The northern part of Matsue can be divided into two major areas: the shores of Lake Shinji, and the shores of the Sea of Japan. The former is home to two gardens easily accessible via the Ichibata train that runs along Lake Shinji’s north shore toward Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine. The latter area, accessible by bus, offers you a breath-taking sea coast with sandy beaches, islands and mysterious caves to explore.
Matsue Vogel Park – 松江フォーゲルパーク
Located north of Lake Shinji, Matsue Vogel Park is one of only a number of flower and bird gardens in Japan. Thousands of different kinds of begonia and fuchsia bloom all year round in one of the world’s largest greenhouses. A true paradise full of flowers and birds, you can also enjoy feeding many different birds as well as watching owl and other bird shows, or the penguin march.
In addition, there is wonderful view of Lake Shinji from the viewing platform. Wheelchair accessibility has been enhanced throughout the garden facilities, and the entire course is covered so it is perfect for a rainy day.
(30% OFF for international visitors→¥1,080)
|Opening Hours||Apr.-Sept. 9:00 - 17:30 (Entry by 16:45)
Oct.- Mar. 9:00 - 17:00 (Entry by 16:15)
|Access||By train, depart from Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Station (Ichibata Railway), stop at Matsue Vogel Park Station (¥410, 16min)|
Matsue English Garden – 松江イングリッシュガーデン
Located between Vogel Park and Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Station, Matsue English Garden is free of charge and open all year round. The different parts of the garden are all designed in English style, and there is a grass lawn where you can picnic while enjoying the view of Lake Shinji.
Or, for a little finer dining, you could eat at Laut, the onsite restaurant. In addition to the variety of roses and other seasonal flowers, there are also exhibitions and events in the indoor halls and stage throughout the year. This authentic English garden also houses a trendy restaurant (Laut).
|Opening Hours||Apr. - Sept. 9:00 - 17:30
October 9:00 - 17:00
Nov.- Mar. 9:00 - 16:30
|Laut Restaurant||11:00 - 22:00; Tel 0852-36-4100;
closed on the third Tuesday of the month
|Access||By train, depart from Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Station (Ichibata Railway), stop at Matsue English Garden Mae Station (¥220, 5min)|
Sada Shrine – 佐太神社
Designated as an Important National Cultural Asset, Sada Shrine has the rare characteristic of being composed by three Taisha-tsukuri style halls, the same style of architecture as Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine.
Taking its name from Sada-no-okami, protector of the northern Shimane Peninsula, the shrine is dedicated to twelve deities, among which are the most important ones of Shintoism – the couple that created Japan, Izanagi and Izanami, and their children, Amaterasu and Susanoo. Sada Shin Noh, a ritual dance designated as an intangible UNESCO world heritage, is performed annually at this shrine (See below).
|URL||Sada Shrine Website (in Japanese) ›› Click here|
|Access||Located in the district of Kashima (northwest of central Matsue), Sada Shrine can be reached by bus from JR Matsue Station bound for Etomo. Get off at Sada-jinja-mae Stop|
Sada Shin Noh Sacred Dance – 佐陀神能
A unique blend of ceremony and theatre transmitted from generation to generation by Sada Shrine’s local community, Sada Shin Noh was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2011. Literally meaning “Sada Divine Noh,” it was created in the 1608 when Sada’s priests pioneered a shift away from ritual songs toward a theatrical style borrowing from Noh, which they studied in Kyoto. Sada Shin Noh is thought to have given its contemporary structure and content to Izumo Kagura, which even today thrives in Shimane culture.
Sada Shin Noh comprises a series of ritual dances performed annually on the 24th and 25th of September as part of the Gozakae Ritual, literally, “the changing of the rush mats”. The first day are seven dances undertaken to purify the new rush mats upon which the tutelary deities of the shrine sit (Shichiza Ritual). The second day – where the more theatrical pieces are featured – starts with three inaugural dances borrowed directly from Noh theatre (Shiki Sanban) and ends with additional dances from a repertoire of seventeen Shinto-mythology-based dances (Shin Noh).
|URL||More information about Sada Shin Noh on http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/sada-shin-noh-sacred-dancing-at-sada-shrine-shimane-00412|
Kashima District – 鹿島町
Home to the impressive Sada Shrine, Kashima is a tranquil place where you can enjoy nature and relaxation, and the Sada River that runs between rice fields and mountains. This 12-kilometre-long river was artificially built in 1787 in order to connect Lake Shinji and the Sea of Japan, at Etomo Harbour. Next to it is the beautiful beach of Koura (see below).
The Kashima History and Folklore Museum is located next to Sada Shrine, and exhibits artefacts from local ruins and excavation sites in Kashima, including Jomon and Yoyoi period items, and items of Korean origin. Further away is Kashima Taku-no-Yu Onsen, a chloride onsen with a peaceful atmosphere and a view of the mountains. The water here is known for both its beautifying and healing properties. This is a day-trip facility, and you can purchase fresh and locally produced food.
|Kashima History and Folklore Museum – 鹿島歴史民俗資料館|
|Admission fee||¥320 for adults, ¥210 for university and high school students, ¥110 for middle and elementary school students (kids are free every Saturday and on Children’s Day.)|
|Opening Hours||9:00 - 17:00 (Last entrance at 16:30).
Closed on Mondays or the following day in case of national holiday.
|Access||Located next to Sada Shrine|
|Kashima Taku-no-Yu Onsen – 鹿島多久の湯|
|Admission fee||One person ¥410, Towel ¥200, Family Bath ¥1,850/h|
|Opening Hours||10:00 - 22:00 (Last access to bath at 20:30).
Closed on Thursdays
|Access||Kashima Taku-no-yu Onsen is located 9km north of central Matsue or 3km and 5km east of Sada Shrine and Koura Beach (Etomo Port) respectively. From JR Matsue Station, take an Ichibata Bus bound for Mitsu (Platform 6, line 52), get off at JA Kunibiki Kashima Shiten bus stop. You can also take an Kashima Community Bus (Japanese) from Koura Beach.|
Sea of Japan and beaches – 日本海海水浴場
Located at the foot of Mt. Asahi, Koura Beach has a mountain backdrop, with views of beautiful blue sea, and white sand. Facing west, this beach is also famous for its sunset scenery. Many people from around the country visit for swimming and kayaking, and in summer the beach also comes alive with volleyball competitions and fireworks. It is one of many beaches and coastlines included in the Daisen-Oki National Park.
Please have a look at this map (Japanese) to find many places where you can enjoy the sunset by the Sea of Japan.
|Koura Beach – 古浦海水浴場|
|Swimming season||Early July～End of August|
(Matsue City Hall Kashima Branch Area Promotion Division)
|Access||Koura Beach is located about 12km central Matsue. From JR Matsue Station, there is an Ichibata Bus bound for Koura (platform 6, line 53) a few times a day. Total of 35min, ¥660. Also, you can access Koura with buses bound for Etomo and Kataku (line 51/52), which leave more frequently. Get off at Etomo-renrakusho bus stop and then walk 10min south toward the beach. Detailed bus line and schedule on Ichibata Bus - Etomo line (Japanese).|
Katsura-jima Island – 桂島
Katsura-jima Island is a small island located near Kaka Harbour (Shimane District). It is home to a little beach with useful recreational and camping facilities and a beautiful boardwalk that goes around the island at sea level. The island is connected with another one by a 324-metre-long breakwater that was built in 1790 in order to protect Kaka Harbour from the waves. In addition to swimming, you can enjoy nature by camping and fishing for squid and red sea bream.
|Katsura-jima Island Camping – 桂島キャンプ場|
|Tel||0852-85-2902 (Kashima Visitor Centre)|
|Access||Katsurajima-Island is located about 15km north of central Matsue. By bus, you can take an Ichibata Bus from JR Matsue Station bound for Marine Gate Shimane (platform 6, line 19). Total of 40min, ¥670. From there, you can walk 1500 metres along the sea to Katsura-jima Island. Or, you can take a Shimane Community Bus (Japanese) from there to Marine Plaza Shimane (3min, ¥200).|
Marine Cave of Kaka-no-Kukedo – 加賀の潜戸
Kaka Harbour is home to a mysterious pair of marine caves called Kaka-no-Kukedo. According to a legend mentioned in Izumo-no-kuni Fudoki (733), this is the birthplace of Sada-no-Okami, the guardian deity of the Shimane peninsula and one of the primary gods enshrined at Sada Shrine. After his mother gave birth to him in the cave, she shot a golden arrow through the rock, and light came shining through, and this is how the cave got its name. In the other cave there is a collection of statues dedicated to deceased children, which Lafcadio Hearn visited and wrote about in his essay, In the Cave of the Children’s Ghosts. The cave is accessible by a sightseeing boat that leaves from Marine Plaza Shimane.
|Kaka-no-Kukedo Sightseeing Boat – 加賀潜戸遊覧船|
|Operating times||March – November, 8:30 - 16:15|
|Tour operation||9:20 - 16:20|
|Departure times||(1) 9:20 (2) 10:20 (3) 11:20 (4) 12:20
(5) 13:20 (6) 14:20 (7) 15:20 (8) 16:20
Tours can be cancelled for inclement weather without warning, so please call ahead that day. The tour visits both caves and takes about 50 minutes.
|Sunrise Cruising||From mid-June to early July, roughly 60 minutes|
|Sunset Cruising||From the end of September to early October|
|Admission Fee||Middle school and older: ¥1,500; children: ¥700|
|Marine Plaza Shimane Restaurant Nagisa||11:00 - 15:00;
closed on Tuesdays
|Access||See Katsura-jima Island|
Access and useful links – アクセス・リンク
The different areas are best accessed by Ichibata Railway, bus, or by car. Please see each location for details.