Largest City


The lost world of Fukui

Discover dinosaurs and the art of Zen in fossil-filled Fukui.

Hugging the western coast of Honshu between Kyoto and Ishikawa, Fukui’s attractions span millions of years. Four species of dinosaur have been excavated in the prefecture as recently as 2016 while the ancient Eihei-ji temple laid the foundations of Soto Zen Buddhism in Japan. The Ichijodani Ruins, regional stronghold of the powerful Asakura Clan, are also discoverable in Fukui, along with Maruoka-jo which has Japan’s oldest surviving castle keep. Head to the Echizen coast to see craggy basalt pillars carved by centuries of ocean erosion and witness a 360 year-old underwater tug-of-war on the shores of Lake Hiruga.

Fukui city makes a good base for exploring the rest of the prefecture. Less than an hour away but secluded among moss and cedar hills, Eihei-ji temple is one of two headquarters of Soto Zen Buddhism, attracting pilgrims from all over the world to learn the art of Zen. There are short programs available to foreign visitors where you can accompany the 250 or so monks-in-training through a rigorous schedule of prayer and meditation. The temples’ atmospheric wooden covered walkways and relics are worthwhile for just a day trip – you’ll leave with your spirit lifted.

Anyone who’s seen Jurassic Park will appreciate the informative Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum. The museum is the largest of its kind in Japan with four floors dedicated to the incredible discoveries made in the surrounding Katsuyama area, the pre-historic stomping ground of the Fukuiraptor and Fukuisaurus.

Japan history buffs should pay a visit to Maruoka castle in Sakai; it’s a steep climb up some seriously rustic wooden stairs lined with ropes to help you to the top. The 16th century Ichijodani Asakura Clan Historic Ruins are still under excavation though it’s possible to walk around the partially reconstructed samurai district and poke around the old town foundations.

Along the Echizen coast you can hike about and take giddy photos on top of the basalt pillars of the Tojinbo cliffs. At the opposite end of the prefecture, traditional fishing villages are dotted around Tsuruga and Lake Hiruga. In January local young men take part in an epic inter-village tug-of-war in the freezing river as a rite of passage to becoming “men of the sea”.


Places to visit

Echizen Ono Castle in Fukui, Japan.

Echizen Ono Castle

Fukui's real-life "Castle in the Sky."

Obama Aquaculture in Fukui Japan.

Obama City

Yes, Obama like the former U.S. President, but there’s more to this coastal town than the name.

The Tojinbo Cliffs in Fukui, Japan.

Tojinbo Cliffs

Mysterious cliffs off the Sea of Japan. Oh, and they may be haunted.

Other Destinations in Chubu

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Traditional street in Takayama, Gifu prefecture


Scenic Gifu prefecture is a rewarding stopping point on the way from Kanto to Kansai.

Kenrokuen Gardens, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref


Rich cultural heritage, great seafood and some stunning coastal scenery - if you're into that sort of thing.

Monkeys bathing in the onsen in Nagano


World-class winter sports, hot springs (occasionally monkey-filled), delicious local food and a foreigner-friendly vibe.

Maruyama rice terraces at sunset, Mie prefecture


The rice is right in Niigata prefecture where there's skiing in winter, festivals in summer and sake all year round.

Mountain Fuji and Shimizu City in Shizuoka, Japan.


It's resorts galore in serene Shizuoka.

Lake Kurobe in Toyama Prefecture


Toyama's speciality is mountains and there's no better place to experience them than here.

View of Mt Fuji Yamanashi Prefecture


Pack a prized Yamanashi piece of fruit in your camping bag and head for the hills.

This Month’s Top Spots

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

People eating and drinking in Yurakucho Tokyo Japan.


From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.


Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.