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Photo By: iStock/ MasaoTaira
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Matsue Historic District

Beyond the castle moat, learn more about the history of Matsue along with its rich samurai and tea culture.

By Laura Payne

Across Matsue Castle’s moat, much of the district where middle-ranking samurai lived, known as Shiomi Nawate, still stands.

Here and in other areas around the castle, museums, shops and historical sites allow visitors to experience Matsue’s samurai history, tea culture and local ghost stories.

Since these sites are within walking distance of Matsue Castle, travelers can stop by any of them before or after visiting the castle.

Matsue History Museum and Horan-Enya Memorial Hall

Photo by: iStock/ itasun See these magnificent boats up close and personal.

The Matsue History museum outlines the city’s founding, development and key figures, making it a good source of information for first-time visitors to Matsue.

The Horan-Enya Memorial Hall, dedicated to Matsue’s most famous boat festival, sits around the corner from the history museum. Every ten years, decorated boats carrying costumed dancers appear on Matsue’s rivers to pray for prosperity. If one’s visit does not coincide with the festival, its atmosphere can still be experienced through this memorial hall.

Meimei-An Teahouse

Photo by: iStock/ PisesTungittipokai Enjoy a cup of matcha and Japanese sweets at a teahouse.

Lord Fumai, the seventh lord of Matsue and a patron of tea ceremony culture, commissioned this teahouse in 1779. Today, visitors can explore Meimei-An’s garden and peer into the building where Lord Fumai practiced tea ceremony.

Next to Meimei-An, a modern teahouse invites guests to enjoy a cup of matcha and sample wagashi, which were favorites of Lord Fumai.

Former Samurai Residence

Photo by: Laura Payne A more personal look at the lives of samurai off the battlefield.

Samurai are best known for their fighting skills, but what did these warriors do when they were away from the battlefield? The Buke Yashiki, or Former Samurai Residence, invites visitors to explore a historical estate and glimpse the daily life of a middle-rank samurai.

Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum

Photo by: Laura Payne Grab a copy of local Matsue ghost stories on your way out.

The Irish-Greek writer Lafcadio Hearn traveled to Japan in the 19th century and lived here for the rest of his life. Enamored by his adopted home, he published several books introducing the English-speaking world to Japanese culture and folklore.

Hearn lived in Matsue for a time and his former residence is open to visitors. Next door, a memorial museum details Hearn’s life in Japan. Copies of his books that portray old Matsue’s daily life and ghost stories are also sold here.

Things To Know

Attraction fees

The Matsue History Museum, Horan-Enya Memorial Hall, Meimei-An Teahouse, Former Samurai Residence and Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and Former Residence offer discounted admission tickets to international visitors.

Please present your passport or residence card upon purchase. 

How To Get There

Address

By bus

Take the Lakeline bus from Matsue Station (or other Lakeline bus stops) and alight at Ote-Mae Horikawa Sightseeing Boat Pier or Shiomi Nawate. The sites mentioned above are within walking distance of either of these stops. Details about Lakeline bus stops and other helpful information can be found on Matsue’s official tourism website.

By foot

The sites mentioned above are within walking distance of Matsue Castle, about a 30-minute walk from Matsue Station.

Where To Stay

Matsueshinjiko Onsen Matsue New Urban Hotel
  • 40-1 Nishichamachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0845 Japan
  • ¥8,000 - ¥18,200
  • 4.19/5 (3,584 reviews)
  • 1.2 km
Matsueshinjiko Onsen Minamikan
  • 14 Suetsuguhommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0843 Japan
  • ¥32,384 - ¥59,510
  • 1.2 km
Onyado Nono Matsue
  • 2-35 Higashihommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0842 Japan
  • ¥10,615 - ¥100,448
  • 4.66/5 (569 reviews)
  • 1.3 km
Hotel Route-Inn Matsue
  • 2-22 Higashihommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0842 Japan
  • ¥9,500 - ¥11,000
  • 4.31/5 (1,223 reviews)
  • 1.3 km
Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Hotel Ichibata
  • 30 Chidoricho, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0852 Japan
  • ¥11,286 - ¥64,240
  • 4.36/5 (2,449 reviews)
  • 1.5 km