In 2005, 7 local villages and towns surrounding Matsue amalgamated into the city, bringing vast ocean views, sandy beaches, famous hot springs, mountains, forests, festivals, traditions and age-old customs into the cities jurisdiction. Sightseeing in present day Matsue does not only have to consist of the castle/lake area anymore!
It is definitely worth a day trip or longer out to these places, which are less than an hour outside the city centre by bus or train. You won’t find much English in these places, but their beauty will more than make up for your struggles to get there, find somewhere to eat and get back before the last bus!
Info about these places will gradually be added…so keep checking back.
Mihonoseki stretches along the north east coast of the city and is a town of sandy beaches and stunning coastal scenery. The town is centered around a small harbour where local people sell dried squid and other funny looking things from the sea. This is where all the guest houses/ryokan are too. (Don’t expect any English).
What to see: Miho Shrine – A shrine at the harbour dedicated to the God of fishermen, sailors and good business. There are 3,385 such shrines in Japan and this is the head of them all.
Blue-stone Paved Street – A few rows back from the harbour is a narrow street where time has stood still for what looks like the best part of 100 years. It gets its name from the stone paving which turns blue when it rains. (Try to go on a rainy day!)
Mihonoseki Lighthouse – This is on the top of a hill overlooking the ocean. From the harbour it is around a 20 min walk along the coastal road (buses don’t go up here so unless you have a car or can hitch a lift…) signposted in English. Well worth the hike because the views are stunning. On a clear day you can see over to the Oki Islands some 50 or so miles away.
The lighthouse itself is quite small, but was built in 1898 and is listed as one of the world’s 100 historical lighthouses.
Seki 5- Pine Tree Park
On a hill overlooking the sea is a park which got it’s name from the 5 pine trees that stood on it and served as a landmark for sailors out at sea. A famous local folksong tells the story about these trees – the lord of Matsue was passing through Mihonoseki one day and complained they were blocking his view, so had one chopped down.
Getting There : Take Ichibata Bus No. 11 bound for Mihonoseki Terminal from bus stop No. 2 at Matsue Station. Get off at the last stop. It takes around 43 mins and costs 730 yen one way. They don’t run so often or very late so don’t leave it too late or you won’t be able to get back!
Yakumo is a small town to the south of Matsue. It used to be a village before it amalgamated, but still retains its village atmosphere with its one post office, one bank, one supermarket…and has the most beautiful mountain scenery that makes it hard to believe you are only a short bus ride from the centre of the city. The town has gained worldwide fame for the Yakumo International Theatre Festival which it holds every three years and invites theatre groups from around the world to perform.
The things to see in the town are quite spread out so it is not that easy to wander round on public transport.
Here are some of the sights…
Kumano Taisha Shrine
The oldest shrine in the region, Kumano enshrines the God who famously slayed the dragon ‘Yamato no Orochi’ in Japanese mythology.
How to get there – Take the 21 or 22 Ichibata bus from Matsue Station (bus stop no.4) bound for Yakumo to the last stop (23 mins)and change to the local Yakumo bus (looks like a mini-bus) to Kumano Taisha stop. (Around 16 mins).