Matsue is in Shimane Prefecture which as I learned is an area with special significance in Japan. The kanji used to write Shimane (島根), means island (島) root (根), so people believe that it is the origin of the whole country.
In October, it is believed that all the gods from across Japan gather at Izumo Taisha to discuss the coming year’s marriages, deaths, and births and because of this, in Shimane people call October ‘kamiarizuki’ (the month with gods), whereas the rest of Japan calls October ‘kannazuki’ (the month without gods). We visited Izumo Taisha on New Year’s Eve (more in a separate post) but we also saw many smaller shrines, temples and houses where it’s easy to appreciate why people say Shimane holds such spiritual importance.
In the hills close to Matsue-Jo, we visited Meimei-An, a tea house originally commissioned in 1779 by Matsudaira Fumai who founded a particular style of Tea Ceremony that remains famous today. Tea houses always interest me because of the way the architecture and gardens are so carefully considered. The composition of every view of the building, as you approach it through gardens, is like a painted scene, and equally from the inside, the garden is designed around those key moments within the tea ceremony. It’s hard to describe, but buildings like this have special connections to the nature around it and I always find it hard to drag myself away, and to stop taking pictures because they are always so photogenic.