This laid back samurai city is home to one of the few authentic wooden castles in Japan, and is also famous for its sunsets and traditional "wagashi" confectionery. Situated between the shores of Lake Shinji and an inner sea, the city is rich in canals and is often called "City of Water". Matsue and its surrounding area is rich in cultural assets and historical sites, and many of Japan's most ancient legends are set in the area.
Matsue has been the political, economic, and cultural capital of the region for much of the past two millennia. At the time of the agriculture-based Yayoi civilization, between the third century B.C and C.E., and even earlier, during the Jomon civilization, much of whay is now Matsue was underwater. A large inland sea covered much of the area. As a result, most of the archaeological sites associated with the ancient Izumo tribe and the origins of Japanese civilization are found on higher ground, on the city's southern edge. The younger city center developed from 1607 with the construction of Matsue Castle.
Land of Myths
Many of the myths compiled in the Kojiki, Japan's oldest collection of Myths, dating from the early 8th century take place in the province of Izumo. All the gods of Japan descend upon Matsue before going to their annual meeting at the Grand Shrine of Izumo (in neighboring Izumo). The entrance to the Underworld, ruled over by the god Susanoo can also be found in Matsue.
Lafcadio Hearn and the Irish connection
Irish journalist Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) was an author of many books about Japan. He came to work as a teacher in Matsue in 1890, and although he spent only 15 months there, during that time he married a Japanese woman, became naturalized Japanese citizen (adopting the name Koizumi Yakumo). Hearn wrote about his life in Meiji Era Matsue and chronicled many local legends and ghost stories he has become Matsue's favorite son, and the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and his former residence are among the city's most popular attractions. Matsue’s Hearn connection led the national government to proclaim it one of Japan’s three top international tourist cities, along with the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara. Because of Hearn's Irish roots there are cultural connections between Matsue and Ireland and an Irish festival and parade is held yearly.
Most visitors to Matsue will arrive at Matsue Station. Matsue city center is split into two parts by the Ōhashi River(大橋川). The river forms a natural division between the ancient and modern parts of Matsue. Matsue Station, most hotels, shops and restaurants are clustered in the southern part, while most historical sites and attractions are found in the northern part. The city center is not too big and most attractions are at walking distance.
Matsue Tourist Information Center (Just outside Matsue station on the north side). Has maps and pamphlets in English and can offer advice on what's happing around town. Matsue History Museum Tourist Information Office, Tonomachi 279 (At the Matsue History Museum, close to Matsue Castle), ☎ +81 852 26-2011. Apr-Sep 8:30AM-6:30PM, Oct-Mar 8:30AM-5PM, closed 3rd Tu of every month. Matsue Goodwill Guides, ☎ +81 90 8998-5746, fax: 0852-27-2503, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. An organization of English speaking volunteers which shows visitors around in Matsue. Also helps out at international events like sporting events and conferences. Please call or email several days in advance to book a guide. Free of charge.
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Check Matsue's weather forecast at Weather Underground
The northern side of the Chugoku area of Japan on which Matsue lies is called the San'in and the southern part (on the Hiroshima side) is called the San'yo.
The San'in and San'yo are separated by a range of mountains which results in quite different weather on both sides.
In the San'in there is much more precipitation than in the San'yo with quite some snowfall in winter. Summers are hot and humid with lots of rainfall during rainy season (June to mid-July), making spring and autumn the ideal times to visit.
Izumo Airport has flights by JAL to Tokyo Haneda, Osaka Itami, Fukuoka and the Oki Islands. Shuttle buses to Matsue Station are scheduled to connect to every arriving flight. A one way trip takes 30 minutes and costs ¥1000.
Yonago Airport has flights by ANA to Tokyo Haneda and Asiana flies to Incheon International Airport in Korea three times a week. Shuttle buses to Matsue Station are scheduled to connect to every arriving national flight. A one way trip takes 45 minutes and costs ¥960. Trains operated by Japan Rail depart from Yonago Airport station approximately once every hour. To get to Matsue travellers should transfer at Yonago station. A one way trip to Matsue costs ¥740 by regular train (90 minutes) and ¥2180 by express (70 minutes).
When coming by Shinkansen high speed train get off at Okayama and take the "Super Yakumo" express train to Matsue. The "Super Yakumo" express train runs between Okayama to Matsue, departing every hour from 7PM until 9:40PM daily. The trip takes approximately 2hr 30 mins.
Japan Rail also operates a daily "Sunrise Izumo" night train between Tokyo and Matsue. Prices vary depending on the accommodation booked, which range from simple berths to private cabins.
Highway buses connect Matsue and Tokyo (nightbus only), Osaka, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Okayama, Kobe and Nagoya (nightbus only). The ticket office is outside Matsue Station behind the Lawson convenience store.
Coming from Kansai:
Take the Chugoku Expressway westwards towards Hiroshima. At Ochiai JCT take the Yonago Expressway towards Yonago. Once in Yonago take the San'in Expressway to Matsue (parts of this road will be free of toll). Get off at Matsue Nishi.
By normal roads:
Take Route 9 from Kyoto all the way to Matsue. Some parts of the freeway in Tottori prefecture and Shimane prefecture are toll-free so do take advantage of that where you can.
Quite some stretches of road towards Matsue are not yet covered by highway (although new parts are constantly being built).
When taking the Chugoku Expressway eastwards it's possible to take the Hamada Expressway at Chiyoda JCT towards Hamada and then Route 9 along the coast to Matsue, or to exit the highway at Miyoshi and take Route 314 through the mountains until Unnan(Mitoya-Kisuki) and then take the expressway to Matsue. Get off at Matsue Nishi. Both routes should take the same amount of time, although that may change depending on which highway is completed sooner.
By normal roads:
From Shimonoseki take Route 2 to Yamaguchi. The highway from Ube to Yamaguchi is toll-free so do take advantage of that. From Yamaguchi take Route 9 along Tsuwano, Masuda, Hamada all the way to Matsue. Seeing how many parts of the highways towards Matsue are still under construction at the time of writing (April 2012) taking Route 9 from Yamaguchi to Matsue can be almost as fast as taking the highway (and is considerably cheaper).
Overnight ferries depart twice a week from Sakaiminato DBS Ferry Terminal to Donghae, Korea and then onwards to Vladivostok, Russia a day later.
To get to Sakaiminato DBS Ferry Terminal from Matsue take the train from Matsue Station to Sakaiminato station (transfer in Yonago). There are free shuttle buses to the terminal on Friday and Saturday.
For booking and more information: DBS Cruise Ferry Japan Co., Ltd. tel: +81 859 30-2332
Matsue city center is not that big, and most attractions are at walking distance. The Matsue International Tourist Information Office in front of the station has a free umbrella loan system where abandoned umbrellas are put to good use, so do pick one up in case the weather changes!
Bicycles are a quick and convenient way to get around Matsue. They can be rented at several locations.
Around Matsue Station:
- Eki Rentaka Kansai ¥500 per day. Rental period: 8AM-7PM. Inside the Matsue Station Shamine parking structure. Tel: +81 852 23-8880
- Nippon Rent-A-Car ¥200 for 2 hours to ¥1100 per day. Rental period: 8:00 - 20:00. Across the street from the station. Tel: +81 852 21-7518
- Mazda Car Rental Tel: +81 852 26-8989
- Matsue Urban Hotel Just across the street from the station. Offers 24 hour rentals. Hotel guests get a discount on rentals (up to one hour is free of charge). Tel: +81 852 22-0002
Around Shinjiko Onsen station (Ichibata Railways):
- Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Station Tel: +81 852 21-2429
- Matsue New Urban Hotel Annex Offers 24 hour rentals. Hotel guests get a discount on rentals (up to one hour is free of charge). Tel: +81 852 23-0003
- Bright red retro-styled Lake Line tourist buses drive around in loops along all major attractions. One bus every 20 minutes. A one-time fare is ¥200 for adults and ¥100 for children. A day ticket, which will allow you to hop on and off all day long, costs ¥500 for adults and ¥250 for children. Route map (in Japanese)
- Matsue City Buses depart from Matsue Station and are a good way to get to areas further out which are not covered by the Lake Line bus. Matsue Bus (Japanese only)
- Japan Rail trains are a convenient way to get to parts of Matsue which as further out such as Tamatsukuri Onsen, Shinji and Higashi Matsue. They are also a good way to get to nearby places such as Izumo, Yonago and Iwami Silver Mine. Japan Rail trains depart from Matsue Station.
- Ichibata Railway operates a train service which runs along the north of Lake Shinji to Izumo. These trains are a good option if you're planning on going to nearby Grand Shrine of Izumo (Izumo Taisha) or Ichibata Temple. A one day unlimited use ticket costs ¥1500 (same price for both adults and children).
Three Day Combination Ticket
The Enmusubi Perfect Ticket (¥3000 for adults, ¥1500 for children) allows free unlimited travel for three consecutive days on a wide range of train and bus services in Matsue and neighbouring Izumo. The ticket includes full use of the following:
- Ichibata Railway
- Lake Line bus
- All Matsue City buses
- All Izumo City buses
- Ichibata bus services within Matsue and Izumo
- Izumo Airport bus
- Yonago Airport bus
Note that Japan Rail services are not included.
The Enmusubi Perfect Ticket is sold at the following locations:
- Matsue International Tourist Information Office in front of Matsue Station
- Izumo Tourist Information Office at Izumo station
- Ichibata Railway stations such as Shinjiko Onsen station
- Ichibata Travel Service ticket offices. Behind the Lawson at Matsue Station and next to the Ichibata Hotel in Izumo.
- Shimane Prefectural Products and Tourist Centre, across the road from Matsue Castle parking area.
- Izumo Airport information counter
- Yonago Airport information counter
Taxis can be found waiting on both sides of Matsue Station. Ichibata Taxi is the largest taxi company. Tel: +81 852 21-4334 (English not spoken). The easiest way to get a taxi when not around the station is to ask a hotel or shop operator to call one. As in any every city in Japan taxis are a very expensive way to get around, even when travelling short distances.
A car is not really needed inside Matsue city, but might be an option if when planning to venture out to places further out which are not easily reachable by public transport.
- Nippon Rent-A-Car Across the street from the station. Tel: +81 852 21-7518
- Mazda Car Rental Tel: +81 852 26-8989
Matsue Castle and Shiomi Nawate Samurai Street
- Matsue Castle (松江城, Matsuejo), 1-5 Tono-machi (From Matsue Station head west to the lakeside. Then head north, crossing Matsue Ohashi Bridge and continue straight on until you get to the castle.), ☎ +81 852 21-4030. Apr-Sep 8:30AM-5PM, Oct-Mar 8:30AM-5:30PM. The castle keep is one of only twelve original castles left in Japan, dating back to 1611 when it built. Inside the castle you'll find an impressive array of original artifacts from the Matsudaira clan including original armor, swords, and helmets. The top of the castle offers a great view of Matsue City and Lake Shinji. Adults ¥550, children ¥280. 50% discount for foreigners.
- Shiomi Nawate (塩見縄手). This old samurai residential street runs along the north east side of Matsue Castle, across the moat. Many of Matsue's musea and other historical attractions can be found in this area.
- Matsue History Museum (松江歴史館 Matsue Rekishikan), Tono-machi 279 (Across the moat from Matsue castle), ☎ +81 852 32-1607. 8:30AM-6:30PM. The newly opened Matsue History Museum offers a glimpse into the past of Matsue and the surrounding area. The museum also houses the Matsue International Tourist Information Office. The staff speaks English and can help with booking a hotel. ¥500 for adults, ¥250 for children. 50% discount for foreigners.
- Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum (小泉八雲記念館 Koizumi Yakumo Kinenkan), Okudani-chō 322, ☎ +81 852 21-2147. 8:30AM-6:30PM (Apr-Sept), 8:30AM-5PM (Oct-Mar). Writer Lafcadio Hearn lived in Matsue from 1890 to 1891, and the museum was built next to his former residence. On display are many objects belonging to or related to Hearn, including his desk, his favorite quill and ink pot, manuscripts and several favorites from his large Japanese pipe collection. Adults ¥300, Children ¥150. 50% discount for foreigners.
- Lafcadio Hearn's Former Residence (小泉八雲旧居 Koizumi Yakumo Kyūkyo), Kitahori-chō 315. The former residence of writer Lafcadio Hearn. Hearn spent many of his happiest months in Matsue. Here he wrote most of Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, his chief work, as well as large portions of what was to become Kwaidan. ¥300. 50% discount for foreigners.
- Jozan Inari Shrine (城山稲荷神社, Jōzan Inari Jinja), Tonomachi 449-2 (On the Matsue Castle grounds, to north-west of the castle), ☎ +81 852 22-2324. An Inari "fox" shrine surrounded by hundreds of fox statuettes. This shrine was one of Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn's favorite places in Matsue. It is the starting point and ending of the three-day Horanenya festival, which is held only once every 12 years. Free.
- Samurai Residence (武家屋敷 Buke Yashiki), 305 Kitatono-machi (On Shiomi Nawate.), ☎ +81 852 22-2243. 8:30AM-6:30PM from April - September, 8:30AM-5PM from October to March. The residence of a former samurai housing many of his weapons and other artifacts. Adults ¥300, Children ¥150. 50% discount for foreigners.
- Shimane Art Museum (島根県立美術館 Shimane Kenristu Bijutsukan), 1-5 Sodeshi-chō, ☎ +81 852 55-4700. We-M 10AM-6:30PM. Works by artists from Shimane prefecture as well as from other parts of Japan are on display. The museum also has a nice selection of ukiyo-e woodblock prints. There are often special exhibitions featuring Japanese and international artists. The museum has a lakeside sculpture park. When you encounter the statues of a line of hopping rabbits be sure to rub the head of the foremost rabbit as it is said that this brings good luck. Permanent exhibition ¥300, special exhibitions ¥1000. Foreigners get a 50% discount on special exhibitions.
- Gessho-ji (月照寺 Gesshō-ji), Sotonakabara-chō 179, ☎ +81 852 21-6056. 8:30AM-5:30PM. While the actual temple was destroyed during the Meiji Period, the temple grounds still contain the graves of the Matsudaira clan, including the first Daimyo, who was also the grandson of Tokugawa shogunate founder Tokugawa Ieyasu. ¥500, 50% discount for foreigners.
- Sunset over Lake Shinji (Walk south from the Shimane Prefectural Art Museum along the lakeside to get to the Yuuhi Spot sunset viewing platform.). Depending on the season. Sunsets tend to be the most spectacular during late summer. Among Japanese sunset connoisseurs the sunsets over Lake Shinji rank as nr 2 on the national list (the nr 1 spot being taken by the floating torii at Miyajima).
A special sunset viewing platform (Yuuhi Spot) which has been constructed along the lakeside is the best place to see the sun go down behind Yomegashima island. Especially on the weekends dozens of photographers gather here to try to take the perfect shot of the sunset. Free.
- Shimane University Museum - Old Okudani Lodging (島根大学旧奥谷宿舎 Shimane Daigaku Kyū Okudani Shukusha), Okudani-chō 140, ☎ +81 852 33-7032. Sa, Su 10AM-5PM. Part of Shimane University Museum, this European style house was built in 1924 for foreign teachers at Matsue senior high school. Free.
- Yaegaki Shrine (八重垣神社 Yaegaki Jinja), Sakusa-chō 227 (Take bus 63 from Matsue Station to Yaegaki. It's the final stop.), ☎ +81 852 21-1148. 9AM-5PM. This shrine is dedicated to the gods of Japan's first official marriage and attracts many people who come and pray for a marriage partner or a divination of their future love life. In the woods behind the shrine is a small "mirror pond" on which people float fortune papers purchased at the shrine on which they place a coin to weigh them down. The time it takes for the paper to sink symbolizes the time it will take before a marriage partner will be found. Also note the small shrine with large stone genitalia on display. These carvings were not prayed to for fertility, but for the healing of various genital disorders. Free.
- Kamosu Shrine (神魂神社 Kamosu Jinja), Oba-chō 563 (Take Ichibata bus 21 to Oba - Yaegaki from Matsue Station or from Shinjiko Onsen station. Get off at Fudoki no oka entrance. The shrine is a 10 minute walk from there.), ☎ +81 852 21-6379. Built in 1583, Kamosu Shrine is the oldest shrine built in the "taisha-zukuri" architectural style remaining in Japan. The creator gods Izanami and Izanagi are enshrined together in Kamosu Shrine. It is believed to pre-date the Grand Shrine of Izumo, Izumo Taisha by several hundred years and is a designated National Treasure. Free.
- Fudoki-no-Oka (風土記の丘), Matsue, Oba-chō 456 (From JR Matsue station take the Ichihata Bus for Kumano and Izumo. Get off at Fudoki-no-oka (20 min. ride).), ☎ +81 852 23-2485. 9AM-5PM (closed Mo). Ancient burial mounds and relics from the Kofun period (3rd to 6th centuries C.E.). ¥200.
- Kumano Grand Shrine (熊野大社 Kumano Taisha), Yakumo-chō Kumano 2451 (Take a bus from Matsue Station to Yakumo. From Yakumo take a bus to Kumano. The bus stop is close to the shrine.), ☎ +81 852 54-0087. Kumano Taisha (Kumano Grand Shrine) rests imposingly at the foot of Kumano Mountain across a bright red bridge at the headwaters of the Iu river. It has long been the region's Ichinomiya, or principal shrine, though today the nationally revered Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine ranks higher. Free.
- Matsue English Garden (松江イングリッシュガーデン), Nishi-Hamadasa-chō 369 (Take the Ichibata Railroad from Shinjiko Onsen station to Matsue English Garden Mae station. The Lake Line tourist bus also stops at English Garden.), ☎ +81 852 36-3030. 9AM-5:30PM (Apr-Sep), 9AM-5PM (Oct), 9AM-4:30PM (Nov-Mar). An authentic English garden and hothouses. Houses trendy Restaurant Laut. Free.
- Matsue Vogel Park (松江フォーゲルパーク), 52 Ōgaki-chō (Take the Ichibata Railroad from Matsue Shinjiko station), ☎ +81 852 88-9800. 10PM-4:45PM (summer), 10PM-4:15PM (winter). One of the largest greenhouses in the entire world, Vogel Park has an impressive variety of flowers and greenery. It is also an aviary housing many different species of birds, including a popular quartet of penguins. ¥1500, 30% discount for foreigners.
- Yuushien Garden (由志園 Yūshien), 1260-2 Yatsuka-chō Hanyu (At Matsue Station or Shinjiko Onsen station take the Ichibata bus headed for Sakaiminato. Get off at Yuushien. The trip takes 25 minutes and costs ¥700.), ☎ +81 852 76-2255. 8:30AM-5:30PM. This garden is on nearby Daikonjima island and has been designed so that it shows different flowers in each season. Daikonjima is famous for its peonies and 250 different kinds are on display at Yuushien. ¥600.
- The Entrance to the Underworld (黄泉比良坂 Yomotsuhirasaka) (5 minutes by taxi from Iya station (from Matsue JR Station on the train line towards Yonago)), ☎ +81 852 52-6704. According to the Kojiki, Japan's oldest collection of myths from the 8th century C.E., the entrance to Hell or the Underworld (Yomi, 黄泉) is located in the province of Izumo, in what now is the eastern part of Matsue. The Underworld is ruled over by Susanoo, the god of sea and storms. The entrance to the underworld has been sealed off by a large boulder place there by the creator god Izanagi. Free.
Events and Festivals
Many festivals and events are held yearly. Note that most official English Matsue tourism websites are rarely updated and will often show the dates and times of events held in previous years. It would be best to call the Matsue Tourist Association (tel: +81 852 26-2011) to verify the dates if you're planning your trip to Matsue to coincide with any events or festivals.
- Castle Festival, Matsue Castle grounds, ☎ +81 852 21-4030. 7AM-9PM. Held yearly from late March to mid April. Around this time the cherry trees around the castle will be in full bloom, and many people have hanami picnics on the castle grounds. In the evening lanterns are lit, making it possible to picnic until 9PM.
On the weekends various events are held on the castle grounds. Free.
- Matsue Irish Festival, ☎ +81 852 20-0207. Because writer Lafcadio Hearn, one of Matsue's favorite sons, was from Ireland there are strong links between between Ireland and Matsue. This ties are the most visible at the Matsue Irish Festival, which is held yearly for two consecutive days on a weekend in March and may (or may not) coincide with St. Patricks Day. Events include a parade during the day and an Irish pub with live music inside Karakoro Art Studio in the evening. Wear something green!
- Tamatsukuri Onsen Festival, Tamatsukuri (Take a Japan Rail train from Matsue Station towards Izumo and get off at Tamatsukuri station. Tamatsukuri onsen is a short walk south from there.), ☎ +81 852 62-3300. 7AM-10PM. Held yearly from late March to mid April. The cherry blossom trees in Tamatsukuri Onsen hot springs town will be in full bloom, so it's a great spot to have a picnic and maybe afterwards have a long soak in one of Tamatsukuri's many hot springs. Lots of events are held on the weekends and the streets are lit until late, making it an ideal place for a romantic evening stroll along the river which runs through town. Free.
- Horanenya, The river connecting Lake Shinji to the inner sea (Walk north from Matsue Station). A very special festival, held only once every 12 years. Very colorful boats with many rowers and dancing kabuki actors on them accompany a portable shrine from Jozan Inari Shrine at Matsue Castle to a shrine in Higashi-Matsue. The festival lasts for three days, with the boats putting on a show underneath the bridges of Matsue on day 1 and 3, and a smaller show in Higashi-Matsue on day 2. Expect huge crowds especially on the final day. The next Horanenya festival will be held in May 2021. Free.
- Suigosai Fireworks, The shores of Lake Shinji from the Shimane Art Museum all the way to Ichibata Hotel (Head west from Matsue Station until you get to Lake Shinji, 10 minutes on foot), ☎ +81 852 32-0504. First day: 8PM-8:30PM, second day: 8PM-9PM. Massive fireworks display over Lake Shinji on two consecutive evenings, the second evening having the larger show. The Suigosai festival is held yearly late July or early August. Many locals like to lay down a plastic sheet the day before to reserve a top viewing spot, so don't be afraid to do the same. The northern bank of Lake Shinji will be host to a huge amount of food stalls. In 2012 the festival will be held on July 28 and 29. Free.
- Matsue Tenjin Festival, Tenjin-machi (Exit from the north gate of Matsue Station and head west towards Lake Shinji. It's a 5 minute walk to Tenjin-machi.), ☎ +81 852 24-4031. A lively festival held for two days every year in late July in the Tenjin-machi area, not too far from Matsue Station. On the first day a portable shrine is be carried around town from 5PM to 9PM.
On the second day there are food stalls and events in the Tenjin-machi area. Free.
- Floating lanterns on Lake Shinji, Along the north side of Lake Shinji, close to the Matsue Ohashi Bridge. 19:00. Held each year mid August at the end of the Obon festival. The sight of floating paper lanterns being placed on Lake Shinji, symbolizing the return of ancestor spirits to another realm, is quite breathtaking. In 2012 this event will be held on the 16th of August.
- Matsue Suitouro Lantern Festival, ☎ +81 852 27-5873. 6:30PM9PM. Paper lanterns luminate the streets along the Matsue Castle moat from the Shimane Prefectural office all the way along Shiomi Nawate street.
On Fridays and weekends there are food stalls on the Matsue Castle parking area and the Horikawa Sightseeing Boats will also operate in the evening during this period. From mid-September to mid-October. Free.
- Matsue Dogyoretsu Drum Parade, Matsue castle and surrounding streets, ☎ +81 852 27-5843. 2PM. An ancient and very loud festival, where massive drums on floats are pulled through the streets of Matsue. Every neighbourhood has their own drum, so competition to have the best drumming performance is fierce each year. Held yearly mid-October in the afternoon.
In 2012 this event will be on the 21st of October. Drums will gather around Matsue castle around noon and the parade will start at 2PM. Free.
- Sada Shin Noh (佐陀神能), 73 Kashimacho Sadamiyauchi (Take the Ichabata bus from Matsue Station to Etomo, getting off at Sada-jinja-mae. The ride takes 25 minutes.), ☎ +81 852 27-5843. Every Sat, 8PM-9PM. A ritual purification dance performed yearly on 24 and 25 September at Sada Shrine.
This dance has recently been inscribed by Unesco on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and for this reason it's currently being performed every Saturday evening (reservation required). ¥1200 (children free).
- Horiwaka Sightseeing Boat, ☎ +81 852 27-0417. 9AM-5PM. Take one of these boats through the moat around Mastue Castle and the neighboring canals for a totally different perspective on the city. The boats feature traditional charcoal heated low table or kotatsu during colder weather. There are several stops for getting on and off, the main one being right behind the parking area of Matsue Castle. ¥1200 adults, ¥400 children. 33% discount for foreigners.
- Rest your wary feet in the public hot springs footbath at Shinjiko Station while chatting with the locals. Next to Shinjiko Station, free of charge.
- Take a long soak in the hot springs at Tamatsukuri Onsen and Shinjiko Onsen.
- Shimane Susanoo Magic (島根スサノオマジック), ☎ +81 852 60-1866. Matsue's basketball team competes in the top tier Japanese league. Matches are held on a regular basis.
Local foods, crafts and souvenirs
- Shimane Prefectural Products and Tourist Centre (島根県物産観光館 Shimane-ken Meisan Kankōkan), 191 Tono-machi (Across the street from Matsue Castle parking area), ☎ +81 852 22-5758. 9AM-6PM. Sells foods and traditional crafts from all over Shimane.
- Matsue Gokoro, Kitahori-cho 318 (Across the street from Lafcadio Hearn's Residence), ☎ +81 852 27-0875. 9AM-5PM. Closed on Wednesdays. Sells local foods and sake.
- Shamine Matsue (シャミネ松江), Asahi-machi 472-2 (Inside Matsue station, in the west wing.), ☎ +81 852 26-6511. 9AM-7:30PM. A one-stop shop for local souvenirs, foodstuffs and sweets.
Wagashi Japanese sweets
Matsue, as one of Japan's three largest centers for the tea ceremony, has been nurturing the art of Japanese-style wagashi confectionery for several hundred years.
- Saiundo (彩雲堂 Saiun-dō), Tenjin-machi 124, ☎ +81 852 21-2727. 8:30PM-6:30PM. The speciality of this shop is Wakakusa, a green, plum-flavored sweet. This sweet was one of the favorites of Lord Fumai, who was Matsue's seventh Daimyo feudal lord and the Edo period's greatest connoisseur of tea.
- Furyudo (風流堂 Fūryū-dō), Shirakatahon-machi 15, ☎ +81 852 21-3359. Specializes in Yamakawa pale pink and white confections, another favorite of Lord Fumai.
- Keigetsudo (計月堂 Keigetsu-dō), Tenjin-machi 97, ☎ +81 852 21-2622. 9AM-7PM. This shop is famous for a sweet called Matsue-jō (Matsue Castle), which is a sweet paste-based, golden-floured confection.
Clothing and accessories
- Kyomise Street, Suetsuguhon-machi (Across the canal from Karakoro Art Studio). A quaint cobbled street with lots of small shops selling accessories, Japanese sweets and clothing.
- Karakoro Art Studio, Tono-machi 43, ☎ +81 852 20-7000. 9:30AM-6:30PM. Housed in an old bank building, Karakoro Art Studio consists of a jewelry workshop, accessory shops, a bakery and different cafes and restaurants. Musical events are held here throughout the year.
- Notsu Meno no Mise (野津めのう店 Notsu Menō no Mise), Tonomachi 407, ☎ +81 852 21 4779. 9:30AM-7PM. Sells a wide variety of crystals and jewels. Specializes in Magatama, tear drop shaped pendants made by hand since prehistoric times from locally hewn jade.
- Port Below, Tenjin-machi 136, Matsue, 2nd floor, ☎ +81 852 27-5720. 11AM-8PM. Port Below sells a wide range of imported clothes and accessories. The shop also has a cafe where often music events and parties are held.
Malls and supermarkets
- AEON Matsue Shopping Center, Higashiasahi-machi 151 (Just to the south west of Matsue Station), ☎ +81 852 32-2121. 9AM-10PM. The largest and most popular shopping mall in Matsue. Features many cafes and restaurants, a supermarket, many boutique shops and a cinema.
- Ichibata Department Store, Asahi-machi 661 (Right next to Matsue Station on the north side), ☎ +81 852 55-2500. 10AM-7PM. The most up-scale department store in Matsue.
- Lapin Quality Foods, Horo-machi 180-9 (From Matsue Castle parking lot walk eastwards. It's a 5 minute walk and the store is located on the left-hand side of the street.), ☎ +81 852-23-2080. 9:30AM-midnight. Imported foods and delicatessen. A good place to go if you have a craving for a taste of home. Has a good selection of imported cheeses, cereals, wines and beers. Lapin has several stores throughout Matsue, but the store to the east of Matsue Castle is the easiest to get to on foot from the city center.
International ATMs can be found at most Post Offices. Note that many smaller post offices are closed on weekends and most ATMs shut down after office hours. The ATMs at Matsue Central Post Office have the longest hours of operation. Please refer to the Contact section for more information.
Most banks in Matsue will exchange money. The banking section at Matsue Central Post Office also offers money exchange services.
The Seven Delicacies of Lake Shinji
Lake Shinji is a brackish lake in which fresh water blends with seawater, giving it an abundance of fish and seafood. The seven delicacies of Lake Shinji are:
Many traditional Japanese restaurants in Matsue have a course menu on which these delicacies make an appearance.
- Yakitori Daikichi (やきとり大吉松江駅前店 Yakitori Daikichi Matsue Eki Ten), Asahi-machi 491-1, ☎ +81 852 31-8308. 5PM-1AM. Has English menus.
- Yakumo-an, Kitabori-cho 308, (Next to the Buke Yashiki samurai house), ☎ +81 852 22-2400. 9:30AM-4PM. A picturesque restaurant in a former samurai residence, with central garden, teahouse and carp-filled pond, specializing in soba and udon noodles. Lunches for under ¥1000.
- Akabeko (赤べこ), Asahi-machi 496-5 (Exit Matsue Station from the north side. Head west for about 5 minutes until you get to a big intersection. It's the restaurant on the north-east corner with a red bull as its logo.), ☎ +81 852 24-8400. A small, cozy sushi bar popular with the locals. Uses fresh, local ingredients. Has a special sushi sample course of around ¥1000 aimed at foreign visitors. Vegetarian sushi is available. ¥1000.
- Caffe Vita, Gakuen 2-5-3, ☎ +81 852 20-0301. 10AM-8PM,Closed Th. This cafe specializes in espresso coffee. The owner was Nr 1 at the Japanese national barista competition.
- Kuu (空 Kū), Sodeshichō 10-11 (From Shimane Art Museum head southwards, not along the lakeside, but along the street parallel to it. It's a 5 minute walk.), ☎ +81 852 21-4134. 7:30AM-6PM, closed Mo, Tu. A cosy bakery with its own cafe. The bakery specializes in soft yeasty bread but also has a nice selection of European breads. The cafe serves light, mainly vegetarian lunches. If you like you select the bread you'd like to eat in the cafe.
- Waterworks (ウォーターワークス Uōtāwākusu), Nishitsuda 6-11-32 (15 minutes on foot south of the station. Can be a bit tricky to find, so use a map or ask around.), ☎ +81 852 25-1044. 11AM-11PM, closed Tu, 2nd and 4th Wed. A stylish cafe, popular with young women. Has a wide range of teas and coffees.
- Al Sole (アル ソーレArusōre), Asahi-machi 489 (To the north west of Matsue Station, in a street perpendicular to the large road which runs along the north side of the station.), ☎ +81 852-28-0272. Lunch: 11PM-3PM, Dinner 6PM-10PM, closed Su. A small family owned Italian restaurant. The chef likes to use high quality local ingredients in his cooking. Portions may be on the small side for Western tastes. Vegetarian friendly. Lunch ¥900, dinner ¥2500.
- Capriciosa (カプリチョーザ), Asahi-machi 47-8-18, Second floor of Terrsa (テルサ) (Inside the Terrsa building on the north side of Matsue Station. Terrsa is the large building with glass walls right next to the Lawson convenience store.), ☎ +81 852 20-7128. 11AM-10PM. Capriciosa one of Japan's oldest chains of Italian restaurants. Do not let that scare you off, because its founders actually went to Italy to learn about Italian food. Serves decent pastas and pizzas at mid-range prices. Has nice views over the Matsue station area. Vegetarian friendly. ¥900.
- Restaurant & Cafe Laut (レストラン＆カフェ ラウ, Resutoran Ando Kafe Rau), Nishihamasadachō 330-1 (Take the Ichibata Railroad from Shinjiko Onsen station to Matsue English Garden Mae station. The Lake Line tourist bus also stops at English Garden. In the evening taking a taxi might be preferable.), ☎ +81 852 36-4100. Lunch 11:30AM-2:30PM, Dinner 6PM-9PM, closed Tu. Situated in the back of Matsue English Garden, this trendy lounge style restaurant is a bit out of the way, but the views over Lake Shinji and atmosphere more than make up for it.
Serves the largest pizzas in Matsue and bakes its own bread. Note that English Garden is closed in the evening, so you'll have to walking along the path on the right side to the back English Garden to get to Laut. Laut is sometimes reserved by wedding parties, so it's a good idea to call ahead. Vegetarian friendly, consult with the waiter. Lunch ¥1200, Dinner ¥2500-¥7500.
- Pasta Factory Ortaggio (パスタファクトリー オルタッジョ), Suetsuguhonmachi 82, ☎ +81 852 28-0101. A popular pasta restaurant. Also sells pizzas.
- Le Restaurant Hara (レストラン原 Resutoran Hara), Nakabara-chō 111, ☎ +81 852 25-2010. Lunch: 11:30AM-13:30PM, Dinner: 6PM-21PM. Closed Mo, 3rd Su of the month. A cosy restaurant run by chef Hara and his wife. Homely atmosphere and friendly staff. Vegetarians should call a day in advance.
- L'Arc en Ciel (ラルカンシェル Rarukanshieru), Suetsuguhon-machi 8-8 (It's in one of the northern side-streets of Kyomise.), ☎ +81 852 61-5788, e-mail: email@example.com. Lunch: Noon - 2:30PM, Dinner 6PM-9:30PM. Chef Ohashi has studied cooking in France and is passionate about finding new ways to use and present local ingredients. English and French is spoken. Reservations are recommended. Vegetarians should call a few days in advance. Lunch: ¥2500-¥5500, Dinner: ¥5250-¥8400.
- Spice (インド料理Spice, Indo Ryōri Supaisu), Gakuen 1-16-26 (From Matsue Station take the Kitajunkansen Bus, get off at Gakuendoori Chuo. From there it's a 5 minute walk.), ☎ +81 852 27-7720. 11:30AM-11:30PM, closed Tu. Small and friendly Indian restaurant. Their "Big Naan" is massive! Also sells spices which can be hard to get in regular Japanese supermarkets. Vegetarian friendly.
- Indo-or - Sri Lankan Curry Shop (印度亜), 1-24 Nishichamachi, ☎ +81 85232-6610. Lunch: 11:30AM-2:30PM, Dinner: 5:30PM-22:00PM. Nice selection of authentic Sri Lankan curries. Vegetarians should call one day in advance. ¥800-¥1250.
- Naked Space, Suetsuguhon-machi 77 3rd Floor (The club is in Kyomise shopping street on the 3rd floor above Mod's Hair), ☎ +81 852 24-3356. 22PM - early. The largest nightclub in Matsue. Features live acts and DJs most Fridays and Saturdays.
- Music Bar Birthday, Tera-machi 203-1 (A 5 minute walk to the east of Matsue Station), ☎ +81 852 21-0120. 8PM-2AM (closed most Sundays). It's a small music bar, but it manages to attract some very big names from the Japanese music world (and beyond) to perform here.
- St. James's Gate, Isemiya-chō 501-12, ☎ +81 80-6315-9630. 8PM-3AM (closed Sun, M). An Irish pub which is popular both with locals and Matsue's small expat community. One of the very few places in this part of Japan which has Guinness beer on tap. Things can get very lively here on Friday and Saturday evenings! English is spoken and Fish'n'chips are served.
- Dan² Stadium Sports Cafe Matsue, Tera-machi 198-57, Boat Pier Matsue, basement (Exit Matsue Station on the north, head left. It's a 5 minute walk. The bar is across the street in the basement of the Boat Pier building.), ☎ +81 852 61-1189. The largest sports bar in Matsue. Has large TV screens and a good selection of European beers. Especially fun to go to when there's a major sport event going on (reservations may be necessary in that case).
- 5150 Music Cafe Bar, Tera-machi 199-1, 2nd floor (From the north exit of Matsue Station head left. It's just beyond the back of the Poplar convenience store.), ☎ +81 852 23-1251. 20PM-5AM. A hard rock music bar popular with the local English teacher crowd. Often hosts international events.
- Tete de Bavard, Wadami-chō 39, ☎ +81 50-5834-7084. 5PM-midnight (last order at 11PM). A cozy night cafe. Has an interesting collection of retro style chairs and sofas on the second floor. Serves a wide array of drinks and wild looking desserts until late at night. From time to time local musicians have concerts here. ¥1000.
- Mocha, Higashicha-machi 38 (The west side of Kyomise shopping street), ☎ +81 852 28-6682. A laid back bar, popular with the local hipster crowd.
Around Matsue Station
- Terazuya Ryokan (旅館 寺津屋), 60-3 Tenjin-machi, ☎ +81 852 25-4100. Nothing fancy, just a pleasant family run ryokan inn with shared bathrooms and internet access. The hosts can pick you up at the train station. Shirakata Tenmangu Shrine is across the street from the inn. No credit cards accepted. Singles from ¥4200 without meals or ¥7350 with two meals.
- Toyoko Inn, 498-10 Asahi-machi (From the north exit of the station, cross the street on the left side and walk for about 5 minutes), ☎ +81 852 60-1045. Internet access is available in the lobby, and coin laundry is available as well. Singles from ¥5040.
- Matsue Universal Hotel Main Building (松江ユニバーサルホテル本館), Asahi-machi 471, ☎ +81 852 25-0001. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 10AM. The Universal Hotel chain has several buildings around Matsue Station. Singles from ¥3898.
- Matsue Ekimae Universal Hotel (松江駅前ユニバーサルホテル), Asahi-machi 460-8, ☎ +81 852 28-3000. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 10AM. Singles from ¥4198.
- Matsue Urban Hotel, Asahi-machi 590-3 (North of Matsue Station), ☎ +81 852 22-0002. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. No nonsense business hotel. Rooms have LAN internet. Singles ¥5775, Doubles ¥8400.
- Tokyu Inn, 590 Asahi-machi, ☎ +81 852 27-0109. The most up-scale hotel in this area. Singles from ¥8200.
- Hotel Alpha-1 Matsue (ホテル・アルファーワン松江), Otesenba-chō 567 (South of Matsue Station), ☎ +81 852 31-2200. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Rooms have basic amenities and LAN internet. Singles from ¥4600.
Matsue Shinjiko Onsen, and around Matsue Castle
- Matsue City Hotel (松江シティーホテル), 31 Suetsuguhon-machi (Take the bus from JR Matsue Station to Ohashi Kitazume (about 6 minutes, last departure 9PM).), ☎ +81 852 25-4100. A quirky business hotel. Although fine for a solo traveler, avoid double occupancy as the rooms are small even by business hotel standards and the so-called doubles only have one single bed. The hotel is easy to find, with a large clock tower on top; in fact, the owners have sprinkled their collection of antique clocks and other furniture throughout the hotel. Singles from ¥3800.
- Matsue New Urban Hotel, Nishicha-machi 40-1 (Cross Matsue Ohashi bridge going north to the castle. It's the hotel with blue neon at the top on your left hand side), ☎ +81 852 23-0003. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Lakeside rooms have views over Lake Shinji. Rooms have LAN internet. Parking is ¥525 per night. English is spoken. Singles ¥5775, Doubles ¥8400.
- Ichibata Hotel, Chidori-chō 30, ☎ +81 852 22-0188. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 10AM. Matsue's most upscale hotel, situated along the shoreline of Lake Shinji. Japan's emperor stayed here the last time he was in town. Lakeside rooms have a view over Lake Shinji. English is spoken. ¥12000 for a single room, ¥16000 and upwards for twin or double.
- Business Hotel Lake Inn, Saika-machi 153, ☎ +81 852 21-2424. Check-in: 3PM-10PM, check-out: 10AM. Has free parking. Singles from ¥3700.
Sleeping at an Internet Cafe
Overnighting in a lounge chair in a private booth at an internet cafe might not be very glamorous but is an option if you're travelling on a tight budget. Showers, food and parking are available. Most internet cafes in Matsue are clustered around Shimane University, a bit of a walk northwards from Matsue Station. See the Contact section of this article for more information.
All phone numbers displayed on this page are in international format. To dial using local format substitute "+81" with "0".
- Matsue Central Post Office (松江中央郵便局 Matsue Chūō Yūbinkyoku), Asahi-machi 138 (From the north of Matsue Station head east. It's a 3 minute walk to the post office. It'll be on the north side of the street.). Open 24 hours. International ATMs can be used between 7AM-11PM (weekdays), 9AM-9PM(Sat), 9AM-7PM (Sun, national holidays). Close to Matsue Station.
- Matsue Tono-machi Post Office (松江殿町郵便局) (Shimane Prefectural Office is directly to the south of Matsue Castle. The post office is not inside the building, but to the side of it.). Open 9AM-5PM on weekdays. Closed on weekends. International ATM can be used between 9AM-5:30PM (weekdays), 9AM-12:30PM(Sat). The ATM is closed on Sundays and on national holidays.. Close to Matsue Castle, at Shimane Prefectural Office (島根県庁 Shimane Kenchō)
Most McDonalds restaurants in Japan offer complimentary WiFi internet
- McDonalds AEON, Higashiasahi-machi 15 (Just to the south west of Matsue Station, on the 3rd floor of the AEON shopping mall). 9AM-10PM.
- McDonalds Gakuen-minami, Gakuen-minami 2-2-31 (Exit Matsue Station on the north side, head right and turn left at the large intersection. Cross the bridge, and keep going straight on.). 24hrs. Free.
- 3rd Station (サーソルテーション), Gakuen 1-8-21 (Exit Matsue Station on the north side, head right and turn left at the large intersection. Cross the bridge, and keep going straight on for quite some time. Head right at the Bunka no Tomo book store on your right-hand side.), ☎ +81 852 60-5400. Open 24 hours. A large internet cafe close to Shimane University. ¥200 per hour, ¥150 for 30 minutes.
- Club Mont Blanc, Gakuen 1-1-1 (Exit Matsue Station on the north side, head right and turn left at the large intersection. Cross the bridge, and keep going straight on for quite some time. Club Mont Blanc will be at your right-hand side.), ☎ +81 852 31-8611. Open 24 hours. This internet cafe is situated between Matsue Station and Shimane University. ¥290 for the first 30 minutes, ¥100 for every additional 15 minutes.
- Matsue City International Exchange Division, Suetsugu-chō (Inside Matsue City Hall), ☎ +81 852 55-5175, fax: +81 852 55-5550, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers consultation services for foreigners living in Matsue in English, Chinese and Korean.
- Matsue Red Cross Hospital (松江赤十字病院, Matsue Juuji Byōin), Horomachi 200 (Located on the north side of the Ōhashi river. Cross one of the central bridges into the north part of Matsue and this large white building with a large red cross on top isn't easy to miss.), ☎ +81 852 24-2111. The largest hospital in Matsue city center.
- Matsue City Hospital (松江市立病院, Matsue Shiritsu Byōin), Noshira-chō 32-1 (Lies in the southern part of Matsue. From Matsue Station take the Matsue Shiritsu Byōin bus, which goes all the way to the hospital.), ☎ +81 852 60-8082. The largest hospital in Shimane. Many doctors speak English (most nurses don't however).
- Izumo - Home to the Grand Shrine of Izumo (Izumo Taisha), one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan
- Yasugi - A town known for its sword making and home to Adachi Museum of Art and its famous gardens
- Yonago - A neighbouring city known as "little Osaka", famous for its food and bar scene
- Mount Daisen - This extinct volcano towering over the city of Yonago is also known the Mount Fuji of West Japan. Great for hiking and skiing.
- Sakaiminato - Point of departure for ferries to Korea and Russia. Also known as the home town of cartoon character GeGeGe no Kitaro.
- Oki Islands - A group of two small islands in the Sea of Japan, known for it's distinct landscape and history
|Routes through Matsue|
|Shimonoseki ← Izumo ←||W E||→ Yonago → Kyoto|
|Masuda ← Izumo ←||W E||→ Yasugi → Yonago|
|Yamaguchi ← Izumo ←||W E||→ Yonago → Kyoto|