Fukui Prefecture is located along the Sea of Japan. While Fukui’s city center does not offer many major tourist attractions, multiple sites of interest are found in the forested hills and along the rocky coastlines of the Fukui Prefecture. Foremost among them is Eiheiji Temple, a head quarter of Zen Buddhism. Furthermore, there is the Fukui Dinosaur Museum, one of the best museums of its type in the world. Fukui, Tsuruga, Katsuyama, Echizen and Sabae cities are the most well known areas in Fukui. Especially Sabae since it boasts a 96 percent production of glasses made in Japan. In Fukui you can enjoy the white sand beaches in summer and skiing in winter. Fukui is located next to Gifu and Kanazawa so you might want to add it to your itinerary when travelling from the Kansai region.
#1. Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
The city of Katsuyama in the Fukui Prefecture has seen more dinosaur fossils unearthed than anywhere else in Japan. Fukui is a paradise for dinosaurs, and around 700,000 people visit the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum annually. The museum’s centerpiece attraction is its collection of 42 whole-body dinosaur skeleton specimens. The exhibition space is 4,500 square meters in size. The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum offers dinosaur discoveries that are scattered around in various locations making it possible to have fun with dinosaurs around the various museum facilities. Popular spots and new facilities are attracting more attention, such as an open-air dinosaur museum where visitors can experience excavating fossils alongside researchers (open from spring to autumn). The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum also has a restaurant offering meals as well as a store selling dinosaur merchandise.
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Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Address: 51-11 Terao, Murokocho, Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 1 hour train from Fukui Station to Katsuyama Station, 10 minute by bus from Katsuyama Station to museum
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
*Closed 2nd and 4th Wednesday, From December 29 to January 2
720 yen (Adult)
410 yen (Student)
260 yen (Junior)
Website: Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
#2. Diamond Beach
Diamond Beach in Mihamacho is actually a series of beaches connected around small headlands. There are lots of small and large beaches along the coastline. A few of the main ones are the Suishohama Beach (suisho means quartz crystals in Japanese) with white crystal sand, the Wakasa Wada beach with white sand and a shallow and sheltered beach which is ideal for families, and Mikuni Beach (also called the Sunset Beach) which is a good safe swimming spot and a has pine tree grove to relax in the shade. You can also enjoy camping as well as swimming here at Diamond Beach.
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Address: Sugahama, Mihamacho, Mikatagun, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 37 minute by bus from Tsuruga Station
Website: Diamond Beach
#3. Kehi Jingu Shrine & Kehi no Matsubara (Pine Tree Park)
Kehi Jingu Shrine, which worships Emperor Chuai and six gods, is an old shrine called “the greatest shrine in Echizen area” or “the central place to pray for local gods along the highway through Hokuriku region”. The huge shrine gate, which is said to have been made of a temple juniper tree washed ashore from Sado Island, is designated by the government as an important cultural property. Along with Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture and Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara Prefecture, it is ranked as one of the three major wooden shrines in Japan.
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Kehi Jingu Shrine
Address: 11-68 Akebonocho, Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 3 minute by bus from Tsuruga Station to Kehi Jingumae Bus Stop
Hours: 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Phone: 0770-22-8167 (Tsuruga Tourisum Association)
Website: Kehi Jingu Shrine
#4. Matsubara Park
Matsubara Park is one of the best scenic spots in Japan, and is considered one of the three largest pine tree forests, along with Niji no Matsubara and Miho no Matsubara. The beautiful scenery is created by the contrast between the blue ocean, the blue pine trees, and the white, sandy beach. It is truly a masterpiece of natural beauty. The pine grove consists of 17,000 pine trees that are over 200 years old (both Japanese black and red species). It is a popular recreation spot for walking and jogging. In the summer, the area is full of sea-bathing tourists.
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Address: 27 Matsushimacho, Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 12 minute by bus from Tsuruga Station to Kehi no Matsubara Bus Stop
Hours: 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Phone: 0770-22-8167 (Tsuruga Tourisum Association)
Website: Kehi no Matsubara
#5. Tojinbo Cliffs
Tojinbo Cliffs is a rugged, precipitous cliff eroded by the raging waves on the coast of the Sea of Japan in northern Fukui, bordering Ishikawa. It is located within Echizen-Kaga Quasi-National Park. The sheer cliff stretches for over one kilometer, and is designated as a precious natural monument. A rock pillar made of the columnar jointing (joint of columnar rocks in a pentagon or hexagon shape) of pyroxene andesite in Tojinbo is not only the only one of its kind in Japan, but there are known to be only two others like it in the entire world. In winter you can observe the phenomenon called Nami no Hana, or flowers of waves. They occur when the waves are caught in the reefs and churn into bubbles that the violent winds then fan up in to the air.
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Address: Tojinbo, Mikunicho, Sakai City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 50 minute by train from Fukui Station to Mikuniminato Station, 5 minute by bus from Mikuniminato Station to Tojinbo
Phone: 0776-82-5515 (Mikuni, Sakai City Tourist Association)
Website: Tojinbo Cliffs (Japanese)
#6. Echizen Ono Castle
Echizen Ono Castle is “the castle in the sky”. You will find the castle town hidden below the sea of clouds. As the sea of clouds disappears, the castle town reappears. When you look at this scenery, you will feel magical as if you were wandering around ancient Ono. The Ono basin is surrounded by mountains. Echizen Ono Castle is categorized as “Hirayamajo”. This castle was built at Kameyama located in the central area of Ono City, with an elevation of about 249m (817ft).
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Echizen Ono Castle
Address: 3-109 Shiromachi, Ono City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 15 minute by bus from Echizen Ono Station to Onomutuai Bus Stop
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (April to September)
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (October to November)
*Closed December 1 – March 31
Fee: 200 yen
Website: Echizen Ono Castle (Japanese)
#7. Fukui Castle
Fukui Castle was built in 1606 by Yuki Hideyasu, the second son of Ieyasu Tokugawa and the first domain lord of Fukui. Since then, the Matsudairas have successively resided in this famous castle for 17 generations for about 270 years. When this castle was initially built, it is said to have had a 37 meter high four-tiered and five-storied magnificent donjon and triple moats. However, it was destroyed by a great fire and only the stone wall and a part of the moat remain now. A ruin of a well called “Fukunoi”, which is said to be the origin of the name Fukui, lies under the base of the donjon.
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Address: 3-17-1 Ote, Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 5 minute walk from Fukui Station
Phone: 0776-20-5346 (Fukui City Tourist Information Center)
Website: Fukui Castle (Japanese)
#8. Awara Onsen City
Photo Credit: hotel-yagi.co.jp
The small town of Awara Onsen in Fukui Prefecture itself does not have a lot to offer the visiting tourist other than the train station, a few restaurants, and some stores. The real appeal is the hot spring water which is said to have many medicinal values such as helping with rheumatism, dermatitis, neuralgia, gastric problems, and other conditions. Recently an area known as Yukemuri Yokocho (Bath Steam Alley) was built in Awara Onsen near the Awara Onsen Station and has a nice variety of small restaurants and bars serving everything from yakitori to ramen.
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Awara Onsen City
Address: 1-12-15 Harumiya, Awara City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 10 minute by car from Awara Onsen Station
Website: Awara Onsen City (Japanese)
#9. SKI JAM Katsuyama
Ski Japan Katsuyama (often known as Ski Jam or Jamkatsu) is located to the east of central area of Katsuyama city in the north eastern region of Fukui Prefecture. Ski Jam Katsuyama has been operating since 1993 and is one of the larger and more popular resorts in this region – and certainly the largest in Fukui Prefecture – with many people visiting from the Chubu and Kansai regions.
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SKI JAM Katsuyama
Address: 170-70 Katsuyama, Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 60 minute by bus from Fukui Station
8:00 AM – 4:30 PM on Weekdays
7:30 AM – 4:30 PM on Weekends and holidays
*Closes at 5:00 PM in February
Website: SKI JAM Katsuyama (Japanese)
#10. Eyeglasses Production Area Fukui Sabae
Photo Credit: megane.gr.jp
Sabae city in Fukui Prefecture, is a “sacred place of glasses” producing a remarkable 96 percent of all the eyeglass frames produced in Japan and 20% worldwide. The city of Sabae has been the site of eyeglass frame production for more than a century. In the 1980s, craftsmen working in Sabae were the first in the world to develop the technology for producing frames using light but sturdy titanium. The titanium frames, much less likely to cause metal allergies than conventional materials, soon became a new international standard. The Eyeglasses Museum at Sabae shows the history of glasses production and there is explanation by the guide of the original glasses craftsmen. There is also a Megane Festival, a festival celebrating glasses, which is organized by the Fukui Optical Association. At the festival there are live stages, workshops, food and beverage stalls and of course sale of goods.
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The Eyeglasses Museum
Address: 2-3-4 Shinyokoe, Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 10 minute walk from Sabae Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Website: The Eyeglasses Museum
Kumagawa was originally a lonely village of only about 40 houses. However Nagamasa Asano whom Toyotomi Hideyoshi had given a high position, became the lord of Wakasa. He then exempted Kumagawa from taxes considering it as an important place for traffic and military strategy. Since then Kumagawa had continued to prosper and resulted in over 200 houses in the Edo era. In Wakasa district the seafood caught at the Sea of Japan had been carried to Kyoto. Kumagawa-juku was the important post town on the Wakasa highroad which was one of the routes to Kyoto. A lot of mackerel caught there had been carried from Wakasa to Kyoto since the latter part of the 18th century. Therefore the Wakasa highroad came to be called the Mackerel highroad. Kumagawa-juku is designated as one of the National Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings.
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Address: Kumagawa, Wakasacho, Mikatakaminakagun, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 3 minute by bus from Kaminaka Station to Kumagawa Bus Stop
Phone: 0770-62-2711 (Wakasacho Historic Culture Department)
Website: Kumagawa-juku (Japanese)
#12. Nihonkai Sakanamachi Fish Market
Photo Credit: sakanamachi.info
Nihonkai Sakanamachi is the largest seafood market selling products of the Sea of Japan, and is host to 70 establishments. There are a lot of seafood restaurants in Tsuruga Port offering fresh catch. Apart from fresh seafood and marine products, you can buy local products and delicacies to make a good souvenir of your trip to Fukui. From November to March, Echizen crab, mackerel and heshiko (pickled mackerel) are widely available. Be sure to check out and try a local seafood bowl, crab, sweet prawns and many other delicacies. Every morning the “morning market” is conducted at the port when you can buy seafood products at a discount.
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Address: 1-1531 Wakabacho, Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 25 minute by bus from Tsuruga Station to Nihonkai Sakanamachi
Hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Website: Nihonkai Sakanamachi (Japanese)
#13. Eiheiji Temple
Eiheiji Temple is a large temple complex and an active monastery standing on a cedar covered slope in the mountains just outside Fukui City. Eiheiji Temple is still an active monastery with around 200 to 250 practicing monks living on its grounds. Monks in training spend up to two years studying Zen Buddhism at the temple. It is also possible for foreign visitors affiliated with a Soto Zen Buddhist organization to train at Eiheiji Temple for short periods and follow the monks’ daily routine as they study. Both, a single-night stay and a more rigorous 3-day program are available. Applications must be made at least one month in advance.
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Address: 10-5 Shihi, Eiheijicho, Yoshidagun, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 12 minute by bus from Eiheiji Temple Station
4:00 AM – 5:00 PM
5:30 AM – 4:30 PM (Winter)
Fee: 500 yen
Website: Eiheiji Temple (Japanese)
#14. Nishiyama Park
Nishiyama Park is an oasis which visitors can enjoy all year around. This park is famous for their cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas at the beginning of summer, beautiful autumn leaves, and the snow scenery in the winter. The park was selected in 2006 as one of 100 historical parks in Japan. It also has a small zoo called Nishiyama Zoo, where visitors can meet the popular red pandas.
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Address: 3-8-9 Sakura-machi, Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture
Access: 3 minute walk from Nishiyama Park Station
Phone: 0778-53-2239 (Sabae City Commerce and Tourism Division)
Website: Nishiyama Park (Japanese)
#15. Ichijo Falls
Ichijo falls is about 12 meters high and is located upstream of Ichijo River, which runs through the Asakura Clan Ruins. A smaller fall, known as Medaki, is also in the vicinity and is about 5 meters high. The area is surrounded by well-wooded valleys and the mountain atmosphere is fresh and cool even in summer. Ichijo Falls has a legend about the famous sword master Kojiro Sasaki, who dueled with Musashi Miyamoto at Ganryu Island. According to the legend, Kojiro practiced ascetic exercises at the Ichijo fall and mastered his secret sword technique, “Tsubame Gaeshi” there.
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Address: Jokyojicho, Fukui City , Fukui Prefecture
Access: 20 minute walk from Jyokyoji bus stop
Phone: 0776-20-5346 (Fukui City Tourist Information Center)
Website: Ichijo Falls (Japanese)