In this blog, Miki Travel focuses on a series of activities to keep you busy when visiting Fukui.
Here below is a list of experiences to immerse yourself in the local charm.
1. Eco-cycling tour around the town of exquisite spring water. Yama-kudari（going down a mountain on a bike）in Ono.
Ono City is a castle town built on the intermountain basin and known for its morning market which has been held for 400 years almost every day except winter time. As it is surrounded by around 1500-metre-high mountains which keep snowmelt, the city is blessed with abundant and tasty spring water.
The starting point of the cycling tour is Hokyoji, a temple located on the way to one of the surrounding mountains. It’s the second head temple of the Soto school of Zen after Eiheiji, the head temple of the school in Fukui. Here you might have a chance to chat with monks keeping to a strict discipline. From the temple, you go down the mountain like a breeze to Ono city. On the way to the central Ono, you will stop at a drink stall, a noodle factory and a natural water spring.
Tour contents: Visit Hokyoji Temple – Riding a bike – Stop at a drink stall, a noodle factory and a water spring
2. Guided tour of Ichijodani Valley and Ichijodani Asakura Family Site Museum: exploring a medieval castle town
Ichijodani is a valley located just 15 minutes by train from central Fukui.
It once flourished as a castle town and was ruled by a warring lord of the Asakura family for about 100 years in the Warring States period of medieval Japan. The town was burnt down after lord Asakura lost a battle. After the fire, the castle town was buried and remained under rice paddies for centuries. Consequently, the remains of the archaeological site were surprisingly well-preserved.
In the Museum you can see excavated artefacts: daily objects of commoners, craftsmen’s tools, crockery for gorgeous banquets and elegant pastimes such as fragments of Venetian glassware and tea ceremony utensils. The residence of the lord is partially reproduced on a life scale. After visiting the museum, you will visit the site by bicycle. You will see the remains of residences of various people of the time, such as the Asakura residence with remarkable rock gardens, a townscape of vassals and a townspeople’s district which has been partially recreated.
Tour contents: Riding a diesel train (JR Etsumi-Hoku line)- visit Ichijodani Asakura Family Site Museum – cycle around the ruins
3. Visiting two unique fishing villages facing Mikata Goko (Five lakes of Mikata)- Stories of lives by the sea
Mikata Goko consists of five lakes next to each other. They each have different features: one is seawater, another is freshwater, and three are brackish water. Water depth varies as well. Consequently, ecosystems, people’s lives and businesses also show subtle differences.
The Rainbow Line Summit Park is on a summit located between Mikata Goko and the Sea of Japan, and affords panoramic views of the lakes and the sea; it is a fantastic place to relax and enjoy your time.
At the heshiko producer’s hut by Lake Hiruga, you can hear about the process to make heshiko (fermented mackerel) and the local tales of life in the fishing village. You can also sample some snacks based on heshiko.
The Nuno-e Museum exhibits handicrafts rendering motives with fabric and string. Ms Hiroko Watanabe, a housewife who self educated the applique-like technique and made these works out of fabric, is a lifetime resident of the village, located between Lake Kugushi and Wakasa Bay. The handicrafts tell the story of the lives, events, townscapes and marine creatures around her. The materials she uses also tell stories, as they were workwear and everyday wear donated by villagers nearby.
Tour contents: Ride JR Obama Line – guided tour to Rainbow Line Summit Park by a reserved car – visit to artisan Heshiko producer – visit to Nuno-e Museum
4. Discover the charm of the miraculous Lake Suigetsu: breakfast cruise on the lake and visit the Varve Museum
Lake Suigetsu is one of five lakes of Mikata Goko. Varves are mud layers from a lake bed with striped patterns showing the seasonal changes in accumulation for each year. These varves were dug out from 45 m under the lake bed and are the longest excavated in the world. The thickness of the sediment for each year is just 0.7 mm. It means that the varves have been stratifying for 70,000 years in this serene lake. The varves not only tell when volcanoes erupted and floods occurred but can also reveal environmental changes on the Earth. The Varve Museum shows varves in a stained-glass display. The breakfast cruise serves a Japanese-style breakfast and lasts 40 minutes. The boat will take you to the point where the varves were dug. You will cruise on serene and placid Lake Suigetsu and Lake Suga where you can see various kinds of wild birds, especially in winter time as the lakes are registered as one of the Ramsar Convention Sites.
Tour contents: Breakfast cruise on Lake Suigetsu – visit to the Varve Museum
5. Local sushi making experience at Wakasa Obama Food Culture Museum
Obama City, located on Wakasa Bay, is famous for its marine products. Among them, mackerel has been considered a speciality for a long time; it used to be carried to the old capital Kyoto, 73 kilometres south. The ancient routes which were used to carry mackerel are called Mackerel Roads.
At the Museum, you will deepen your knowledge of washoku, Japanese cuisine, with an instructor. The museum has a kitchen studio where you will try making traditional local chirashizushi using grilled mackerel and other local ingredients from the farm and the sea. The ingredients are prepared for the experience; visitors will cook some of them, then combine and plate them according to their taste. Most of the ingredients used in the recipe can be found in almost all supermarkets, so you can replicate the dish at home.
Tour contents: Visit to the Wakasa Obama Food Culture Museum – guidance on washoku, Japanese cuisine – local chirashizushi making experience – lunch (own sushi)
6. Ozashiki entertaining and full-course dinner at the historical villa “Goshoen”
During the pre-modern age, the principal domestic trade routes connected each port along the coast of the Sea of Japan. The castle/port town of Obama was one of them. Due to its commercial relevance, Obama had a district to entertain sea traders in almost the same elegant manners as in Kyoto.
Goshen was built by an influential local sea trader in 1815 to entertain the feudal lord of Obama. Recently, a chopstick-producing company acquired Goshen and renovated it. During your dinner, you can enjoy the pairing of food and specific chopsticks chosen to match the taste and texture of each food. Every time a new dish is served, chopsticks are changed accordingly. Various kinds of lacquerware techniques, developed throughout the centuries, are applied on chopsticks in Obama, so you will be able to see up close the different styles used. During the dinner, the Obama geishas – a mother and a daughter- entertain the guests with dance, conversation, and a traditional chopstick game exclusive to Obama
Tour contents: Visit Goshoen by reserved car – view the Japanese-style garden and chopstick gallery – dinner with geisha entertainment – play games using chopsticks
7. Stay at a Machiya-style townhouse and Ozashiki entertaining with a full-course dinner at the historical villa “Goshoen”
As we previously stated, Obama was one of the port towns on the main domestic trade routes connecting ports along the coast of the Sea of Japan. In addition, Obama is just 73 km north of the ancient capital, Kyoto. Due to the influence of the imperial capital, many of the townhouses in Obama were built in almost the same style as Kyoto, and some were used to entertain these sea traders.
Nowadays, these traditional wooden townhouses have been renovated as rental vacation houses. They are rented out for exclusive use of one single family or group at a time. Each townhouse has a fully equipped kitchen; so how about a stroll around the town and the fish markets to buy the ingredients for your breakfast?
In Obama, there are many historic temples to visit, such as Myotsuji Temple which was established in 806 and has a three-storied tower and the main hall built more than 700 years ago.
Tour contents: Check-in at the Machiya townhouse – visit Goshoen by reserved car – view the Japanese-style garden and the chopstick gallery – dinner with geisha entertainment – play games using chopsticks – go back to your machine.
8. Guided walking tour in nature at Aobayama Herbal Village, and medicinal tea-making experience (lunch included)
Aobayama Mountain, also known as Wakasa Fuji, is located between Kyoto and Fukui prefectures and has a conic shape seen from the Fukui side. It has been a place of religious training, and at the same time, it is a singular place where the vegetation of both the south and north of Japan can be found.
Before visiting the Herbal Village, you will visit two scenic points: Shiroyama Park by the sea, and Nakayamaji Temple on the way to the mountain.
In the Herbal Village, the guide will take you on a walk and teach you the unique features of each herb and plant. You will try making medicinal tea using a traditional mortar previously used to dispense medicine. The village will serve you a special pork cutlet sandwich garnished with herb and their original homemade craft cola that will refresh your body after a walk.
Tour contents: Arrive at Shiroyama Park by reserved taxi – visit Nakayamaji Temple – walking tour in Aobayama Herbal Village – make medicinal tea with a mortar – picnic and lunch (pork cutlet sandwich with herb and homemade craft cola)
Consider hosting a convention in Fukui.
Miki Travel offers some of the most generous subsidies in all of Japan: up to 9 million JPY for a convention held in Fukui, and up to 12 million JPY when international participants also attend. Still unsure? We can also offer financial help for you to come over to Fukui and see it for yourself before committing to anything. That’s how convinced we are that you will fall in love with the place!
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Author: Deb Davad