The retro styled red buses are impossible to miss (Photo: Cassiopeia sweet / CC By S.A 2.0)
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Matsue's Lake Line Bus

A convenient, inexpensive way to explore Shimane's capital

Matsue in Shimane Prefecture is one of my all-time favorite destinations in Japan, and I think a big part of that can be attributed to the ease of getting from A to B. The city operates a service called the Lake Line bus which runs a loop around a wide variety of different tourist attractions, including Matsue Castle, the Karakoro Art Studio, and Gessho-ji Temple to name a few. Best of all, the fare is cheap as chips, meaning that transport costs won't eat into your trip budget.

You have two options for the fare you choose. There are single trip options priced at 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for children, or you can opt for the all-day pass at 500 yen for adults and 250 yen for children. The all-day pass allows you to hop on and off the bus as many times as you'd like, providing excellent value for money and paying for itself quite quickly if you're visiting several spots. Once you compare it to the cost of a single short-distance taxi fare at around 700 yen, it becomes an obvious choice to take the bus.

The full loop takes around 50 minutes to complete, and it's a great way to get your bearings and explore some spots you may not have considered for your itinerary. The route timetable can be found here in Japanese, but translated English versions can be obtained at the International Tourist Information Center outside Matsue Station.

For more on what there is to see and do in Matsue, check out the Japan Travel guide here.

Getting there

Matsue's Lake Line bus has a host of stops across the city, but for a central starting point the stop at Matsue Station is convenient for those arriving by train. Head to boarding point number 7, where buses arrive approximately every 20 minutes. Look out for the red, retro style bus - they're impossible to miss!

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Sherilyn Siy 3 years ago
This is one very photogenic loop bus!
Kim Author 3 years ago
I love the retro feel! Makes them nice and easy to spot, too! :)
Sander van Werkhoven 3 years ago
I should have been using these quite a bit during my vacation this spring. Guess what happened....

Loop buses in general can be very practical for tourist, even though it still baffles me how many are not exactly English-friendly. But this one in particular is rather frequent compared to many others, and what also stands out is that it runs almost until 7pm. It's so frustrating when you exit a museum at closing time, only to find out the last bus has already left...
Kim Author 3 years ago
Agreed, Sander - this one thankfully is very user-friendly for non-Japanese speakers, and the operating hours are pretty convenient too.
Sleiman Azizi 3 years ago
Loop buses are a great asset for those who know about them. I think that they need to be promoted more to overseas visitors.
Kim Author 3 years ago
I agree! It was just lucky that when I stayed in Matsue the station was right across from my hotel, so I popped into the international visitors center there and found out about it. The staff there were so helpful, and for a smaller city to have an international visitors center was really impressive to me!
Elizabeth S 3 years ago
I have yet to visit Shimane Prefecture and see Matsue. But I highly recommend using loop buses to get around.

Aizu Wakamatsu City has a hop on, hop off bus on a route that is similar in length. It was so easy. The drivers reminded me of their return trips and bus pick up times, and pointed out what was open when.
Kim Author 3 years ago
They're such a convenient way to get around. I think when you can explore easily, it really enhances the travel experience - I know that I was able to cover a ton of ground in Matsue courtesy of this bus service!

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