Overlooking the waters of Ise Bay, Matsusaka centres around the ruins of Matsusaka Castle and its colourful cherry blossoms. It’s home to a museum celebrating one of Japan’s most-loved scholars and an atmospheric samurai street and is backed by the towering peak of Mount Takami.
Things to do in Matsusaka
Learn about the life and work of a locally-born Edo period classical scholar at the Museum of Motoori Norinaga. Delve into his studies of Japanese culture, beliefs and behaviours through artefacts and items once belonging to the doctor and see the ancient Japanese texts on which he based many of his discoveries.
A short walk from the museum is the atmospheric street of Gojoban Yashiki, which is lined with samurai homes dating from the Edo period. It was here that warriors lived while guarding the adjacent Matsusaka Castle, with one of the residences now open for visitors to experience its old-world interior.
Follow the steep trail to the mountaintop Buddhist temple of Ibuta-ji, which offers spectacular views across the rugged surrounds. Not for the faint-hearted, the ascent involves scrambling across rocks and rappelling up cliffs using chains, with the humble wooden temple and its serene setting your reward.
Alternatively, explore the trails of Mount Takami, which rises 1,248 metres high to the west of Matsusaka and forms part of the Muro-Akame-Aoyama Quasi-National Park. While it’s magnificent during the changing autumn leaves, it’s most famed for the beautiful frost patterns that develop on its trees during winter.
Getting around Matsusaka
Matsusaka is around 2.5 hours by train from Osaka International Airport and two hours from Nagoya Airport, while Tokyo is four hours east. Both buses and trains travel throughout the city and access most of its attractions.