Just 2 hours away from Kyoto, Fukui is a prefecture full of interesting history, scenery, and cuisine. Located next to the Japan Sea, Fukui boasts one of the most delicious varieties of crabs in Japan. Furthermore, the sea has carved out volcanic geological formations on its cliffs that cannot be seen anywhere else in Japan. It is also the main centre of paleontological discoveries in Japan, with two major dinosaurs having been discovered in and named after Fukui. So read on to discover 6 things you have to do in Fukui.
1. Go back in time at Fukui Dinosaur Museum
Highly recommended for all you dinosaur lovers out there. The Fukui Dinosaur Museum located in Katsuyama City is world renowned and one of the best dinosaur museums in Asia. Fukui is famous for the Fukui-raptor and Fukui-saurus, which were both discover near the grounds of the museum. In addition, around Fukui Station and in the museum itself you’ll be able to see animatronic dinosaurs that will blow you away with how life-like they are. The Fukui Dinosaur Museum has an amazing collection, with over 40 dinosaurs on display and with extensive information in Japanese and English. Other features include an area where you can touch fossils and a research centre where you can watch scientists’ study and clean fossils behind glass. With so much to see and do you’ll be able to easily spend hours wandering the 4 levels of this amazing museum.
【Opening hours】9 am – 5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
【Access】From Fukui Station take the Echizen Railway to Katsuyama Station. From there take the community bus which stops in front of the museum.
2. Shred powder snow at Ski Jam Katsuyama
Thinking about going on a skiing or snowboarding trip for your next vacation? Look no further! Ski Jam Katsuyama in Fukui is one of the biggest snow resorts in Western Japan. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert or somewhere in between, there are a variety of trails offering stunning views and high-quality powder soft snow. There are 12 trails altogether and skiing and snowboarding classes can be taken for kids and adults. Ski Jam is also family friendly and has areas and trails dedicated for children. There’s an area for sledding, banana boat rides and a snow play area with dinosaur motifs.
Hungry from all that skiing and snowboarding? Located on the peak of the slopes is Restaurant Beach Terrace where Japanese food and craft beer can be enjoyed. Occasional Snow Mountain Barbecues are held there on sunny days. The open terrace has some of the most spectacular views of the slopes and is not to be missed.
After you’ve finished having fun in the snow, relax your mind and body with a soak in some hot spring baths. Hoonji Hotspring Sasayuri is easily accessible from the slopes and offers a sweeping view of the mountains from their open-air baths. They also have a range of indoor baths. Both are great to heal the tiredness away.
【Date】mid Dec – late Mar
【Opening times】8:30 am – 5 pm
1 day lift ticket | adult: ¥4,800 | elementary school kids: ¥3,200 | child (3-5years old): ¥1,600
1 day rental | ski set: ¥5,000 | snowboard set: ¥5,000
【Access】From Fukui Station take the Echizen Railway to Katsuyama Station. Then take a taxi for 20 minutes to Ski Jam Katsuyama.
3. Bask in tranquillity at Eiheiji Temple
Beautiful in all seasons, Eiheiji Temple changes from lush greenery to blazing reds to pure white snow throughout the year. Grand and stunning cedar trees frame the temple, where monks still practice Soto Zen. Soto Zen was brought from China to Japan by Dogen, a Buddhist monk who also founded Eiheiji Temple. Located on the temple grounds are also the sleeping quarters, kitchen, and baths for the monks, which can’t be entered by the public but only seen from the outside. The Dharma hall, which is located on the peak of the hill, has the best view of the gardens. From there, you can watch the monks train and meditate. You’ll feel at peace and one with nature, which is fitting for a temple with a name that translates to ‘Temple of Eternal Peace’.
【Opening hours】10 am – 3 pm
【Access】From Fukui Station take the Eiheiji Liner Bus to Eiheiji Temple, which takes about 30 minutes.
4. Enjoy the amazing scenery at Tojinbo
Formed from a volcanic eruption 12-13 million years ago and carved out by the waves of the Sea of Japan. Tojinbo is made up of unique formations rarely seen and offers stunning views of the ocean. The giant columns of rock seem to protrude from the ocean, forming a one of a kind phenomenon in Japan. Tojinbo is the endpoint of the 100-kilometre-long Echizen-Kaigan Coast that stretches all the way from the city of Tsuruga in the south of Fukui. This area of Fukui has been designated a Quasi National Park due to its natural beauty and age.
Tojinbo gives you access to a variety of scenic walks. One popular walking track is called the Ariso Promenade, which takes you from Komegawaki area in the town of Mikuni, all the way to Oshima, a scenic island off the coast. Oshima is the biggest island on the Echizen-Kaigan Coast and has been worshipped by locals since ancient times. It can be accessed via Tojinbo by way of a beautiful vermilion bridge. The island contains a shrine, Ouminato Shrine, and a walking trail that will give you magnificent views of Tojinbo.
【Opening hours】24 hours
【Access】From Fukui Station take the Echizen Railway to Mikuniminato Station. Then, take the 84 Tojinbo Line Bus to Tojinbo.
5. Feast on delicious Echizen Crab
Truly the “taste of winter”. This delicious type of snow crab is caught off the Echizen coast in Fukui and is famous for its delicate and sweet meat. Many consider it to be the best tasting crab in Japan, which is quite a compliment when you consider that its competing with world famous varieties from Hokkaido and Kinosaki. However, Echizen crab has earned this reputation. The geography of the Echizen Coast lends itself to optimal conditions for crabs, providing them with an abundant source of food and perfect sea temperatures. This environment ensures that the crabs from this area grow up big, with meat that is not only delicious but also nutritious. Due to the high quality of this delicacy, Echizen crab is the only crab in Japan that has been dedicated to the Imperial family, offered as gifts to members of Japanese royalty since 1909.
If you would like to try this delicious delicacy of Fukui, it is available at many eateries around the prefecture and can be enjoyed a variety of ways, such as barbecued, steamed, or simply eaten raw.
6. Try Fukui Soul Food: Echizen Oroshi Soba
This delicious and nutritious bowl of noodles has been a representative dish of Fukui since the Edo Period, hence it being named after the original name for the prefecture, ‘Echizen’. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are well-known for having health benefits related to its macrobiotic properties. Echizen soba is typically served with grated daikon radish on top. It is the sharpness of the daikon radish that gives Echizen oroshi soba its distinct flavour.
The locally produced soba noodles are boiled, then chilled before serving. Toppings such as bonito flakes, diced spring onion, and of course, the grated daikon radish, are added. The noodles are then served with piping hot dashi, a type of Japanese soup stock. The dashi is then poured over the noodles, completing the dish.
Though each restaurant in Fukui has its own spin on the dish and it can be enjoyed with a variety of delicious toppings, the noodles in combination with the dashi always provides a delicate flavour, with the daikon radish adding a spicy kick for contrast. Local restaurants take a lot of pride in the preparation of this dish, making sure that only the finest local ingredients are used and ensuring that the dish is always deserving of its title as Fukui’s number one soul food.
With the best dinosaur museum in Japan, Fukui is a must visit spot for all you dinosaur lovers. Even if you’re not into dinosaurs, you’re sure to find something to enjoy, with delicious seafood, powder snow, and stunning scenery. Have you visited Fukui? Tag us with your pictures on our Instagram @gdayjapan and if you haven’t why not visit Fukui on your next trip to Japan?