Fukui, the capital city of its namesake, is a beautiful coastal dream. Facing the Sea of Japan, Fukui enjoys nice, warm summers and cool winters–perfect for the blooming of sakura flowers! Echizen Takada is one of the many JR stops in this city, and definitely one not be missed for its rich history and natural gifts. Read on to learn about the best things to do around the area!
1. Admire the snow-capped roofs of the imperial buildings at Yokokan Garden
If you didn’t know, Japan used to be ruled by feudal lords and Fukui was one that featured the Matsudaira Clan. The Yokokan Garden was the second home of the Matsudaira Clan, and its architectural beauty is a great representation of the Edo period in Japan. Historical significance aside, the Garden is a feast for the eyes with its intricate imperial roofs and serene ponds. With a reputation for learning and self-improvement, Yokokan Garden might bring some peace or inspiration to you students out there.
During the summer or autumn, the vegetation at the Yokokan Garden is also particularly impressive. When in the Seien area, snap a photo with the falling auburn leaves with the palace as the background or admire the koi that swim in its resident lake. The otsukiminoma, or observatory also features exquisite sliding doors and zelkova woods for those interested in the architectural makeup of the place.
Address: 1-12-3 Houei, Fukui, 910-0004
Website: Yokokan Garden
2. Marvel at all kinds of marine animals in the Echizen Matsushima Aquarium, located aptly by the sea!
The Echizen Matsushima Aquarium features a whopping 400 species of marine animals, with its most famous exhibits being the penguins and schools of sardines. The penguin-kan, or penguin hall is particularly exciting, where one enters an underground tunnel as penguins swim overhead. This immersive experience does indeed make one feel as though they were living under the sea! Besides, the aquarium is highly interactive, where you can touch and get along with dolphins, octopuses and even sharks! Definitely a thriller for the young ones.
The newest exhibition is named Kaiyo-kan, where you can view the jam packed schools of sardines and hammerhead sharks swim around in an enormous tank, encapsulating a small slice of marine life.
Echizen Matsushima Aquarium
Address: 74-2-3 Mikunichosaki, Sakai, Fukui Prefecture 913-0065
3. Soak in a hot spring at one of the most popular onsens in the area!
A slight distance away from Echizen Takada in Awara Yunomachi, the Awara Onsen in an attraction worth making the distance for! The onsen, as seen in pictures above, is decorated in a traditional Japanese style, very much reminiscent of the yubaba in Ghibli film, Spirited Away! The lingering scent of cypress and nostalgic decor of the place creates a soothing and homely atmosphere, great for some much-needed relaxation.
With hot pools warm up in the winter and relax those muscles, as well as icy baths to refresh yourself in the summer, the onsen has a wide variety of facilities at your pick. Why not massage your back with jet water while you’re at it? Fresh meals are also available, such as the exquisite omakase meal featuring local seafood. Be sure to fill your stomach after a long day in the onsen!
Awara Onsen Ashiyu
Address: 1 Chome-1 Onsen, Awara-shi, Fukui-ken 910-4104
4. A historical architectural prowess, the Pagoda at Myotusji Temple is a must-see
The famous pagoda at Myotsuji is named Mieto, and is the cornerstone of the temple. Termed a national treasure, the pagoda lies next to the main shrine in its historic glory. When one enters the main hall to pay the admission fee, there is a detailed explanation of the history of the temple and the pagoda for visitors wanting to learn more. Mieto has been built one stage higher from the main hall, making it a quiet and serene space for prayers or general reflection. Amulets for good health, fortune, love and the likes are also sold for those who want a blessing.
Do also swing by the main hall to check out the great statues of Buddha, such as Yakushinyoraizo and Fukasuna Gen. The wooden statues bring about a profound sense of peace and calm in the hall, so do slow down your footsteps and soak in the reverent atmosphere.
Address: 5-22 Monzen, Obama 917-0237, Fukui Prefecture
5. Visit a military castle in Japan, constructed during the feudal era!
In feudal Japan, the Maruoka Castle was constructed by one of the great lords who were vassals of the shogun, Shibata Katsutoyo. Tracing its year of creation to a formidable 500 years ago in 1576, the castle still holds its ground as one of the most impressive military castles in Japan. One of the oldest of its kind with the donjon, or castle keep intact, the Maruoka Castle is indeed a national treasure. The ownership of the castle was constantly shifting between different lords, and was used to prepare for battle. With such a pragmatic purpose, its architecture remains clean cut and efficient, a contrast to the lavish and intricate homes of the daimyo lords.
Two-tiered and three-storied, the architectural prowess of the castle and constructional advancements of the era is still apparent even without the typical decorations and intricate sliding doors. The 400 cherry trees surrounding the castle also enhances its natural beauty, and when in full bloom, it is indeed a sight to behold.
Address: 1-59 Kasumi Maruoka-cho, Sakai-shi, Fukui
Website: Maruoka Castle
6. Enjoy the stunning scenery at the Tojinbo Cliff, where blue waters meet intricate jagged rocks
The Tojinbo is simply exceptional–one of the only three cliffs worldwide with a columnar jointing, meaning the hexagonal layout of the rocks. The ragged rock cliffs are formed through erosion by the ceaseless crashing waves in the Sea of Japan, and is a sheer geographical wonder. Designated as one of Japan’s precious natural monuments, its beauty is apparent.
The steep cliffs are an astounding sight in the sunrise, where one can follow the coastline and view the cliffs bathed in an orange glow. A point of attraction is the Tojinbo Oike, a lagoon with a cliff. If you ascend the peak of the rocks, the aerial view of the lagoon is breathtaking. Otherwise, hire a boat on the sea with the locals, and get up close and personal for some unforgettable pictures.
Admire the cliffs from the Tojinbo Tower as well, where the windy observatory provides yet another bird’s-eye view. Be sure to catch the “flower-wave” phenomena, where the violent splashes of wave on rock create the illusion of flower fireworks in the air.
Website: Tojinbo Cliff
7. Consider a peaceful one night stay at the Daihonzan Eiheiji Temple to clear your mind
A key disclaimer: Eiheiji Temple is a traditional training monastery, thereby possibilities for overnight stays and retreats are very limited. Foreign applicants have to apply for vacancies to the Eiheiji International Department at least one month before their desired stay. Otherwise, they must apply through the Fukui Tour Guides Association. That being said, a stay at Eiheiji is still an unforgettable experience, and it is definitely encouraged for those with an interest in Zen Buddhism and who want an immersive experience in 13th-century Japan.
Founded in 1244, Eiheiji still maintains its ethereal appearance till today. It stands serenely on a cedar covered slope in the mountains just outside Fukui City, and the surrounding mist gives it an inexplicable allure. With over 70 structures, all connected in complex walkways, the temple is a great place to wander around for a full day. Spring and summer see the blooming of lush vegetation in the temple, which becomes a magical sight from late October to early November when they turn auburn in autumn. With 200-250 monks in training at the temple, be sure to keep quiet and respect the religion and structures.
Daihonzan Eiheiji Temple
Address: 5-15, Shihi, Eiheiji-cho, Yoshidagun, Fukui, 910-1294
Website: Daihonzan Eiheiji Temple
8. Travel back in time to study the awe-inspiring skeletal structures of dinosaurs at the Fukui Dinosaur Museum
Renowned as one of the best dinosaur museums internationally, the Fukui Dinosaur Museum places an immense focus on dinosaur research and education. Stepping through its doors, you feel as though you are transported to the likes of Jurassic Park or the ages where dinosaurs roamed the earth. A magical experience indeed. The museum is elaborate and holds four floors. The main floor houses its iconic Dinosaur World exhibition where more than 40 dinosaur skeletons are constructed and showcased alongside detailed English explanations. Encouraging its visitors, children or otherwise, to learn accurately about the dinosaurs is clearly a key objective of the museum. An incredibly life-like replica of the T-Rex also greets its visitors upon first entrance, and is an amazing first impression.
Immerse yourself in the world of dinosaurs with the multiple movie theaters with informational films and smaller interactive exhibits. You will be sure to learn more about these formidable ancient creatures.
Fukui Dinosaur Museum
Address: 51-11 Terao, Muroko, Katsuyama, Fukui 911-8601
Website: Fukui Dinosaur Museum
Echizen Takada, Fukui: a place with so much to offer in Japan's history, culture and geography
Echizen impresses with its wide array of attractions and seemingly endless things to do, from learning about the feudal and Edo period of Japan to ancient dinosaurs, or Buddhism in a mountain monastery. Be sure to check out these attractions on your trip there, and an amazing experience is guaranteed.
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