If you visit Matsue Castle in winter, you might expect to see some of the following scenes. It is one of the only 12 remaining original castles in Japan, and one of the best maintained with its original materials, so it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the Edo era, seeing almost the same scenery they saw then. For instance, the imposing black castle turned white with snow.

This kind of time travel is completely normal.

Ah, but back in the Edo era, foreigners were not allowed in Japan. I’d be in trouble there!

In modern day Matsue, the castle is a social center that any common people can enjoy. Festivals and events are frequently held on the castle grounds, but any other day, people enjoy the grounds however they please.

Oh? Is it snowing again?

Aha. Yes, it’s definitely snowing again. So much for the view of the city from the castle tower, but this is nice too!

I could see the ducks in the castle moat a moment ago, but the scenery is quickly turning white again…

The weather will not stop the Horikawa sightseeing boat! It runs all year long, but in the winter months they provide heated kotatsu blankets to curl up with while you get a tour of the city. You can do the whole course in about 45 minutes, or you can you get on and get off as many times as you like throughout the day and use it like a water bus. Make sure to bring your foreign passport or foreign residence card for a 33% discount!

Around this time, you’ll probably see this particular variety of camellia all over town. They bloom for a long period of time, and stay very fragrant! The camellia garden and plum blossom gardens on the west side of the castle grounds haven’t bloomed quite yet, but there are many buds right now.

Cold CIRs like me have also become part of the modern scenery around the castle.