Find Your Way Around Fukui, Japan

The Fukui Prefecture of Japan, formed in 1871, is one of nine prefectures under the Chubu region in central Japan. It is located on Honshu Island facing the Sea of Japan; the same island as the capital of Japan Tokyo. The old Japanese provinces of Wakasa and Echizen are now part of Fukui prefecture. 

Facts About Fukui Prefecture and City

There are nine cities in Fukui prefecture. They are Awara, Echizen, Fukui (which is the capital), Katsuyama, Obama, Ono, Sabae, Sakai, Tsuruga. It also has eight towns. Fukui city is in the north-central part of Fukui prefecture.

Fukui City has an estimated population of 265,408 and a total area of 536.17 square km. As for the Prefecture, it is one of the least populated prefectures in the whole of Japan. It only had 778,943 people as of June 1, 2017. 

A Home to Many National Parks

On March 2008, some areas of the prefecture were classified under Natural Parks, which means that Japan has considered these special places as places with impressive, natural, scenic beauty to be preserved for people to enjoy. These are the Hakusan National Park, the Echizen-Kaga kaigan Park, the Wakasa Wan Quasi-National Park and Okuetsu Kogen Prefectural Natural Park. 

A Problem with Population

Instead of increasing, Fukui’s population is in a state of decrease. “Fukui Marriage-Hunting Cafe” is a Japanese provincial government dating website launched in August 2010. It was started with the aim of improving Japan’s declining population growth, which eventually can affect its economy. The site encourages men and women to meet for getting marry and having children. Couples, who get to meet on the site, will receive monetary aid and gifts from the government if successful. 

Torn By Both War and Earthquake

The United States of America and its allies strategically targeted and carpet- bombed Fukui during World War II because it was an important industrial center. It produced aircraft parts, electrical equipment, machine motors, and other metal products and textiles. The attack was aimed to destroy any of Japan’s recuperative potential with the hope that World War II would end with its defeat. Bombing raids on Fukui took place on July 19, 1945. Much of the city, (around 86%), was destroyed. Casualties rose to 333,000 people killed. Fukui Castle was left in ruins, but it was rebuilt again in 1993.

Fukui again was destroyed on June 28, 1948, by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake. Houses and buildings collapsed and caused a large fire that took 5 days to put out. The deadly earthquake killed 3,769 people. Fukui eventually rose from the ashes and is now the thriving city it is today.

Here’s A Guide to the Top Things to Do

  • The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture, is one of the top museums in the world dedicated to dinosaur research and education. It is the largest of its kind in the whole of Japan – and is absolutely a must-see for tourists around the area.
    • The museum exhibits 40 dinosaur skeletons and is just a few kilometers from a large excavation site. This excavation site, on the Sugiyama River, within the city of Katsuyama, features a cliff (the Kitadani Formation) of geological stratum from the Cretaceous Period, over 120 million years old. It is here where various kinds of dinosaurs were discovered. 
  • The Dinosaur Valley Fukui Katsuyama Geopark, is an area assigned as a Geopark by UNESCO because it contains rare geological finds. Excavations here have produced dinosaur skeletal structures, fossils, and even eggs. 

The preservation and restoration of these are major tasks. The geopark aims to have visitors gain an understanding of dinosaurs. They even offer fun activities where visitors can dig up their own fossils. These activities are also popular among children of all ages. Registration is needed to join the events. 

  • Tojinbo is a place in Sakai district made of basaltic cliffs formed 12 to 13 million years ago. The view is breathtakingly beautiful. The rocks on the cliffs were formed due to volcanic activities and shaped by erosion from sea waves.
  • Eiheiji Temple is an interesting serene training temple of Soto Zen founded in 1244 by Dogen Zenji. Located deep in the mountains near the west coast of Japan, it is not very far from Fukui City. It is freezing in the winter, but in autumn it can be very relaxing when you enjoy the different colored leaves that match the temple building. Other temples to visit are the Wakasahiko Shrine (in Obama) and the Kehi Shrine (in Tsuruga).
  • The Awara Hot Spring in Awara City is the most famous hot spring resort in Fukui Prefecture.  You can choose from many inns there, and take a dip in the Awara Onsen hot spring, which is comfortably heated. It has an elaborately decorated Japanese garden and delicious dishes of fresh seafood straight from the Japan Sea.
  • One must not miss the Maruoka Castle in Sakai district. It is the longest standing castle in all of Japan. Built in the 16th century, it still is considered the oldest castle in Japan. The locals celebrate their festivals most especially the “Hanami Festival” (or flower viewing festival) near the castle.
  • Visit Echizen and learn the various authentic Japanese ways of making excellent quality knives, lacquerware and beautiful Japanese paper. Echizen-shi in Fukui Prefecture has been the center of the production of Echizen-washi (Japanese paper) for centuries. There are approximately 80 factories all scattered in the Goka (which is composed of the five villages, namely, Oizu, Iwamoto, Shinzaike, Sadatomo, and Otaki) that produce this traditional paper. 

More About Fukui’s Authentic Washi Paper

Washi paper comes in many designs and forms. Some examples of its uses are wrapping paper, postcards, wallpapers, diplomas, brochures, umbrella paper, watercolor paintings, plates, origami, lanterns, clothing, and so much more. They are made from different kinds of material.

The plants used for papermaking are Kozo, Mitsumata, Gampi, Hemp, Wood Pulp, and Bamboo. The making of washi paper is very labor intensive, but after all that hard work, the results are sheets of incredibly resilient, beautiful, world-class paper.

Buy Eyewear in Fukui, Japan

Sabae City is the production center of the world’s eyewear for over a hundred and ten years.  More than 96% of Japanese eyeglasses come from here. In the 1980’s the local craftsmen were the first in the world to manufacture eyeglass frames made from light but sturdy titanium. At present, around 47 businesses in Sabae are involved in frame manufacturing. Visit the Megane Museum and discover the roots and rich history behind the process of the manufacture of Sebae’s superior quality eyeglasses. 

Fukui is a place that one must discover and visit. It offers an immaculately beautiful scenery, mountains endowed with greenery, fresh streams and rugged coastlines created by the fierce waves of the Japan Sea. It is filled with traditional culture with their shrines, temples, and ancient festivals. Its high-quality craft culture has produced many skilled craftsmen who have made first class lacquerware, invented high-quality Japanese paper, and forged knives, becoming the global manufacturer of high tech eyeglasses.

Beach Trip Recommendations in Fukui, Japan

Fukui Prefecture belongs to the Hokuriku Region that is famous for diving and swimming. Those who live in Fukui have easy access to these beaches, as each subway station can lead to a beach. Tourists and locals travel to these beaches during summer to enjoy themselves and participate in marine sports. Many also just want to enjoy and relax and soak in the sun, relishing the beauty of this Japanese beach.

  • “Crystal Beach” in Suisho-Hama, Tsuruga is a favorite for its powdery, white, crystal-like sparkling sand that glistens under the sunlight and its deep blue water. It is a notable spot for windsurfing. 
  • Another beach in Tsuruga is “Kehi no Matsubara”. It is a very lovely, clean, and pleasant beach near reasonably priced hotel options and beach houses. The pine trees surrounding the beach give a calming ambiance.
  • “Echizen Beach” in Echizen is excellent for fishing and diving. It has emerald green waters, and you can experience a relaxing drive around its coast. 
  • Watch the sunset at “Mikuni Sunset Beach” in Sakai or rent some boards or wetsuits and go surfing if you prefer.
  • Wakasa Wada Beach” in Takahama is a wide and beautiful sandy beach with a long expanse of shallow sea water. It is a most popular choice among visitors for swimming. It earned a Blue Flag certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) because it has met the strict environmental standards in maintaining good and high quality of water and safety.
  • Tanoura Beach” in Tsuruga is highly rated as an amazingly clear water getaway where one can go snorkeling. It has parking, toilets, and bath cabins. Families will surely enjoy this beach. 

Must-Try Food Options when in Fukui, Japan

Echizen City is famous for three dishes. They are namely, oroshi soba, boruga rice, and ekimae chukka soba. 

  • Oroshi soba is a traditional dish made mainly of buckwheat noodles, served in set meals of katsudon and miso soup. It’s delicious with spring onions, radish and bonito flakes. 
  • Boruga rice or Volga rice consists of an omelet wrapped around rice that is cooked in curry, topped with crispy pieces of pork and barbecue sauce. You can find this dish at the popular Yokogawa Bun Ten restaurant or at the Ishikawa restaurant. 
  • Ekimae Chuka soba is more ramen-like than soba. Served at the Wakatake Shoukudo restaurant, their rendition of the delicious ekimae chukka soba is noodles in clear chicken broth accompanied with bamboo shoots, spring onions, and ham.

Another dish that is necessary to try is the Pork Sauce Katsudon or Pork Cutlet Bowl. This is available at the Yoroppaken restaurant at Toyoshima, Fukui. It is made of deep fried pork cutlets flavored with a special, secret sauce and placed on top of hot rice.

One also must try the town of Wakasa’s Fukui-Ume plums. The plums have tiny seeds and thick, fleshy, soft pulps. Found in Nishida district, there are two types of plums. The Kensaki type is used to make plum wine or liquor, and the Benisashi is usually made into pickles (umeboshi) using the old, natural method. Due to the fine and delicate taste of the highly rated plums, you can enjoy them as side dishes and even give them out as gifts. 

Fukui Prefecture’s location along the Sea of Japan has given Fukui a wealth of delicious marine life. The Wakasaji Gozen Lunch is a very special lunch served in Wakasa region. It consists of Miso soup, and all kinds of fresh seafood from squid, tuna, shrimp, mackerel, yakisaba-zushi, eggs of salmon, salmon itself, and sea bream, all served together in one meal.

The Wakasa gyu beef is unforgettable once you taste its tender, juicy meat that is so wildly sought after. If you enjoy eating meat, then you must not miss trying their beef. 

What’s the Weather Like in Fukui?

Just as most parts of Japan, Fukui has four seasons with a very warm, humid subtropical climate. It has rainy weather mostly all year round, especially during the cool winter, when the north-westerly winds bring with it heavier rains. This makes Fukui abundant with water resources. Annual precipitation averages 2368.3 mm or 93.2 inches. The coastline of Fukui prefecture usually has heavy snowfall during winter. 

The wintertime temperature ranges from 0.5C-7.3C. Springtime temperatures go from 7.4C-17C. Summertime temperatures climb from 20.6C-29C. Autumn temperatures recorded were from 12.1C- 21.1C

The Location of Fukui on the Map of Japan

On the map, Fukui Prefecture is located on the Coast of Japan Sea in the Chubu region of Japan. It borders Ishikawa Prefecture, Shiga Prefecture, Gifu, and Kyoto. 

Fukui’s Nuclear Power Plants and How They Affect Tourism

There are five nuclear power plants located along Wakasa Bay in Tsuruga which supply power to the Keihanshin metropolitan region. Overall, it has 14 reactors, which is the most any prefecture in Japan has. There are many other nuclear plants in the other areas of Fukui. 

In terms of tourism promotion, officials in Fukui Prefecture conducted a survey and received a report that showed how people perceived its image as less of a natural beauty, and more as a center for nuclear power. 

They realized that they did not want to continue down that route in terms of their reputation, and they need to somehow remove the nuclear power plants so that many tourists could consider Fukui as a vacation spot. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has confirmed that the reactors have met safety standards. Now, all they need to do is get the people’s trust that it is safe to visit Fukui, and school those who do not know about how Nuclear Power Plants work.