Matsue Tourist Attractions
Matsue, chief town of the prefecture of Shimane and the largest city in the historical region of San-in, lies near the northwest coast of Honshu on the River Ohashi, which links Lake Shinji to the west with the Nako-no-umi Lagoon to the east.
The town became known through the work of the English writer Lafcadio Hearn, who lived here at the end of the 19th C and who helped by his writing to make Japan and Japanese culture better known to the Western World.To the north of the town, on the Shimane Peninsula, is a hilly coastal region which forms part of the Daisen-Oki National Park. Also included in the National Park are the Oki Islands lying between 25 and 50mi off the coast, the volcanic region around Mount Daisen to the southeast and the Izumo Peninsula to the southwest, with the Izumo-Taisha Shrine.HistoryThe fief of Matsue was granted to Horido Yoshiharu by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1600 for his services in the Battle of Sekigahara, and Horio completed the building of the castle in 1611, shortly before his death. Under later rulers of the Kyogoku dynasty and of the Matsudaira, who ruled the town for 234 years, Matsue enjoyed a period of some prosperity.Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) came to Matsue in May 1890 and taught for seven months in the secondary school. Having married a Japanese wife and been adopted by his parents-in-law, who gave him the name of Koizumi Yakumo, he was accepted by Japanese society. His "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" gives an account of his impressions.
Matsue Castle was built in 1607-11. The three-story main tower (rebuilt 1642) contains a collection of old arms and armor, and material on the history of the town. From the top floor there are fine views of the town, the hills to the north and Lake Shinji to the west.
Gesshoji Temple was built by Matsudaira Naomasa (1601-66), grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, with the tombs of the Matsudaira dynasty (1st to 9th generations).The graves are marked with intricately carved gates, each gate represents a different period in the progression of Edo era architectural craftsmanship.
Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence and Memorial Museum
On display here are objects belonging or related to Lafcadio Hearn, one of the earliest and most prolific writers to reveal unfamiliar Japan to the west. Of note is the specially designed desk that was built tall to bring his work nearer to his one good eye. Other items on display include his favorite quill and inkpot, as well as several favorites from his large Japanese pipe collection.
Adachi Museum of Art
Adachi Museum of Art is noted for both its Japanese gardens and its collection of contemporary Japanese paintings. There are six gardens including moss, pond, dry landscape and juryu-an.The collection of 1,300 paintings centers on work created after the Meiji period and works of Yokoyama Taikan.
Buke Yashiki is a samurai residence that has been preserved in its original state. This dwelling, belonging to the Shiomi family, is less opulent than others throughout Japan. Displays include items from a Samurai's daily life.
Kamosu Shrine is the oldest Taisha-zukuri, or Grand shrine-style, structure remaining in Japan. Dedicated to Izanami, mother of the Japanese Archipelago, the main elevated structure is a designated National Treasure.
Shimane Art Museum
The Shimane Art Museum houses archeological materials, paintings, calligraphy, and works of art. Most works feature Japanese artists but there are a few pieces by Monet, Courbet, and Rodin.
South of Matsue lies the village of Fudoki-no-oka, which has much of interest to the archeologically inclined. Here can be seen the traditional parceling-out of land on a rectangular grid, old burial mounds (futago-zuka), reconstructions of houses of the Kofun period (3rd-7th C) and the remains of a provincial temple (koku-bunji; 741). There is a museum (Shiryo-kan) in the center of the village.