One Day in Matsue, Japan

Often referred to as Little Kyoto, Matsue, Japan, is a wonder of modern attractions and ancient Japanese history. The capital city of Shimane Prefecture also happens to sit along Lake Shinji, offering scenic views, city tours and picturesque rides. If you’re passing through on a family trip or looking for a few days in a city-meets-quaint-town destination to entertain the kids, make a pit stop in Matsue.

Whatever your reason, there are some must-see locales that could easily fill a family-fun day of your trip.

Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle © Angelique Platas

Matsue Castle

First and foremost, head to Matsue Castle, or Black Castle as it’s also known. Once the protective fort of an ancient feudal lord, Matsue Castle offers equal parts ancient history, beautiful garden strolls, a few steep steps for active travelers and incredible views of the city for everyone else.

Yaegaki Shrine

Get your fill of history while in Matsue with an obligatory visit to a Shinto shrine, specifically, Yaegaki Shrine. Once known as the Sakusa Shrine, guests can walk around the property, get a peek inside and visit surrounding smaller shrines with their own meaning and significance. Feel free to stroll around the town with the kids, finding local shops and cafés to pop into between cultural visits.

Lake Shinji

Almost anywhere you go will offer stunning views of Lake Shinji, but few beat vistas from the Shimane Art Museum. Bring the kids in for a visit and check out the exhibits before heading outside for some fresh air and lake-side views. You can even skip the visit altogether if the kids are less interested in art and more on free time on a grassy yard. Time your visit for sunset and head out on the lawn for some great photos.

Lake Shinji from Shimane Art Museum © Angelique Platas

Adachi Museum of Art

If you have a little extra time between all the sightseeing, shopping and dining around town, Adachi Museum of Art is just outside Matsue proper, but definitely worth a trip. The museum boasts art inside and out with impeccably maintained gardens encasing the property. Even the mountains in the near distance belong to the museum and act as a living backdrop to the natural art of the garden. Visitors can only look, not touch the gardens, as they are treated as paintings themselves, with window panes acting as frames. Enjoy a sweet or two from the art museum gift shop and surrounding bakeries and stores while loading up on souvenirs to take home.

Matsue, Japan

Matsue, Japan © Angelique Platas