Travel somewhere off the beaten path
“We can never return to the current moment, each time we meet is a precious once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
With its scenic mountains and lakes, shrines and temples, captivating culture and cuisine — the Fukui Prefecture is one of the best kept secrets in the wondrous country of Japan. I just recently returned from my second visit, and I’m incredibly happy that Fukui was added to my Japan itinerary!
While it was just a short two-day visit, my time in Fukui was spent exploring the diverse landscape, marveling at the incredible Buddhist landmarks, enjoying incredible Japanese food, and photographing the magical fall colors!
So without further ado, let’s dive into this fun photo essay about my recent adventures in Fukui!
Where is the Fukui Prefecture?
The Fukui Prefecture is located in the Chubu region of Honshu Island (Japan’s main island), and it’s quite accessible via train via Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka.
To visit all of the places mentioned in this article though, you’ll want to have a car rental or hire a private driver for your visit — so one of my main recommendations would be to add the Fukui Prefecture onto a somewhat Japanese road trip (as that lets you experience so many more Japanese hidden gems.
A fun sample itinerary would be to visit Tokyo, take a trip down to Hakone, then train down to Osaka, visit Kyoto, and then rent a car and drive up along the coast to Fukui. You could also drive back to Tokyo and experience the incredible mountain regions (or there are bullet trains back to Tokyo from Fukui which are about 130 minutes (and a comfortable experience).
Like most destinations in Japan, Fukui is an incredible destination to visit year round, as each season offer’s it’s travelers an incredible and unique experience. Whether you visit in Spring for the iconic Cherry Blossoms, enjoy the summer festivities, see the mountains and towns covered in a blanket of snow in the winter, or soak up the foliage during Autumn – I’m sure you will absolutely love your time here.
The Heisenji Hakusan Jinja Shrine
Complete with a scenic stairway through towering cedar trees and mossy rocks, the Heisenji Hakusan Jinja Shrine is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in the Fukui Prefecture.
It’s a National Historic Site with the tagline, “Centuries of Hidden History”, as only 1% of the remains of the 200-hectare grounds have been unearthed. It’s a sacred and special place, and there’s a certain feeling you’ll experience once you walk these moss filled stone paths for yourself.
As you explore the many various buildings and shrines, you can’t help but feel an overwhelming relaxation flow through your body. Breathe in the fresh air as you walk, explore, and soak up this fascinating ancient city filled with historical importance.
Tojinbo Cliffs & Oshima Island
No visit to the Fukui prefecture would be complete without experiencing the picturesque and rugged Tojinbo cliffs.
This unique coastline destination is known to be one of the best places in Japan to watch the sunset, and also a fun place for souvenir shopping, local delights, and trying the unique squid ink flavored ice cream! There is also the Tojinbo Tower for elevated views of the area.
There are boat rides you can book that will take you up and down the coast, and I’d also recommend taking a stroll around Oshima Island as it’s a nice walk with some beautiful scenery.
While you’re there, be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner at the Ootoku Restaurant! It’s one of the most popular restaurants in the area (among locals and tourists), and offers a delicious steak or seafood meal with a lovely atmosphere and coastal views.
The Eihiji Temple
A temple alive with real Zen monastic practice
Eihiji Temple, or the “The Temple of Eternal Peace” is one of the two head temples of the Soto School of Zen Buddhism, and also one of the largest monasteries in all of Japan. Tucked away in the scenic mountains, visitors will love visiting (during anytime of the year) as the foliage and scenery is breathtaking.
No photos are allowed to be taken of any of the monks while visiting the property, but learning all about their everyday activities and Zen Buddhism is a great way to spend a couple hours.
Founded back in 1244, visiting Eihiji Temple is truly an experience that will influence you to embrace Zen! Composed with a ton of different buildings, temples, a worship hall, living quarters, shrines, and so much more!
The Rainbow Line Summit Park
Perfect for nature and photography lovers, The Rainbow Line Summit Park offers one of the most jaw-dropping panoramic views in the Fukui Prefecture.
Overlooking the the “Mikata Goko”, or the Five Lakes of Mikatav, it’s an ideal place to watch the sunset for a stunning view including the many layers of mountains in the distance. Visitors have a large area to explore with various terraces and viewing areas, as well as tons of colorful flora to enjoy.
The drive up up the mountain to get there is also pretty spectacular with several vantage points, and guests have the option to take a single-person chairlift to the top (or take the short gondola ride).
Takefu Knife Village
Offering factory tours and a souvenir shop where you can by handmade “Echizen” forged knives, take a trip to Takefu Knife Village for an exciting look into the production of the arguably most important (and sharp) culinary tool.
This is the production site for 13 different companies around the world, and guests can even book a special workshop to learn directly from the expert craftsmen.
While they are a little pricey, there’s also a fun little shop with a wide variety of knives to purchase that would make for an excellent gift/souvenir for chef friends back home.
Awara Onsen Haiya
With beautiful rooms decorated in a classic Japanese Ryokan style, there’s simply no better place to stay in the area than the Awara Onsen Haiya! Guests are offered complimentary access to the relaxing onsen, which magical hot spring water will absolutely melt all your stress away.
They also offer private rooms (at an additional cost) for those looking for the Onsen experience in solitude. The hotel is luxurious, comfortable, and an overall unique experience that should be added to your Japanese bucket list.
Dining at the Awara Onsen Haiya is also a culinary adventure, and you’ll have your own private room and enjoy the meal while wearing one their complimentary Japanese onsen robes. With a delicious selection of sake, wonderful plating presentation, impeccable service, and incredible cuisine – this is a dining experience you’ll absolutely love! Pro tip – make sure to ask for extra wasabi salt (as it’s remarkable)!
Thanks so much for reading!
If you ever have any questions about my trip to the Fukui Prefecture or general Japan travel questions, feel free to shoot me an email or send me a DM on social media, and I’ll respond ASAP! I’m always happy to help people plan their travels, and love to hear from people who have found my guides/ photo essays helpful!
While it was a brief visit, I had such an amazing time in Fukui, and think it’s important to visit off the beaten path destinations when traveling!
Now that Japan has opened it’s borders again, I’d absolutely recommend planning your own trip and experience all the wonders this country has to offer!
Disclaimer: I was invited by the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for a press-trip to visit Fukui. As always though, all opinions are my own.