Matsue Castle




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.

Visit 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.

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  • 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
  • map
  • Home and part of the garden
  • Nagayamon gatehouse

Castle Profile
English Name Matsue Castle
Japanese Name 松江城
Alternate Names chidori-jo
Founder Horio Yoshiharu
Year Founded 1611
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Original main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, has National Treasures, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 5 levels, 6 floors
Artifacts tenshu
Features main keep, gates, turrets, samurai homes, water moats, stone walls, walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access Matsue Station (San'in line); Lakeline Bus 10 min.
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website castle/
Location Matsue, Shimane Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 28' 30.79" N, 133° 2' 59.46" E
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Added to Jcastle 2004
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2010
Admin Visits November 19, 2010
Friends of JCastle
Malcolm Fairman Photography - Matsue Castle
Nearby Samurai Homes
(36 votes)
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Matthew WardGunshi

5 months ago
Score 1++
I find that the several restored turrets and the restored gate at Matsue Castle are really well-done, and do a good job of making it seem like more of a complete castle, as opposed to a majestic tower with an attached turret. I'm really hoping that they can get the Ote Gate rebuilt as planned, because that would enhance it even more.


76 months ago
Score 2++

Matsuejō is most famous for its stunning tenshukaku (main keep) dating to 1611. The donjon is a bōrōgata fukugōshiki tenshukaku. Bōrōgata means "watch tower form" wherein the castle tower is built like a large residence with skirting roof and gable with a tower segment protruding from the gabled roof. Matsuejō's tenshukaku is a compound tower (fukugō) because it has an annex by where one enters the tower. This tower is designated a national treasure.

Matsuejō is surrounded by a lengthy moat fed by nearby rivers. It was my first time taking a boat tour around a castle moat, although I've been to a few other large castles with boat rides available. The boat's ceiling would collapse to pass under the bridges over the moat, requiring passengers to duck down: it was all rather exciting.

Anonymous user #1

99 months ago
Score 0++
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


125 months ago
Score 0++

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 i2003Gunshi

125 months ago
Score 0++
Fantastic castle , great people who run it. On the I turned up a lady who spoke English was called upon to guide me around.


148 months ago
Score 0++
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.


151 months ago
Score 0++
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.Gunshi

155 months ago
Score 0++
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.


160 months ago
Score 0++
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.


182 months ago
Score 0++
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.