A short trip to Shimane prefecture: Matsue Castle
Shimane might sound strange to some people but surely not let you down once you come to this place.
In recent years, thanks to economic development, Japan has become an affordable destination for Vietnamese visitors. Not just coming to famous tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, Okinawa, etc, many people have come back and chosen new destinations to experience more colours of this land of cherry blossoms.
In this series, I will share with you about Shimane, which might sound strange to some people, but surely will not let you down once you come to this place.
Shimane (島根県) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu island. This is the second-least populous prefecture of Japan, ranking only after Tottori prefecture, which it borders to the east. Besides, Shimane also borders Yamaguchi prefecture to the southwest and Hiroshima prefecture to the south.
The capital of Shimane is Matsue city, where Matsue Castle is located, and this is also the first destination in my two-day trip to Shimane.
From the hotel, I walked to Dentetsu Izumo Station and caught the train to Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Station. The train took us on a track with Japanese houses with gardens scattering on one side and Lake Shinji sparkling with the golden light of the spring sun on the other side. From the train station, we continued to walk for more than 15 minutes.
Japan is famous for castles which are located in many places, but only 12 remain original, 5 of which are considered National Treasures. And Matsue Castle is one of them.
Matsue Castle (松江城) is also called the "Black Crow Castle" because of its strong architecture which looks like a bird with its wings spreading wide. This castle was built in 1611 and completed 5 years later by the feudal lord Horio Yoshiharu.
This castle was torn down because of the Ordinance for Disposal of Castles in 1873. However, thanks to the local people's wholehearted contribution, it was rebuilt with the original design. The castle is a splendid fortress with 5 levels made entirely of wood and placed on a solid stone foundation.
The entry fee is 300 yen per person. You are given a plastic bag to put your shoes in and carry with you while visiting. Historical objects such as swords, hats, samurai armour, and paintings depicting the construction and protection of the castle are on display inside the castle tower.
The top floor is an observatory where we can enjoy a panoramic view of Matsue city and the peaceful Lake Shinji the same way the Samurai did 400 years ago.
Apart from visiting the main tower, many visitors would walk around the castle grounds or choose to take a boat ride along the castle's moat.
Regardless of the form, I highly recommend you spend a little bit more time in this place because the peaceful landscape and nature here will definitely make you more hesitant to leave than you think.
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