Wellness and Wonder in Fukui

Wellness and Wonder in Fukui

Recommended Length: 3 Days

Fukui Prefecture’s natural landscapes and spiritual sites combine to create a memorable journey focused on wellness and relaxation. Take a break and refresh your physical and mental well-being with a three-day journey that includes hot springs, meditation, and breathtaking views.

You can reach Fukui City in less than two hours from Osaka or Kyoto, by taking the JR Thunderbird Limited Express to Tsuruga, then transferring to the Hokuriku Shinkansen. From Tokyo, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Fukui via Kanazawa in around three hours.


Day 1: Revitalize your body by spending time in nature

Start your journey in the town of Sakai, north of Fukui City, where there are plenty of opportunities to engage in outdoor activities. Exercising outdoors is said to provide health benefits including natural vitamin D from sunlight, improved mood, and lower stress. Kayak around the Ryugahana Dam as you explore the waters of Takeda River.

Take a leisurely walk through Kasumigajo Castle Park to Maruoka Castle in central Sakai. Walking paths wind up gentle slopes through the park where approximately 400 cherry trees bloom in the spring. The main keep can be ascended via a series of internal steps and ladders. When you reach the third-floor lookout, you are rewarded with a panorama of the city and surrounding landscape.

Awara Onsen is a hot spring resort north of Sakai. You can soak your feet in a public footbath or enjoy a bath in an onsen to unwind after a day of outdoor activities. The hot springs of Awara Onsen are purportedly beneficial for alleviating ailments such as rheumatism and dermatitis.

Stay overnight in Awara Onsen or Sakai. Accommodations include hotels, guesthouses, and ryokan. Some have on-site onsen facilities.


Day 2: Rejuvenate your mind in tranquil surroundings

Head east to Katsuyama and discover tranquility within the moss-covered grounds of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine . This shrine, originally established in 717 CE, is secluded in the forests at the base of Mt. Hakusan. The verdant grounds are ideal for shinrinyoku, or “forest bathing”: immersing yourself in nature to improve physical and mental well-being.

Deepen your spiritual journey at Daihonzan Eiheiji Temple , an expansive Zen complex in the town of Eiheiji, to the west of Katsuyama. The temple was founded in 1244 by the influential monk Eihei Dogen. The complex includes a monastery where monks undergo training to become priests in the Soto School of Zen Buddhism.

Visitors are welcome to participate in the temple’s daily zazen meditation sessions, which are held several times a day. Meditation is said to develop concentration and mental resilience, and zazen sessions emphasize mindfulness, encouraging participants to be present through all moments of their daily lives. The temple offers overnight stays (shukubo) that provide an authentic introduction into the ascetic lifestyle of the temple monks. The programs include activities such as meditation, chanting, lectures on Buddhist spirituality, and traditional meals of the plant-based cuisine known as shojin ryori.

The nearby Hakujukan has contemporary lodgings for visitors who want to stay near Daihonzan Eiheiji but prefer to follow their own schedule. Sutra-copying and zazen meditation sessions can be arranged at the hotel. Facilities include spaces for individual contemplation and relaxation, such as a Zen garden, library, and public bath.


Day 3: Refresh your soul with spectacular views

Allowing yourself some idle time to reflect on and enjoy your surroundings is a simple action that can support your wellness journey by reducing your stress levels. Make your way to the town of Mihama and visit the Rainbow Line Summit Park atop Mt. Baijodake. The park affords splendid views of the Mikatagoko , a series of five connected lakes on the shores of Wakasa Bay that have been designated a National Place of Scenic Beauty. Admire the landscape as you while away some time soaking your feet in an open-air footbath, or lounging on a hammock.

In the mountains of Obama to the south, the historical buildings of Myotsuji Temple seamlessly blend into their surroundings. The temple has a history of more than 1,200 years, and its main hall and three-story pagoda are designated National Treasures for their architectural beauty.

Uriwari no Taki Falls in Wakasa is a short drive from Myotsuji Temple. The wide and low waterfalls originate from a natural spring, and their potable waters are renowned for their mineral content. The negative ions produced by waterfalls are said to enhance mood and relieve stress.

Onward Travels

Fukui’s abundant mountains and woodlands provide ample opportunity to continue your wellness journey. If you enjoy hiking, consider climbing Mt. Arashima in Ono. It is one of the most popular hikes in Fukui for its views of the region’s other mountains.