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Photo By: Jeanne Croteau
Largest City

Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum

A museum celebrating the humanitarian history of Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture.

By Jeanne Croteau

Tsuruga, a beautiful port city sitting on the southern shores of Fukui Prefecture, may not be famous with tourists, but there’s no shortage of things to do or stories to share. While exploring inland, visitors will find wetlands, shrines and museums to explore — but some of the most incredible discoveries lay along the waterfront.

One of them is the Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum. From the outside, the building itself may make you feel like you’ve gone back in time, but once inside, what you learn about Tsuruga’s deep and meaningful history will stay with you long after you’ve made your way home.

The Gateway to the Continent

tsuruga port of humanity

Photo by: Jeanne Croteau A history port town that traces back to ancient times.

A natural harbor on the Sea of Japan, Fukui prefecture’s Tsuruga Port has played a major role in trade throughout history. From the Nara through the Meiji era, it served as a trade gateway to the Asian Continent, eventually offering trade routes between Japan, Korea and Vladivostok.

In 1912, a train route between Tsuruga Port and Tokyo was established, cementing its status as a flourishing trade hub. Decades later, this port would become a beacon of hope to the thousands of Polish orphans and Jewish refugees that arrived.

Stories of Tragedy, Compassion and Bravery

Photo by: Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum Learn about all the lives of families that were affected by World War II.

An established trade route with Russia set the stage for two remarkable events in Fukui’s history. Between 1920 and 1922, the Japanese government and Tsuruga locals worked together to save the lives of more than 760 Polish children orphaned by the Russian civil war.

Two decades later, Sugihara Chiune, the vice-consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania during World War II, organized a daring operation. By issuing what’s now known as his “Visas for Life,” he helped Jewish refugees escape Nazi persecution. This was an incredibly risky maneuver, but one that ultimately saved thousands of lives.

A Museum Worth Visiting

Photo by: Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum A stunning outdoor facade of the four buildings that make up the museum.

Established in 2008, the Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum shares the stories of these remarkable acts of compassion that saved many lives all those years ago. The main exhibit highlights the evolution of Tsuruga Port, a major trade center turned sanctuary for those looking to survive the most devastating circumstances.

Interested in architecture? The style of the museum is noteworthy, as well. The Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum is housed in four restored buildings that harken back to how the port must have looked in the early 20th century.

Things To Know

Hours and fees

The Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum is open year-round. Visiting hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the last entry is at 4:30 p.m. The museum offers special exhibitions throughout the year, so be sure to check the website for updates.

Admission is ¥500 for adults and ¥300 for elementary school students. Discounted group rates are available; children four years old and younger can visit for free.

Photography is not permitted inside the museum.

How To Get There


By bus

From JR Tsuruga station, ride the Gurutto Tsuruga Loop Bus (Sightseeing Route) at bus stop 3 and get off at Kanegasaki Ryokuchi. Or take the Community Bus Matsubara Line at bus stop 4 and get off at the same stop.

By car

The museum is approximately 10 minutes from Tsuruga IC on the Hokuriku Expressway. Parking is available across the street at the Kanegasaki Ryokuchi Parking Lot, with spots for 128 standard-size vehicles and five large buses.

Where To Stay

Tsuruga Manten Hotel Ekimae (Manten Hotel Chain)
  • 401-4 Kunihirocho, Tsuruga-shi, Fukui, 914-0059 Japan
  • ¥7,800 - ¥22,560
  • 3.98/5 (1,205 reviews)
  • 2.1 km
Hotel Granbinario Tsuruga
  • 1-3-46 Kanawacho, Tsuruga-shi, Fukui, 914-0055 Japan
  • ¥8,400 - ¥44,200
  • 4.35/5 (318 reviews)
  • 2.2 km
Hotel Select Inn Tsuruga
  • 15-8-12 Nogami, Tsuruga-shi, Fukui, 914-0121 Japan
  • ¥5,600 - ¥26,600
  • 3.25/5 (1,050 reviews)
  • 3.2 km

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