While in Matsue, don’t miss taking a trip to the stunning Adachi Museum of Art (足立美術館), some 20km east of the city near the village of Yasugi, en route to Yonago. The large collection of Japanese artworks, dating from 1870 to the present day, includes masterpieces by Yokoyama Taikan and Uemura Shoen. The surrounding gardens are also exquisite, covering 43,000 square metres.
The museum’s founder, Adachi Zenkō, was an enthusiastic gardener, and his passion for the artform shows through in the beautiful landscapes that envelop the galleries and steal your attention at every turn. The museum is designed so that as you move around, the views of the Dry Landscape Garden, the White Gravel and Pine Garden, the Moss Garden and the Pond Garden appear like living picture scrolls when viewed through carefully placed windows. A couple of the gardens have traditional teahouses where you can take macha and sweets (from ¥1500). Juryū-an is a copy of a teahouse in the former Imperial Palace, Katsura Rikyū, in Kyoto, and looks over a peaceful moss-covered garden; in the smaller Juraku-an visitors are served a bowl of green tea made with water boiled in a kettle of pure gold, said to aid longevity. The two coffee shops in the museum are less atmospheric but cheaper, and the views just as fine.
Give yourself plenty of time here because, once you’ve dragged yourself away from the gardens, the art itself isn’t bad either. The museum has the largest collection of paintings by Yokoyama Taikan, whose delicate ink drawings and deep colour screens set the standard for modern Japanese art. There is also a section on kitsch art from children’s books, and a ceramics hall which includes works by Kawai Kanjirō – a brilliant local potter who participated actively in the mingei (folk art) movement begun by Yanagi Sōetsu – and Kitaōji Rosanjin, a potter and cook, whose pieces were designed to complement and enhance the food served on them.