“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.
#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.
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.
#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.
#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!
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.
#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!
#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.
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.
- Fukui Tourism – This looks a little outdated, but has good information and an informative tourism video.
- The 100 Home Town Views of Fukui – has an in-depth PDF guide to the best sightseeing places in Fukui
- Japan Travel – a comprehensive guide to tourist attractions in Fukui.
- Fukui JETs on the Web – Check out the Area Guides for restaurant recommendations
Here is a beautiful video made by Fukui Shimbun about Fukui (only in Japanese).
For Fukui’s Sake is an entertaining read about Sam Baldwin’s time living as a JET in Ono.