The Urbanite’s Dream! Relaxing Rural Life of Japan in Fukui
Popular cities for tourists from overseas are often big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka and Hokkaido. But why not shed a light on rural areas of Japan for a change? Today, I would like to introduce my home prefecture of Fukui with special emphasis on daily life in the area. Photo: flickr.com
Introducing Fukui Prefecture
In fact, Fukui Prefecture is not the most famous prefecture; there are not many people who can exactly locate Fukui even among Japanese.
A conversation that is often heard is…
“Do you know where Fukui Prefecture is?”
“It’s in Tohoku area isn’t it?”
“Oh, I meant Kyushu.”
“Uh, no, that’s Fukuoka”.
Fukui Prefecture is located northeast of Kyoto. It is 1.5 hours by train from Kyoto and 2 hours from Osaka. Fukui has many attractive features such as the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, one of the “World’s Three Great Dinosaur Museums”; Tojinbo, a precipitous cliff with unique views that is often seen in suspense dramas; the Echizen crab, etc.
Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, https://www.flickr.com
Tojinbo (東尋坊), https://www.flickr.com
Echizen crab, https://www.flickr.com
Since the Hokuriku Shinkansen railway route stretched to Kanazawa and is now in preparation to connect to Fukui Prefecture, there are now more international tourists making their way to the Fukui Prefecture.
Related: Hanayome Noren: A Gorgeous Tour Train to Kanazawa’s Hot Springs
The Daily Life in Fukui Prefecture
1. You Can Always Eat Delicious Rice and Vegetables
In fact Fukui Prefecture is the birthplace of the Koshihikari, which is a brand of rice that is grown in the most volume throughout Japan. From the moist climate that is unique to parts adjacent to the Sea of Japan to the rich greenery and sources of water from the mountains of Echizen, Fukui is blessed by the surrounding natural environment. There are many families, including my own, who grow Koshihikari Rice and also farm other crops. So, you see there is always delicious rice served for meals.
In recent days, there are an increasing number of families who grow crops like daikon radish, cabbage, green onions and eggplants in addition to rice, so various fresh vegetables are available. In fact, my family recently started growing strawberries, and is planning to offer strawberry-picking next year.
2. One of Japan’s Best Ski Slopes is Nearby
Fukui Prefecture has climate that is typical of the area by the Sea of Japan – it sees snowfall in the winter and sees a lot of sunny days in the summer. The entire prefecture is recognized as a region with heavy snowfall. As you can see, it is not rare for snow to fall as thick as up to the knees or to the waist, so you can enjoy your sled or making igloos right by your hose.
In fact, Ski Jam Katsuyama, which is the number 1 ranking ski resort in the Kansai, Chukyo and Hokuriku areas is about a 20 minute car ride from my family’s home. I went skiing there almost every week as a child. We used to go skiing in nearby mountains even for school gym classes.
3. Making Rice Cakes using the Wooden Mortar and Pestle
The traditional way of making mochi or rice cakes using a wooden mortar and pestle is becoming a rarity in Japan as well. However, the tradition is still practiced at my house. All the relatives get together on New Year’s Eve to pound sticky rice into mochi and we all participate in making them into round dumplings. The little ones complain about the cold temperature when they start, but in the end, everyone rolls up their sleeves and participates. Mochitsuki, or the process of pounding rice to make rice cakes, is an experience I would love for non-Japanese people to try. Related: New Year
4. A Close Connection to Zen (禅)
Eihei-ji (永平寺), https://www.flickr.com
Zen is a worldly recognized religion. Fukui Prefecture has a Sotozen temple called Eihei-ji. It is said that Steve Jobs was also fascinated by the training offered at Eihei-ji temple. At Eihei-ji, they offer one day training as an out-of-the-classroom learning experience for local elementary schools and middle schools. The children are able to learn about Zen from a very early age.
Zazen or sitting in meditation induces alpha waves, which are brain waves emitted when the mind is relaxed. It is said to help prevent negative idle thoughts. It is highly recommended for those who are stressed from work in their daily lives.
If you are tired from sightseeing in the city, it may be nice to stop by the countryside and experience the slow life of traditional Japan. Please do visit Fukui Prefecture if you ever feel that way!