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17 reasons why you need to visit hidden gem Fukui in Japan

7:21 PM claire 0 Comments

Mention Fukui to most people outside Japan and you would likely get an answer "Huh where is that?" This is why it is such a great place to visit - it is not crowded and flooded with tourists!

I would recommend the best way to get TO and FROM Fukui, would be to fly into Kansai Airport (Osaka) and then get the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass (approx  SGD 180)  to get to Fukui from there. This way, you cover the return cost of the train tickets (it's already easily the same price of the pass itself) and because the pass is for 5 days, you can head further North to Kanazawa or use it to get to Kyoto station to continue your holiday there!

Layered paddy fields! Would be nicer in summer when the rice are being grown but this is pretty gorgeous already, don't you think?

The best way to get around Fukui though, would be to rent a car! I rented from Budget, (click for the website) It is really really affordable, we paid about SGD 311 for 3 days and we picked an MV to fit our big luggage's. The only qualm is that the GPS was not really updated so you will have to use your phone .You might want to bring your own handphone stand from your car back home or something. Trains and buses are not very frequent so driving around would be the best option. If you are Singaporean you will need to get an International Driving License, which is super easy to get, just have your driver's license and a passport photo and head to one of their offices or you can even do it online (but you will have to wait for the delivery) for only SGD 20.






Alright, here are all my reasons why you need to stop by Fukui and what better way to start than to rave about the food:

- Echizen Crab - NUMBER 1 CRAB IN JAPAN!


Don't look down on these crabs as they are served and fit for the consumption of the Emperor and the Imperial Family. These are known as the pride of all Japanese crabs and Echizen crab is only found in Fukui!! If you want to taste the best crabs you'll likely ever have in your life you know where to go. My recommendation is to book a ryokan and pick the Echizen Crab option in your dinner menu (book from the original ryokan website to get to choose).



Different ways of eating crab


Note! You can only have this between Early November to Late March as these crabs have a very strict fishing season. Look out for the yellow tag which is only marked for Echizen Crabs. You are very welcome.

- Sauce Katsu

Ordinarily you will be used to have prawn, beef, or fish fried up and you would dip it in tempura sauce or maybe for cutlets you would pour some miso sauce on it and eat it.

Here in Fukui their dish is a little different. The meat is dipped in miso sauce and served to you ready to eat! It isn't overly sweet as you would imagine, in fact that makes every bite more tasty and seasoned. A must try!



- Seafood from the sea of Japan



If you look at where Fukui is on a map, it is right next to the Sea of Japan so you can expect seafood to be the freshest of the fresh and with so much variety you will want to try everything! 
Try pufferfish (fugu). Did you know that chefs serving fugu require undergoing many years of training before they can get a certification and serve it in their restaurant? If it is not prepared properly you can die from eating it. The poison is found in the skin, skeleton, ovaries, intestines and particularly the liver. At the chef's final examination they will have to prepare their fugu and then eat it! I suppose if they are still alive they must have done it right - haha! 
There are different ways of eating fugu - sashimi style, hotpot style, in chawanmushi, or even in tempura! My favourite is fugu hotpot because the meat is just so fresh and soft, together with the soup you have a nice aroma and flavour. Simply exquisite. 


Fugu sashimi. Can't get any fresher than this

Of course you will need to have more crabz. Seriously freshly fried crab tempura was so good I actually teared up. I had extremely good crab and fugu here at this ryokan which has an amazing view of the Lake Suigetsuko. I also had the biggest abalone ever but more on that on another post.

Be sure to stop by Sakanamachi Seafood Market to get some fresh seafood at extremely competitive prices!


- Rice is super good as it is grown using the waters from Mt Hakkasan


I don't know how to describe rice generally but I can say it is moist and soft and tasty. There you go. Due to Fukui's location it gets water from mountain sources - where spring water is aplenty.

- That makes Sake pretty darn good too



The secret to having a prosperous city is to have clean, fresh, water. You see, you bathe in it, you cook with it, you make drinks with it and because it is filled with minerals that you can't really taste, it affects your body and mind - it is wonderful. Not like this Newater thing that Singapore is producing that kills flowers (try it - put a fresh flower in one). 

Get a sake tasting platter everywhere you go and find your favourite sake. I know I did!!


Sake also makes me smile like this, but in this picture I was having really good milk ice cream!

- Ume (Plum)



Fans of umeshuu put your hands up! Many people associate umeshu as a 'ladies drink' but in recent years I see more and more of my male friends enjoying this drink in bars too! Here in Fukui ume is grown therefore producing many varieties of items using ume. There's ume pickles, ume tea, ume ice cream, even ume soba!! Can't believe how ingenious Japanese are.



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Now that I have gotten you very hungry talking about sweet, savoury and sour food, here to the next section about Fukui's top attractions:

- One of the top dinosaur museums in the world, and #1 in Japan



Now if you ask any Japanese about Fukui, chances are they would have heard about Fukui's most famous landmark - the Dinosaur Museum. It is every dinosaur loving person's dream!
The museum is close to Japan's largest fossil excavation site and features tons of fossils found (you can even touch some of them!). This four storeys landmark features moving dinosaurs, a game area for children, mock ups of dinosaurs true to size and more!

I was really surprised that there was a species of dinosaurs found in Fukui and therefore the dinosaur was named after the city! They are called Fukui-raptor and Fukui-saurus. Here you can find moving dinosaur replicas of these dinosaurs if you can find them in this huge museum!



For English speakers and tourists, not to worry as there are english translations.

Even those who are not thaaat interested in dinosaurs will find something interesting about this (watching dinosaurs fighting on a tv screen being one of them, watch replica dinosaurs moving and growling, admire huge skeletals of some are extremely HUUUGE!) Don't miss this if you are in Fukui!


Admission Fee: 720 yen
Opening hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (No entry after 16:30)
Address: 51-11 Terao, Muroko, Katsuyama, Fukui 911-8601, JapanOfficial website (in English): https://www.dinosaur.pref.fukui.jp/en/


- Visit one of the most Zen temples in the world


Eiheiji Temple is one of the most zen temples in the world. In fact, Steve Jobs once dreamed of being a monk here and has written about this in his books! This temple still follows rituals over centuries old and is known to be a temple of eternal peace. Any wanna-be monks here have to undergo very strict training, and monks are known to have dropped out.

We happened to be here close to dinner time (about 5pm?) and could smell the aroma of food that made me wish they had a restaurant. Public can also sign up to undergo some of the training to become more zen, though I do not think I will be able to handle it. Imagine waking up really early, having a very simple vegetarian meal, and cleaning the temple top to bottom daily, as well as chanting and having prayers to find your inner self. That is very tough indeed.

Well, the easier option is to visit this temple and admire its beauty. (the white blob in the picture is actually snow!!)

- Onsen 


Credits: Arisotei


Fukui, surrounded by mountains also has a few onsen towns at Awara, Mikuni etc. Depending on your preferred choice of view, you can pick a ryokan overlooking the Sea of Japan, or facing beautiful greenery. I picked the sea because I like to stare at the waves while looking out.
The hot spring water in Fukui is known for helping with rheumatism, dermatitis, neuralgia, gastric problems, and other conditions. If you haven't had the chance to try an onsen I strongly recommend it! Those with tattoos may be asked to cover with a plaster or something, and this is the practice generally throughout Japan.


- Drive up a mountain and experience this breath-taking view


Click on the image for a blow up of this stunning view

Here at Rainbow Line Mountain Peak Park you can enjoy one of the best sea and lake views I ever had. Here you have the Japan Sea and the Five Lakes of Mikata all in one breath. I cannot stress enough that you definitely have to come here when you come to Fukui. It will be a most memorable one.

Tip: TAKE THE CABLE CAR UP! You'll have to pay but it is worth it.

The air here is insanely clean and just makes you feel so good!! That all the travel is worth it.

- This beach


Takahama beach is one of the cleanest in Japan (well ignore the seaweed on the sand as the cleaners will clean before summer) you can see the seaweed and all below! So blue and nice. If it wasn't so freezing (still spring when I went) I would have jumped right in. Time to go back during summer!

- Tojinbo Cliffs


These cliffs look scary but they offer one of the best views of the Sea of Japan. Here we caught the sunset and it was truly magnificent!!


It is pretty windy here though so you should bring some thicker clothes.

- Drink water right out of a well


In Fukui there are numerous wells and some are so clean you can literally stop and drink right out of it! I guarantee it will be one of the cleanest waters you'll ever drink and you have been wondering what have you been missing all your life. Bring water bottles or heck a water cooler here to stock up on this water!

- Knives 



Fukui is also known for their knives! Many of the best chefs in the world want a knife made from Fukui because of the outstanding quality and at some of the top places, expect to wait years before you get your knife. That's how high in demand it is! Every knife is handmade, imagine the polishing, the stamping, the sharpening - we always take for granted how easy it is to buy a knife here but do not realise how much effort goes into making one!

Visit Takefu Knife Village to see some of these knife-makers working with free entry! You can even buy some knives back from here.

- Paper making



Fukui is one of the largest producers of handmade paper all year round, so it's no wonder that you have to come by and make paper for yourself! Here I even get to decorate it with pressed leaves and some paper, finished off with some gold leaf sparkles. It's really fun!

Find out more about the history of Echizen paper here


- Pretend Yokokan garden is your house



Yokokan garden was the second home of the Matsudaira clan, the ruling feudal lords of Fukui domain in Echizen Province. It is the epitome of elegance and beauty and one can sit here gazing out for hours.

Yokokan was the place where the mistress of the 4th lord, Mitsumichi, gave birth to a son. It was here too that the second lord, Tadanao, forced his chief vassal, Uemon Nagami, to commit seppuku.

You'll be surprised to find that this is a replica as the original was destroyed during an air raid. However the blueprint was found and hence, the garden was rebuilt though with a slightly smaller scale. It would be great to come back for all 4 seasons to enjoy the change in views!

- People!



Last but not least, the people in Fukui are so friendly! I have been to a number of cities in Japan and in many places everyone just passes you by looking stressed or once the waiter/waitresses take your order they leave. Here people chat with us, ask us where we are from and make sure we feel comfortable!

I was also really impressed by the generosity of Fukui people.

A museum that preserved a high end restaurant frequented by geisha and their guests was closed on the day we visited but after our guide called them saying that we came from Singapore etc, someone actually drove over and opened it for us! They were even willing to open the restaurant for us to get food if we wanted! I was SO surprised and service is top notch. Try this in Singapore even if you are a prince from Brunei or a celebrity and the owner will say "come back tomorrow."

So happy to have been able to go to Fukui and experience a complete change to what I'm used to whenever I visit Japan!



Phew! That was a very long post. I will be sharing my itinerary soon if you would like a shortcut to plan your trip, feel free to use it! 

Psst: Check out Fukui's magazine URALA on the latest places to eat and things to do in Fukui. 

I will be covering more posts about my accommodation and the places I visited in more detail, be sure to come back and take a look!

Thanks for reading! 
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