Water defines the natural environment of Fukui. Much of the prefecture lies along the Sea of Japan, and in addition to sights along the coast, there are freshwater lakes and rivers with lots of variety to explore. Whether for fun, for relaxation, or for scenery, there are plenty of destinations to immerse yourself in.
The Tojinbo Cliffs run along a kilometer-long stretch of the coastline of northern Fukui. These tall cliffs are made up of countless natural columns of stone—a rare phenomenon found in only two other places worldwide. Over many centuries, the harsh waves of the Sea of Japan have created remarkable shapes, with deep inlets, and cliffs as tall as 30 meters along the shore. Visitors can walk around and climb on these rocky cliffs, or see the cliffs from the water with sightseeing boat rides. These rides offer a close-up view of natural rock formations with unique shapes, such as Lion Rock and Candle Rock.
Coastlines Known for Seafood and Scenery
The Echizen Coast of central Fukui is lined with sharp, rocky cliffs, and the twisting road along the coastline is popular with drivers. The sights here include unusual rock formations like Kochomon, a stone archway created by the wind and water, as well as the thousands of daffodils that bloom on the hillsides in December and January. The Echizen Coast is also a major fishing area, and there are many restaurants nearby that serve local seafood like Echizen Gani crab.
Kehi no Matsubara, in Tsuruga, is a beach over a kilometer long, lined with some 17,000 pine trees. There are walking trails here, with year-round views of the green of the pines and the white of the sand, against the blue of the Sea of Japan. Each August, Kehi no Matsubara hosts a fireworks show that takes place above lanterns floating on the sea.
Scenery No Photo Could Hope to Capture
Beautiful Lakes by the Sea and in the Mountains
The Five Lakes of Mikata—Mikata, Suigetsu, Sugako, Kugushiko, and Hiruga—are all clustered together into a small area of southern Fukui, but all distinct from one another. Each one has a different depth and a different level of salt in its water, making each lake a different color. Lake Hiruga, the deepest lake, is as salty as seawater, making it excellent for fishing. The nearby Rainbow Line is an 11-kilometer toll road through the mountains, with panoramic scenery far above the Five Lakes of Mikata.
Lake Kuzuryu was created in Ono, in eastern Fukui, when a hydroelectric dam was built on the Kuzuryu River in 1968. Today, this large lake in the mountains is a popular destination. Lake Kuzuryu is particularly striking in late October and November, with the contrast of the red and orange leaves against the calm blue of the water. The 266-meter-long Hakogase Bridge offers a vantage point to enjoy the surroundings.
Picturesque Islands Near the Coast
The island of Oshima is just off the coast of northern Fukui, near the Tojinbo Cliffs. Since ancient times, this small, densely forested island has been considered home to deities of the sea. Today, it is connected to the mainland by a pedestrian bridge, but the only human-made structures on the island are a shrine and a lighthouse.
To the south, Mizushima Island can be found at the end of the Tsuruga Peninsula. This small island is a lively summer destination, nicknamed “the Hawaii of the Hokuriku Region” for its white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. Visitors can go swimming with the many fish in the shallow water, and go snorkeling for a closer encounter. There are daily ferries to and from the island that run during beach season.
The Iconic Rivers of Fukui
The Kuzuryu River runs through the heart of northern Fukui, from its eastern border to its northwestern coast. Since ancient times, it has been a major source of fresh water. Today, it is still a popular river among fishers of ayu sweetfish, as well as for recreation. There are campsites and parks along the river, and visitors can enjoy activities like kayaking. Places such as Kuzuryu Gorge are especially striking in the autumn, too. The river is also used for events, such as the floating lanterns of Eiheiji each August.
One of the rivers that feeds into the Kuzuryu River is the Asuwa River, which flows through the heart of Fukui City. The river is a part of everyday life for the people of the city, who use the wide riverbanks as a scenic jogging course, or as a place to simply spend time with friends by the water. In late March and early April, the cherry blossoms that line the Asuwa River come into bloom, creating a festive atmosphere.