Japan · Life in Japan

Tsuwano: Steam Trains, Carp, and Samurai

This past July I hopped on the SL Yamaguchi Steam Train and made my way up to the old castle town of Tswano. The town is in Shimane prefecture, but lies so close to the border that it is sometimes mistaken as a Yamaguchi prefecture town.

I spent a weekend here and was able to explore all the main attractions. One of the big draw cards to Tswano is the Yabusame Festival (流鏑馬まつり) a horse-mounted archery festival held in April. Other highlights of the town are the Edo-era buildings, the massive carp (also referred to as koi) that live in the waterways, and the Taikodani Inari Shrine one of the five greatest shrines in Japan.

The SL Yamaguchi arrives in Tsuwano midday, and then departs 3 hours later for the return trip back to Yamaguchi. Here a crowd gathers while waiting to wave off the afternoon departure. My post about my trip on the train can be found here.

Old Samurai Town and Carp

Upon my arrival to Tswano, I wandered around the very quiet streets and eventually found myself in the old samurai district.

First impressions of Tsuwano: very peaceful, very quiet.
Walking around the old part of town

With their recognisable white walls and dark red roof tiles, the samurai houses are in immaculate condition and have waterways running in front of the buildings. Looking into these waterways you will see carp in an array of colours and sizes, it’s quite memorising. Like most public carp ponds (or waterways) in Japan, you can buy carp food from nearby stores, or in this case, from a carp food box.

One of the samurai houses on the main road
The main road is on the right of the picture, with the waterways on the left
A different view of the area
The carp waiting for food
The carp food ‘honesty’ box
Carp swimming by
This rice shop had a sign (on the right) that said that if you walked through the store to the back there was a pond with 300 carp in it! You could also feed the fish for 100 yen.
This is what happens when you feed carp. It reminds me of Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, but this time it’s fish.

Around the Town

Having spent most of the day wandering around the town, I found a great coffee shop that served the town’s speciality dish  red bean paste crepe. 

How could you eat something that has such a cute face? 😉
The perfect end to the day: Melon soda float!

More to see and do

Eventually it came time to check into the ryokan that would be my accommodation for the night, and the following morning I explored more of the town’s attractions, like the Catholic church and the Inari shrine highlights of my time in Tsuwano that I will share soon in an upcoming post! 🙂

So beautiful!

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