Matsue Castle was built on top of a hill near the edge of Lake Shinji in Shimane Prefecture. Surrounded by 200 cherry trees, it is one of only 12 original castles that currently exist in Japan. It is also called “Plover Castle” because of its beautiful appearance similar to a plover spreading its wings. The castle was built by Horio Yoshiharu, a feudal lord known for his talents in designing strong, functional castles. It took five years to build, and was completed in 1611. Horio and his grandson ruled here, but were succeeded by the Matsudaira clan, direct descendants of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). The main tower has a black wooden exterior, and an interior with five floors and a basement. The top floor offers a 360-degree view of the castle grounds, the city, and Lake Shinji. The castle was prepared to face battle at any time. Holes from which rifles could be fired are found in the outer walls throughout the castle. There are also small openings along the walls of the second floor, from which big rocks could be dropped to fend off enemies trying to climb up the stone walls. The basement was used to store daily goods in case the castle came under siege, and also had a well 24 meters deep that could provide drinking water at all times. Nowadays, samurai armor, helmets, and swords are on display.