Matsue History Museum & Horanenya Museum

Matsue History Museum & Matsue Horanenya Museum 松江歴史館

The Matsue History Museum is a welcome addition to the tourist sites in the area around Matsue Castle in Matsue city in Shimane Prefecture. Located across the wide moat to the east of the castle the museum opened a couple of years ago in a modern building that appears to be in Edo Period style.

Matsue History Museum, Matsue, Shimane, Japan.
Matsue History Museum, Shimane Prefecture

Inside is spacious and light, and the displays focus on the 400 year history of this castle town. There are a few large scale models of the town at different points in its growth and development as well as many maps and some artifacts, but in truth the scale of the museum makes it seem quite thin.

As well as the permanent collection there are changing exhibitions which may or may not have an entrance fee. One unusual exhibit is a full size reconstruction of a tearoom. Matsue having a reputation for tea thanks to Harusato Matsudaira, a daimyo of the domain who became a master of the way of tea and created his own style, which has spread to the local population to the extent that drinking matcha, the whisked green tea, and making wagashi, confectionery eaten with tea, has become one of the  hallmarks of the city.

Matsue History Museum, Matsue, Shimane, Japan.
Reconstructed tearoom, Matsue History Museum, Shimane Prefecture
Matsue History Museum, Matsue, Shimane, Japan.
Cafe, Matsue History Museum, Shimane Prefecture

The museum cafe which enjoys views out over a traditional garden with the castle behind is a great place to experience both matcha and wagashi. All the exhibits are labeled in Japanese, but a free audio guide in English can be borrowed from the ticket desk.

The Matsue History Museum features a gift shop selling souvenirs of local products. Free wifi is available throughout the museum. Recently opened inside the museum is a new International Tourist Information Desk offering many services including hotel booking in English and Chinese.

Entry to the museum also includes entry to the neighboring Horanenya Museum.

Open 8.30am to 6.30pm (April to September), 8.30am to 5pm (Oct to March). Closed on the 3rd Thursday of the month.
Adults 500 yen, children 250 yen. Like most sites in Matsue there is a 50% discount for foreigners.

Access is best by the Lakeline Bus which runs from Matsue Station and all major tourist sites in the city.

Matsue History Museum
279 Tonomachi, Matsue,
Shimane 690-0887
Tel: 0852 32 1607

Matsue History Museum, Matsue, Shimane, Japan.
Matsue History Museum, Shimane Prefecture
Horanenya Museum, Matsue, Shimane, Japan.
Matsue Horanenya, Shimane Prefecture

Matsue Horanenya Museum ホーランエンヤ伝承館

Horanenya are shinto festivals based on boats. Rather than parade the kami in their mikoshi around the local streets, they are carried in procession by a series of brightly decorated boats filled with dancers and musicians.

Horanenya of various sizes take place all over Japan, but the one in Matsue is classed as one of the three greatest. Unfortunately it only takes place every ten years and the next one is not until May 2019, but recently a museum opened displaying photos, artifacts, and videos of the event.

The proper name of the festival is the Shikinen Shinosai of Jozan Inari Shrine, the shrine within the castle grounds. The portable shrines carrying the kami, the mikoshi, are taken down to boats waiting in the moat and then the procession of boats heads for Adakaya Shrine near the shore of Lake Nakaumi.

The biggest of the boats carry the singers and drummers and each boat has a boy dressed in kabuki costume and with kabuki-style makeup. One at the bow and one at the stern these boys perform set dance movements.

On display in the Matsue Horanenya Museum are several mannequins dressed like these boys and explanations are given for the meaning of the set movements. Videos of the last Horanenya in 2009 are constantly being shown, and there are old black & white photos from much older festivals. In the garden is one of the small boats used. Whereas the History Museum is spacious, the Horanenya museum feels chock a block with color and sound.

Horanenya Museum, Matsue, Shimane, Japan.
Matsue Horanenya, Shimane Prefecture

Entry is free with History Museum entrance.

Open 8.30am to 6.30pm (April to September), 8.30am to 5pm (Oct to March). Closed on the 3rd Thursday of the month,
Adults 500 yen, children 250 yen. Like most sites in Matsue there is a 50% discount for foreigners.

Access is best by the Lakeline Bus which runs from the station and all major tourist sites in the city.

Horanenya Denshokan
250 Tonomachi, Matsue
Shimane 690-0887
Tel: 0852 55 5218

Text + images: Jake Davies


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