Among Japan’s many castle town, Matsue is surely among those most indelibly connected to its past. Matsue Castle sits mightily and majestically perched above the city, stunningly visible from anywhere in its central district.
The castle tower is one of only five designated as a National Treasure by the Japanese government, and upon entering, one can soon see why. While many of Japan’s castles are mere concrete replicas of the original structures, the tower of Matsue Castle has been painstakingly preserved over the years, meaning that visitors today can explore it just as it stood some four centuries ago.
You’ll also want to take a moment to admire the mighty stone walls—look closely and you may even spot stones etched with marks and crests. These centuries-old engravings give further insight into the origin of the materials, creating another striking link to the past.
After exploring the castle, stop by Jozan Inari Shrine, a favorite destination of the writer and folklorist Lafcadio Hearn, who once called Matsue home. On your way back, relax with a cup of rich green tea at the Hearn-no-Komichi (“Hearn’s Path”) teahouse. Illuminated in the dark, the castle also offers stunning views after nightfall. But be careful—after such a memorable trip to Japan’s past, you may not want to return to the present.
From Izumo Airport, take a shuttle bus to JR Matsue Station (thirty minutes). Matsue Castle is a ten-minute bus ride from the station.
Hours: Opens 8:30 a.m., closes at 6:30 p.m. (April to September) or 5 p.m. (October to March). Last admission ends 30 minutes prior to closing.
The castle grounds may be explored for free. Climbing the tower requires a fee of 670 yen for adults or 280 yen for children (elementary to junior high age). Visitors from abroad may present their passport to receive a 50% discount.
A discount is also provided to groups of thirty or more.
Address: 1-5 Tonomachi, Matsue, Shimane, 690-0887