Top choice in Western Honshū

Dating from 1611, picturesque Matsue-jō has a wooden interior showcasing treasures belonging to the Matsudaira clan. Known as 'Plover Castle' for the graceful shape of its gable ornaments, Matsue-jō is one of only 12 original keeps left in Japan, making it well worth having a look inside. There are dioramas of the city and displays of armoury, including a collection of helmets – each helmet design is said to have reflected the personality of its wearer.

English explanations of how the castle proved it was an original are fascinating and detailed, highlighting the original structures. From the top of the castle there are great unobstructed views. It's also pleasant to walk around the castle grounds (free entry) and along the surrounding moat, with its charming bridges and pines reaching out across the water. A very enjoyable way to see the castle area is via a trip on a Horikawa Sightseeing Boat.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Western Honshū attractions

1. Matsue History Museum

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