We have to be honest, Fukui was not somewhere we had planned to go, nor is it known for it’s sights, but we didn’t have much choice.
Because of the fact we couldn’t find any accommodation in Kyoto, Osaka or anywhere surrounding over the weekend, we didn’t have a lot of options. In fact Fukui was our only option between Osaka and Kanazawa (our next destination)
However while there isn’t much to do in Fukui, it is still a very pleasant modern city. Modern mostly because it was destroyed in its entirety during World War 2. There is nothing old whatsoever.
The centrepiece of the city, as with many in Japan, is the castle. But in Fukui, while the moat and castle standings remain, what stands in the place of the castle is the local government offices, a nondescript 1970s building that makes no attempt to look grand despite its location. I’m not sure why Fukui decided not to rebuild the castle but it makes for a fairly bizarre sight.
Another unusual thing we found was a almost brutalist style concrete shrine. It had all the features of a classic Shinto shrine but with almost none of the beauty.
One thing that is worth seeing is Yokokan Garden. Relatively small compared to some Japanese gardens, but beautifully kept, it is also home to a traditional Japanese house that you can walk around, complete with paper walls and tatami mat floors.
Included in the garden ticket price was entrance to the city museum, in a nearby modern building. It was an interesting musueum but it would have been more interesting if any of the exhibitions had been in English! It was still worth a look around though.
Outside is one of the original castle gates with part of the outer moat.
As the sun went down we climbed up what seemed like a million steps to a shrine and a nice view of the city.
Fukui is also home to a unique food – sauce katsu-don. It’s similar to normal katsu-don (breaded pork cutlet) but the sauce version is basted in Worsterchire sauce before being breaded. It apparently was conceived at Europa-ken (also known as yoroppaken) restaurant in Fukui which has been open for over 100 years and is where we ate ours. It was super tasty!
We have one pretty big regret about Fukui – we didnt visit the Fukui Prefecture Dinosaur Museum. It’s supposed to be one of the best dinosaur museums in the world, located in the nearby city of Katsuyama. At the time it seemed like a bit of a hassle getting there, but now I regret not making the effort.
We spent a morning in nearby Echizen, which is chock full of shrines and temples. However it was a total ghost town – no-one, local or tourists, were around. It was bizarre, and after spending a few hours looking at shrines we headed back.
What we saw was very attractive but as every sign on every temple and map was in Japanese, we have no idea what was what. So I’ll just post the pictures.
Fukui can be reached from Osaka in just under 2 hours on the Limited Express Thunderbird. It will eventually be connected to the Shinkansen but not until 2025!
To get to Echizen, despite there being tons of Echizen stations (perhaps serving the outskirts?) the station you actually need is Takefu which is about 13 minutes from Fukui on the Ltd Express Thunderbird.
We stayed at Fukui Phoenix Hotel. The phoenix is a symbol of the city rising from the ashes of destruction after WW2. The hotel was a nice enough business hotel, though some confusing wording when we booked meant we booked a room for 1 by accident. The staff, super polite as usual in Japan, didn’t tell us this so we ended up asking for extra pillows and towels. It was rather embarrassing when we found out what we’d booked and made us look like huge cheapskates.
That aside, it was a decent hotel – 8/10