The homes of middle-ranking samurai once lay behind the traditional walls and gatehouses lining Shiome Nawate Street, which runs alongside the northern moat of Matsue Castle . The highest-ranked samurai lived across the moat within the large castle grounds.
The most famous resident of the street, however, was neither a samurai nor even Japanese, at least not when he first arrived.
Matsue Castle is located in the Matsue City area, which can be accessed by train or by the Lake Line loop bus.
Take the train to JR Matsue Station on the Sanin Honsen Line to the Lake Line bus loop.
Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), the Irish-Greek writer who introduced Japan to Western audiences, spent a year here. As you walk around his former home, the pages of his first book on Japan, “Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan,” will come alive.
Go next door to the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum to see a huge collection of his personal possessions and manuscripts.
Nearby is another bukeyashiki, as samurai residences were known. You can't enter the house but the open screens make the interior visible.
Next, enter the refined and elegant world of the daimyo, the great lords of the castle, at the Tanabe Art Museum. The museum has a collection of bowls and tea utensils used by the nobility in the tea ceremony, the epitome of Japanese tradition and taste.
This leads you to the Meimeian teahouse, a tiny thatched space constructed in 1779 for the great Matsudaira lord who made Matsue one of the great centers of tea ceremony culture.