Back off, Tokyo and step aside, Kyoto! We have new player in the house and its name is Matsue!
Matsue (松江市) is a city, located in Shimane prefecture (島根県). I write "a city" and already want to add all kinds of adjectives in order to describe it: relaxed and alluring, elegant, artistic... Somehow I feel that I fell in love with Matsue, and that passing time will only deepen my longing.
I arrived to Matsue together with my other 14 colleagues from Lithuania and Papua New Guinea. I was already fascinated by this region while being on the plane, when I saw lush green mountains popping through the white clouds. In reality the view was even better!
Both I and my colleagues experienced very warm welcome and those few days pretty much just flew by, while getting to know local culture and engaging in various activities.
I guess that we were really lucky, because on the evening of our arrival, Matsue was holding the lantern festival! Of course that we went to see it!
What was even more awesome - two-metre-diameter (6.5 feet) drums called “Do”! Traditionally, on the third Sunday of October, Matsue Do Gyoretsu Drum Parade (鼕行列) is held, and more than two weeks before that Parade, every neighborhood gathers in order to practice playing. For a few evenings in a row, me, together with my team, we went out into the city to play with do. And, needless to say, this is one of the greatest experiences ever!
Matsue is also famous for magatama - curved, comma-shaped beads, that now act as talismans. I visited Izumo Magatama no Sato Traditional Museum where all sorts of magatamas are both on exibition and for sale. Later, during our stay in Matsue, in Karakoro Art Studio we made magatama talismans by ourselves!
What I was also fascinated by - it's the Matsue castle. I went there few times - in the middle of the day or after sunset, I also saw it from little boat during the Horikawa Sightseeing Boat tour. It is one of the 12 remaining original castles nationwide, so it really deserves your attention!
And I don't even want to start with shrines, temples, onsen (hot springs) and beautiful sakuras on the both side of the little river, that runs through this city. Matsue has a lot to offer and to tell. I do hope that this city will become new attraction both for local and foreign tourists, because there are many things that you just have to see with your own eyes!
P.S. I think that I'll never taste more delicious miso soup as I had one in Matsue! Guys, I will always remember the taste of your shijimi-miso! ^^
Photos © Asta Skujytė-Razmienė