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Hottest Spots to Visit in Matsue

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Matsue is a city located in Shimane Prefecture, Japan. It is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Shinji and is the prefecture's capital.

Matsue is known as the "City of Water" due to the many canals and bridges crisscrossing the cityscape. The city is also home to several castles and museums, making it a popular tourist destination.

Here are some of the hottest spots to visit in Matsue:

Top 10 Attractions in Matsue

There are a variety of attractions to see in Matsue. There is something for everyone, from historic castles and museums to scenic parks and gardens.

1. Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle of Japan

Matsue Castle is one of the twelve castles in Japan that has remained unchanged since it was initially built back in 1611. It's an impressive sight and has withstood hundreds of years of war, conflict, and natural disasters. The castle offers a unique glimpse into the past and is well worth visiting for anyone interested in history.

It is a beautiful and well-preserved castle that is located on a hill in the city of Matsue in Shimane Prefecture. A moat and thick walls surround the castle, and inside the main keep of the court, there is a colorful museum that displays artifacts and other historical pieces. Visitors to Matsue Castle can also take a peaceful boat ride around the castle moat, called the Horikawa Sightseeing Boat. During the ride, the boatmen will speak about parts of the history of Matsue Castle and the city. This is a great activity, especially on an autumn afternoon when the sun is low. The surrounding foliage has become beautiful sunburnt colors, making the scenery very picturesque.

2. Adachi Museum of Art

Adachi garden, Shimane, Chugoku, Japan

The Adachi Museum of Art is a must-see spot for art lovers visiting Matsue. Zenko Adachi founded the museum in 1980, and it features a permanent collection of paintings and ceramics and contemporary art. However, the show's real star is the 40-acre garden, which has been referred to as a "living painting." This beautiful garden is worth a visit.

It is a beautiful garden that has been voted the best garden in Japan many times. The gardens are very well-maintained and offer a great deal of beauty and peace to those who visit. Remember, it's about an hour drive from Matsue, so it's more of a day trip option.


3. Lake Shinji

Breathtaking sunset reflecting in Lake Shinji at Matsue, Japan

Lake Shinji is a large and beautiful lake in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Japan. It is the seventh-largest lake in Japan and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike because of its stunning scenery and abundance of activities. There are many things to do around the lake, including swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking.

The most popular thing to do at the lake is to watch the sunset. The location near the coast means that the evenings are lovely and often rated among the best in Japan. Matsue has many great spots to take in the view, including Shirakata Park and Shimane Art Museum. Make sure you find a place to watch the sunset there!

Lake Shinji is a unique place where fresh and saltwater mix, creating a perfect environment for sea animals to thrive. This makes the lake a great place to find seafood, mainly because you can harvest seven different types throughout the year. The seafood that you can see in the lake include white back (early spring), Shijimi clams and eel (summer), shrimp (autumn), bass, smelt, and carp (winter). The clams can be harvested year-round but are the easiest to find and most popular to eat.

4. Yuushien Garden

Yuushien Garden

The Yuushien Garden is a beautiful place that has been designed with great care and attention to detail. It features stunning scenery, including various flowers, ponds, and sculpted trees. The Japanese peonies are the main attraction of the garden, and there are over 250 different types of peonies that can be seen blooming year-round.

In addition to the peonies, the garden also has three restaurants where visitors can enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine while admiring the views of the garden.

5. Shimane Art Museum

The art museum is located in the south area of Matsue City and houses a vast collection of both western and local art pieces. These pieces include paintings, print items, sculptures, modern art, photography, and crafts. The architect who designed this unique museum is the prominent Japanese Metabolist Kiyonori Kikutake, who is known for his creative and innovative approach to architecture. You can see that the art museum building, with its unique design resembling a painter's palette, is truly one-of-a-kind.

The Shimane Art Centre is a museum that displays a wide variety of art from the Edo period, including ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The art often depicts beautiful landscapes, courtesans, city life, and adultery. The exhibitions change occasionally, and one of the best spots to view the sunset is from the museum itself, located on Lake Shinji's shore. The museum stays open an extra half-hour past sundown every day during the warmer months to allow visitors to enjoy the sunset.

6. Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum

Lafcadio Hearn was a significant figure in the development of Japanese culture. He was one of the first foreigners to travel to Japan and document its traditions and history. Hearn's writing inspired other foreigners to learn about Japan and helped promote cultural exchange between the two countries. He is greatly respected by both the Matsue community and the traditionalists and scholars of Japan for his contributions to the study of Japanese culture.

At the Memorial Museum for Lafcadio Hearn, you can see some of his earlier and original works and learn about him as a person. Hearn was a foreigner who adopted Japanese citizenship and became naturalised as Koizumi Yakumo. He is known in Japan by this name. The museum is next to the house where he lived and raised his family and provides insights into Hearn's life and work.

Despite the rapid modernisation of Japan during this time, much of its cultural heritage was lost, making Hearn's work a valuable resource for understanding Japan. Through his writings, he sought to preserve and promote Japanese culture and remains an essential figure in Japanese history.

7. Matsue Vogel Park

Matsue Vogel Park is a greenhouse park home to beautiful flowers and plenty of different types of birds. The park is a great place to visit if you want to see some fantastic floral displays or if you want to get up close and personal with some interesting bird species. One of the best things about the park is that it is relatively undiscovered so you can enjoy its beauty in peace. Whether you are a bird enthusiast or a flower lover, this park is well worth visiting.

The outdoor area of this popular park in Japan is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the beautiful flowers and stunning views. With wheelchair access, grand ideas of Lake Shinji, and fantastic photo opportunities, this is a great spot to visit on a rainy day or when you need some relaxation.

8. Oki Islands and the UNESCO Global Geopark

Oki Islands

The Oki Islands, located in the Sea of Japan, are a designated UNESCO Global Geopark. This area is home to many beautiful islands, including Sekiheki Cliff, Candle Island, the Akiya Coast and Matengai Cliff. These areas are full of stunning beaches, hiking trails and flower parks. The Oki Islands are mostly uninhabited, making them the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Shimazu Island is a small, remote island just south of Chiburijima Island. This island is an excellent place for camping and enjoying the beach and walking trail. If you're looking for a more adventurous activity, check out Nakanoshima's Rainbow Beach, which is the most popular beach on the island.

9. Tsuwano

Little Kyoto in Shimane Prefecture Nightscape of Tsuwano in autumn

The Tsuwano area is located in western Shimane Prefecture, on the border with Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Aono Mountain range forms a natural barrier and creates a beautiful landscape. Visitors can enjoy strolling through the old town area of Tsuwano and Tonomachi-Dori.

This district is filled with waterways home to dancing koi and is lined with breweries, historic merchant houses, and other traditional shops. Other attractions in the area include the Taikodani-Inari Jinja shrine and the castle ruins, both of which offer a glimpse into the spiritual side of this beautiful region.

10. Izumo Taisha Shrine

Izumo Taisha shrine

The Izumo Taisha shrine is one of the oldest and most important shrines in Japan, with a history that dates back to ancient times. According to legend, it is where all the Shinto deities come together to meet once a year. Furthermore, the shrine is the home of Okuninushi, the God who is said to have created Japan. As a result, the Izumo Taisha shrine is a significant place of worship for many people.

What makes praying at this particular shrine unique is that instead of bowing twice, clapping twice, and then praying, as is customary at most other shrines, visitors to the Izumo Taisha shrine clap four times before praying.

With its picturesque canals and historic castles, Matsue is a must-visit destination in Japan. From exploring museums and parks to visiting hot springs and temples, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful city.

Top Day Trips From Matsue

There are plenty of things to see and do in Matsue, but if you're looking to explore beyond the city limits, several great day trips are easy to reach from Matsue.

The following are some popular day trips from Matsue that you may want to consider:

1. Romantic Tour In Matsue

Matsue is a city that is full of romance. If you're looking for a place to sweep your special someone off their feet, then this is the place to be. Matsue is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway with its charming atmosphere and beautiful scenery.

There are several romantic spots in the city, including parks, buildings, and historical sites. For example, Izumo Taisha Shrine is a popular destination for those looking to improve their luck in love. This shrine is also known for its stunning architecture and beautiful gardens, making it the perfect backdrop for a romantic photoshoot.

Other romantic spots in Matsue include the castle grounds, which are said to be haunted by the ghost of a young princess. According to legend, the princess was so in love with her husband that she died of a broken heart when he was killed in battle. There is also a famous love story involving Susanoo, the god of storms, and Inata Hime, a beautiful princess.

On this tour, you will visit some of the most romantic spots in Matsue, learning about the city's history of love along the way. You'll also enjoy a traditional Japanese lunch and take part in a tea ceremony.

2. E-Bike cycling tour in Matsue

The best way to see Matsue is by bicycle! You will explore the city on an electric bike on this tour, making it easy to get around and enjoy the sights.

Matsue is a great place to cycle, with its flat terrain and many cycling paths. The city is also home to several interesting landmarks, including Matsue Castle, the oldest remaining castle in Japan. You'll get to explore this beautiful structure and learn more about its history from your guide.

Other popular attractions you'll be able to visit on this tour include Matsue Vogel Park, a bird sanctuary where you can see hundreds of different species of birds, and Shiomi Nawate Street, a charming pedestrian street lined with traditional Japanese houses.

3. Walking Tour of Matsue

Matsue is a beautiful city to explore on foot. On this walking tour, you will visit some of the most popular tourist attractions and some hidden gems that only locals know about.

Your guide will take you to see Matsue Castle, one of the oldest castles in Japan. You'll also explore the castle grounds and learn about its history. Other highlights of the tour include Shiomi Nawate Street, a pedestrian street lined with traditional Japanese houses, and Matsue Vogel Park, a bird sanctuary where you can see hundreds of different species of birds.

This is a great way to get acquainted with the city and discover its hidden treasures. Whether you're looking to explore Matsue's history, nature, or culture, this tour has something for everyone!​

Top Places to eat in Matsue

The cuisine of Matsue is known for its simplicity and focus on local ingredients. Several restaurants in the city offer delicious and healthy meals.

1. Ronjin Matsue

Ronjin Matsue is a restaurant that serves exquisite shabu-shabu and sukiyaki dishes using carefully selected local ingredients. The restaurant has been in business for more than 60 years, and the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. The shabu-shabu is especially popular and has a refined taste that is sure to please. The sukiyaki is also very delicious and is made with a secret warishita sauce. In addition to the traditional Japanese dishes, Ronjin Matsue also offers a large selection of Western-style dishes.

The restaurant is located along the moat under Matsue Castle. They use local ingredients to create a nostalgic atmosphere reminiscent of the Taisho era. The sizeable old clock at the entrance is still ticking from that time period and is a symbol of their pride. Inside, they display a number of folk crafts that have been handed down from the old store era, such as the living national treasure Keisuke Serizawa's pattern-dyed goodwill. They aim to provide the secret taste inherited from their predecessor. Slow down and enjoy your meal in the nostalgic atmosphere of Taisho romance.

Address: 267 Tonomachi, Matsue, Shimane 690-0887, Japan
Phone: +81 852-22-3618
Visit their website here

2. Tokiya

The Sanin region is famous for its long-standing tradition of yakitori and izakaya, and one such place that exemplifies this is Tokiya. With a wide selection of skewers perfect for pairing with oyamadori, as well as an extensive selection of local sake, this retro shop boasts friendly and lively staff who are dedicated to providing a truly authentic dining experience.

If you're looking for a great place to drink in Matsue, be sure to check out Yakitori Tokiya and their Matsue location! Their recommendations include the delicious beef bone ramen, which is perfect for warming up on a cold day.

Address: 507 Isemiyacho, Matsue, Shimane 690-0006, Japan
Phone: +81 852-28-8244
Visit their website here

3. Yakumo-an, Izumo soba

The soba at Yakumo-an is simple but loved by all. The noodles are black in colour and have a high flavour and firm waist. The soup broth is spicy, comparable to the taste of soba. The Kamo Nanban is a perfect balance of soba, fresh duck meat, green onions, and rich soup stock. With its unfashionable simplicity, Yakumo-an's handmade soba is sure to delight all your senses.

The building that houses Izumo Soba was once the home of Oishi Gennai, a renowned swordsman in the Matsue domain during the Edo period. The 450-year-old black pine tree in the restaurant's garden is a testament to the restaurant's long history. The Izumo black pine is a symbol of strength and endurance, qualities that are reflected in the delicious soba noodles served at this restaurant.

The pleasant breeze from the bamboo grove in the back mountains, combined with the exquisite seasonal dishes, will soothe your mind and body and leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised. Whether you are looking for a place to relax and unwind or just enjoy a great meal, Izumo Soba is truly an exceptional restaurant that is sure to satisfy all of your senses.​

Address: 308 Kitahoricho, Matsue, Shimane 690-0888, Japan
Phone: +81 852-22-2400
Visit their website here

4. LAUT Restaurant

LAUT Restaurant is all about seasonal ingredients and flavours. The restaurant's menu focuses on the unique tastes of Sanin, Japan - a region known for its stunning natural landscapes and delicious food.
At LAUT, guests can enjoy dishes that highlight the best of what this special corner of the world has to offer. From local produce to traditional recipes, each dish is designed to showcase the area's unique flavours and give diners a taste of the real Sanin.

Address: 330-1 Nishihamasadacho, Matsue, Shimane 690-0122, Japan
Phone: +81 852-36-4100
Visit their website here

Final Thoughts

A sightseeing boat going down the Horikawa river near Matsue Castle

Matsue is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you're looking to explore the samurai history and culture, or if you want to relax by the lake, there are plenty of hot spots in Matsue that will make your visit unforgettable. We hope this list helps you plan your trip and enjoy everything Matsue has to offer!

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