Matsue Castle, Shimane Prefecture
Facts & Figures
Matsue Castle is a five tiered hilltop castle located in Matsue, Shimane prefecture in Japan. It is the second largest, the third tallest (30m) and the sixth oldest castle amongst the Japanese castles. It is one of the few remaining castles in Japan that is not a modern reconstruction in concrete but rather of the original wood form. Matsue Castle belongs to the 12 remaining medieval castles in Japan and the only one in the Sonin region. It is nicknamed ‘plover castle’ or the ‘black castle’ and my must-see recommendation for you, especially during the cherry blosom season. Do not miss the amazing view from the top floor over Lake Shinji (Japan's 7th largest lake), the city and the beautiful surrounding area.
- Matsue Castle:
- Opening Hours - 8:30 am to 6:30 pm (Apr till Sep)
- Opening Hours - 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (Oct till Mar)
- Closed - No closing days
- Admission Fee - 560 yen (castle only, 50% off for foreign tourists)
- Admission Fee - 1160 yen (including Hearn Residence, Hearn Museum and Samurai Residence)
- Admission Fee - 920 yen (including your choice of two of the sites named above)
It was built by Horio Yoshiharu between 1607 and 1611, after the last great feudal war of Japan. Its ownership was transferred to Matsudaira Naomasa, who became Lord of the castle. The Matsudaira clan owned Matsue Castle for a period of 234 years. All the buildings within the castle were dismantled in 1875 with the exception of the castle itself which underwent reconstruction between 1950 and 1955. On 9th July, 2015, the castle was named one of Japan’s national treasures.
Matsue Castle is located appr. 2km away from JR Matsue Station within the Shimane Prefecture.
Address: 1-5 Tonomachi, Matsue, Shimane Prefecture 690-0887
How to get to Matsue Castle?
- 35min walk from JR Matsue Station or
- 10min from Kencho-mae bus stop (in front of Shimane Prefectural Office) by Ichibata bus
Matsue Castle Museum - Learn more about the history of the castle. Enjoy the exhibition of arms and armor used during the samurai era.
Horikawa Sightseeing Boat - The tour circles the historical inner and outer moats as well as any other points of interest that cannot be seen otherwise. The moats are located within the park Jozankoen. Sometimes the boat passes under lowly built bridges and as such the passengers have to watch their heads.
Samurai Residence and Shiomi Nawate Street - The Samurai residence is now open for the public. It is the perfect place to learn more about life as a middle-class Samurai in Edo period. The residence is located in the middle of the 500feet Shiomi Nawate Street. The street is lined with traditional Japanese houses and majestic pine trees. The former residence of Lafcadio Hearn, his memorial as well as Tanabe Museum are located along the same street.
Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)
Horan-enya Festival (once every 10 years, next is May 2019)
It’s one of the three most popular boat festivals in Japan and its history dating back till 1648. It involves processions of colorful boats on the Ohashi River, which protect the boat carrying the deity from Jozan Inari Shrine to Adakaya Shrine. During the 9 days of the festival you can enjoy traditional ceremonies, dance performances, local people wearing beautiful costumes and much more. Interesting to know that the preparation for Horan-enya takes at least one year.
July - August
Matsue Suigosi Fireworks Festival (last weekend of July, first weekend of August)
People wearing jinbei and yukata sit on the shores of Lake Shinji and marvel at it as the surface of the water is lit up by fireworks. Performances and dance events are also held on stage by Matsue City Hall. Fireworks will start usually around 8:00 pm.
Oyukake Jizo Festival (24th)
It takes place at the hot springs of Matsue Shinjiko Onsen and is a dedication to Oyukake Jizo, the local hot spring deity. Later the fireworks over Lake Shinji will start at 8:00 pm.
Matsue Do Gyoretsu Drum Parade (third Sunday of October)
The city is full of the sound of the echoes of these giant drums (diameter 2 m). Children wearing traditional costumes and pulling the drums through the streets. I can only say prepare your ears:)
Where to stay near Matsue Castle?
My 100 Best Moments in Japan
I am visiting Japan nearly every year since 2004. This is my collection of the 100 best moments in my favourite country. Enjoy the pictures and I hope you will start your own journey soon.