A Hokkaido port village with seafood pickles and a theme park based on samurai life
Travel back in time to the days of warring samurai clans in Matsumae. Located on the southern tip of Oshima Peninsula, Matsumae has played an important role in the history of Hokkaido, which stretches back to the 17th century. The town has been a center of politics with Matsumae Castle, and economics as a busy port village.
Matsumae is famous for its Matsumaezuke pickles. These pickles are a signature dish of the town and reflect its seaside location. Made of squid, herring roe, and kelp combined and pickled, Matsumaezuke pickles are known for their distinctive scent and texture. All the ingredients that go into these pickles are harvested from local waters. Families in the town have been making these aromatic pickles for over a hundred years.
To truly experience the history and culture of Matsumae, a visit to Matsumae Castle is a must. The castle, which has been beautifully restored, offers a glimpse into the storied past of the town. Inside the castle’s three-story tower, there is a reference library that provides lots of information about the history of Matsumae.
Another attraction in Matsumae is the Matsumae Clan Mansion. This theme park takes visitors back to the 1850s and allows them to experience life in feudal japan. The replica village features traditional samurai and merchant houses, and visitors can try on samurai armor or a beautiful kimono. The historic buildings in the park provide a fascinating insight into samurai culture.
In the summer, Matsumae hosts the Matsumae Joka Jidai Matsuri, a festival that celebrates the town’s samurai heritage. During the festival, an army of “warriors” in samurai armor ride through the town on motorbikes, creating a spectacle that is truly unique. The festival attracts visitors from all over Japan and is a highlight of the summer season in Matsumae.
Getting to Matsumae is relatively easy. You can take a bus from Hakodate Station or Kikonai Station. If you are coming from Hakodate, there are a few direct buses per day that will take you directly to Matsumae. If you are coming from Kikonai, the journey takes about 95 minutes and there are approximately 8-10 buses per day. Kikonai can be reached on the JR Hokkaido Shinkansen or the South Hokkaido Railway.
Once you arrive in Matsumae, you can explore the area by foot. The town is relatively small and can be easily navigated on foot. As you wander through the streets, you will be transported back in time to a Japan of centuries past. The historic buildings and beautiful scenery make Matsumae a charming and picturesque destination.
In addition to its historical and cultural attractions, Matsumae is also known for its natural beauty. The town is surrounded by stunning landscapes, including mountains, forests, and the sea. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the nearby Onuma Quasi National Park, which offers hiking trails and beautiful views of the surrounding area.
Overall, a visit to Matsumae is a journey back in time to a Japan of samurai warriors and feudal lords. The town’s rich history, cultural attractions, and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination in Hokkaido. Whether you are interested in history, culture, or simply enjoying the local cuisine, Matsumae has something to offer everyone. So, pack your bags and prepare for an unforgettable adventure in this Hokkaido port village.
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