Matsue Castle 松江城
Founder Horio Yoshiharu
Year 1611
Type Hilltop
Condition Original
Alternate Name chidori-jo
Structure 5 levels, 6 floors
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, National Treasures
Historical Artifacts National Treasures:

Location Matsue, Shimane Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Matsue Station (San'in line); Lakeline Bus 10 min.
Website Matsue Castle
Visited November 19, 2010
Notes Matsue was a great castle to visit and well exceeded my expectations. They are trying to get it registered as a National Treasure and I agree. The main keep is bigger than I expected and in great condition. It's a marvelous example of the borogata style main keep. The pictures don't do it justice but besides the main keep the grounds are quite extensive with many stone walls and moats. It is unfortunate that there aren't more buildings, but they are gathering information and funds to rebuild the Otemon Gate which would be an awesome addition to this already great site. Just outside the moat on the North side of the castle is the residence of Lafcadio Hearn and an old samurai home that are also worth visiting if you have time. I did not think the boat tour around the outer moat was worth the time. The low roof of the boat makes it hard to see much or take pictures.
History Horio Yoshiharu was awarded the lands around Izumo for his participation in the Battle of Sekigahara. After 3 generations of Horio rule and one of Kyogoku, the castle was passed to one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's grandson's Matsudaira Naomasa. The Matsudaira ruled for 234 years until the castle was dismantled during the Meiji Period. Fortunately, the main main keep you see above was saved.
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  • lidiamq on My Page    June 01, 2016 at 07:37 PM
    The perfect castle not only because of the ascent to it but also because it's very beautiful inside and the surroundings as well. Very impressive
  • DiegoDeManila    July 08, 2015 at 06:30 PM
    Now officially a national treasure!
  • DiegoDeManila    April 12, 2014 at 07:06 PM
    Visited 04 April 2013. Splendid main keep, and the grounds were lively with hanami parties as the sakura were in bloom. I'm surprised it's not an officially designated National Treasure - I certainly think it deserves the title!
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    April 04, 2014 at 11:01 PM
    Fantastic castle , great people who run it. On the I turned up a lady who spoke English was called upon to guide me around.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 26, 2012 at 05:33 PM
    This castle is certainly deserving its 5 stars. Like the webmaster told in his notes the pictures of this castle don't make it justice. I didn't believed my eyes when i saw this very big keep and its interior. The artifacts on show on the 2nd floor are plenty and wonderful. I visited the bukeyashiki after it. You can take a leaflet at the information facility just outside the station whereupon are the facilities you get a percentage off the entrance-fee when you are a foreigner. Most of the time the price is halved, by others you get 30% off the fee.
  • bryanbaier on My Page    February 13, 2012 at 10:13 PM
    This and Matsumoto Castle are tied for first place in my opinion. This was the first original castle I visited so I was really blown away by how amazing this castle is.
  • Frank T. on My Page    October 17, 2011 at 11:12 AM
    Granted, Matsue does not have as many other buildings as some other sites, but it has SO much going for it. Not only is the keep original. Not only are the grounds well kept and beautiful. Not only are there other points of interest--Lafcadio Hearn's house is on the north side of the castle, for example. No, on top of all this, each time I've been here, the place has been nearly empty, quite unlike the other top castle sites. Matsue cares for its castle, and it shows. When I visited they were setting up for festivals or other events on the east side. Presumably things would have been more lively than when I visited, but I wish I could have been there then. Matsue is EASILY my favorite castle site--disregarding Himeji since it's generally recognized as the best, and with apologies to Matsuyama.
  • a22cricket on My Page    May 16, 2011 at 07:00 PM
    One of the few original castles. Boat tours go around the moat offering great views of the castle. Inside the castle itself is a small museum about the area. The city often advertises itself as the Kyoto of the west. That's a bit of a stretch but the castle is great.
  • Raymond    July 31, 2009 at 09:24 PM
    I went to this castle last Saturday. The weather was not the best, but it was and is a magnificent castle to visit. There are not a lot of the original towers and gates left, but the castle keep is an original wooden one, and one of the bigger ones out of the original twelve castles left in Japan. The museum inside is very good with lots of armour, weapons, and period model of the castle on display. There are three reconstructed turrets based on old B&W photos and original designs. Here is a bit of travel advice. If you are non-Japanese, buy your ticket from the ticket window and not the machine at Ichi no Mon Gate. Show the staff your gaijin card or passport, and entry to the castle is half price. It's nice to get something back for all the taxes I pay in this country. This policy applies to some of the other major sightseeing spots in Matsue City, too. To get to Matsue Castle, buy the one day pass for the Matsue Lake Line Bus. It is a tourist mini-bus painted in red with wooden paneling inside. You can't miss it. There is a bus stop for it outside Matsue JR Station. The one day pass cost 500yen and departure is every 20 minutes or so.
  • Lynden C    January 15, 2009 at 06:23 PM
    When I lived in Izumo since there was very little to do there I'd often come to Matsue to do my shopping or go to parties. Matsue-jp is well worth a visit. They have a good selection of Kabuto and Nihonga. Also Matsue-jo contains all it's original timbers and foundations so walking around is a real treat. Just be warned if you go in winter it's absolutely freezing inside. While at Matsue-jo I recommend slipping around the back and visiting the home of Kwaidan author Lefcardio Hern. (Yakumo Koizumi)
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Matsue, Shimane Pref.
Matsue Castle views
main keep main keep 
main keep 2 yagura reflected in the moat
Yagura and moat 2 yagura and stone walls
stone walls and bailey Inside the Taiko Yagura
Inside the Upper Ninomaru Minami Yagura and Ichinomon Gate
inside the main keep Main keep, fourth floor.
top floor of the main keep View form the main keep
Inui Yagura foundation stone walls of the Mizunote Gate.
Kitasomon Bridge boat landing
Inari Bridge Chidori Bridge
Nagaymon gate of a samurai home samurai home