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Photo By: Discover Shimane
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Tsuwano

A pocket of old Japan with attractions consisting of traditional-style buildings that house historical sites and modern additions.

By Laura Payne

In Shimane, central Tsuwano is a pocket of old Japan with attractions from multiple centuries, consisting of traditional-style buildings that house historical sites and modern additions.

Walking or cycling around town, visitors can discover a variety of sightseeing locations and activities.

Tonomachi Street

Photo by: iStock/ grandspy707 Watch Koi fish swim through the canals of  Tonomachi Street in autumn

High-ranking samurai once lived in this district and forbade everyday townspeople to enter without authorization.

Today, anyone can explore historical sites here, such as the Hanko Yorokan–a school run by the feudal domain. In the adjacent honmachi (the former merchant district), shops and cafes sell locally-made products such as sake (rice wine) and genjimaki (rolled cake filled with sweet bean paste).

Tonomachi Street is perhaps most famous for its koi fish-filled canals and the irises that bloom along the sidewalk in summer.

Tsuwano Catholic Church

Photo by: iStock/ grandspy707 A window into the history of Christian persecution in Japan.

This church, which mixes Eastern and Western design styles, was founded in 1892 and still serves a local congregation.

Additionally, the church operates a free museum that teaches about the history of Christian persecution in Japan and Tsuwano’s place in that history. Books on this topic written in English and Japanese are for sale in the museum shop.

Tsuwano Japan Heritage Center

Photo by: Laura Payne Learn about the local culture through traditional dance and local crafts.

This museum’s exhibits introduce the Hyakkeizu–one hundred paintings that depict life in feudal Tsuwano. Going around town to visit sites from Hyakkeizu paintings is a popular sightseeing activity. It is recommended that those who want to try this visit the heritage center first because the center provides guidebooks and maps showing the locations of each painting’s subject.

The center is also excellent for learning about the local culture through the Heron Dance and local crafts. Experiences such as making washi paper dolls are offered for a fee.

Art museums and galleries

Photo by: Discover Shimane The Anno Museum pays tribute to Anno Mitsumasa, an award-winning children’s book author.

One of Tsuwano’s most internationally recognized artists is Anno Mitsumasa (1926-2020). In addition to working as an elementary school teacher, he illustrated award-winning wordless children’s books, and his art is now displayed in the Anno Mitsumasa Art Museum.

Other places, such as the Morijuku Art Museum, house past local artists’ works while displaying the beauty of Tsuwano’s traditional gardens and architecture.

Meanwhile, the galleries of current artists are found throughout central Tsuwano. Artists may display or sell their work here, and sometimes crafting experiences are offered.

How To Get There

Address

By train

From Matsue or Izumo Station, take the San’in Line Limited Express to Tsuwano Station. This train reaches Tsuwano in two and a half to three hours. Destinations mentioned in this article are accessible from here by bicycle or on foot.

By car

Tsuwano is accessible via local toll roads or the Route 9 highway. Paid parking lots are available for day visitors, and accommodations may offer parking for overnight visitors.

Where To Stay

Tsuwano Onsen Yutorelo Tsuwano
  • 82-3 Ushiroda, Kanoashi-gun Tsuwano-cho, Shimane, 699-5605 Japan
  • ¥7,700 - ¥37,400
  • 4/5 (234 reviews)
  • 0.2 km
Condominium Tsuwano Sou Vacation Rental
  • 84-4 Morimura, Kanoashi-gun Tsuwano-cho, Shimane, 699-5604 Japan
  • ¥20,000 - ¥24,000
  • 0.9 km

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