Situated on the shore of Lake Shinji, Japan's 8th largest lake, and with the large Matsue Castle moat (horikawa) connecting to the Ohashi, Kensaki, Kyohashi, Yonago, and Kitada Rivers, Matsue, the Prefectural capital of Shimane, is known as the "City of Water."
While comparisons to Venice are a little far-fetched, the waterways of the city are very pleasant and contribute to the ambiance of the city.
One of the best ways to view Matsue is by boat, and there are 3 points around the town where one can board the Horikawa Boat Tour; in front of the main entrance to Matsue Castle, at Ohashi Bridge south-east of the castle, and Horikawa Fureai Square, north-west of the castle. The round trip takes 40 minutes, though one can get off at any point and reboard later.
The trip circles the castle and passes other tourist sites such as the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum, Matsue Buke Yashiki and Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence. The long, narrow boats are covered against inclement weather, and in the cold months there are kotatsu to keep you warm.
The boats pass under 16 bridges, though be warned some of them are very low and so the roof of the boat is lowered, forcing the passengers to lie down!
The boats depart every 15 minutes, though in the off-season you may get a boat all to yourself.
The cost is 1,200 yen for adults, 600 yen for kids, though as with most tourist sites in Matsue there is a 50% discount for foreign visitors.
January - June, 9-5
July - August, 9-6
September - October, 9-5
November - February, 9-4.
Tel: (0852) 27 0417
© Jake Davies & Japan Visitor.com
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Friday, January 02, 2009