Tsu (津) is the capital of Mie prefecture, Japan, and home to about 290,000 people.
Tsu is often claimed to be the world's shortest pronounceable city name (IPA: [tsɯ]). The vowel is similar to the one in the English word 'too', but is shorter, has less lip rounding, and is typically voiceless; it is perceptible, but sounds 'whispered'. Also, as English speakers may find the [t] hard to hear, the name sounds rather like 'Sue'. Pronouncing the [t], however, is essential in conveying the meaning.
In Japanese, the city name is usually written either using the character 津, or with つ, a 'hiragana' symbol which indicates the syllable [tsɯ]. Tsu is the only Japanese city name which consists of a single kana, making it the shortest name for a place of any size in Japan.
Chubu Airport is connected to Tsu by a ferry service which takes 40 minutes. From the port there is a direct bus to Tsu station, costing ¥200. Taxis also queue at the port.
Tsu is on the Kintetsu Nagoya Line between Yokkaichi and Ise, starting at Nagoya. The main station, Tsu (津駅), serves Kintetsu and JR trains. A basic ticket between Nagoya and Tsu costs ¥980 on the Kintetsu line. In the north is the smaller Kintetsu Edobashi Station (江戸橋駅), where most students get off for the university, while the south is home to Kintetsu Tsu-Shinmachi Station (津新町駅). Travellers can alight at any of the three stations for the same fare. There are other JR local line stations around the city. 'Limited express' trains cost extra and only stop at Tsu.
Tsu is split from north to south by Route 23, a highway which runs down the west coast of Ise Bay from Nagoya. It is therefore fairly easy to orientate yourself relative to the road. Tsu railway station is just off Route 23 towards the centre of town, as is Edobashi station.
Buses run from outside Tsu station all over the city. Routes are written in Romanised Japanese on the front. Stops are signposted only in Japanese. At Tsu Station, passengers alight at one stop and board at another. The stop opposite the local police station and branch of McDonald's by Tsu Station serves several buses which head along Route 23 in the direction of Mie University (三重大学 Mie Daigaku) and the University Hospital (大学病院 Daigaku Byouin).
Board a bus via the centre door and take a ticket; you should look up its number on the board at the front of the bus to find the fare you should pay. Deposit the exact money in the box next to the driver on exit: you can change thousand-yen notes in a little machine.
The tourist offices for both Tsu City and Mie Prefecture are in the UST Tsu building next to Tsu Station (the tall tower block) on the ground and second floors, respectively. The Tsu City tourist office has a variety of maps, ideas of things to do and information on restaurants in the area.
- 1 MieMu (三重県総合博物館), 3060 Isshinden-Kouzubeta, ☏ . The MieMu was opened in 2014 as the new Mie Prefectural Museum. It contains exhibits of objects uncovered within the prefecture and historic objects from the area with information about how Mie has changed over the years as well as information about local flora and fauna. ¥510.
- 2 Tsu Castle (津城). The original castle was built by Oda Nobunaga's son, Nobukane, and was completely destroyed in battle. The current layout comes from Todo Takatora and there is a statue of him in the center of the ruins. Although the second castle was torn down, the moat and some walls remain and one of the turrets has been reconstructed. Free.
- 3 Tsu Kannon (津観音).
- 4 Sekisui Museum (石水博物館). Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. ¥500.
- 5 Yuki Shrine (結城神社). The shrine is one of the most famous places to enjoy plum blossoms in late February-mid-March.
- 6 Mie Prefectural Art Museum (三重県立美術館). Tu-Su 09:30-17:00.
- 7 Japon Louvre Sculpture Museum (ルーブル美術館) (Just outside SakakibaraOnsenguchi Station). 9:30-17:00. A museum featuring replicas of famous sculptures from the Louvre. ¥1500.
- 8 Daikanon-ji (大観音寺). 9:30-17:00. It's named after its large statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Located just past the Louvre Museum, it feels like one of the museum's outdoor sculptures.
- 9 Dr. Hidesaburō Ueno and Hachikō statue (上野英三郎博士とハチ公) (outside Hisai Station, east exit, in Midori no Kaze Park). Hisai was the birthplace of Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor at Tokyo University later known for his loyal dog Hachiko. After Ueno died suddenly while teaching, for almost ten years Hachiko continued to walk to the train station every afternoon and wait for the professor to come home from work. This statue just outside the station commemorates Ueno's birthplace and the bond he shared with his loyal companion.
Tsu is known for its excellent unagi (eel) restaurants. Tsu Gyoza are also unique to the city. In contrast to ordinary gyoza served in other cities, the Tsu Gyoza is much larger at 15 cm long. Fillings can include Matsusaka Beef or more exciting fillings, such as the Italian style and chocolate banana. Restaurants all over the city which serve Tsu Gyoza are listed on a special Tsu Gyoza map published by the city's tourist office.
- 1 Bar Rosso (at the back of the UST Tsu Building by Tsu Station). This small bar is open from 20:00 and is run by two medical students from Mie University. The bar is more Western in style than other izakaya-style affairs in the area, with a counter and dimly lit by candles, but it is friendly and as such is popular not only with businessmen but with younger people and students. Drinks include a large list of cocktails, whiskeys, ume-shu, sake and more. The bar is also the venue for a community restaurant at lunchtime cooked by local amateur chefs on a rotating schedule. The menu is posted outside each day and as lunches are limited to the first twenty customers, more popular menus can be sold out quickly. Drinks ¥500 and up, lunch set ¥850.
- 1 Dormy Inn Tsu (ドルミーイン津), ☏ . Of the various business hotels around the JR Tsu train station, this one offers an excellent deal for the traveller on a budget with their 8-hour stay specials. For these the rate is 3,900 for pre-set time periods, the most attractive of which is midnight to 8AM. Although it's an 8-hour period, the hotel has been known to extend checkout by 3 hours to strictly non-smokers.
- 2 Green Park Hotel Tsu (ホテルグリーンパーク津), ☏ . While a little more expensive than other hotels nearby, the advantage of Green Park is that it is practically on top of Tsu Station in the tallest building in Tsu, UST Tsu. The views from its rooms make this a good choice to those visiting Tsu as on a clear day one can see for miles, including Aichi Prefecture on the other side of the bay, and along to Yokkaichi and Ise on the Mie coastline. Rooms are comfortable and breakfast is a buffet served on the first floor. It is next to the station and bus stops, and above the city and prefectural tourist offices. The breakfast room also serves an all-you-can-eat buffet for ¥1,000 at lunch times and afternoon tea from 15:00.