Travel Japan: Matsue, Shimane-ken

Situated on the edge of Lake Shinji, Matsue is a beautiful city with canals and a river running through it. Matsue has a mix of modern cafes and stores, while also maintaining traditional houses and buildings. We spent a day exploring the older part of the city around the castle.

The old samurai residences are called Buke Yashiki and were built in 1730. There are some weapons and household items to look at within the rooms of the residence. There is also a nice garden, and you can take a break in the coffee shop that looks out over the garden.

There was a famous foreigner called Lafcadio Hearn who lived in Matsue in the late 1800’s and was a well known Japanese writer. It is said he told the world about Matsue and Japan through his writing. He took on a Japanese name, Yakumo Koizumi, and lived in a traditional house in Matsue.

Matsue castle was completed in 1611 and it has the only castle tower on the Sea of Japan coast. We happened to be there for the castle festival, held every year from April 1st to April 15th. Matsue castle is about 2 kilometres from Matsue station.

Just out of Matsue, in a town called Yasugi, is the Adachi Museum of Art. It is an amazing museum where you get to experience contemporary Japanese art inside the museum while enjoying views of the garden outside. There is a free shuttle bus from JR Yasugi station to the museum which takes about 20 minutes.

Marine Park Takobana is situated north of Matsue and sits on a peninsula jutting out into the Sea of Japan. It is a campsite which also has cottages for rent. It is a beautiful place full of natural scenery and amazing views. We went there in early spring, which was a little cold, but I think it would be beautiful in any season, particularly summer. There is a swimming beach nearby, scuba tours, and a boat trip around the coast.

Matsue and its surroundings are beautiful places to visit, and there is even more to explore in Shimane-Ken.


Matsue City has a discounted rate for foreigners visiting cultural sites. Buke Yashiki and Lafcadio Hearn Residence will cost 150 yen each to enter. Matsue Castle is discounted to 280 yen to visit, and the Adachi Museum of Art is 1100 yen.

Where to stay –

In Matsue there is a Toyoko Inn which costs 5000 yen per night for a single room.


We stayed on the coast 30 minutes north of Matsue at the Marine Park Takobana in a cottage. The cottage price varies depending on the number of people staying. It is about 4000 yen per person per night with 3 people sharing. The cottage sleeps 4-6 people, and there are bigger cottages available. They are equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, toilet, TV, and balcony, and bedding is also included. There is also a campsite available for 1050 yen per site per night.


Phone number – 085-285-3387

Getting there –

From Himeji, it takes 3 ½ hours by train to get to Matsue and costs about 8000 yen each way. We drove to Matsue, which took about the same amount of time, and we avoided most toll roads, so it was quite inexpensive. To get to Marine Park Takobana from Matsue, there are some buses available, but it involves a lot of changes. It is easiest to drive there as it only takes about 30 minutes by car.

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  1. Shimane Prefecture has many great spots to visit.
    Matsue City with the castle is one of them.
    I also recommend Izumo and Tsuwano! :)

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