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 ('[tsɯ]' in the international phonetic alphabet). 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. 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 (四日市市) and Ise (伊勢市), starting at Nagoya (名古屋). Its main station (津駅 Tsu Eki) serves both Kintetsu and Japan Rail (JR) trains. A basic ticket between Nagoya and Tsu costs ¥980 on the Kintetsu line. In the north there is the smaller Kintetsu Edobashi (江戸橋駅 Edobashi Eki) station, which is where most students get off for the university, while the south is served by Kintetsu Tsu-Shinmachi (津新町駅 Tsushinmachi Eki). Travellers can alight at any of the three stations for the same fare. JR also have separate local stations around the city. 'Limited express' trains call only at Tsu, and a supplementary charge is imposed.
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.
Tsu is known for its excellent unagi (eel) restaurants.
This page was last edited at 10:16, on 21 January 2009 by Wikitravel user Jsteph. Based on work by Jani Patokallio and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.