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Fukui: A Culture Hub in Rural Japan Worth the Detour

by Elyse Glickman

Feb 26, 2024

© Marcos Seyde Dos Santos | Dreamstime.com


In many cases, less can be more in terms of what smaller cities and small-scale museums have to offer. This is true for Fukui Prefecture, located on the west coast of the main island and best known for its coastline, terrain and quiet towns. While major cities are awash with large-scale museums, bucolic Fukui Prefecture is worth a visit for its assemblage of institutions offering a deeper dive into Japanese life, history and culture.

Seiren Planet

Seiren Planet, on the fifth floor of the Happiring Building by the main entry point of JR Fukui Station, delivers a fresh spin on museum space exploration with its interactive displays about the solar system constellations and other phenomena. Its 8-K projection Dome theater has a diameter of 17 meters that makes a visitor feel as if he or she is lost in space. Though the shows are in Japanese, the visual effects deliver an unforgettable experience for anybody interested in space. Space enthusiasts may also want to add Minami-Rokuroshi and Rokuroshi Plateau to their itinerary, as it was first recognized in 2005 as the best place in Japan for stargazing by The Star Watching Network, and was designated an Urban Night Sky Place in recognition of the stunning dark sky views in 2023.

Ichijodani Asakura Family Site Museum

This museum, opened in October 2022 and located just a few steps from JR Ichijodani Station, is a great place to learn about Ichijodani and the Asakura clan before exploring the remnants of the castle town further up the valley. With thousands of important cultural artifacts on display, visitors can learn about life in Japan 500 years ago. There is also a 200-meter street running through the center of the ruins with reconstructions of residences and roads in the style of its former glory.

Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum in Wakasa-cho

Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum, the prefecture’s newest geological museum, allows visitors to look 70,000 years into the past while learning more about the fascinating geological measure known as a “varve,” a layer of sediment that forms on the bottom of a body of water. Much like tree rings, varves form in annual layers that can be counted in order to measure age. The museum has several guides available, as well as QR-coded exhibits allowing visitors to read AI translations of many of the displays.

Yumi Katsura Museum
The Wakasa area is also home to Yumi Katsura Museum, featuring the work of world-renowned bridal dress designer Yumi Katsura, as well as Wakasa Mikata Jomon Museum, exhibiting items and artifacts from the ancient Japanese Jomon era. Along the Wakasa Coast, Fukui Prefectural Seaside Nature Center features an aquarium with a magic fish feeding window.



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