matohu matohu




Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture is a place where you can feel the history that has been passed down since the times of mythology. Highlights include Mingei folk arts, tea culture and the castle town. We’re taking a stroll around this fascinating city while pretending to be a modern-day Yakumo Koizumi (Lafcadio Hearn).

Palm of the Hand Traveler’s Journal—Matsue Palm of the Hand Traveler’s Journal—Matsue
Lake Shinji Lake Shinji

1. Lake Shinji

This large, brackish lake is 6 km across north to south, and 17 km across east to west. The lake used to be part of the sea in ancient times, but sediment deposits cut it off from the sea and it became part of the Shimane Peninsula during the Jomon Period (c. 10,500–300 BCE). The lake is home to abundant fish and shellfish such as shijimi (a type of small freshwater clam). To the east rises the lofty peak of Mt. Daisen, also called “Izumo Fuji,” while the majestic sun sets across the lake to the west. The Jomon people, the people of ancient Izumo and Yakumo Koizumi must have all also gazed at this same scenery.

Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and Lafcadio Hearn’s former residence Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and Lafcadio Hearn’s former residence

2. Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and Lafcadio Hearn’s former residence

North of Matsue Castle lies Shiomi Nawate Street, where former samurai residences still stand. Yakumo’s former pupils raised funds to establish the museum, which exhibits items he owned and introduces his life. One of his treasured possessions was an ashtray in the shape of a lotus flower with a frog sitting on it, which he used to hold pen nibs. You can feel the spirit of Yakumo at his former residence next door, which has been preserved in the same state as when he lived there.

Sodeshi-gama kiln and pottery studio Sodeshi-gama kiln and pottery studio

3. Sodeshi-gama kiln and pottery studio

This kiln and pottery studio have been operating since 1877. Sodeshi-gama joined the Mingei (folk art) Movement at the beginning of the Showa Period (1926–1989), and both Bernard Leach and Kanjiro Kawai came here to provide instruction. Many beautiful pieces of pottery are produced here using a kick wheel. Fifth-generation master potter Tomohiko Ono made adorable ceramic buttons for us after experimenting with several test pieces.

Izumo Mingeishi paper Izumo Mingeishi paper

4. Izumo Mingeishi paper

This paper is created in a mountain village with a pure mountain stream running through it. The Gampi paper made by master papermaker Eishiro Abe was praised by Muneyoshi Yanagi, the founder of the Mingei (folk art) Movement, who said, “This is the very best of Japanese papermaking.” Made with only natural materials, you could not help wanting to stroke a letter you received written on this beautiful washi paper.

artos Book Store artos Book Store

5. artos Book Store

This is a wonderful bookstore in Matsue. Its collection of books focuses on the theme of food, clothing and shelter, and the compelling selection will make you want to pick up all of them! The bookstore also holds exhibits and pop-up shops where you can buy things from brands and authors related to the books. It’s fun to find things that make everyday life more fulfilling.

objects objects

6. objects

If you love dishware, you have to stop by this shop on a trip to Matsue. It carries a selection of dishes made by potters in different regions of Japan, with a focus on Mingei folk art. The shop also has an assortment of gorgeous antique pieces that antique lovers would not want to miss. This is the shop where we found the tsutsugaki (resist dying) fabric with a peony pattern that we showed in our last video.

Grave of Lord Fumai and Gessho-ji Temple Grave of Lord Fumai and Gessho-ji Temple

7. Grave of Lord Fumai and Gessho-ji Temple

Gessho-ji Temple, the “Temple of Moonlight,” is the family temple of the Matsudaira clan. The grave of Lord Fumai, famous in the world of tea, is also located here. Yakumo Koizumi is also said to have taken frequent walks here and was fond of the temple’s large stone sculpture of a turtle. Legend has it that the turtle gets up and walks around in the middle of the night. You can also sip matcha tea while admiring the temple’s beautiful garden, making this the perfect spot to take a leisurely break.