Cruising the Castle Town

The castle town of Matsue has an intricate web of waterways running around the castle and through the town.The visitor can enjoy a boat tour on these moats, called Horikawa. There are three separate boarding points, where you can hop on and off freely using a one-day ticket, making this an alternative for getting around Matsue, called the City of Water (水の都, Mizu-no-Miyako). Like so many other places in Matsue, the cruise offers great discounts for international visitors.

Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture, Japan - Moat Cruising and Castle

Matsue is a rare example of a castle-town which moats remain almost fully in their original forms. The overall layout of the city hasn’t changed much in 400 years.

Nowadays, cruising the inner and outer moats enclosing the castle is one of the main sightseeing activity that Matsue has to offer. It gives the visitor a chance to discover the city from an original point of view.

Matsue City, Japan, Horikawa Pleasure Boat - Cruising on the moats around the castle (Horikawa Yuransen) - Map Course English Leaflet

Called Horikawa Yuransen (堀川遊覧船) in Japanese, the Horikawa Sightseeing Boat  circles the castle’s historical inner and outer moats. One entire circle on the boat tour covers almost 4km of waterways, and lasts for a duration of up to 50 minutes. Tickets for the Horikawa Sightseeing Boat can be used all day long and as many times as you want.

There are three boarding points throughout the city (indicated in red on the map above).
Ote-mae Hiroba (大手前広場), the main pier, by the south entrance of Matsue Castle.
Fureai Hiroba (ふれあい広場), in northwest Matsue, near the Matsue Horikawa Microbrewery (Jibiiru-kan).
Karakoro Hiroba (カラコロ広場), by the pedestrian area of Kyomise, near Karakoro Art Museum.

Matsue City - Moat Cruising and flowers

The Horikawa Sighseeing Boat passes point of interests which you may not see otherwise.

Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture, Japan - Moat Cruising by Karakoro Square

Matsue City - Moat Cruising by Shiomi Nawate

Cruising along Shiomi Nawate Street.

Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture, Japan - Moat Cruising Green Venice

Some parts of the cruise make you feel like you are in a jungle 🙂

View from Matsue Castle - History Museum and Horikawa Cruising Boats

You can see the moats from the top of Matsue Castle.

Matsue City, Japan, Horikawa Pleasure Boat Captain

The friendly boats men will tell you all about Matsue’s sights and history.

Matsue City - Cruising on the moats around the castle (Horikawa Yuransen) - Map on fan

You will receive a map of the cruise tour that can be used as a fan in summer.

Useful info

  • Access

There are three boarding piers where you can embark and disembark freely to explore the City of Water by boat or on foot. Click here to access the Boat Route Map.

See also the Lakeline Bus map on Visit-Matsue.com

  • Hours and admission fee

Open all year. Ticket can be used all day long. Leaves every 15 min.
March – June : 9am – 5pm
July– August: 9am – 6pm
September 1st – October 10th : 9am – 5pm
October 11th – February: 9am – 4pm

Discounts for international visitors:
Adult: ¥1230 (33% OFF) →¥820
Child: ¥610 →¥300

  • Useful links

>Horikawa Sightseeing Boat Official Website (available in English): www.matsue-horikawameguri.jp

>Photo gallery, with pictures sorted by seasons : 春, haru, spring / 夏, natsu, summer / 秋, aki, autumn / 冬, fuyu, winter.

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