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Photo By: PIXTA/ まちゃー
Largest City

Lake Shinji

The seventh largest lake in Japan and one of the most famous natural sights of Shimane Prefecture.

By Laura Payne

Stretching sixteen kilometers between Izumo and Matsue, Lake Shinji is the seventh-largest lake in Japan and one of the most famous natural features of Shimane Prefecture. It is also renowned nationally as one of Japan’s best 100 sunset spots and internationally recognized as a waterway of global importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Whether you want to play by the water, catch glimpses of migratory birds, try local delicacies or enjoy beautiful scenery, this lake has something to share.

Parks and activities

Lake Shinji

Photo by: PIXTA/ ばりろく A great spot to unwind after exploring Shimane.

On the lake’s western side, visitors can observe local wildlife by exploring the nature trails of Shinjiko Green Park or visiting Gobius–a small aquarium dedicated to educating people about the animals of Shimane’s waterways.

Meanwhile, Lake Shinji’s eastern side is the best place to view sunsets and to help people enjoy these, Matsue City maintains multiple waterfront parks. Additionally, fans of bird’s eye views can visit the observation deck of San’in Godo Bank’s headquarters and see the lake’s expanse from fourteen stories up.

Boats are another way to enjoy the lake’s scenery. On the lake’s northern side, Aikanagisa Park offers kayak and swan boat rentals for those who want to try outdoor sports. From central Matsue, visitors can hop on the Lake Shinji Pleasure Cruise and take a tour with views of the cityscape and Yomegashima, the only island on Lake Shinji. This cruise runs multiple times a day from morning until sunset, providing options for how to enjoy the view.

Delicacies and events

Lake Shinji

Photo by: PIXTA/ mao Clams are a common addition to regional miso soup varieties and are considered one of the seven delicacies of Lake Shinji.

Early on Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings, fishermen can be seen on Lake Shinji harvesting shijimi clams. These clams, gathered year-round, are a common addition to regional miso soup varieties and are considered one of the seven delicacies of Lake Shinji (along with whitebait, eel, shrimp, bass, smelt and carp). These delicacies can be purchased at souvenir shops such as the Shimane Local Products Center (located next to Matsue Castle) and in restaurants around the city.

Visitors to Lake Shinji in the summer also have the opportunity to sample Japan’s festival foods. One of the most anticipated festivals of the summer season is Matsue Suigosai, a fireworks festival held in the eastern shore’s public parks. After eating from yatai (food stalls) and enjoying stage performances, festivalgoers can watch the sunset before being treated to a display of thousands of fireworks bursting over the lake.

Things To Know

Hours and fees

The Lake Shinji Pleasure Cruise operates daily from March to November and on weekends and national holidays from December to February. Ticket discounts are available for international visitors who show a passport or residence card. Departure times and other details can be found on the cruise’s official website and the official tourism website of Matsue City.

The observation deck at San’in Godo Bank’s headquarters is open from 10 am to 6 pm April to October and from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from November to March. Admission is free.

Shinjiko Green Park and Gobius are typically open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are closed on Tuesdays. Admission to Shinjiko Green Park is free, while access to Gobius is ¥500 for adults, ¥400 for university students and ¥160 for children of high school age or younger. Details about rentals at Aikanagisa Park can be found on its official website (currently only in Japanese): 道の駅 秋鹿なぎさ公園 (skss-inc.com)

How To Get There


By train

Public parks on the eastern side of the lake and the Lake Shinji Pleasure Cruise pier are accessible via the Lakeline Bus from JR Matsue station. San’in Godo Bank’s headquarters is a short walk from the waterfront parks. Details about the Lakeline bus are on Matsue’s official tourism website.

Sightseeing spots such as Aikanagisa Park and Shinjiko Green Park are accessible via the locally-run Ichibata Electric Railway. Details about stations, timetables and sightseeing passes for this railway are available on its official website (JR Rail Passes are not accepted on this line).

Where To Stay

Tamatsukuri Onsen Tamai Bekkan
  • 1247 Tamayucho Tamatsukuri, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 699-0201 Japan
  • ¥11,550 - ¥41,800
  • 4.16/5 (995 reviews)
  • 5.4 km
  • 1215 Tamayucho Tamatsukuri, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 699-0201 Japan
  • ¥20,900 - ¥55,000
  • 5.6 km
Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Hotel Ichibata
  • 30 Chidoricho, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0852 Japan
  • ¥11,880 - ¥58,300
  • 4.33/5 (2,405 reviews)
  • 7.9 km
Matsueshinjiko Onsen Matsue New Urban Hotel
  • 40-1 Nishichamachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0845 Japan
  • ¥6,500 - ¥35,000
  • 4.17/5 (3,543 reviews)
  • 8.5 km
Matsueshinjiko Onsen Ohashikan
  • 40 Suetsuguhommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0843 Japan
  • ¥11,550 - ¥43,320
  • 4.17/5 (443 reviews)
  • 8.8 km

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