Vehicles in Shimane
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Top 6 of Japan's Most Impressive Original Castles
- Japan boasts its fair share of spectacular castles, enough to give any European nation a run for its money. But did you know there are only 12 ‘original’ castles still standing in Japan? An ‘original castle’ is one that’s survived intact since feudal age in 1867. Managing to withstand the ravages of war and unrelenting weather, Japan’s original castles are displays of the nation’s great architects and rich royal legacy. The Black Castle of Matsue The Black Castle of Matsue In the north of Shimane’s prefectural capital sits Matsue Castle, known colloquially as the black castle thanks to its striking black wooden panels which wrap around the bottom half of the building. Six-stories tall and with a history that dates back over 400 years, it’s one of Japan’s historical gems. The castle came to be at the turn of the 17th century when powerful daimyo lord Horio Yoshiharu relocated from Shizuoka Prefecture to Shimane. Under Yoshiharu’s good name, grandson Tadaharu built the castle and laid out the foundations for what later became the surrounding Matsue City. The castle design took inspiration from the outline of a watchtower, and from the top of the building today you can still admire incredible panoramic views of the city. An excellent place to visit for a half day adventure the castle grounds are also home to a small Shinto shrine and the western style Kounkaku mansion which houses a folklore museum and tea house. Kochi Castle Kochi Castle First constructed between 1601 - 1611, Kochi Castle is one of Kochi Prefecture’s major attractions. It was rebuilt in the 18th century following a devastating fire but remains one of the country’s last 12 original castles. It was initially home to the Yamauchi lords, rulers of the region, which at the time was known as Tosa. What makes this building so unique is that its donjon (main tower) was a multipurpose space used for military purposes and as a residence for the lords. The interior of the caste remains relatively untouched since the Edo Period, and if you scale the castle to the top floor lookout point, you’ll be gifted with spectacular views of the surrounding Kochi area, making it worth a visit for both history buffs and general tourists alike. Matsumoto Castle Matsumoto Castle One of the nation’s most photogenic landmarks, you’ll find Matsumoto Castle right in the heart of Nagano Prefecture. The castle was the seat of government for Matsumoto Domain during the Edo Period and was built in the 16th century. Today it’s a major tourist attraction thanks in large park to its stunning surroundings. In spring pink cherry blossoms frame the picturesque castle as do firey red and orange leaves in autumn. Given that the castle town of Matsumoto which surrounds it is relatively humble in size, this is the perfect jumping off point for exploring the wider area. Hikone Castle Hikone Castle Standing proud in Shiga Prefecture, Hikone Castle is one of only four castles in Japan that boasts its original keep. Built in 1622 by the Ii Clan, it’s withstood the times of political transition, wild weather and the everyday wear and tear of almost 400 years of existence to remain one of the nation's most beautiful castles. The castle grounds are also home to many attention-worthy landmarks including Genkyu En Garden, a tea ceremony garden once used by lords entertain guests, Rakurakuen Palace, the home of the Ii family and cherry blossoms trees that during spring bring an other-worldly atmosphere to the place. Inuyama Castle Inuyama Castle Sitting atop a small hill next to Kiso River, in Aichi Prefecture, Inuyama Castle was the creation of Oda Nobuyasu, Oda Nobunaga’s uncle who built the castle 1537 during the Muromachi period. Size-wise the castle may be humble, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in craftsmanship. A majority of the main keep's was built almost entirely with wood and rocks, perhaps one of the reasons it’s truly stood the test of time. Inside you can scale the stairs to reach the castle’s peak, which offers excellent views of the surrounding castle grounds and nearby Kiso River. Himeji Castle Himeji Castle A list on Japanese castles wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Himeji Castle, one of the nation’s iconic and beautiful landmarks. Located in Hyogo Prefecture, this elegant, piece of historic architecture is not only striking in its bold, white beauty, massive size and stunning surrounds, but it’s an unparalleled feat of design ingenuity. Unlike many other castles of its age, Himeji was never succumbed to war, earthquake or fire and remains as breathtaking as ever. It dates back all the way to 1333 and is easily the most visited castle in the country. It’s impressive any time of year, but especially so in spring when the surrounding cherry blossom trees engulf the base of the castle in soft pink flowers. ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
- 10. January. 2019
Top Trains in Japan
- Need a break from the city? Instead of taking an overnight highway bus or the crowded bullet train, check out the resort trains, which run on all rail lines, both urban and rural. These luxury train rides are slower than the bullet train but offer unparalleled scenery and exceptional service. Dine on world-class meals, enjoy countryside views, and indulge in the journey before the vacation truly starts. Izu Craile Izu Craile The Izu Craile travels from Odawara to the Izukyu Shimoda, along the coastline of the Izu Peninsula. Each compartment of the four-car train offers seaside views. Seasonal lunch boxes are prepared by Akimoto Sakura, the head of Meguro’s Morceau, an upscale French restaurant. The journey lasts about two hours, which is ample time for eating lunch and enjoying the scenery of the small beach towns. A band plays live music in the lounge car, creating an ethereal atmosphere alongside the ocean-filled windows. The exterior of the train is painted in blush, giving it a distinct appearance from other resort trains. The Izu Craile is in the lineup of JR’s Joyful trains, a series of themed trains designed to put fun and art into everyday train travel. SL C571 SL C571 Take a trip back in time on a restored steam locomotive. The 63 kilometer journey between Shin Yamaguchi station and Tsuwano station takes about two hours. The train was originally made in 1937 and has been carefully restored for the public; it is perfect for recreating a Showa era experience. There are four cars on the train and each compartment depicts a different era or theme in Japanese history. Check out the viewing car for undisturbed pastoral views of Shimane. The exterior of the train is as intricately designed as the interior. The shiny, black shell of the outside is so well known that travelers on other station platforms treat the train like a celebrity, waving and taking pictures of its passengers. Fujisan View Express Fujisan View Express What’s a trip to Japan without a view of the prodigious Mt. Fuji? The Fujisan View Express is the best way to access Mt. Fuji for those looking for a scenic experience and for those looking to climb the colossus. This ruby train travels from Otsuki station near Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko station. The Fujisan View differs from the regular Fujikyu trains, as it offers a luxury hotel-like feel and gourmet sweets representing the Yamanashi region. For an extra fee, Car #1 offers a Sweets Plan, an assortment of Japanese-style sweets arranged by the pastry chef of Highland Resort Hotel in nearby Fujikyu Highland. The interior of the train was designed by Japan’s most sought-out designer, Eiji Mitooka, who chose a wooden, Western design to create a hospitable atmosphere for gazing out the window. Revaty Line Revaty Line Traveling to Fukushima in the winter? Be sure to ride the Revaty line, traveling from Tokyo’s Asakusa station to Aizu via the Tobu line. The line is very convenient and can also be boarded from Skytree or Nikko. The train travels through mountains and forests, offering views of steaming onsen villages and winter festivals. The cars are comfortable and offer free Wi-Fi, perfect for getting work done or sharing pictures of the snowy view. Rikuu East Line Rikuu East Line The Naruko Gorge is one of the finest spots in Japan for taking in the fall foliage. The best view is from the Ofukazawa bridge. The local train that runs on these famous train tracks over the bridge is used to reach the trailhead of the gorge. The train runs from Furukawa station, accessed by the JR Sendai, and JR Naruko-Onsen station. The journey lasts about 40 minutes and is a good opportunity to sit back and enjoy the autumnal scenery from inside. The Resort Shirakami Limited Express The Resort Shirakami Limited Express The Resort Shirakami Limited Express is a special edition of the JR East Gono line that runs between Aomori station and Akita station. The five-hour journey offers vast views of the Sea of Japan on one side, and undisturbed greenery and rural villages on the other. The train makes a few stops, letting passengers stretch their legs and explore the local towns. There are also live performances of tsugaru jamisen, a traditional instrument used in what is considered Japanese soul music. The instrument originated from Aomori and is played by local musicians throughout the train journey. ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
- 21. June. 2018
- Kaka Kukedo Sightseeing Boat
- Pleasure Boat / Water Cruise
- Shimane Matsue-shi Shimanecho Kaka 6120-14
- Horikawa Pleasure Boat
- Pleasure Boat / Water Cruise
- Shimane Pref. Matsueshi Kurodachou 507-1
A well justified cruise, much more fun than I imagine before embarkation. We join at the pier adjoining to Matsue Castle. In the first 20 minutes, we cruise around the nice and beautiful greenery...
- HAKUCHOU Boat
- Pleasure Boat / Water Cruise
- Shimane Pref. Matsueshi Higashiasahimachi 150-7
Even though it was raining, I was able to see the view. I was also able to feel the wideness of the lake and enjoy the view around the mountain. Also, it is very safe since the crews are keeping the...
- Matsue Lakeline Bus
- Other Vehicle
- Shimane Pref. Matsueshi Asahimachi 472-2
- Ichibata Electric Railway Co., Ltd
- Scenic Railway (Trolley, etc.)
- Shimane Pref. Izumoshi Hiratachou 2226
"Ichibata Railway" is a local railway around Izumo and Matsue. Many people use this train to visit Izumo Taisha. Izumo Taisha is the most famous spiritual spot for good relationship in Japan. So...
Shimane Main Areas
What Shimane prefecture lacks in size and population, it makes up for in scenery and ancient mythology. Izumo-taisha, in the middle of the prefecture, is said to be Japan’s oldest Shinto shrine, where stories that delve into the creation of the Japanese race have been passed down over centuries. The 180 Oki Islands, a 40-minute ferry ride north of Sakaiminato, offer an undiscovered paradise well off the beaten track.
Best of Shimane
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