Matsue stands as a cultural gem with its rich history, enchanting landscapes, and vibrant shopping streets. This time, we’ll delve into the captivating world of Matsue’s shopping districts, adorned with red brick streets and an array of distinctive shops offering everything from jewelry to traditional crafts.

Matsue’s Red Brick Streets

Matsue’s historic charm is epitomized by its iconic Kyomise Shopping District, a charming red-bricked street and adjacent shops nestled to the north of the Ohashi Bridge. Established in 1724, the Kyomise Shopping District exudes timeless charm, meticulously designed to mirror the iconic streets of Kyoto. Today, this historic district boasts a vibrant tapestry of approximately 60 diverse establishments, featuring an array of stores and restaurants. From inviting coffee shops and artisanal bakeries to dedicated spaces showcasing the traditional industries of Shimane Prefecture, Kyomise Shopping District offers a rich and varied experience for locals and visitors alike.

As you stroll along this enchanting street, keep an eye out for two lucky heart shapes embedded in the pavement, adding a touch of whimsy to your exploration. Guiding your way are distinctive signs adorned with relief carvings of Lafcadio Hearn, an iconic presence in Matsue’s history. Discover the heart of the district near the Horikawa Sightseeing Boat boarding pier, where a spacious square unfolds with a giant red umbrella and yet another detailed relief carving of Lafcadio Hearn. This unique depiction captures Hearn, luggage in hand, embarking on his journey to Japan.

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Magatama and Agate

The Izumo region has been a renowned hub for agate production since ancient times. The timeless allure of this stone, celebrated for its luminosity, continues to be incorporated into contemporary accessories and ornaments. Particularly prized are the comma-shaped beads known as “magatama”, cherished in Japan for centuries. If you’re keen on exploring these exquisite agate pieces, numerous shops throughout the town, along with dedicated workshops at Karakoro Art Studio and Tamatsukuri, offer a fascinating array of Magatama creations. Immerse yourself in the historical legacy of Izumo’s agate craftsmanship, seamlessly blending tradition with modern elegance.

Pottery and Lacquerware

Matsue pottery is renowned for its diverse styles, with Fujina, Sodeshi, and Rakuzan standing as the three representative traditions. Fujina, crafted near Tamatsukuri Onsen, employs a slipware technique that intricately adds patterns using cosmetic mud, creating distinctive designs. On the other hand, Sodeshi, close to the Shimane Art Museum, specializes in both Japanese and Western-style pottery, boasting warm and natural color palettes. Rakuzan, found near Shimane University, draws inspiration from Korean influences, earning favor among the feudal lords of Matsue.

Another notable craft in Matsue is the Yakumo-nuri lacquerware, characterized by its unique transformation over time. This traditional folk craft, passed down since the era of feudal lords, features lacquerware that becomes more transparent and vivid in color as it ages.

Shimane Local Products Center (Bussan-Kan)

Beyond jewelry and pottery, Matsue’s shopping streets are a treasure trove of artisanal finds. The Bussan-Kan store is a prime example, featuring an assortment of traditional handicrafts, including textiles, fabrics, and wooden crafts. You can also indulge in the diverse offerings of Shimane’s local pride, ranging from fresh seafood sourced from the Sea of Japan and Lake Shinji, delectable rice, and traditional Japanese sweets to captivating crafts and charming local character goods. The stores are a visual delight, showcasing an array of Shimane’s finest products. Whether you’re on a souvenir hunt after exploring Shimane or seeking a moment of relaxation at the restaurant inside the store, there are myriad ways to savor the essence of Matsue.

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Karakoro Art Studio

Nestled in a historic building alongside the enchanting canals of Matsue Castle, Karakoro Art Studio stands as a captivating fusion of artisanal craftsmanship and retail elegance. This integrated craft gallery immerses visitors in a world of Japanese handicrafts within its charming setting. The central square, adorned with a wishing well, a pink post box, and heart-shaped votive picture tablets, exudes an aura of tradition and charm. The renowned pink post box, believed to attract good fortune, has become a popular symbol at the studio.

Throughout the seasons, Karakoro Art Studio hosts a myriad of events, including the captivating Umbrella Sky event during the rainy season. Picture the square adorned with a vibrant sea of colorful umbrellas, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. Inside the studio, workshops and classrooms cater to diverse interests, offering a range of artistic experiences. Explore artists’ brand shops featuring spiritual stones, silver, glass, ceramics, recycled cloth, woodwork, and various accessory items.

Beyond the artistic offerings, Karakoro Art Studio is a haven for food enthusiasts, boasting a diverse array of cafes and restaurants. This ensures a delightful and well-rounded experience for visitors exploring the realms of Japanese handicrafts. Whether you seek to partake in workshops, peruse galleries, or indulge in the offerings of artisan shops and eateries, Karakoro Art Studio invites you to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Japanese craftsmanship and culture.