Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle 松江城

History

Matsue Castle in the town of Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, dates from 1611, when it was built by the local feudal lord Horio Yoshiharu.

Perched on a 28-meter high plateau known as Jozan, Matsue Castle is a commanding presence in the center of the city, and is surrounded by high stone walls and a moat. Matsue Castle is one of only a handful of castles in Japan that has not been destroyed by fire or war and is completely original.

For 230 years, until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the castle was home to the Matsudaira clan, a junior branch of the ruling Tokugawa family. The castle underwent reconstruction and repair work in the 1950's. Further restorations were completed on three turrets on the castle walls in 2001.

Matsue Castle, Shimane.
Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture was built by the local feudal lord Horio Yoshiharu

The black-painted wood of the castle's keep gives a menacing effect to the six-story tower. Matsue Castle has the second largest donjon (keep) of all the twelve remaining original Japanese castles, is the third tallest at 30m and the sixth oldest. Inside are displays of arms and armor and the original shachi (mythical dolphins) of the castle's roof. Shachi were believed to protect a castle from fire.

From the top floor of Matsue Castle there are fine views over the city and surrounding area including Lake Shinji (Japan's 7th largest lake).

A pleasure boat trip around the extensive castle moat is very popular with visitors to Matsue. The moat is part of the Jozankoen Park, which was once the grounds of Matsue Castle.

Matsue Castle donjon.
Matsue Castle, Shimane Prefecture
Matsue Castle rooftop, Shimane, Japan.
Matsue Castle, Shimane Prefecture
Matsue Castle walls.
Matsue Castle, Shimane Prefecture
Matsue Castle in Matsue Castle Park.
Matsue Castle, Shimane Prefecture

Hours and Admission

Hours: April 1-September 30 8.30am-6.30pm; October 1-March 31 8.30am-5pm
Admission: 560 yen for adults (50% off for foreign visitors - show your passport)

Access - Getting to Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle is about 1km north west of Matsue Station and there are buses from the station or walk over the bridge crossing the Ohashi River.

Matsue Jozan Koen Administration Office
Matsue-jozan-koen-nai, Tonomachi 1-5, Matsue-shi, Shimane-ken 690-0887
Tel: 0852 21 4030

Nearby

Kounkaku is a big wooden two-story Western-style mansion just three minutes walk south of Matsue Castle, in the same Matsue Jozan Park, and was built in 1903 to entertain the Meiji Emperor, if he ever visited Matsue. He didn't. Free entry.

The Matsue History Museum is just east across the moat from the castle.

The former residence of Lafcadio Hearn and the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum are just north of the castle moat, along with some samurai housing dating from the Edo Period (1603-1867).

Matsue Castle, Matsue, Shimane, Japan.
Matsue Castle with its two shachi guardians clearly visible on the castle roof
Matsue Castle, Shimane Prefecture.
Matsue Castle is a completely intact, original Japanese castle

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