With its network of canals, it is not surprising that Matsue (松江), the capital of Shimane (島根), has earned the name as the “Beautiful Water City”. Not a very big city, most of the attraction spots can be reached by bus, boat or just walking.
In Matsue city itself, I would recommend doing the following activities:
- Visit Matsue castle
- Take the Horikawa cruise ride
- Enjoy the sunset view at Lake Shinji
Matsue castle (松江城) is located about a 30-minute walk from Matsue station. In my opinion, this walk does not actually feel that long, as there are nice views to enjoy on the way there, particularly the beautiful canals and lakes. Not only that, there are also good signboards here and there, so one would not get lost easily. The castle itself is not so big but the reason I recommend this place is because Matsue castle is one of the few castles that retained its original form, surviving the war, fire and earthquake.
Next on my list, the Horikawa cruise ride. There are three convenient boarding ports and a full round course takes about 50 minutes. Particularly on a nice sunny day, I would really recommend taking this ride while enjoying the view of the castle and the canals from a different perspective (check out the pictures).
Not to forget, by purchasing the ticket for the cruise ride, you are entitled to unlimited boat rides for the day, meaning you can just “Hop on and Off” from any of the boarding areas.
Thirdly, the sunset view of Lake Shinji. I was pretty lucky that it was a sunny day with some nice clouds. One of the recommended viewing areas is the “sunset viewing point” (宍道湖夕日スポット).
When I was there, many people including professional photographers were already there waiting to enjoy the magical moment.
Lastly, here are some tips. For international tourists, there are various discounts when visiting most of the attraction spots. So, remember to show them your passport or even Japan residence card (if you are residing in Japan now). I actually forgot to show them my card when I was visiting Matsue castle. But once they found out that I was a foreigner, the people at the counter actually refunded me my money. Never have I been more impressed with the honesty of the Japanese people (Thumbs up!)