Tojinbo in Fukui: A Famous Sheer Cliff Featured in Japanese TV Dramas
In typical Japanese suspense TV dramas, criminals being chased by detectives, somehow very often end up on a sheer cliff top and confess their crimes. A cliff washed by wild waves seems as if speaking of the devastated state of mind of such criminals. We are taking this opportunity to introduce to you about a famous tourist spot which is often featured as a location in such suspense TV dramas.
Tojinbo is a series of sheer cliffs in Fukui Prefecture with column-shaped rocks lined up for about one kilometer along the coast of the Japan Sea. The unusual-looking rocks here are “columnar joint rocks of pyroxene andesite” and only two other places in the world, one in Norway and one in Korea, have the same type of rock formation. The scenery overlooked from the height of 25 meters above the sea surface (equivalent to an 8 to 9 story building) on top of the cliffs is just stunning. The column-shaped rocks and Oshima Island, which floats a short distance off the cliffs, are both designated as natural monuments of Japan.
Origin of the Name “Tojinbo”
About 800 years ago, there was a temple called Heisenji in the Okuetsu area (the mountainous part of the present eastern Fukui Prefecture). Among the monk soldiers there was one named “Tojinbo,” who was causing troubles for other monks with his bad conduct. At their wit’s end, the monks came up with a plan and invited Tojinbo to a drinking party held on top of the cliff. They offered him drinks and snacks and made him completely drunk before pushing him off the cliff into the sea. It is said that the resentment of the dead Tojinbo caused a rage in the sea waters for 49 days after that. It is said that people soon started to refer to the cliffs here as Tojinbo.
The first and foremost thing to check out here is of course the sheer cliffs. You can go to the very tip of the cliffs and enjoy an enormous thrill and chill, but be careful not to repeat the fate of Tojinbo! The rock surface here is very rough, so it is recommended to visit here with comfortable shoes to walk in.
2. Tojinbo Sightseeing Cruiser
Tojinbo Sightseeing Cruiser allows you to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Tojinbo cliffs from the sea. The cruiser starts from Tojinbo and goes halfway around Oshima Island, which floats 1.5 kilometers off the cliffs, visiting spots with unusual-looking rocks on the way in a 30 minute tour. You can find “lion rock,” “battleship rock,” “wind screen (byobu) rock,” “candle rock” and various other interesting rocks around here.
Looking at the sheer cliffs while getting sprayed by the waves of the Japan Sea is very thrilling and interesting experience. The tour is also very informative for tourists with the guide’s explanation about the origin of the name of the cliff and various other things about the surrounding areas.
3. Oshima Island
Oshima Island floats off the cliffy coast of Tojinbo. It is an island of about 2 kilometers circumference and is the largest among other islands in the area. The locals have long worshipped the island and referred to it as “Kami No Shima (God’s Island).” You can take a vermillion red bridge to get to the island and if you climb the stone stairway leading from the edge of the island, you will come out into an area which has a historic shrine called Ominato Shrine and is filled with a mysterious atmosphere. Here along the shrine approach of about one kilometer in length, you can also find other natural wonders such as a large tree over 1,000 years old and a rock formation created by wave erosion.
4. Tojinbo Tower
This retro-looking tower was built in 1964. You can enjoy a panoramic view of Tojinbo from 100 meters above the sea level and see as far as the Mikuni area from the top of this tower. There is also a souvenir shop on the first floor.
5. Shopping Street
The long street of about 250 meters is lined with about 30 stores and restaurants. You can enjoy fresh seafood dishes and buy local specialty seafood souvenirs. Top recommendations here are salt broiled turban shell, squid and other seafood prepared in the storefront, as well as snow crab, the specialty sea product of Fukui.
Often mentioned as a place of suicide and typically associated with suspense TV dramas, Tojinbo does not necessarily have a positive connotation. But this place is also known for a very romantic natural phenomenon called “green flash.” It is a phenomenon in which a green spot of light appears for just a very short instant right after the sunset. This extremely rarely-seen phenomenon can be seen a couple of times here at Tojinbo. Some believe that you will become happy and be blessed with an everlasting love relationship if you can see a green flash. How about visiting Tojinbo and nurturing your love with your beloved one in the beautiful sunset?
By Train: Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen Train from Tokyo Station, change to the limited express of JR Hokuriku Honsen Line at Kanazawa Station and get off at JR Awara Onsen Station (3 Hours and 50 minute ride from Tokyo). Take a Keifuku Bus bound for Tojinbo from Awara Onsen Station and you will get to Tojinbo in about 1 hour.
By Car: 25 Minute Drive from Kanazu Exit of Hokuriku Expressway
Official Website: http://www.mikuni.org/tojinbo/
Tojinbo is blessed with unusual rock formations and other natural wonders as well as the amazing view of the Japan Sea. You can also enjoy great seafood and various other tourist attractions in the area. Whenever you happen to visit Fukui, make sure to extend your journey as far as to Tojinbo!