If you’re looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path destination in Japan, Fukui might just be the perfect place for you. This charming prefecture, located on the west coast of Honshu, boasts spectacular natural beauty, rich history, and delicious local cuisine. Here are ten amazing things to do in Fukui that will make your trip unforgettable.
Explore the Natural Beauty of Fukui
From craggy cliffs to tranquil forest parks, Fukui is a nature-lover’s paradise. Make sure to add these beautiful outdoor spots to your itinerary:
Visit the Stunning Tojinbo Cliffs
The Tojinbo Cliffs are one of the most famous natural landmarks in Fukui. These dramatic basalt cliffs rise up to 25 meters high above the Sea of Japan, and the views are simply breathtaking. Take a walk along the clifftop path and feel the power of the waves crashing against the rocks below.
As you walk along the path, you will see a variety of seabirds soaring overhead. The cliffs are home to several species of birds, including cormorants, peregrine falcons, and black-tailed gulls. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a rare Steller’s sea eagle.
For a more immersive experience, take a boat tour around the cliffs. You’ll get a unique perspective on the towering rock formations and the waves crashing against them. The boat tours are available year-round, but be sure to dress warmly in the winter months.
Discover the Eiheiji Temple
Eiheiji is a Zen temple complex located in the mountains of Fukui. Founded by the famous Zen master Dogen in the 13th century, it is still an active training center for monks. The temple buildings are beautifully preserved, and the peaceful surroundings create an atmosphere of serenity and contemplation.
As you explore the temple grounds, you’ll see monks going about their daily routines. You may even have the opportunity to participate in a meditation session and learn about the principles of Zen Buddhism. The temple also offers overnight stays for those who want a more immersive experience.
Be sure to visit the temple’s beautiful gardens, which feature carefully manicured lawns, tranquil ponds, and colorful flowers. The gardens are a perfect place to relax and reflect on your journey.
Wander through the Maruoka Castle Park
Maruoka Castle is a unique castle built in 1576, and it is one of the few castles in Japan that retains its original wooden structure. The castle grounds are now a public park, and the cherry blossoms in spring and autumn colors make it a popular spot for picnics and leisurely strolls.
As you stroll through the park, you’ll see a variety of historical artifacts, including samurai armor and weapons. You can also climb to the top of the castle tower for a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
Be sure to visit the park’s tea house, where you can sample traditional Japanese sweets and green tea. The tea house is located in a tranquil garden, and the peaceful surroundings make it a perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring.
Overall, Fukui is a beautiful destination that offers a perfect mix of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and peaceful tranquility. Whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff, there’s something for everyone in this hidden gem of Japan.
Immerse Yourself in Fukui’s Rich History
Fukui has a long and fascinating history that has left its mark on the region in many ways. These landmarks will transport you back in time:
Step Back in Time at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Fukui is known as the “Dinosaur Kingdom of Japan” due to its rich fossil deposits. The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is one of the largest dinosaur museums in the world, with a massive collection of fossils and exhibits showcasing the evolution and diversity of Earth’s prehistoric creatures.
As you wander through the museum, you’ll come face-to-face with life-sized models of some of the most famous dinosaurs, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Stegosaurus. You’ll also have the chance to see real dinosaur bones up close, and learn about the fascinating process of fossilization.
But the museum isn’t just about dinosaurs. You’ll also find exhibits on the geology and ecology of the Fukui region, as well as displays on the history of paleontology in Japan.
Explore the Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins
The Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins are the remains of a once-thriving castle town that dates back to the 15th century. The sprawling site includes the ruins of the castle, the town’s streets, and the homes of the samurai and commoners who lived there. It’s a fascinating glimpse into feudal-era Japan.
As you walk through the ruins, you’ll see the remains of the castle walls and gates, as well as the foundations of the homes and shops that once lined the streets. You’ll also find artifacts from daily life, such as pottery and tools, that give insight into what life was like in the town.
The ruins are particularly beautiful in the spring, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, and in the fall, when the leaves change color.
Learn about Fukui’s Textile Heritage at the Fukui City History Museum
Fukui has a long tradition of silk weaving, and the Fukui City History Museum is a treasure trove of textiles and artifacts relating to the industry. There are displays showcasing traditional weaving techniques, as well as exhibits featuring antique kimono and other woven goods.
You’ll have the chance to see weavers at work, using traditional looms to create intricate patterns and designs. You’ll also learn about the history of silk weaving in Fukui, which dates back over 1,000 years.
Don’t miss the museum’s gift shop, where you can purchase beautiful silk goods, including scarves, handkerchiefs, and even traditional kimono.
Enjoy Local Cuisine and Shopping
Fukui is a hidden gem in Japan, offering a plethora of unique experiences to its visitors. From its fresh seafood to its traditional sweets and crafts, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Take a closer look at some of the local delicacies and shopping finds that you won’t want to miss.
Taste the Delicacies of Fukui’s Seafood
If you’re a seafood lover, Fukui is the place to be. With its location along the Sea of Japan, the city is known for its fresh and delicious seafood. One of the must-try dishes is the kani miso, a delicacy made from the innards of crabs. The rich and creamy flavor is sure to leave your taste buds wanting more. Another popular seafood dish is the Echizen-gani, a type of snow crab that is only found in the waters near Fukui. The meat is tender and sweet, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike. For those who want to try a little bit of everything, the kaisen-don is a perfect choice. This dish features an assortment of fresh seafood served over a bed of rice, making it a filling and satisfying meal.
Indulge in Traditional Japanese Sweets
If you have a sweet tooth, Fukui has plenty to offer. The city is famous for its wagashi, or traditional Japanese sweets. One of the local specialties is the Echizen warabi mochi, a type of mochi made from bracken starch. The texture is soft and chewy, and it is often served with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and brown sugar syrup. For those who prefer something a little more visually appealing, the kyo-wagashi is a great option. These beautifully crafted sweets are made in the style of Kyoto, and they come in a variety of shapes and colors.
Shop for Unique Souvenirs and Crafts
Fukui has a rich tradition of craft-making, and there are plenty of opportunities to shop for unique souvenirs and gifts. One of the most popular crafts in the city is lacquerware, which is made by applying layers of lacquer to a wooden base. The result is a beautiful and durable piece of art that can be used for a variety of purposes. Pottery is another popular craft in Fukui, and there are many local artists who create beautiful and functional pieces. If you’re looking for something a little more delicate, check out the glassware. Fukui is known for its beautiful glassware, which comes in a variety of colors and styles. Be sure to check out the local craft markets and galleries for one-of-a-kind souvenirs and gifts that you won’t find anywhere else.
Relax and Unwind in Fukui’s Hot Springs
After a long day of exploring, nothing beats soaking in a hot spring to soothe your tired muscles. Fukui has several hot spring resorts that offer a range of therapeutic baths and treatments:
Experience the Healing Waters of Awara Onsen
Awara Onsen is one of the oldest hot spring resorts in Japan, with a history dating back more than 1,300 years. Legend has it that the hot springs were discovered by a wounded deer who was seen soaking in the waters to heal its wounds. The alkaline waters are famed for their healing properties, and there are many luxurious ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) that offer a full range of pampering treatments. The ryokans are designed to provide a relaxing atmosphere, with tatami mat floors, shoji screens, and traditional Japanese decor. In addition to the hot springs, many ryokans offer kaiseki cuisine, a multi-course meal that showcases seasonal and local ingredients.
Awara Onsen is also home to a variety of cultural experiences, such as the Awara Kimono Forest, a collection of over 600 colorful kimono pillars that light up at night. Visitors can also explore the nearby Echizen Ono Castle, a well-preserved castle that dates back to the 16th century.
Soak in the Serenity of Mikuni Onsen
Mikuni Onsen is a smaller and quieter hot spring resort, but no less relaxing. The waters are rich in minerals and therapeutic properties, and the small town has a laid-back charm that will help you unwind and recharge. The town is known for its seafood, particularly its crab dishes, which are a must-try for any foodie. Visitors can also explore the Mikuni Shrine, a Shinto shrine that dates back to the 8th century and is said to have been founded by the god of the sea.
In addition to the hot springs and food, Mikuni Onsen is also a great place to experience traditional Japanese crafts. Visitors can try their hand at making washi paper, a traditional Japanese paper that is made by hand using fibers from the bark of the mulberry tree. The town is also known for its lacquerware, a traditional craft that involves coating objects in layers of lacquer to create a durable and glossy finish.
Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature, explore Japan’s history, or simply enjoy delicious food and a relaxing soak, Fukui has something for everyone. We hope this list has inspired you to add Fukui to your travel bucket list!