OKUETSU REGION

OKUETSU REGION 奥越

Nestled in the mountains of north-eastern Fukui, the Okuetsu region is home to Katsuyama, Ono and the distant Izumi area. Okuetsu is home to many of Fukui’s top sake producers. It is also home to Fukui’s best skiing areas, the Big Buddha, two castles, a dinosaur museum, and dozens of culturally significant places of interest and importance. Local specialty foods include delicious satoimo from Ono’s Kamisho area and fresh ayu fished from the Kuzuryu River in summer.

Taking Route 158 from Fukui City will take you along the Asuwa River and into Ono City. Continuing through Ono along Route 158 will bring you past the famous watering hole, into Izumi and eventually on to Gifu Prefecture. The trip from Fukui to Ono should take about 35-45 minutes by car depending on the weather and traffic. It takes about 50 minutes by JR train (650 yen) and about 1 hour by bus (about 950 yen). Please keep in mind that from Ono the bus runs hourly while there are only nine trips made by the train.

Taking Route 416 from Fukui City will follow the Kuzuryu River upstream towards Katsuyama City. Along the way you will see signs for Eiheiji, a renowned Zen Buddhist temple. Going between Fukui and Katsuyama by car should take about 40-50 minutes, again, depending on traffic and weather conditions. By the Echizen Tetsudo train, the cost is 750 yen and it should take about 55 minutes. On the weekend, you can get a day pass for 750 yen that can be used on any EchiTetsu line. Unfortunately, there is no bus service between Fukui and Katsuyama.

Route 261 is a short road that links Route 416 and 157. Ono and Katsuyama are connected by Route 157, so it is possible to get from Fukui to Ono through Katsuyama, or conversely, from Fukui to Katsuyama via Ono.

Katsuyama and Ono are separated by a small mountain. Route 157 uses a short tunnel to go through the mountain, while there is an access road that circumvents it. It takes about 15-25 minutes to get from the main area of one city to the other. There are also buses that go back and forth between Ono and Katsuyama.

Route 416 goes north into Ishikawa Prefecture and west towards Fukui City. It is linked to 157 by Route 216. Route 157 leads south, over a bridge and through a tunnel, into Ono City where it eventually meets up with Route 158.


KATSUYAMA CITY 勝山市

KATSUYAMA CITY MAP AND AREA GUIDE

Welcome to Katsuyama, one-half of the Okuetsu region (the other half is Ono, the city next door). For more information on your area, please refer to the Ono section of the guide. JETS there are likely to be your closest neighbors and friends. You are fortunate enough to be living in one of the most beautiful parts of Fukui. There are plenty of good restaurants and karaoke bars, a bit of culture (shrines, temples, castles and exhibitions at the local community centers), and tons of outdoor opportunities (ski resorts, mountains, and cycling).

POST OFFICE AND BANK

The main post office in on the main road towards the station, on the right before the river. There are smaller branches in 7 communities around town. International Postal Money Orders and orders for foreign currency can be made at the main branch as well as most of the smaller branches.

Fukui Bank branches are located in Hon-machi and in the City Hall. The most convenient ATMs are in Sun Plaza (open 10:00-20:00) and Fukui Bank in Hon-machi (open 8:00-21:00). In addition to these there are about 4 or 5 other ATMs dotted around town.

POLICE STATION

The main station is on a side road to Fukui. There are also several Police Boxes (small police stations) located around town. The most obvious and convenient one is in Moto-machi across from Sun Plaza (aka the center of the universe!) Beware: there are certain spots around town where cops are known to lie in wait. For instance at flashing reds after 10PM.

GYMS

There are no gyms in Katsuyama, but there are two in Ono. Please refer to the Ono section.

SWIMMING POOLS

There is a covered heated pool in Katsuyama that is open all year round. Every swimmer is required to wear a bathing cap (you can buy one there).Cost: Non-members– 600 yen, Members– pay an initial start-up fee and 3,500 yen/month for unlimited use of the facilities. Getting there: take Route 157 and turn left at the road leading to the Daibutsu. The pool is several hundred meters along this road on the right. The parking lot is on the left. The pool is closed on Mondays.

ONSEN

KATSUYAMA ONSEN CENTER

Located on a left side road off the road to Karigahara/ SkiJam. A large obelisk-like sign marks the turn from the main road. There are various pools. Price is 500 yen. Open weekdays except Wednesday from 12:00 to 20:30, weekends 10:00 to 20:30.

HEISENJISOU

Located in HeIsenji next to Katsuyama castle. A great bargain at 330 yen. Open from 9:00 to 16:00 every day but Tuesday.

SASAYURI

Part of the SkiJam resort complex, right next to the lodge, and is the newest onsen in the area. Prices are Adults-800 yen, Kids-500 yen, bath towel/face towel rental-100 yen per piece. Open daily from 12:00 to 18:00.

ATTRACTIONS

ECHIZEN DAIBUTSU

This is the largest indoor Buddha in Japan. Built in 1987 by a local millionaire, it is one of Katsuyama’s most famous treasures. The temple, with pagoda, and other black and gold buildings are beautifully nestled against the tree covered hill. Three Katsuyama JETs live in the shadow of the Buddha’s building and the pagoda next to it. Admission is 500 yen and it’s free on the third Sunday of every month.

KATSUYAMA CASTLE

The castle is located on the road to Heisenji (in the direction of Ono). It is a typical Japanese-style castle, supposedly the tallest in Japan. The castle, while quite young and constructed mainly from concrete, is attractive. A museum with various artifacts is located inside. Admission is 500 yen. It is open from 9:30 to 4:30 every day but Wednesday.

HEISENJI

Take Route 157 in the direction of Ono and then follow the signs to Heisenji, about 10 minutes drive from Katsuyama. Built in 717, Heisenji has functioned as both a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple. It is a one thousand-year old moss-carpeted shrine area built on the mountain side amongst pine trees and surrounded by forests and farm lands. There is a series of different wooden shrines along the path up the mountain slope. It is a magical place shrouded in reverend silence and tranquility.

There is no entry fee and you never see more than 5 or 6 people there at one time. An English information booklet should be available soon, again courtesy of the Katsuyama CIR. Be sure to check out the delicious selection of baked goods at the gift/coffee shop near the base of the stairs leading to the shrine.

Heisenji village is also “famous” for its soft ice cream sold from a small shop on the way to the shrine. Due to its popularity, you can sometimes queue for up to half an hour in the summer. Ask around, everyone in Heisenji knows how to get to the “soft cream” stand.

FUKUI PREFECTURAL DINOSAUR MUSEUM

The museum, which includes dinosaur bones, rocks, and fossils, is located north of route 157 near the road to SkiJam. Follow the signs, you can’t miss it. The building is a large silver dome. Admission is 500 yen for adults and free every third Sunday of the month.

There are picnic areas, a playground and cross-country skiing in the winter. It’s a world class museum that’s definitely worth a look.

THE MOUNTAIN ROAD FROM KATSUYAMA TO KANAZAWA

Turn at the intersection by the Nagayama tunnel, follow the signs to Shiramine and Kanazawa. On route, you pass Karigahara Ski area and the turn off to SkiJam. The road winds through some spectacular scenery though it is sometime very dangerous and even closed in winter. The drive to Kanazawa takes about 2 hours. Alternately, you can get there using Route 8 or the Hokuriku Express (1600 yen).

SUPA RINDO

This is a toll road off the mountain road to Kanazawa. Breath-takingly beautiful, it is well worth the 2,500 yen toll. It winds through Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa and Toyama Prefectures (though it is sometimes closed in winter).

MT. HAKUSAN

Katsuyama is Fukui’s gateway to Mt. Hakusan. Take Route 158 to Shiramine, following the signs for Mt. Hakusan turn right and follow the road into the park. Drive until the road ends at Behodae parking area. From there it is a five-hour climb to the summit.

FESTIVALS AND SEASONAL ATTRACTIONS

AUGUST NATSU MATSURI (summer festival)

As with everywhere in Japan, August is the time for summer festivals. People dance in the streets (anyone can join in) and there are plenty of stalls with festival food and games. Find out from your teachers, neighbors or friends when and where your local festival is. Both Katsuyama and Ono will have them.

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER

August is the time for the annual ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL summer concert (Katsuyama and Aspen, Colorado USA are friendship cities). It is held in the Shimin Kaikan (Citizens Hall) usually around the end of the month. This classical music performance features musicians from the world renowned Aspen Music Festival and School along with some talented local Musicians. For more information, ask the CIR in the city hall.

SEPTEMBER

AKI MATSURI (autumn festival)

Once again, stalls and games abound with the added attraction of sumo wrestling at Shinmei Shrine. There is also taiko drumming in the streets and a real party atmosphere (Japanese inaka style) pervades the town. The event is held along the main streets of Katsuyama.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY

YUKI MATSURI (snow festival)

There are festivals in both Katsuyama and Ono. Snow sculptures, skiing competitions, snowball fights and other events make these festivals a lot of fun.

FEBRUARY

SAGICHO MATSURI (fire festival)

This weekend-long festival marks the end of the New Year celebrations and the calling of spring. It is considered the biggest and best of Katsuyama’s festivals and features the usual food and stalls. There are also twelve stages (one for each section of town) where taiko, shamisen and singing are performed almost continually. Often Katsuyama ALTs get a chance to perform. If you are interested in learning taiko for this festival talk to the CIR or returning ALTs.

The high point occurs on Sunday evening when the shimekazari (New Year’s Decorations) are burned in huge bonfires on the banks of the river near the station. Mochi (pounded rice cakes) are roasted in the fires (in lieu of marshmallows!) and there is much merriment to be found. This merriment probably has something to do with the fact that Ippongi (the local sake brewer) has a free sake tasting/open house at its main factory on Sunday.

BARS AND RESTAURANTS

RESTAURANTS

There are various small Japanese style restaurants scattered throughout Katsuyama. Take a walk near Sun Plaza and you’re bound to run into a few.

PIZZA FARM KITCHEN

Located on the road up to the Echizen Diabutsu, less than five minutes walk from three JET apartments. The pizza, fries and onion rings are delicious. This is a great place to eat if you want a taste of home but beware it is quite pricey!

POCO A POCO

A log cabin, with western style atmosphere, located on the road to Ski Jam/Kanazawa before the turn to Karigahara ski area. The best deal in town for breakfast, especially French toast. They also serve pizza, pasta and some pretty oishii desserts. This place is great.

AKIYOSHI

A Japanese restaurant with a fun, busy atmosphere. Serving yakitori, skewered chicken, beef, vegetables, pigs’ feet even, over an open flame. When you need a “Japanese flavor” and fun, this is your place.

HACHI (8) – BAN RAMEN

Hokoriku’s very own Chinese-noodle shop. Cheap and filling, the soft ice cream is quite good too. Located on the main road to Fukui. Ramen is one of the most popular foods in modern Japan.

GRILL YAMADA

A hidden local treasure and favorite spot of many ALTs past. Serving a few varieties of delicious Sauce Katsudon, Fukui’s very own local specialty, you don’t want to pass this one by! Head to Fukui on the main road and take a left at the light past 8-Ban Ramen where there is a large dinosaur head. Yamada is a little up the road, on your left.

MORIGUCHI

Across the street from the curry restaurant. Set menus are tasty with probably the best coffee and tea selection in town. More of a cafe style place.

HIMAWARI, TAKENOKO, TAIKO and MICHIKUSA

These are all okonomiyaki restaurants. Okonomiyaki has been labeled as Japanese pizza or Japanese pancakes but neither description truly does the meal justice–a mouth-watering mix of vegetables, meat, seafood, etc… mixed into a batter, fried to golden perfection and topped with a mild spice sauce. Usually you make them yourself on the griddle/table, novices feel free to ask the shop workers to make yours.

HIMAWARI (the Sunflower)

A favorite among Katsuyama JETs. It’s located on 416 near the first Lawsons. The sign is in Hiragana.

TAKENOKO is located near the Family Mart on the secondary road to Fukui.

TAIKO is between Happy Plaza and A-Coop.

MICHIKUSA is across from the Fukui Bank in Honmachi.

CHUBOZU

A favorite among Katsuyama’s young and hip crowd, definitely drop in for a bite. This restaurant advertises itself as Western, but the menu consists of Japanese, Asian and Western dishes. Here you will find great pizza, raw tuna slices, beefy goodness strips, bibimba rice and many more mouthwatering dishes.

Katsuyama’s old CIR, Hudson Hamilton, translated an old menu into English, and this will likely be brought to you if you appear Western. You should be warned that this is a little out of date, but a good read nonetheless, make sure to ask for a Japanese menu as well. Located close to Mickey Video Shop, just after the tunnel on your way to Fukui. Take the first left and there you are, on your right.

SUSHI

ATOM BOY

A classic, conveyor-belt sushi restaurant. Located across the street from the hospital on Route 416, into Fukui.

JYUURAKU

Found in Hon-machi Serves up the largest slices in town.

GINZUSHI

For one of the cheapest and friendliest sushi joints in town look no further than Ginzushi in Sakae-cho.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

If you are into hiking, running, mountain biking, swimming, skiing, or fishing, this area is fantastic!

MOUNTAIN BIKING

Here are some favourite rides of present and past Okuetsu residents.

1. Echizen railway line: a scenic and leisurely ride. It starts at the bridge between Katsuyama and Ono and runs along the base of the mountains, alongside the railroad, for several kilometers and before joining up with Route 416 in Kamishihi village.

2. Road to Heisenji: for a more vigorous ride, try climbing the road that leads to Heisenji village. After reaching the village, you can continue climbing the mountains to your heart’s content.

3. Road to Nomuki Village: hard but beautiful ride follows route 416 and goes north through Nomuki village. The road continues up into rugged mountains, eventually turning unpaved. At this time you cannot continue the whole way over the mountains.

4. Road to Osowa Village: challenging but picturesque ride cross the bridge south of the station bridge into Osowa village (you can see one bridge from the other). The curvy and tree lined road will take you into the mountains. Eventually you will reach a tunnel at which point the road curves back down into Shikadani village and eventually connects with the bridge next to Hokubu Junior High School.

5. Road to Ski Jam: for a real biking animal, check out the combination paved/unpaved road that goes up to SkiJam and then snakes its way through the mountains to Rokuroshi, where you can descend into Ono. This is a gorgeous stretch of road, through the mountains, but is very steep and long.

SWIMMING

The Kuzuryu River and the lakes above it in Izumi are great places for swimming in the summer months. The best places are in the pools between Ono and Izumi Mura, along Route 158.

KADOHARA CAMPGROUND aka “The Watering Hole

Secluded and beautiful, it is very popular among ALTs. It is a bit of a secret location, and directions are tricky, so be sure to ask a local or Okuetsu ALT. The water here is exceptionally cool and clean, but not too cold.

Follow Route 158 out of the valley towards Izumi. You should start climbing about 7 km out of Ono. You’ll come to an ugly water pipe that passes over the road. If you continue another 200 meters past the pipe you come to a “V” in the road. Drop down to the left and follow this road over the bridge and then a couple of km up the hill. You should come to a path on your right hand side that drops down to a suspension bridge. Follow this down past several buildings and go under the covered walkway and you’ll come out by the bridge and you should see the pool.

FISHING

The big lakes above the dams are good for fishing. Trout and Ayu (a popular edible local species) can be caught near Izumi village. Fishing is very popular in the area, although don’t expect to catch anything too big (due to over fishing).

SKIING

This is definitely one of the advantages of living in Okuetsu; when winter rolls around, you’re never more than 20 minutes from some great skiing. JETs from other areas of Fukui flock to this region and you’re likely to have people beg for space on your floor.

SkiJam is by far the most popular and largest resort in the area. Ask for specials based on specific days or times or coupons that can be picked at sports stores in the area. Other money saving options includes buying your own gear, a season pass or renting equipment outside the resorts. (There are quite a few rental places along the road.) Also, if you’re a beginner, it’s worth it to buy single lift tickets until you feel more confident in getting the most out of a full-day pass.

Rokuroshi (Ono) and Karigahara (Katsuyama) have night skiing from 5:30PM that is about 3000Yen.

For more detailed information on skiing in Japan and in Fukui, refer to the skiing section of this guidebook.

HIKING

Choosing a place to hike is really a matter of personal preference and there are too many good sites to list here. A favorite is the Karikomi Pond which lies in a national park on the boarder of Fukui, Gifu and Ishikawa. The park is little more than an hour drive up Route 158 and offers spectacular views of Hakusan (the highest mountain in the area).

PARAGLIDING

This is available at Ski Jam. There are several courses available and a one-day course costs 10,000 yen. For more information call Dicros Sports (0779-87-6311)

SHOPS AND ENTERTAINMENT

HONEY’S

Located in both Sun Plaza and Happy Plaza -quite old and run down.

A-COOP

Found in the center or town, a block north of Sun Plaza.

YOUTH

Found along the main street that runs through Katsuyama between Sun Plaza and Yasusaki.

KAJISO

Located on the left hand side of the road to Fukui, across from Kabos.

SHINSENKAN

This is a popular supermarket chain in Fukui. There is one right next to the Yasusaki Home Center.

AOKI DRUGSTORE

A great big shop located on the right of the 157 when traveling from Fukui to Ono next to a Circle K Convenience Store. They sell general foodstuffs, make-up, household cleaners, drugs, milk and is great for Ice-cream and cheap alcohol. Although they are a drugstore you can’t get prescription drugs (that the doctor gives you) here.

CONVENIENCE STORES

There are 5 convenience stores in Katsuyama all located on one of the two main roads running through town.

HARDWARE, FURNITURE AND HOME SUPPLIES

YASUSAKI HOME CENTER

Located further along the main road that runs through Katsuyama (not the 157), past Youth, toward Ono.

KOMERI HOME CENTER

On Route 416. On the way to Fukui it’s on your right; just look for the giant red rooster sign.

ELECTRONICS

There are several places to buy electronics in town. You can get cheap deals at the home centers listed above.

100 MAN VOLT (in Ono)

This is your best bet for anything cutting edge.

VIDEO RENTAL

US Video

Near Youth, has a good selection of videos.

MICKEY

Located on the road to Fukui next to Nagayama tunnel and the SkiJam turnoff. This store too has a wide variety of movies for rent.

KABOS

A couple minutes east by car of the obnoxious statue of liberty pachinko parlor on the road to Fukui, has videos for rent and sale, as well as CDs galore! You can rent any video other than a new release for just 100yen on Tuesdays through Thursdays.

TRANSPORTATION

Katsuyama is located in the mountains about 12 km from Ono and 30-45 minutes from Fukui. There are buses into Ono and Fukui. You can also take the train on the Echizen line. A car is very useful and highly recommended but you can make due with your feet, bike, buses and trains. Walking is an alternative, but things are very spread out; having a meter of snow between late December and March, means you are forced to walk on the road. Cars are really recommended.

BICYCLES

Bicycles are a great idea. A Japanese basket bike is perfect for getting about in the warmer months, but winter is out of the question: it’s very cold and the roads are often covered with ice. A mountain bike may be a good investment to take advantage of the beautiful place we live in. Although crime is relatively low, there are some people who ‘borrow’ bikes so it is a good idea to lock your bike if you want to keep it.

TRAIN

Katsuyama <- -> Fukui <–> Echizen on the Echizen Line

This line can also be used to go to Eheiji Temple (to do so you must change trains at the Higashi Furuichi station). Echizen trains also go to Mikuni (those wishing to go to Mikuni transfer at the Fukui-guchi stop, two stops from Fukui station). If you are unsure of where your train is going, you can ask the conductor or check the kanji on the side of the train.

A one-way ticket to Fukui is about 800 yen. You can purchase tickets at Katsuyama train station or City Hall and in Fukui at the ticket machine at the Echizen Railway station. There are discounted tickets but the discount is if you buy 10 tickets you get 1 free (so you get 11 tickets). And you buy them from the train station not City Hall).

In Fukui City, the local train station can be reached from Fukui JR station by going out the back (east) exit.

BUS

Katsuyama <- -> Ono and Katsuyama <–> Fukui

Stops: Buses usually originate at Katsuyama train station and stop at Sun Plaza, A-Coop and other spots along the road to Ono. The train to Fukui also stops in Kamishihi Village, where one Katsuyama ALT lives. Fare: 200 yen to 900 yen depending on how far into Ono you go. Check with the Sun Plaza information desk or City Hall for information.

ONO CITY 大野市 

Ono City is also known at train stations as Echizen Ono City 越前大野市.

Welcome to one of the most beautiful areas in the Reihoku (northern) half of Fukui. Okuetsu is comprised of two cities, Ono and Katsuyama. For more information on the home of your closest neighbours, please refer to the Katsuyama section found in the Okuetsu guide.

Sitting at an average elevation of about 200 meters above sea level, Ono has a population of just under 40 000. Ono is most famous for its pure and refreshing water. It has been published that Ono has the third purest water in all of Japan. This spring water can be found welling up at a site called Oshouzu located in the center of the city . Ono is also unique as it is one of the few cities in Japan that encircled by a complete ring of mountains. Although resembling a large crater, the area was not formed by a meteorite impact, but rather through ancient volcanic activity resulting in a wide, flat, and fertile basin. It is from this basin that Ono takes its name, using the kanji characters for 大 “big” and 野 “field”. While the the mountains surrounding the city were formed through geological activity, they have long been dormant and actually act as shock absorbers against seismic activity. They also affect the weather to a large extent: they divert significant amounts of wind, they prevent storms entering from the east, and they seemingly invite large amounts of precipitation in all seasons, especially winter.

The following is all you need to know about Ono: traveling there and away, the city itself, and helpful hints for living here. Ono is a great place to live or visit, with the mountains just a hop, skip and a ride away. For the adventurous you will find great places for snow boarding and skiing, biking, hiking, mountain climbing, barbequeing, swimming, canoeing and camping. For those with refined palettes, there is a seemingly infinite amount of establishments offering various delicacies ranging from light snacks and desserts, to entrees featuring the freshest ingredients from Ono and Fukui, to drinks that satisfy all who come. So, read on and then make your way out here to join in anything and everything that Ono has to offer!

SHOPPING

Shopping mall – Vio

Supermarkets – Kajiso (x3?), Shinsenkan (x2?), Yusu, (the new one: Honey?), Mitsuwa, (the one near that yakiniku place), Livre (Kajiso?)

Home centers – Parusu, Mitsuwa, Rooster (near Kaisei)

Electronic Stores – Yamada Denki, 100 Man Volt

Video Stores – Geo, Mickey, (used books near Higashi HS)

Sports Stores – Ozaki sports, (the one near Youmei)

VIO

It’s your one stop shopping place. Vio is a small, modern, well-organized mall and you may never have to go anywhere but here for all of your shopping needs. Don’t forget to ask at Kajiso or the information desk for a point card; you WILL rack up points if you shop at Vio often. You can use the card in almost every shop at Vio, as well as the nearby Esso.

1. KAJISO: One of the best Kajiso supermarkets in Ono.

2. HANA LIQUOR WORLD: The BEST liquor store in Ono! They have the cheapest prices and the widest range of foreign and domestic beverages. They have a great wine selection, a decent range of hard liquor, Japanese alcohol, and some foreign food and snacks.

3. MISTER DONUTS – The best donuts in the city, pretty decent fried rice, and probably better coffee than your school has. They have free refills if you stay and drink in the store. Get a point card here, too, so you can start putting together that Mister Donuts coffee mug collection you always wanted!

4. Entertainment center – formally a decent center with several purikura (print club) booths, Mario Kart, a couple of old school shooting games, and a bunch kids games. Now it has been reduced to something short of fun and a lot closer to fu- not fun.

5. 100 YEN STORE: This is very convenient for many of your needs ranging from props for games at school, to cooking items, to Halloween items, and much, much more.

6. Many stores including a bakery called Perle, a good Japanese restaurant, a quiet coffee shop/cafe, a flower shop, and also some clothing, shoes, games, arts and crafts, and drug stores.

7. ATMs – there are a slew of ATMs, including a Japan Post ATM which can be used for most foreign accounts.

8. MAC DONALD’S: The only foreign fast food chain in Okuetsu complete with drive through. Many students flock here after school.

9. YAMADA DENKI – This is one of the two big electronic stores in Ono. Definitely get a point card here, they give you 1 point for every ¥10 you spend, whereas the Vio Card will only give 1 point for every ¥100. It is a bit smaller than the other store, called 100 Man Volt, but they have better customer service. Be sure to check both stores before you make that special purchase.

10. PARUSU: a home center that has both a hardware and a garden area. Between these two areas you will most likely find what you are looking for concerning your home and garden needs. They have many tools, along with some appliances, household shelves, mirrors, racks, carpets, furniture, etc, and also things for cleaning, repairs, and maintenance for your home, car, or bike. If you haven’t found exactly what you are looking for, be sure to check both this store and Mitsuwa before making your purchase. Often times, both stores will have a variation of what you need and one store may have a better model or a much cheaper price than the other one.

100 MAN VOLT

Located next to the tunnel leading to Katsuyama, 100 Man Volt is a huge electronics store that was completed in early 2008. You can’t miss it, it has what seems like 10,000 light bulbs both inside and out. Electronically, they have everything you could need: heaters, appliances, entire bathroom units, TVs, video games, batteries, cameras, vibrating chairs and even the kitchen sink. They also have a huge selection of toys for the kids and a large plastic model selection. If you get the point card, you’ll already start racking up pretty hefty savings on your next purchase.

MITSUWA

Located next to the tunnel leading to Katsuyama, Mitsuwa is the closet thing to a Wal-Mart in Ono. It has a pretty decent grocery store, and just about everything a Wal-Mart back home would have minus video games and DVDs. The home center section is similar to Parusu listed above, but often has slightly different products and sometimes higher prices. They have a decent selection of appliances, clothes, furniture, stationary, cleaning supplies, tools, toys, a small vehicle maintenance section, bike sales, and a garden center.

GEO

Your one stop shop for movie and CD rentals and video game sales. Located on 157 near the main post office. A membership card is required.

MICKEY

The only other movie rental store in Ono. It is located about half way down Kobushi dori, which is the street that Kaisei Junior High School is on. A membership card is required.

SHINSENKAN

If you need a 24 hour grocery, you’re in luck. The bright red Shinsenkan is located near the eastern end of Kobushi dori. It is one of the best grocery stores in Ono and is open a wonderful 24 hours a day. Sometimes it doesn’t restock things quickly, but it’s convenient for the items unique to that store, if you’re a night owl or simply in an emergency.

DOCTORS AND DENTISTS

Never fear, all doctors in Japan have had some English training (except for ENT doctor on 3rd St.) Many of them may be apprehensive about speaking English, but will at least be able to understand medical-related words if you run into trouble. When in doubt, though, bring a trusted Japanese-speaking friend with you (or call this number which is a free translation service for doctors or hospital visits 0643950555).

Also note that in many cases you will be able to get the same or similar medications that you might be used to using at home; bring them with you and show them to your doctor. The following doctors and hospitals/clinics are all Ono ALT approved.

HIROKAWA-SENSEI

A very up-to-date specialist at Hirokawa Hospital, on the corner of rt. 157 (northsouth) and the road with the main post office (see map; this stretch of road technically has no name but is actually part of the east-west 158 that connects Ono and Fukui. The road changes names several times [from west to east: 158, Saradani, then nameless]. We will refer to it as “the main post office road”.) The entrance is on 157.

HIROOKA CLINIC

If you come down with a double case of food poisoning or just need to recuperate from the flu, both doctors (a father and son combo) at Hirooka Clinic, very close to the main post office (look for the green + logo) are friendly and aren’t so shy about using English.

MATSUDA CLINIC (ALLERGIES AND GENERAL MEDICINE)

To find Matsuda Clinic, hang a right at the first intersection past Genky towards rt. 157 (near Kabos) and drive south until you see a green wooden building on your left. Matsuda-sensei specializes in allergies, but can treat you for general ailments also.

KANEMAKI DENTAL CLINIC

For dental work, Kanemaki-sensei is a very nice fellow at Kanemaki Dental Clinic and has drilled a few ALTs. (He even speaks English when you least expect it.) It’s a white tile building almost directly across from Gyosai restaurant on that big road that goes from Yomei and intersects the road with the main post office. The sign is in kanji.

SUGAWARA SENSEI

If you have achy parts that need some attention, like a sore back, shoulder, leg, etc, Sugawara can help. It’s quite cheap with your health insurance. To get there, head south on 157. When you get to the crazy 4-way intersection just after the train tracks at the Circle K, follow the small road second from the left. After the next light (158), you’ll see a 2-story white building on the right, and that’s their practice. The receptionist and main doctor speak decent Spanish, and the doctor’s son speaks pretty good English. Still, take a translator your first time if you’re not nihongo jouzu.

ATTRACTIONS

ONO CASTLE

The walk up Mt. Kameyama to the castle is really lovely (some locals do it 3 times a day!) The castle can be seen from practically anywhere in Ono, especially at night (before 9pm) when it’s lit up and looms romantically over the city. Follow the street signs on Sanban Dori and 158 from Fukui, or just look up in the sky at night and you’ll see it (like the Bat signal!).

OSHOZU

The 3rd purest water in all of Japan! It’s in the residential area near the castle (follow the road signs written in English) close to the Municipal ALT’s apartment.

TERAMACHI

A street lined with temples…our own little Kyoto. It’s off Shichiken Dori.

HOKYOJI TEMPLE

A lovely temple in the southern mountains of Ono, about 13 km from Kobushi dori. Follow the road signs from Kobushi-dori.

The MORNING MARKET on SHICHIKEN DORI

Except for a couple months in the winter, everyday from 6-11am the obaachans (grandmas) of Ono come out to sell their produce fresh from their fields, on Shichiken Dori. Check it out some weekend. Also, many of the shops along Shichiken Dori have been around for generations. There are artisans and craftspeople specializing in kimonos, miso, tofu, soy sauce, sweets, sake, and more. On the corner of Shichiken Dori and Sanban Dori is even an artist’s co-op.

COMMUNITY CENTERS

The numerous community centers scattered around Ono hold regular exhibits and concerts. The biggest centres are Bunka Kaikan, Komin Kaikan and Yushu Kaikan. You can get involved and take up any number of classes offered here: ikebana, cooking, Judo, etc. Be prepared to learn in Japanese only!

CULTURAL EVENTS

FESTIVALS

Of the many festivals held in Ono, the Ono O-Bon Matsuri is the biggest and liveliest of the lot, held in mid-August. Ono castle also hosts an annual festival, and the Yushu Kaikan hosts an exhibit of local art and craft (bonsai, calligraphy, photography, etc) around Culture Day in September. Many of the local shrines and temples hold their own festivals once or twice a year, which are quite interesting to check out.

Most places will host festivals in the spring. A favorite is the Shinokura Jinja matsuri – Spring Equinox (April) they perform a scary-looking Kagara lion dance. It’s near Yushu-minami elementary school, across from M Country Cafe.

The Kuzuryu Festival – late October at the Snow Park in Izumi Village. Enjoy a taiko exhibition, catch Ayu (the Kuzuryu river’s specialty fish) out of a swimming pool and then grill and eat them immediately, and choose from a wide array of local foods far surpassing the usual tako-yaki and castella fare. However, the real purpose of the festival is to take in the beautiful autumnal colors which (depending on the year) appear in the area at this time.

SENTO and ONSEN

ATAKARANDO

This is a WONDERFUL sento (public bath) in Ono. It’s called Atakarando (in katakana) and it’s fab. It’s very modern and large. For 650 yen you can soak in the tubs for as long as your prunish skin can handle it. They have a lovely jacuzzi spa with almost 360 degree views of the mountains, and it’s a lovely spot to watch the snow fall in the winter. There is also a swimming pool and a little gym upstairs, which has a few running machines and bike machines, and an esthetics spa with massages and facials for good prices. At the light in front of Mitsuwa, turn the opposite direction as Mitsuwa and turn left at the next street – it’s the very modern-looking building right there.

BARS AND RESTAURANTS

Word on the street is that there are about 100 bars in Ono and 200 restaurants, most of which also serve alcohol. The places to eat are far to numerous to list. Your best bet is to ask around, or better yet just go to a new place when you see one.

BOSTON CLUB

Run by ‘Sassy’ and her blond headed pool shark husband. They have pricey but really good food. It’s the only place I have had a hot dog in all of Japan (a real hot dog, not some weird thing on a stick with wasabi). Good beers, and great English. Sometimes their kid is around who is a blast to play with, or their dog. They have the best pool tables and sticks I have ever seen and electronic darts.

ISLAND CAFE

A small but really cool little joint that has really good food and your regular drink selection. One of the few places to find a Corona beer.

WILL SHOT BAR

A really cool bar run by a brother and sister. They are a blast to chat with and they have a HUGE menu of totally original drinks. They have a whole slew of Star Wars drinks. The Chewbacca is pretty good but really strong. The favorite so far is the C3P0. This bar is at the corner right next to the Ono Station.

YUMEYA

This is a bar close to City Hall with a great selection of foreign beers, good finger food, and even cans of A&W root beer! The owner speaks some English and has made good friends with ALTs in the past, even taking them skiing and hiking. To get there, turn on the street right in front of City Hall and walk a couple blocks – it’s on the left.

AGE SHOOT

Pretty sweet bar with Jenga, huge set-ups with mini golfing video games, and a very comical father-son bartender duo that likes to show ALTs their nipples. To get there, follow the back of Yomei JHS east for a couple blocks, and it’s on your left.

CIPOLLA

The best Italian food for miles! It’s on 157, on the left if you’re heading towards Katsuyama. It has wicked heating in the winter, lovely tiramisu, and friendly staff. Highly recommended!

KISEYA

Yummy nabe! A wonderful selection of make-it-yourself nabe. A must in the winter. Fantastic menu with pictures for those of us with limited Japanese ability. It’s located on the main post office road between the main post office and Sanban Dori. The sign is in Kanji.

HIRANO

The best okonomiyaki and yakisoba in Ono. Do-it-yourself style or leave it to the owners, for a pro-cooked meal. It’s around the block from the main post office, on Rt. 26 heading towards Fukui. A nice cheap and cozy place to eat, but not good for groups of more than four people.

SUSHI RESTAURANTS

Cheap sushi abounds. For fast food sushi, hit Sushi Express on Sanban Dori.

For some atmosphere with your raw fish, however, try Sushikyu (on Sanban Dori). They do takeout.

There’s a small sushi place near the Yomei ALT’s apartment. From that apartment, follow the train tracks toward the station for about 5 minutes on foot. The street leads to the left, where you’ll have to go around one block of houses. The restaurant is right there on the left – called Satonozushi. The owners are very young and friendly and they’re used to ALTs and happy to host parties! There are no menus or set prices, but when you’re really, really full it’s usually about 2500Y max.

AKIYOSHI

A popular chain of yakitori restaurants with quality chicken. Off Kobushi-dori, near Genky.

FUKUSOBA

One of Fukui’s top soba restaurants! It’s very busy at lunchtime. The main location is off Rokken Dori, on the street with the psychedelic arches that change colour (heading north). There’s also a smaller one in the residential area behind city hall.

SHIMOMURA

A favorite family restaurant; the owners are really nice. It’s near Kaisei JHS and Ono HS. They offer a good teishoku (set). Ask them for a point card so you can eventually get a nice free sauce katsudon!

HACHI-BAN RAMEN

A cheap fast-food ramen chain. There are two in Ono (both on 157, one is opposite Geo (DVD/Video rental shop) and the other near Genky). Popular with teens and salarymen alike, and one of the few places open late at night! At less than Y1000 for a full set meal, this is a bargain place to chow down.

AKANEYA

A very tasty Chinese restaurant at the corner of 158 and Sanban Dori. If the owners don’t seem friendly at first, rest assured it’s not you they’re like that with everyone. Nearly everything on the menu is fantastic.

TOMATO

Located inside a cute and cozy wooden house on the southern part of 157 that intersects with Kobushi Dori near Genky, the very genki owner will spoil you with friendly atmosphere and awesome food. Her lunch specials are huge and inventive, and are usually not listed on the menu. In the evenings this is also a good place for a few beers and snacks.

AJIKO

By far the coolest izakaya in Ono, and the food is delicious. Can get busy on weekends; reservations are recommended. Try the Ajiko Gyogyo (sashimi) Salada! On Saradani road (158/main post office road) in Ono, heading west toward Fukui, not far from the Niban Dori intersection. The entrance looks like a giant lit-up cave, so it’s pretty hard to miss. Parking’s limited, so carpool.

NORI-SAN

Not a place you’d go to for healthy eating, but the owner is exceedingly friendly and the atmosphere is nice and relaxed. The menu is pretty inexpensive, so order a variety of things and partake in lots of alcohol. Sign is in hiragana, on the road with the main post office, between the railroad tracks and the Sanban Dori intersection.

BISTRO CHARME

A French restaurant on a small road right in front of Yomei JHS. The lunch specials are often quite good, and if you’re craving some cheese fondue or steak and potatoes, you can get it here. They have very good, cheezy pizza! A little more on the pricey side but it’s a nice place to go when you’re bored of Japanese food.

SALADA-YA

Aptly named “The Salad Restaurant”, that is what they do best. It’s the bright-looking cafe next to the Bunka Kaikan on rt. 157. The interior is decked out in IKEA style furniture, complete with a coffee bar giving it a stylish air. The owners are sweet, and there’s lots of plastic food to choose from if you can’t wait long enough to figure out the extensive menu! Good value, with most meals coming in at under Y1000.

KINKADO

This is the bright yellow house near the intersection of Kobashi Dori and Sanban Dori. It’s looks like a music box on the inside. It’s a western-style bakery, and their cakes are entirely delicious. There’s seating as well, so stop in for a coffee and chat up the family!

TODO

This is a cafe and restaurant near Yushu Higashi elementary school, on the road towards Rokuroshi near A-CO-OP. It’s somewhat pricey, but they make impressive sundaes.

MINOKI

This is a lovely place to sample traditional sweets from Ono, and a great place for omiyage when you’re invited to dinner at someone’s home. Near the toy store off Rokken Dori, close to Teramachi.

ROKUROSHI MILK KOUBO

This is a dairy farm and restaurant way up in the mountains of Rokuroshi. It’s easy to get to, just drive more or less straight on up until you can’t go any further and you’ll see it, a huge log building. They’re closed in winter. This is also an activity and wedding centre, so you can get married and make your very own fresh ice cream while hanging out with the cows all at the same time!

M COUNTRY

This is another cafe and cake shop, in front of Shinokura Jinja not far from Yushu Minami elementary school. It’s a small log-cabin style building.

CAFE FRAMBOISE

An attractive wooded chalet style building, this is a café and homestyle restaurant on 157 towards Mitsuwa. The menus are pasted into children’s books, so you can practice your Japanese while you wait. Reasonably large, but pleasantly cozy.

SUNLARK

A tasty restaurant specializing in yakiniku and other Korean delicacies. The people are friendly and the fruits are frozen. On a street parallel to Kobushi-dori almost directly behind Katsuki Books.

OUTDOORS AND RECREATION

SKIING/SNOWBOARDING

You’ve come to the right place!!! Ono is a great location for these lovely winter sports. Most ski resorts are less than 20 minutes from your doorstep.

ROKUROSHI

Is in Ono and is nice because the slopes are very wide (good for beginners) and they have a half-pipe (for the more advanced!) They have night boarding on the weekends.

SKI JAM

Also close is Katsuyama’s popular Ski Jam. This is the biggest mountain in the area as well as the most crowded. The masses of people can be quite overwhelming (and dangerous if you’re not watching your back). This said, it is the best mountain for some serious boarding or skiing.

KARIGAHARA

Is also in Kastuyama. It’s also quite good (on a smaller scale). There’s night boarding here throughout the week. There are also slopes in neighboring Izumi that are worth the long, scenic winter drive.

FUKUI-IZUMI

A quiet break from the bustle of Ski Jam, Fukui-Izumi boasts breathtaking mountain top views and a few nice slopes. There’s also a “family hill” for beginners and sledders. About 7 km past Izumi village center.

KUZURYU

A favorite with junior high school downhill ski teams and site of various prefectural ski competitions. Challenging slopes for the more advanced skier. Near Izumi village center and easily seen from 158.

HIKING

ARASHIMADAKE

The beginning of the trek is at Kadohara ski ground.

KYONAGADAKE

Starts at Rokuroshi Heights.

HAKUSAN

And of course the beautiful ‘White Mountain’ Hakusan. From 157 heading toward Kanazawa, you’ll see signs.

KARIKAMI POND

Near the border intersections of Fukui, Gifu, and Ishikawa. Drive southeast on 158 towards Izumi and you should see signs guiding your way.

As Ono is surrounded by mountains, it’s not too hard to find a trail and just go!

SWIMMING

THE KUZURYU RIVER AKA THE WATERING HOLE

Perhaps Ono’s greatest assets is the Kuzuryu watering hole. A stretch of cool blue green water set in a pocket of peacefulness. This is a perfect spot for swimming, camping fishing and BBQing during the spring, summer and autumn months, and has been home to many a ALT camping party. It’s well off the beaten track, and a bit of a local’s secret spot, so have some respect when you’re there. If you’re camping out in summer be aware that there is a particularly nasty species of biting fly that makes you bleed when it bites. Several ALTs have needed medical attention after receiving multiple bites from these nasty critters, so make sure you cover up bare legs and arms and wear a lot of repellent around dusk.

To get there, head down 158 towards Izumi. When you see a large waterpipe that passes over the road, take the path on the left down to the Kuzuryu River. If you cross the river and climb around the rocks to the right, you’ll find the most picturesque watering hole.

THE KUZURYU LAKE

Beyond the watering hole you will find the Kuzuryu lake. This huge body of water was formed due to the damming of the river, but despite being man made, the area is very beautiful, with a minimum of human development. The best way to explore the lake is via boat. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to hire water craft, but at least one Ono ALT has purchased an inflatable kayak to make use of this lovely lake.

Whilst out on the water it is possible to see bands of wild monkeys coming to drink from the lake, and you may see large carp cruising in the sun too. There is also a camp ground right on the lake. It is poorly sign posted, so look out for a road side omiyage shop/cafe with a large bear for a sign. The campsite is a left turn about 200m from here. It’s a little expensive at around Y1000 for a car, Y1000 for a person, and Y1000 for a tent, but sometimes you may get away without paying. There are toilet and washing facilities there.

This is a beautiful drive south-east of Ono along the 158 toward Shirotori, Gifu. Note that 158 changes direction several times. It runs east from Fukui to Ono, then makes a right turn and goes south along Ono’s west boundary, then curves near Vio to resume its east-west orientation. All three stretches of road are 158! (This is not unusual in Japan.)

MANAHIME LAKE AND DAM

Another scenic drive out of town, this one runs south of Ono. Just take 157 south and marvel at the steep mountains (surprise!), statues, and practically-hidden shrines along the roadside. Be careful on this road – there are some sharp curves and very few protective barriers. The section of the road near the lake is closed in winter due to snow.

BIKING

Ono and Katsuyama are really terrific places for anyone interested in cycling, particularly mountain biking. There are loads of mountains and some beautiful scenery to explore. There are places that cater for all tastes, from those looking for a gentle jaunt in the countryside to those looking for the full-on high speed downhill challenge. In general, if you enjoy biking, just grab a machine and go. There is plenty to discover and you won’t be disappointed.

A word of warning — there are bears roaming around the woods/mountains so most hikers and bikers carry bells or something to warn the poor creatures that you’re coming.

If you have problems with your bike (after a run-in with those bears?) There’s an inexpensive bike repair and rental shop, good for minor repairs, on Shichiken Dori near Niban Dori. A few suggestions of places to roam…

In Ono:

1. Kameyama (Ono castle) A nice view of Ono. This is only a wee hill! Not biking really.

2. Ifuriyama: A big mountain near Ono HS and Vio. There are a number of ways to tackle this beast and it is a good, yet difficult, climb.

3. Hokyoji: You can ride to this lovely temple (about 13 km) quite easily as it is a flat route.

4. Rokuroshi: This is a good, challenging ride and you can go from Ono to Katsuyama this way.

In Katsuyama:

1. Behind Heisenji village there’s a mountain path that leads up and up and eventually down. It’s very long and easy to get lost so take a bud who has done it.

2. Also, in 2003 a mountain biking course opened up at Ski Jam; there’s both a cross-country course and a downhill course.

TRANSPORTATION

CAR

There are 2 main routes to Ono from Fukui city. From Fukui city centre, take Hwy 158 (Rt. 5) heading EAST straight to Ono. You’ll reach Ono in about 30- 40 minutes. Coming from the northern part of Fukui city, take 416 (Wai plaza is on the corner of this road and Route 8) towards Matsuoka. Just continue on 416, following the signs for Katsuyama. You will pass the turn-off to Ski Jam, go through a tunnel, pass the Echizen Daibutsu (Big Buddha) and castle and arrive in Ono in about 40-50 minutes.

TRAIN

The train from Fukui to Ono costs ¥650 each way. It’s a bit inconvenient, with only 8 or so trains running each day, but it’ll have to do until you all buy cars. Echizen Ono is the main train station in Ono – not Kita Ono!

BUS

Fukui to Ono

It is a one-hour ride to and from Fukui. The bus stop is just outside the entrance to the JR Echizen Ono station. In Fukui, the bus to Ono leaves from stop 2 on Chuodori, the street extending out from the front of Fukui station. The bus costs 990 yen one-way. Although it’s more expensive, the bus runs more frequently (about once an hour) than the trains.

Katsuyama to Ono

This bus runs from Sanban Dori to Katsuyama station. They run about every hour and timetables are available in local shops and at the station. This bus is, however, relatively expensive. Bike it if you can. The scenery is great; just remember to go around the big tunnel by Mitsuwa instead of through it.