for a one-hour cruise through the 3.7-kilometer Horikawa River. Feast your eyes on an array of seasonally changing views, including Matsue Castle, samurai residences, and townscapes.
The boat ride includes engaging talks by the boatman and the thrilling experience of going under a bridge by lowering the boat’s roof.
In the winter, try out the “Kotatsu Boats” where you can enjoy the snowy winter landscape while tucked inside a traditional, warm, blanket-covered table.
Stretching over some 45 kilometers, Lake Shinji-ko is the 7th largest lake in Japan and offers beautiful sunset views.
In addition to the scenic view from the lakeside, we recommend hopping on an excursion boat.
The brackish water of Lake Shinji-ko provides the area with diverse seafood including freshwater clams, Japanese sea perch, eels, and prawns. Feeling hungry already?
Former Residence of Koizumi Yakumo
Born in Greece, Koizumi Yakumo (given name, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn) was a Japanologist who rediscovered and publicized Japanese ghost stories such as Earless Houichi and Snow Woman.
The bygone days are preserved in the samurai house in Matsue where Koizumi lived with his wife Setsu for a year and three months.
The adjacent memorial museum displays some 1,000 pieces of valuable historical materials, including handwritten manuscripts. It is a great place to explore for those wishing to discover the source of the author’s inspiration.
Matsue Vogel Park
One of the world’s largest indoor gardens, Matsue Vogel Park is a paradise of birds and flowers, housing some 10,000 trees including begonias, coleus, and fuchsia, as well as 800 birds from 90 species.
The park hosts owl and eagle shows as well. Perhaps after watching the penguins take a stroll, you’ll want to have a seat and enjoy the begonia flavored soft-serve ice cream, only available in this park.
Tamatsukuri Onsen Hot Spring
Known to have opened in the Nara Era, the clear, colorless, odorless, and silky water of Tamatsukuri Onsen Hot Spring has attracted many visitors due to its water that helps nourish beautiful skin.
This site is especially popular among women wishing to take a casual dip in the footbath or take the hot spring water back home to enhance their skin care routine.
Rent a car for a pleasant ride through Shimane
A number of trains pass through the prefecture’s main station, Matsue Station to destinations inside and outside the prefecture.
However, the prefecture’s internal railway network is far from sufficient, and so you are better off getting around to tourist spots with a rental car.
This lets you move from one place to another easily without the constraints of a train schedule.