Top 10 Places to Visit in Fukui

“Fukui? Eeehh! Sore wa doko?” This is the reaction I often get from Japanese people who I meet on my travels outside of Fukui.

The prefecture is almost unheard of in Japan, let alone in the world. Yet Fukui has some fantastic historic, cultural and beautiful places to visit. Here’s my top 10!

#10 Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins (between Echizen and Ono) 

I’m no Japanese-history buff, but at this reconstructed settlement I can really feel the history of the area and imagine what the bustling town of 10,000 people would’ve been like 500 years ago. It’s also in a gorgeous valley that would be excellent for cycling.


One of the reconstructed streets from the samurai town that stood here 500 years ago before it was burnt down by Oda Nabunaga.

#9 Maruoka Castle 

Unlike many castles in Japan that have been reconstructed, Maruoka Castle, also known as ‘Kasumiga-jo’ (Mist Castle), has not been changed since it was built in 1576 and is Japan’s oldest castle tower. You can admire it from the outside or climb the steep stairs up to the top to get panoramic views over Maruoka town.


#8 Ikeda waterfall and rope bridge

Ikeda offers serene vistas of rice-terraced valleys, cascading waterfalls and places to try or make delicious soba noodles. Read my post on it here.


This 40 meter long bridge is woven with vines and is suspended 12 meters above Asuwa river and makes for a scary crossing!

#7 Echizen Washi Paper Village, Echizen 

You can also watch masters at work as they make papyrus paper and buy beautiful souvenirs made of washi (traditional Japanese paper). The thatched Okamoto Otaki shrine, one of Echizen’s gems, is a short walk away hidden on the outskirts of a forest and shouldn’t be missed.

Making a mini fan at Echizen Paper Village

A mini fan is one of the many things you can make at the Paper Village.

#6 Tojimbo Cliffs

Tojimbo cliffs are an undeniably strange tourist attraction. The fact that people have committed suicide here in the past, and there is still a nightly suicide watch, has only increased the popularity of these rectangular outcropping rocks. Japanese people don’t like to take photos here in case ghosts of the deceased appear. Despite that it is one of Fukui’s most popular tourist destinations, it’s even a popular place to take a date!


Tanning at Tojimbo. No ghosts in sight.

#5 The mountains, rivers and lakes east of Ono 


“The Watering Hole”, a favourite ALT camping and swimming spot near Ono.

Lake Kuzuryu is also a beautiful place to visit in autumn when the leaves are turning red.

#4 Yokokan Garden, Fukui City

A peaceful Edo Period garden in the centre of Fukui City. Come here to relax and remember you are in Japan.


Take a book and read in the tatami-floored rooms overlooking the pond.

#3 Ski Jam, Katsuyama

Snowboarding, or skiing, are popular hobby for ALTs in Japan. It’s a great way to enjoy winter and meet up with friends on the weekend. Even if you haven’t done it before, after a couple of tries you’ll be standing! Even if you’re on your backside and can still enjoy the stunning views!

Ski Jam has great beginner and intermediate courses

Ski Jam has great beginner and intermediate courses for snowboarders and skiers.  

#2 Nishiyama Park, Sabae

Cherry blossoms in spring, sprinklers to jump through in summer, red leaves in autumn and snow-protected trees in winter. All year round this park has something to offer.

Swathes of azaleas in May

Swathes of azaleas in May.

#1  Eiheji Temple 

This is not your usual tourist destination. You have to change your shoes to enter, walk around quietly and the only souvenirs you can buy are meditation cushions and prayer beads! It lives up to its name, “The Temple of Eternal Peace”, even when there are tourists wandering around.

Founded by Zen Master Dogen Zenji in 1244, it is the largest training centre for Zen monks in Japan today. With grey-robbed monks going about their daily lives, you can witness the harsh mental and physical training regime these men go through to gain monkhood. It’s a privilege to be able to see monks continuing century-old traditions, and one you should definitely visit Fukui to see.


Eiheiji Temple in the snow.

More resources 

More resources

Here is a beautiful video made by Fukui Shimbun about Fukui (only in Japanese). 福井県の魅力を高橋愛さんが紹介する観光プロモーションビデオの一場面

6915889_75x75Former JET Aaron Nathanson made some stunning videos while living in Fukui, check out Yukiguni: Snow Country , Sonotoki: At That Time, Sakura: Cherry Blossom in Fukui.



For Fukui’s Sake is an entertaining read about Sam Baldwin’s time living as a JET in Ono.


The Asakura Clan ruins: A Samurai City

A little-known tourist site in Fukui is Ichi-jo dani Castle, a restored town from the Sengoku and Edo period (around 16th to 17th century). Set in a beautiful valley surrounded by forested mountains and close to Ono, it’s worth a visit for anyone interested in Japanese history. Bring your own guide though, as there isn’t much explanation in English!

The main reconstructed street, also famous for where a SoftBank advert was filmed.

‘Little Kyoto’ 

The city was built by the head of the Asakura clan and it attracted many people to live there it was called ‘Little Kyoto’. Many priests, nobles and scholars moved to Ichijodani, bringing with them the latest technology and culture from Kyoto. During the 16th century the city had 10,000 people living there, making it the third biggest city in Japan! There was a castle on top of a mountain and gates at either end of the valley. The Asakura clan were defeated by a famous samurai, Oda Nobunaga, who sieged the castle and set it alight. Untouched since its destruction in 1573, some parts of the city have been restored to what it used to be like in the 16th century. Most parts have just been excavated and you can only see the outline of buildings, but the main street has been completely reconstructed.

A surprise!

My friend and I were enjoying exploring the shops and houses. They were dark inside so it took our eyes time to see the life-sized models dressed in traditional costumes. Then, my friend slid open a wooden door to find a man dressed as a samurai smiling back at her! She nearly fell over backwards! We were both wondering why he was dressed as a samurai and waiting in a house to ambush tourists, when he stepped outside and four other people dressed up in historical costumes did so too! Then it clicked, they were working there!

Once we’d stopped laughing, we proceeded to have an awkward conversation in English about the restored city. There were obviously friendly people with lots of knowledge to share, yet we lacked a common language to chat in. Maybe next time I’ll go back with someone who can translate!

Karamon gate used to be the entrance to the Asakura Manor House

Karamon gate used to be the entrance to the Asakura Manor House

Koi fish under the bridge. Do you know the oldest koi fish recorded in Japan was 226 years old?

Looking towards the Asakura Manor House

Samurai playing shogi (Japanese chess) in one of their three tatami rooms.  Also, see the swords above the men, one of  them is three metres long!

The dressed-up workers who surprised us! The tallest man is dressed as a samurai, the man on the left as a merchant and the women are general townsfolk.