Kounkaku is a rare example of Western-style architecture in Shimane prefecture. It was built by the prefecture in 1903 for the purpose of entertaining the Emperor of Japan (the Meiji Emperor) should he visit Matsue. The best of local artistry and craftsmanship therefore went into its construction; however, although fully restored in recent years, and while worth a visit if you're in Matsue Jozan Park, it does not exactly achieve architectural heights.
The Kounkaku became a Prefectural Cultural Property in 1969, without the Meiji Emperor ever having deigned to visit. Prince Yoshihito, the future Emperor Taisho, did, however, stay here for three days in 1907.
In 2011, the staircase was moved back to its original position, followed by extensive renovations from 2013 to 2015 that restored the house to its original state.
The first floor of Kounkaku serves as something of a museum, with historical exhibits, including photographs. This is a remnant of the building's function until 2011, when it was known as the Matsue Kyodokan - a role taken over that year by the Matsue History Museum.
Ascend the spacious staircase to the second floor, which is mostly taken up by a grand banquet hall, rentable for functions. The upper balcony makes for pleasant views.
Kounkaku and Moegi House
Kounkaku happens to have been built at the same time, and in similar style to, the more famous Moegi House in the historical Kitano Ijinkan district of Kobe. It is also the same color: moegi, which literally means the color of a freshly sprouted onion, i.e., light yellowish green.
Hours and Admission
April 1 - September 30: 8.30am - 6.30pm (last entry 6.15pm)
October 1 - March 31: 8.30am - 5pm (last entry 4.45pm)
Open 365 days a year.
Kounkaku is in the grounds of Matsue Castle, three minutes walk south from the castle itself. From Matsue Station, take the Lakeline Bus, and alight after about 10 minutes at Ohtemae bus stop.
Matsue-jozan-koen-nai, Tonomachi 1-59, Matsue-shi, Shimane-ken 690-0887
Matsue Shrine (Matsue Jinja) is a Shinto shrine, founded here in 1899, that is immediately north of Kounkaku.
Matsue Castle is just 3 minutes' walk north of Kounkaku.
The Matsue History Museum is just east of Matsue Castle, across the moat.
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