福井県――北陸の文化と日本海の風景が広がる

[From June Issue 2013]

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Fukui Prefecture is located in the northwest of the Chubu region. Rich in natural resources, since it faces the Japan Sea, it also has an abundance of seafood such as echizen crab, wakasa puffer fish and amaebi shrimp. Divided into two regions by the Kinome pass; to the east is Reihoku and to the west is Reinan. Reihoku – known as Echizen in the past – has deep snows in the wintertime. Because of its proximity to Kyoto, Reinan – also known as Wakasa – has been heavily influenced by the former capital’s culture.

Located in Reihoku on the Fukui Plain is Fukui City, the capital of the prefecture. Within the city beside the Asuwagawa river is Yokokan, the villa of the Matsudaira family, who formerly ruled the Fukui domain. These Edo era buildings have been reconstructed and it’s also possible to enjoy the beautiful gardens there. Visitors can see what life was like in the old days deep in the snow country at Osagoe Minka En, where five dismantled private houses from the Edo era, have been reconstructed.

In the suburbs of Fukui City are the Ichijoudani-asakurashi Ruins; a former castle town from which the Asakura family ruled over Echizen during the Warring States period. The family thrived for a century until they were overthrown by ODA Nobunaga in the War of Unification. As you stroll through the valley along the reconstructed streets, past the Asakura mansion ruins and its gardens, you almost get the sense that you have travelled back in time to that era. Also impressive is Japan’s oldest remaining castle tower, Maruoka Castle, in the neighboring city of Sakai.

Located further inland is Katsuyama City, a “dinosaur town” that attracts international attention for its excavations of dinosaurs and research into fossils. Shaped like a huge egg, Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum has an impressive collection of more than 40 dinosaur skeletons on display. There is a lot to see, what with its enormous amount of specimens on display and large scale dioramas.

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Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum / Eiheiji Temple

 

If you’re interested in Zen, don’t miss out on a visit to Eiheiji temple. Built around 770 years ago by the Buddhist monk, Dogen, this majestic temple, surrounded by huge Japanese cedar trees said to be 700 years old, is the headquarters (to some 12,000 other temples) of the Soto sect. Even today about 200 unsui (monks in training) practice ascetic disciplines according to strict rules. There, it’s possible to experience Zen practices such as zazen (simply sitting single-mindedly) and sutra transcription.

Well-known throughout Japan, Tojinbo cliffs have been designated as one of Japan’s natural monuments. Created by wave erosion, these rugged, immense cliffs stretch for about a kilometer and the sight of raging waves breaking against them is breathtaking. To the north of Tojinbo is Oshima, a small island about two kilometers in circumference, where, after crossing a long vermilion-painted bridge and climbing stone steps, visitors arrive at a mysterious place. Since ancient times, the island has been revered by locals as being divine.

East of Oshima is Echizen Matsushima Aquarium. Their popular displays are not only visual, but also creative and interactive. There are also pools in which you can touch dolphins, sharks and huge octopuses, and swim with fish in summertime. It’s possible to experience the sensation of floating on the surface of the sea by lying down on the transparent acrylic floor of the “Coral Seawater Tank,” in which tropical fish swim.

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Pine Tree Field of Kehi / Yukemuri Yokocho

 

If you are going to stay the night in Reihoku, we recommend staying at Awara Onsen. This spa resort has a history stretching back 130 years and has gardens, open air baths and plenty of seafood dishes to be enjoyed. Across the rotary from Awara-yu-no-machi station on the Echizen Line, is “Yukemuri Yokocho,” a street with outdoor food stalls. There you can enjoy broiled offal and ramen in an old world atmosphere.

The Echizen Coast is perfect for driving along. Created by the waves and wind from the Sea of Japan, “Kochomon” is a large natural tunnel of craggy and oddly-shaped rocks. In wintertime, echizen daffodils blossom, covering the cliffs, their yellow color contrasting impressively with the blue of the sea. You can also eat echizen crab, a winter delicacy, and other fresh seasonal seafood.

Another attraction of Fukui Prefecture is the lacquer ware of Sabae City and the washi (Japanese paper) of Echizen City. Sabae also has more than 100 years of history of producing glasses. With their advanced technology, Sabae enjoys a more than 90% domestic share of the spectacle market. At the “Glasses Museum” dioramas show how glasses were produced 100 years ago and there is a glasses shop that stocks the latest stylish models.

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Glasses / Japanese-style candles

 

On the other side of the Kinome ridge, in Reinan is Tsuruga City, which was formerly a way station for cargo ships making their way between Hokkaido and Kyoto or Osaka. Not far from the port area is the “Pine Tree Field of Kehi,” one of three best pine tree forests in Japan, offering a beautiful tricolor landscape of sea, beach and pine trees. To the west of Tsuruga is Mikata Five Lakes; five lakes with different water qualities and depths. These beautiful lakes change color with the seasons and are also known as the “Five-colored Lakes.”

Further west, the city of Obama is famous for its numerous temples and has been called “Nara by the sea.” Under the cultural influence of the capital, Obama prospered as the starting point of the “Mackerel Way” – a route called “Saba Kaido” that used to run between Wakasa and Kyoto, which transported goods, like seafood, including mackerel. The charming city streets, including the red-light district (pleasure districts containing geisha), of “Sanchomachi” still remain.

The best known souvenir from Fukui is “habutae mochi.” It’s a sticky rice cake made to resemble “habutae” – a kind of silk that used to be produced in Fukui. Fukui also has many other souvenirs that go well with alcoholic drinks: mackerel sushi named after the Mackerel Way and the dried “heshiko” Wakasa mackerel. Traditional crafts like refined Japanese-style candles and Wakasa lacquered chopsticks are also popular.

To get to Fukui by plane, use Komatsu airport. It takes just over an hour from Haneda airport (Tokyo). From the airport to the urban area of Fukui City, it takes roughly one hour by bus. By train from JR Tokyo station to Maibara station on the Tokaido bullet train (shinkansen) Hikari, it takes about two hours and ten minutes. After transferring to the Shirasagi special express, you’ll arrive at Tsuruga in around 30 minutes. It takes about an hour to Fukui City.

Fukui Tourist Association
Awara-yukemuri Souseijuku

Text: YAMAZAKI Yuriko

[2013年6月号掲載記事]

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福井県は、中部地方北西部にあります。自然が豊かで、日本海に面しているため、越前がにや若狭フグ、甘エビなどおいしい海の幸がたくさんとれます。木ノ芽峠を境に、東側の嶺北地方、西側の嶺南地方に分かれています。歴史的観点から嶺北地方は越前とも呼ばれ、冬は豪雪地帯(雪がたくさん積もるところ)となります。嶺南は若狭地方とも呼ばれ、京都に近いため昔から都の文化の影響を強く受けてきました。

嶺北の福井平野に県庁所在地の福井市があります。市街地を流れる足羽川のそばに、養浩館という、かつての福井藩主、松平家の別邸があります。江戸時代の建物が復元されていて美しい庭園も楽しめます。江戸時代から残っていた古民家5棟などを移築した、おさごえ民家園では、豪雪地帯の昔の人々の暮らしを見ることができます。

福井市郊外の一乗谷朝倉氏遺跡は、戦国時代に越前を支配した朝倉氏の城下町の遺跡です。朝倉氏は、天下統一の戦いで織田信長に敗れ滅びるまで1世紀にわたり栄えました。谷に復元された町並み、朝倉館跡や庭園を歩けば戦国時代にタイムスリップできそうです。また、となりの坂井市にある丸岡城は、現存する天守閣では日本最古のものが残っていて見ごたえがあります。

さらに内陸部にある勝山市は、恐竜の化石発掘と研究で、世界的に注目されている恐竜の町です。恐竜の巨大な卵のような建物の福井県立恐竜博物館では、40体以上の恐竜の骨格が展示され、見る人を圧倒します。膨大な量の標本の展示や大型の復元ジオラマなど見どころがたくさんあります。

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福井県立恐竜博物館/永平寺

 

大本山永平寺は、禅に興味があればぜひお参りしたい場所です。樹齢700年といわれる杉の巨木に囲まれた荘厳なこの寺は、今から約770年前に道元禅師によって建てられた曹洞宗の大本山(宗派約12,000の寺の本拠地)です。今も200人ほどの雲水(修行僧)が厳しい作法に従って修行をしています。坐禅(ただひたすらに坐る修行)や写経(お経を写す修行)など、禅の修行を体験することもできます。

東尋坊は日本でもよく知られた断崖で、国の天然記念物に指定されています。波の浸食がつくり出した荒々しい巨大な岩壁が約1キロ続き、荒波が打ち寄せる風景は迫力があります。東尋坊の北側にある雄島は周囲2キロほどの小さな島で、朱塗りの長い橋を渡り石段を上がると神秘的な場所に出合えます。この地域では昔から神の島とあがめられてきました。

雄島から海岸を東へ行けば越前松島水族館があります。見るだけでなく、工夫をこらした体験型の展示が人気です。イルカやサメ、巨大なタコにふれたり、夏には魚と一緒に泳げるプールもあります。熱帯魚の泳ぐ「サンゴの海水槽」は水面が透明のアクリル板の床になっていて寝転ぶこともでき、海面を浮遊しているような体験ができます。

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気比の松原/湯けむり横丁

 

嶺北で泊まるなら、あわら温泉の宿がおすすめです。約130年の歴史ある温泉で、旅館では庭園や露天風呂、海の幸をふんだんに使った料理などが楽しめます。また、えちぜん鉄道の「あわら湯のまち駅」のロータリー前には、「湯けむり横丁」という屋台形式の飲食店街があります。ここではホルモン焼きやラーメンなどを昔なつかしい雰囲気の中で味わえます。

越前海岸は、ドライブに最適のコースです。日本海の波と風がつくり出した自然の大トンネル「呼鳥門」など、荒々しい奇岩の連なる風景が続きます。冬は断崖に群生する越前水仙の花が咲き、海の青に水仙の黄色のコントラストが魅力的です。また冬の味覚である越前がにや、旬の新鮮な海の幸が食べられます。

福井では鯖江市の越前漆器、越前市の越前和紙などの伝統工芸品も魅力です。また鯖江は100年以上の歴史を持つめがねの産地です。高い技術があり、シェアは全国の90パーセント以上を占めています。「めがねミュージアム」には、100年前の生産現場風景の再現や、最新のおしゃれなめがね店などがあります。

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めがね/和ろうそく

 

木の芽峠を越え、嶺南の都市、敦賀は、かつて北海道と京都、大阪を行き来した船の拠点でした。港町からほど近い「気比の松原」は日本三大松原の一つで、海と砂浜と松の3色が続く美しい風景です。敦賀の西には三方五湖があります。水質や水深がそれぞれ違う5つからできていて、季節ごとに色が変化するので「五色の湖」とも呼ばれる美しい湖です。

その西の小浜市は寺院の多いことで知られ、「海のある奈良」とも呼ばれてきました。かつて、若狭から京都へ、サバをはじめとした魚介類などの物資を運ぶ「鯖街道」と呼ばれたルートがあり、小浜はその起点として都の文化の影響を受け発展しました。今も花街(芸者などのいる歓楽街)だった「三丁町」などの町並みを残しています。

福井のおみやげの代表格は「羽二重餅」です。これは福井の特産品だった絹織物「羽二重」をイメージしてつくられた餅菓子です。そのほか鯖街道にちなんだ鯖寿司や若狭のサバを保存食にした「へしこ」など、お酒に合うものも多いです。伝統工芸の上品な和ろうそくや、若狭塗の箸も人気があります。

福井へ飛行機で行くには小松空港を利用します。羽田空港(東京)から1時間余りです。空港から福井市街地へはバスで約1時間です。電車の場合はJR東京駅から米原駅まで東海道新幹線ひかりで約2時間10分。特急しらさぎに乗り換えて敦賀まで約30分。福井までは約1時間です。

公益社団法人福井県観光連盟
あわら湯けむり創生塾

文:山崎百合子

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