If you are interested in Japanese history or castles, you may already know that there are many many castles around the country, however, among them only 12 are remaining original castles and only 5 are designated as National Treasure. And Matsue Castle is one them.
The castle was built in 1611 by the founder of the Matsue domain Yoshiharu Horio, who was previously a lord of Toda Castle. Toda Castle was surrounded by mountains and known as one of the toughest castle in the time of war, he entered the castle thanking to his achievements in the battle of Sekigahara (1600).
However, he thought the castle was not good enough to built his castle town to be prosper, then decided to built one in the current place; Matsue.
After five years of construction, Matsue Castle was completed as a fortress with black thick walls on strong stone walls. Built mainly for the real battle, the castle looks rather strong than gorgeous. However it was in the end of times of war when it was constructed so it survived without being burned down.
However, the flow of change came along with the crisis ; the Ordinance for Disposal of Castles, which was promulgated in 1873 and most of the castles over the country was tore down. Matsue Castle was no exception and all the constructions except the castle tower were broken down. When the castle tower itself was about to go through the same destiny, people in the city tried so hard to save it and they succeeded at last. Thanks for their hard working, we now can see the castle as the same as it was 400 years ago.
From the top floor of the castle tower, you can experience the same extensive view of the city as samurais saw 400 years ago. What is more, historical materials, such as armors, swords, and helmets which used to belong to samurais in the time of war are displayed inside the castle tower.
Visitors can also enjoy peaceful walk through the woods within the castle grounds,called Matsue Jozan Park. A lot of people come and enjoy the calm atmosphere and the nature. In spring, cherry trees, camellias, azaleas, and Japanese apricot trees color the ground. The grounds are known as one of the best 100 cherry blossoms viewing spots, it is recommended to visit here during the end of March to the beginning of April to enjoy cherry blossoms. Autumn colored leaves are also beautiful in the late November.
When you visit the Matsue Castle, please take a walk for a little further and enjoy the atmosphere of the castle town.
It is also recommended to get a sightseeing boat which goes along the castle moat, or take a walk along the Shiomi-nawate Street and see historical buildings such as former samurai residences, traditional Japanese style tea ceremony rooms, and the Lafcadio Hearn’s former residence.
Matsue Castle stands in the center of many of the prefecture’s tourist attractions, and is only a 10-minute bus ride from Matsue station. Tourist highlights, such as the Lafcadio residences, Samurai houses, and Matsue History museum are all within walking distance from the castle.Though centuries have gone by, the castle has been well maintained and preserved, allowing it to continue to project its beauty, drawing in tourist from all over. The castle is surrounded by forests, shrines, and temples. If you find yourself a little lost, the signs are very easy to read and understand. But not to worry, discovering various places along the way is an adventure in itself. When roaming around the residence, you might be surprised and lucky enough to spot a Samurai or ninja. When entering the castle, all visitors must take off their shoes. Though it may be a little inconvenient. It helps to preserve the wood of the castle. Each floor exhibits spectacular artifacts: materials used to build the castle, and various warrior uniforms. Walking around each floor, visitors will find English audio support explaining different items on display. The top floor has an impressive panoramic view of the entire city. Here, visitors may admire the view of the gardens and other various sights.