Matsue

Matsue is a city blessed with so much overwhelming beauty and good food that you will wonder what to look at, what to eat, and what to do first. It's where the Shinji-ko Lake empties into the Naka-umi Lagoon, which connects directly with the Sea of Japan. This makes Matsue a seafood lover's paradise; specialties include both kinds of eel, all kinds of shrimp, shellfish, carp, sea bass, smelt, whitebait, and the famous black shijimi clams from Shinji-ko. The water also provides the city with a lovely network of canals.

Matsue also attracts and holds onto some of the country's most welcoming and interesting people, both foreign and native. This remote realm is a traveler's favorite, and once you've come here you'll surely be back—it's that kind of place. In the 1890s, the famed journalist-novelist Lafcadio Hearn came here and promptly fell in love, first with the place, and then with a local woman—a samurai's daughter, no less. In true journalistic fashion he proceeded to let the entire world know about it.

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