Some 80km east of Hagi, in the neighbouring prefecture of Shimane-ken, is the older and even more picturesque castle town of TSUWANO (津和野). Nestling in the shadow of the 908m-high extinct volcano, Aono-yama, around which mists swirl moodily each autumn, this is yet another small town that touts itself as a “Little Kyoto”.

Head first to the old streets of Tonomachi (殿町), southeast of the station. At the north end of the main pedestrian thoroughfare, Tonomachi-dōri, pause at the small Katsushika Hokusai Museum of Art (葛飾北斎美術館) to view its refined collection of woodblock prints, illustrations and paintings by the famous nineteenth-century artist Hokusai Katsushika.

Tonomachi’s streets are bordered by narrow, carp-filled canals; the fish (which outnumber the town’s nine thousand residents by more than ten to one) were originally bred as emergency food supplies in the event of famine. The town’s prosperity, born of peace and enlightened rule by local daimyō, is evident from the handsome buildings. Look out for sake breweries and shops selling traditional sweets, including genji-maki, a soft sponge filled with sweet red-bean paste.

Easily spotted behind the white, tile-capped walls is the grey spire of the Catholic Church, built in 1931, which combines stained-glass windows and an organ with tatami flooring. Further along, near the banks of the Tsuwano-kawa, is the Yōrōkan (養老館), the former school for young samurai, now containing an uninspiring folk art museum.

Make a short detour across the Tsuwano-gawa to the Musée de Morijuku (杜塾美術館), a restored farmhouse fronted by raked-gravel gardens that has been converted into a smart modern gallery showing works by local contemporary artists, plus a small collection of etchings by Goya. Upstairs, the attendant will show you the pinhole camera in the shōji screen, capturing an image of the garden outside.

 

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Japan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Discovering Kanazawa: the rise of Japan’s “Little Kyoto”

Discovering Kanazawa: the rise of Japan’s “Little Kyoto”

Japan Trip: Kanazawa – the rise of “Little Kyoto”. Once one of Japan’s largest cities, in recent decades Kanazawa has languished in the shadow of its…

09 Oct 2018 • Olivia Rawes insert_drive_file Article
Japan House: a new cultural crossroad between Britain and Japan

Japan House: a new cultural crossroad between Britain and Japan

Travel to Japan has boomed over the past year, with over 300,000 UK visitors rushing to the country in 2017. But if you want to experience the country's exquisi…

22 Jun 2018 • Eleanna Zanga insert_drive_file Article
In search of the secret to long life in Nagano

In search of the secret to long life in Nagano

People in Nagano, Japan, live longer than virtually anywhere else on earth. But what’s the secret of this success? Our writer Shafik Meghji travelled across…

16 May 2018 • Shafik Meghji local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs