Its not that you shouldn’t go to Tokyo… it’s that you shouldn’t spend your entire Japanese vacation there. Instead, venture outside of the city into the country. I always thought I was more of a city person until I visited Fukui, Japan. From August 8-12 I was teaching in Fukui, which is a very rural prefecture along the northern coast. You’re surrounded by green rice fields bordered by huge mountains. I felt like I was living in Jurassic World. Here’s why you should check out “boring” Fukui on your next trip.
- Local festivals
The day we arrived was the Phoenix Festival at the Fukui Station so we stopped to enjoy some yakisoba and traditional dancers (and J-pop). On my last night, there was a small local festival in Echizen, where my host family lived.
2. Experience daily life
I had homestay with a family — a teenage daughter, mom, dad, and grandparents. Being in the countryside means there’s no temptation to do “touristy” things to see the city nightlife. Instead you are able to experience “daily life” as a local Japanese person. Check out my typical Monday going to teach at a high school and then hanging out at Fukui Station.
3. The landscape
The nature of Fukui is boundless. On Tuesday after school, we went to Tojinbo which is it the suicide cliffs of Fukui. On the ride out there from Fukui City, you pass by all the bright green rice fields. Then the cliffs themselves are stunning prismatic shapes with an ocean view. Driving home along the coast is like stepping into paradise with the sunset views of the ocean. And we ate some sushi — appreciating the nature of the great sea. On Friday, I went to Mikuni Beach quickly to see the view.
4. That Dinosaur Museum though
Fukui’s most famous tourist sight is the Dinosaur Museum, hailed as one of the top three in the world. Many dinosaurs were discovered in Fukui so the museum was made in tribute of that — some dinos are even named after the prefecture. I highly recommend a trip to walk among the dinosaur skeletons (both real and replicas). Although I’m secretly a geology nerd, anyone can enjoy these ancient giants.
5. Japanese classes
On Saturday, my day off, my host family took me to a soba making class and a traditional paper making class. Since we were in the country, I feel like these are the popular fun things to do on the weekend. In Tokyo, you’re too tempted to go sightseeing but Fukui is the perfect place to relax and learn about some traditional homemade crafts. We started with making soba in Echizen, then washi (paper) in Echizen. The day also included karaoke and a coffee break, naturally.