Reinan Region

REINAN REGION 霊南

Occupying the entire Southern portion of the prefecture, Reinan is home to fine beaches, ocean drives, sleepy fishing villages and of course, Fukui’s nuclear power stations. For some reason not too many Northern JETs make it down South but there is so much too offer, you’d be foolish not to try out a slower pace of life in Reinan.

MIHAMA TOWN 美浜町

Mihama is a small and beautiful town in Wakasa, 20 minutes south of Tsuruga. It has a population of about 13,000 spread over an area of 150 kilometers in a sprawl of small villages.There are many great places to explore, by car, foot or ideally, by bike. Mihama makes for a great day trip, especially for outdoor adventures.

FACILITIES

The Town Hall, Fire Station, Clinic, Post Office and Welfare Centre are all clustered together forlornly in the middle of some paddy fields and are signed off Route 27. The local community center, Chuo Kominkan, offers various courses like cooking, kimono wearing, and ikebana. You can sign up for a Japanese tutor, get involved in calligraphy classes, or sign up for other things from the Tsuruga Center. There are a lot of family run stores on the main street selling everything you could possibly want, including several barbers.

SUPERMARKETS

There are 2 on Route 27: A-COOP

A-Coop is newer, bigger and more expensive. It is open from 10am to 8pm and different times during holidays, usually closing at 5pm. It has a local farmers market section and the only real supermarket in Mihama even though you can find many locally owned stores that sell different kinds of locally grown foods sometimes.

If you’re really watching the yen, shop at Plant 2 in Kaminaka or V-Mart in Tsuruga if you can be bothered to drive there.

SHOPS

There is a Stationery store and a clothes store near the junior high school on Route 27. The Stationary has a large red sign outside.

BANKS

Fukui Bank is near the junior high, on the town’s main street a block back from Route 27.

DIY HOME/GARDEN STORE

There are 3 Home and Garden Stores on the 27 some are locally owned and there is the big chain known as Komeri.

GARAGES

MIHAMA MOTORS is very friendly but a bit expensive.

YELLOW HAT in Tsuruga is cheaper.

ITOCHU has the cheapest gas in town.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

Despite its rural appearance, Mihama has a few things in the way of entertainment that are worth checking out if you’re in the area. There are quite a number of roadside cafes, convenience stores and restaurants to cater to the Route 27 traffic but most close early. This is just a small selection. For drinking, Tsuruga or Obama are better bets but there are a handful of bars. And if you want Yoshinoya, Atom Boy, Mr.Donut, McDonalds, KFC, Mos Burger, 8-ban Ramen … Mihama doesn’t have any of these.

WAKASA SEASIDE BREWERY

Yes, Mihama brews its own beer (Chidorien’s Original). You can sample it and eat hops and barley while there, also there’s a whole restaurant complex in the same building. The brewery draws coach loads of visitors so it must be doing something good. Be careful however, it closes early. By Car or Bus: Along route 27 before the main part of town (heading South). By Train: A long hike from Higashi Mihama station.

PALAZZO ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Fine dining in inaka! The atmosphere is fun and attracts a young crowd. This is the only restaurant in Mihama that is open past 8pm. The pastas are tasty, and huge. The pizza is authentic Italian style and delicious. Try the 4-cheese Pizza! Count on two or three people. Most anything on the menu will cost you about 1,500 yen. Open until 11pm 7 nights a week.

The friendly owner also runs the Sing Sing ramen restaurant by the Wakuno flyover in Tsuruga. Both are hugely recommended. By Car or Bus: Along route 27 on the left side, before the brewery (heading South). By Train: A long hike from Higashi Mihama station.

WAKASAGI

Great restaurant serving seafood. The donburi (rice bowls) topped with sashimi or crab come recommended. It’s at the Imaichi trafficc lights halfway back to Tsuruga on Route 27 – look for a big crab.

BRICK HOUSE

A superb cafe with a fantastic range of cakes and sandwiches too. It’s right next to the large Kansai Electric office building at the Mihama Station traffic lights. The best bread for miles around … beats Patisserie Aigetsudo on the road to the town hall hands down. Try the pastrami baguettes …

MERCI

The better of two European restaurants near the Family Mart on the edge of town on Route 27 in the Tsuruga direction. Look for a yellow cabin.

RESTAURANT EUROPEAN

The other restuarant near Merci. It is a brown/red building.

UDON RESTAURANT

Next to the bookstore near the school. Has a black and white sign in kanji and says udon in hiragana.

SUSHI

ICHIMARU and the wooden brown one at the Goichi traffic lights have pricey reputations.

ENKAI VENUES

There are loads in the Kugushi area and favorite ones include Ikkyu and the Hirose hotel (the massive one on the waterfront). These places may do meals for smaller parties – the food is gorgeous.

IZAKAYAS

There are a few around. The one on the corner of the station road is pleasant enough and recommended by teachers. At the railway crossing near the Goichi traffic lights, there are two more specializing in seafood and ramen/grilled meat respectively. The last one does a mean and cheap vegetable broth too. Cafe Mimi in the Saigo hotel on Route 27 seems to be popular.

NAGISA

A karaoke bar down by Kugushi beach

FESTIVALS

This is a list of annual events and festivals in the Mihama area. They are mostly small village celebrations, but they may be worth a look if you are around.

HIRUGA SUICHI TSUNAHIKI MATSURI (Underwater Tug-o-war), in Hiruga.

2nd or 3rd weekend of January. The young men of the village brave the January temperatures of Lake Hiruga for a tug-o-war dressed only in loincloths. The rope represents the “Daigya”, an evil and mighty sea serpent, which according to legend threatened the harmony of Hiruga.

The aim of the tug-o-war is to pull the rope with hands and teeth until it is torn apart. Once the serpent’s body has been ripped in two, the battle is won and the village is safe again, until next year.

UWASE-JINJA NO SHINJI (Divine Service of Uwase).

April 8th Uwase shrine lies in Kiyama, between Mikata and Mihama. This festival celebrates the Dance of the King and includes flutes and taiko drumming.

ITSUKI HIROSHI MARATHON

3rd weekend in April. OK, so it’s not really a festival, but this is a road race of various distances of 1.5km to 20km. Your teachers will be very impressed if you join in! Even if you don’t, pop down and have a look. It’s along the road to Nyu, Mihama Genden and Shiraki and is a beautiful run. Also, the marathon is named after Mihama’s Favourite SonTM, Itsuki Hiroshi. He’s a famous enka singer who hails from Mihama (you can see his house and a portrait of him near Kawaraichi traffic lights). He usually puts on a charity concert the night before, and as he’s a showbiz personality for the past couple of years he’s invited some of Morning Musume to sing too. Morning Musume! In Mihama!

MIYASHIRIO JINJA MATSURI

May 1st Another Dance of the King, this time at Miyashiro Shrine.

KODOMO KABUKI (in Hayase)

May 5th An all day festival with the local Hayase kids dressed in full kabuki gear.

MIHAMA WALK

3rd weekend in June. Again, not a festival but a mass walk on the same lines as Mikata’s Two Day March. 3/5/10km courses available, around Lake Kugushi. There is a smaller community walk in May too.

KUGUSHI BOAT FESTIVAL (in Kugushi)

July 13th Some sort of children’s boat festival.

MINATSUKI MATSUKI (in Hayase)

July 27th A few stalls and lanterns to celebrate the old month of June

KUGUSHI BEACH FIREWORKS

August – the Friday of Obon. Good and not as crowded as Tsuruga, Oi or Fukui fireworks.

SUGAHAMA OBON MATSURI (in Sugahama).

August 15th. The local “All Souls” day. A boat with lots of costumed people aboard gets launched. You can see the boat and the mikoshi portable shrines they use at the festival all year round in the big building at the edge of Sugahama village.

ATTRACTIONS

THE FIVE LAKES OF MIKATA AND THE RAINBOW LINE

See the Mikata guide for extensive information on the lakes.

TSUNEKAMI

Just north-east of the lakes is the Tsunekami headland. This is also a really good place to cycle as the road winds its way along the rocky coast. Tsunekami is famous for beautiful sunsets and a pine forest. By Car: from Route 27, turn off at Mikata Station onto Rte.162. Take this road past Mikata lake, through a tunnel, and then turn right. Just follow this coast road.

BEACHES

Mihama means beautiful (mi) beaches (hama).The main town beaches (Kugushi/Matsubara/Wada) are nothing special, but the other beaches are really nice places to sunbathe, swim and surf.

SUISHOHAMA AND DAIYAHAMA

Famous beaches which attract visitors from as far a field as Osaka. At the end of spring the sunsets are the best I’ve ever seen. Despite the oil spill in January 1997, the sand looks white and clean still, although I’m told you have to watch where you sit in places, despite the extensive clean-up. Also, with a bit of imagination, you can forget that the nuclear power station lurking at the far end of the bay really exists.

The best time to go swimming is probably August, when the jelly fish slink off to deeper water to do whatever jelly fish do for a month. The traffic on Rte.27 at this time is awful. The peak time is late afternoon on weekends. The beaches are also great for fireworks on summer nights, and quiet contemplation any other time.

By Car: Take Rte.27 from Tsuruga. Shortly after the first tunnel from Tsuruga, you come off the flyover on to the old Rte.27 and you’ll see a big blue sign (in English) to Mihama Genden to the right. Follow this coast road. The beaches are about 10 minutes away by car (on a light traffic day). Also there are buses (see above). There is car parking but its expensive (1500yen in summer) and there are a few cafes and bars.

FISHING AND KERYUU NO SATO

If you like fishing, then Mihama must be good as it offers lakes, the sea and rivers. To the south of Mihama along the Mimi river, south of Shinjo village, you can fish for‘ayu’ (sweet fish).

The rules for fishing seem a little vague. The river runs through quite secluded areas, so there are no wardens or policemen to answer your questions. Apparently you don’t need a license if you are not using a net. The ayu fishing season is May to September. (Myotsuji in Obama is also recommended for ayu as the water is less muddy and the fish tastier than in the Mimi).

Further up the river is Keryuu no Sato, a trout farm and fishing center. Here you can rent an area of the river and beach and a BBQ, and all the equipment you need for a day’s fishing, drinking, sunbathing and eating trout. Bring your own beer. By Car. Take Rte 27 from Tsuruga to Mihama town. After you pass the A-COOP supermarket there will soon be a large sign in romaji to Shinjo at Kawaraichi traffic lights. There’s also a big blue and yellow picture of a trout. Follow the sign, turning left. You will soon see the Mimi river on your right. Keep on this road until you reach the fish farm (about 10kms). If you want more information and your Japanese is good, phone the Mihama town hall 0770-32-2000.

NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS

More distraction than attraction, but the nuclear plants at Nyu and Shiraki both have visitor centers. The emc2centre at the Monju plant in Shiraki has a giant cinema screen. Both the plants are famous for scandal … the Mihama tourist board achieved notoriety for airbrushing the Nyu plant out of advertisement pictures of Suishohama beach. More seriously, after a big sodium leak in 1994, the Monju plant hasn’t been restarted since.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

CYCLING

Apart from the lakes, exploring the villages in the area makes for a great trip. If you cycle up the mountain to Keryuu no Sato and beyond, you’ll eventually reach Makino in Shiga Prefecture. Just over the top of the mountain are a couple of reservoirs and if you carry on down the other side of the mountain you get to Lake Biwa.

HIKING

There is a gentle walk up to Byobu waterfall. Cycle or drive to Shinjo village south of Mihama. Turn right up Byo river past some rice paddies and into the woods. It takes about 30 minutes and should be marked by signs with 4 kanji characters. It’s a small waterfall- about 3 meters high- but the area is attractive and there is a small statue of Buddha hidden nearby. You might also want to consider climbing Tenno-san (30/40 mins), the large solitary hill by the sea that looms over Mihama. There are paths up from Sakajiri and Kino villages and there’s a small shrine on top. In fact, most of the local hills have paths and shrines.

There’s also the local Nosaka Mountain where the JHS kids climb every year. If you’re lucky you’ll go when it’s not raining. It’s about a 2.5 hour hike to the top and I think there’s a guest house at the bottom of the mountain. There’s another picturesque torii on a rock in the sea just past the Hirose hotel towards Hayase village.

TRANSPORTATION

CAR

Take Route 27 from Tsuruga towards Obama. It takes about 20 minutes and Mihama is the first main town (you will pass through Higashi Mihama village). The main part of town is after the second tunnel. Obama is about 45 minutes drive. I think the town line officially starts near the Palazzo restaurant if you’re coming from Tsuruga.

TRAIN

Take the train from Tsuruga on the JR Obama line. There are trains about every hour between 06:31 and 22:20. Last trains out of Mihama: to Tsuruga at 21:46 and Obama at 22:41. You should check the times carefully coming home late at night, because there are no taxis parked at the smaller stations. The trains take about 20 minutes to Tsuruga (¥320) and 40 minutes to Obama (¥570). If you’re going to do a big trip, you might want to checkwww.hyperdia.com for train details.

BUS

There are 10 buses a day from Tsuruga station bus stop 2. Four of them continue to Mikata , the other six go to Hiruga, one of Mihama’s villages. They’re more expensive than the trains and take longer, but if you’ve just missed a train they might be worth considering. Also the buses can take you to the Lakes directly if you’re not driving – otherwise it’s a brisk walk from Mihama, Mikata or Kiyama stations. Another reason to take them might be if you want to drink at the brewery as there’s a bus stop outside.

A separate bus goes from Tsuruga station to Shiraki, and can take you to Suishohama beach. There are only a handful of these buses a day but could be useful if you don’t have a car or want to drink on the beach. Annoyingly, there are no direct buses between central Mihama town and Suishohama but you could always hang around in the bus shelter at Sata and wait for a connection.

Websites:

http://www.wakasamihama.jp/eng/

http://www.town.mihama.fukui.jp/

OBAMA CITY 小浜市

Need a weekend getaway? Come and live the good life down in Obama! Make your own chopsticks and paper, visit the temples, take part in the o-mizu okuri fire festival and get holes burnt in your coat. There’s all this and more.

GETTING THERE AND AWAY

TRAIN

Take the JR Obama Line from Tsuruga. Get off at Obama station and that’s it! You are in the heart of the town.

CAR

Take Route 27 south from Tsuruga. After about 45 minutes, you should be in Obama. It’s after driving through Mihama, Mikata and Kaminaka.

FACILITIES

JR OBAMA STATION

Trains and buses leave from here but the buses are very confusing so don’t count on them. On the plus side, the town is not huge so you can walk to most of the fun places in about 20 – 30 mins (that is in the city).

FUKUI BANK

Business hours from 9am-3pm, but ATMs are open from 8am-9pm Bank ATM’s are in Japanese only(alternatively of course there is the post office ATM’s to use which i think stay open to later These ATM’s can also be displayed in English). An important point to note however is, if you use the ATM’s after 5pm you will be charged an additional fee.

OBAMA PUBLIC HOSPITAL (Byouin)

Take your insurance card with you, and a few good books. Surprisingly the service here is not too bad. If you do need to go, you will have to make an appointment unless you are taken in for an accident. For normal hospital needs things it pays to get in early and make your appointment or you will find yourself waiting a long time.

POLICE BOXES

For all those little emergencies!

LAUNDROMAT

You may not think you’ll need it, but wait for the rainy season!! There are several of these in the town, the best and newest is next to the Lawson’s combini near Ayaha dio

OBAMA AND PREFECTURAL LIBRARIES

English newspapers and a few English books.

SHOPPING

OBAMA SHOPPING CENTRE

Includes a MaMa Store, film processing, dry cleaning, chemist and a 100 Yen store upstairs.

AYAHA DIO

A great store to go to for hardware, home furnishings, etc. If you make a point card here it is easy to tally up points and get discounts. Many things for your apartment can be found here particularly if you do not want to go out to Plant 2 Super center (see below).

PLANT 2 SUPER CENTER

Like a Warehouse, Target, Wal Mart or whatever part of the world you come from. This is accessible by train providing you are willing to walk the 20 minutes from Kaminaka station. It is a huge shopping center where you can get almost anything you need. If you have a car it is helpful but not necessary to get to as mentioned above. There is no point card system here but the prices do tend to be a bit cheaper. While you are here why not play the Plant challenge with your fellow ALT friends. The winner is the person who can see the most of their students in one trip.

LOOVE

Excellent for gift purchases and home furnishings, but prepared to pay the high prices! While the prices in the downstairs shop are a bit expensive, they have recently fixed the place up and we now have a totally kick ass 100 yen shop upstairs. This shop is the first place that you go to if you need something from your apartment. While it might be a 100 yen shop, the quality is great and does justice to your daily life. Best shop in Obama in my opinion.

TAKAI CYCLE CENTRE

Great place to buy, repair or sell your bicycle.

FISH MARKET

Best place to buy fresh fish and seasonal seafood in Obama.

1,000,000 VOLT – (Hyaku man volt)

Absolutely the best place to buy your home appliances because it is the only place in Obama to do it. Prices to tend to be a bit above par here so I generally do my shopping in Tsuruga at a place called Joshin. (Higashi Obama).

MIYAWAKI SHOTEN

The main bookstore in Obama.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

OBAMA GYM

Monthly membership is 2000Yen. Friendly staff and average facilities.

OBAMA POOL

Entry fee is around 250Yen. Jacouzi/ walking course.

BUDDY BOWL

On Route 27, just before the Obama exit. Here you can find purikura, arcade games, bowling, and cheap karaoke. (Map of Higashi Obama).

KARAOKE

A place called Shalala is the sole remaining dedicated Karaoke bar here. The equipment is not great but it does still have mics and music and TV screens. Another thing here is you must buy at least one drink.

FAST FOOD

If you are worried about being in a small town and missing burgers etc, no problem we are big enough to have a MC D’s. There is also a Japanese fast food equivalent called Mos Burger which is a little more expensive but has the plus side of being cooked when you order it and seems to be fresher. Both places do hit the spot and the McD’s is actually good here. Something they do to it makes it not half bad.

There is also a Chinese place called Oshyo. This is next to Wakasa High School and opposite the shopping center with Mama store. This is cheap and great if you can’t be bothered cooking. There are plenty of other places and I am sure you will be shown the other good places around by the old hands. Feel free to explore though!!

ATTRACTIONS

CHOPSTICK FACTORY

They show you how lacquered chopsticks are made, then give you a pair to design yourself. Free.

WASHI FACTORY

A small place that will let you make your own traditional Japanese paper for about 600Yen per person. (Bring dried flowers to decorate).

OBAMA CASTLE RUINS

In Jounai – where Suisan and Higashi ALT’s can be found. Nice place to chill out and read in the warmer months.

SOTOMO TOURS

Cruise Wakasa Bay and check out the caves! A bit pricey at 2000Yen per person, but worth the ride in the summer! There are some discount vouchers for this too so keep your eyes open and you might be able to save yourself 500 yen.

ITTEKIBUNKO (0770-77-1424)

A private library of Zen writings collected by a famous writer from Ohi.

THEATER

Next door is a theater for almost life-sized bamboo dolls. Dolls can be seen even when there is no show. By car, turn right off Route 27 towards Ayabe at the Hongo signal. Turn right just before the school. By train, take the JR Kawakami bus from Hongo station to Ohi bus stop.

WAKASA HISTORY MUSEUM (0770-56-0525) Set up by Fukui’s government, this museum explains the history and identity of Wakasa. An English pamphlet is available for 100 yen. By car, turn right off Route 27 at the signal just after Onyugawa. Take the second left; the museum is on the right. By train, turn left out of Higashi Obama station. It’s about a 5 minute walk. The old house with the thatched roof in the park next to the museum is a great place for a picnic!

WAKASA PAPER HOUSE (0770-56-0363 )

Here, you can make your own Japanese paper for 500Yen. By car, turn off Route 27 at the signal just after Onyugawa. Take the first left, at the crossroads, the house is facing you. By train, turn left out of Higashi Obama station. It’s about a 5 minutes walk.

TEMPLES

There are many temples around the Obama area. Here are a couple of the most well-known.

MYOUTSUUJI

The best temple in Wakasa: a three-storied wooden pagoda set in a cedar forest. This temple is a National Treasure. By car, turn left off Route 27 at the Touichiba signal between Kaminaka and Obama. Follow the road for about 10 kilometers. By train, turn right out of Shinhirano station to the Touichiba signal. It’s about a 40 minute walk.

MYOURAKUJI

A small temple in a beautiful area. The Main Hall and the 1000-armed Kannon are National Treasures. By car, take Route 6 towards Natasho but turn left. By train, take Natasho bus from Obama station to Nodai stop. It’s about a 10 minutes walk to the temple.

BARS AND RESTAURANTS

106

Great pizza and plenty of Japanese restaurant type fare too. Upstairs you can cook your own okonomiyaki or yaki soba. Under this there is a great place too (possible also called 106) but they serve Carlsberg beer, the wonderful green bottle brew from Denmark and also not bad pricing.

HACHIBAN RAMEN.

Chain noodle restaurant.

KATSUTTOKI

It’s tonkatsu time! Try the Jumbo Sets! A massive set and low price.

KAPPA

Lively pub/restaurant with great food. A little expensive, but they have a little of everything.

YAMATO ZUSHI

Conveyor belt sushi.

MOSBURGER

What a great place. Real Western-Style hamburgers – even better than back home. Every Tuesday night the local English Conversation (Eikaiwa) class heads here after their lesson (usually about 9:00PM)

TOMATO AND ONION

For the (fairly average) tastes of home, if you ever just need to see some dead, cooked animal on a plate.

GYOUZA NO OUSHOU

The finest gyouza (potstickers) and fried rice around for prices even destitute teachers can afford.

RYUUTON

A tonkatsu restaurant which also serves ramen, gyouza, and lots of other things made out of pork. Nice atmosphere, especially if you like jazz music!

Bars Note: There are more than 5 bars in Obama – go find out for yourself. If you can string together enough people there is also an option for doing a nomihodai (all you can drink) that comes with a set meal that lasts about 2 hours i think.

NEW EDEN

Included for the cocktail lovers, opposite Don Juan’s. Pretty quiet, good for a Tuesday!

BONKURA

(Near Sun Home Video) bit pricey but a nice atmosphere and manageress who always wants to talk.

RAKURAKU

Great izakaya. Good drink, food, atmosphere. Any night out drinking in Obama should involve a stop here. Closes at 12. Good place to start before going to Bonkura! FYI, this place can be quite smoky.

DON JUAN

Sometimes has live music. Small bar open late.

MURASAKI

Small izakaya with high prices and good food. Located near Shopping Center

COFFEE SHOPS

SOTOMO

“Some Foods, Some Drinks” famous not just for the sign, Sotomo has some great cakes!

RIVER CAFE

As it says on the sign outside “We Love River! Since 1989” Good food, they offer pasta and a menu in katakana. The desserts are worth the visit. the owner is a Pizza Nazi though but on nights that he is in a good mood it’s a good place. Sometimes he chooses to simply not open.

CAFE MERCADO

Located across the street from the Obama City Hall and open at 7:30 am, this place actually has breakfast! Like, with eggs, bacon, and waffles! It’s still Japanese-style, but it’s tasty and there is a picture menu. It’s worth it for the coffee alone.

SANNOYA

Open till around 4:00 AM everyday – crazy. The building is called MM2, it’s easy to find.

FUUNE

This cafe is in a log cabin-style house in the mountains on the way to Natasho. The atmosphere is great. They have a large assortment of coffees, as well as other drinks and some good desserts. They also serve their own special curry. The owners make a large number of crafts, from small items to larger ones constructed out of wood, and all are on display and for sale at the cafe.

SOGNO

A neat little Italian place that has a good arrangement of food and drinks. It is a small place but it often is full, particularly at lunch time. This is a wonderful place but the delay for getting your food is perhaps a bit much if you go in a large group. If you go there as a couple or small group of 3, it should be an alright waiting time OK. Located on the turn off road up to the university.

TONTON

A good little place for getting a munch down. Another smoky place but it is cheap. You also get given ticket for every time you go there and you can use them to get free stuff. For example 1 ticket will get you one free meat on a stick thing 2 tickets will get you a free coffee of juice and 3 tickets will get you a free batch of gyouza (super yum).

In short most of the places for eating and drinking in Japan are smoky and Obama is no exception to this rule. None the less we have some great places and you get used to it if you are not a fan of smoking.

Oi Town

Ohi is a very small town of 9,000 friendly people, including Natasho Village, in the Deep South of Fukui. It is situated between Obama and Takahama -on the Wakasa Bay. Though small, it is surrounded by the beautiful mountains and the sea, which at times can be quite scenic. If you want to relax and get away from the city, Ohi and the rest of the south, are definitely the places to come to.

GETTING THERE AND AWAY

TRAIN

If you ever want to visit Oi, you can take the JR Obama Line from Tsuruga. Get off at Wakasa Hongo station – and you’re in Oi!

CAR

Take Route 27 southwest from Tsuruga. After an hour and fifteen minutes of driving through Mihama, Mikata, Kaminaka and Obama, you’ll have finally reached Oi.

Town Map Useful and interesting places in Oi Town

FACILITIES

SUPERMARKETS

  • Mama Store on Route 27
  • A-coop along Route 1.
  • Mini Stop on Route 27 just past the Mama Store.

We have Fukui Bank, a post office, a mechanics, a hospital, a few small restaurants and izakayas (japanese styled bars).

We are quite a rich town with a few nuclear power stations so a lot of our facilities are pretty new.

ATTRACTIONS

KINOKO NO MORI or The Mushroom Forest.

It’s a nice place to enjoy a picnic and… see mushrooms grow. But the best attraction is here; you can slide down the longest slide in Japan!

AMISHAN

Onsen, open all year round and beautiful views over the town and the mountains. Just off Route 1.

OI ATHLETIC PARK

There’s a great fitness Center, pool, tennis courts, baseball field, gym and library. The fitness center is modern, usually empty, but rather expensive. It’s 10,000Yen to join and 7000Yen every month for full membership. If you want only the pool, it’s a little cheaper or only the gym. One time visits are 2500Yen for the fitness center and 1000Yen for the pool.

NOKA WATERFALL

Is a 30 meter waterfall on path up Toukisan. Rhododendrons on the mountain are pretty in spring.

It takes about 90 minutes to climb to the top. By car, take Route 162 through Natasho village to Toukisan Seishounen Ryokoumura. The path to the mountain begins here. By train, take Natasho bus from Obama station to Kowada stop. The path is a short walk to the left.

MYOURAKUJI

Is a small temple in a beautiful area. The Main Hall and the 1000-armed Kannon are National Treasures. By car, take Route 6 towards Natasho but turn left. By train, take Natasho bus from Obama station to Nodai stop. It’s about a 10 minutes walk to the temple.

FESTIVALS

Every first weekend of August, Oi holds its Super Ogase Festival. Friday evening is the Obon dancing. On Saturday evening, the festival goers can purchase a torch for 100Yen and walk them to the water, where they can enjoy a taiko show, fireworks accompanied by music and see wild, drunk men light a hug structure made of hay with fire. After it’s lit, the men spin it around and dodge the falling pieces of hay! It’s crazy, but rather entertaining.

TAKAHAMA TOWN 高浜町

Takahama is the most southern city of the prefecture, being 25km south of Obama, but 5km to Kyoto ken. It’s small, about 11,000 people, but aside from Fukui-shi, it’s one of the most multicultural places. There are many foreigners, mostly Peruvians, Brazilians and Filipinos.

GETTING HERE AND AWAY

TRAIN

Take the JR Obama Line from Tsuruga. Get off at Wakasa Wada station if you want to hit the best beach (it’s about a 15 minutes walk straight down the street from the station and if you want “downtown” Takahama, get off at Wakasa Takahama station.

CAR

Take Route 27 south from Tsuruga. After about an hour and fifteen minutes of driving through Mihama, Mikata, Kaminaka and Obama, Oi then there is the gem of Fukui, Takahama.

FACILITIES

Although it’s small, it has most everything you need. There is a coin laundry, Komeri, the general store, a 100 yen shop, post office banks and all the conbinis you could want.

SUNNYMART

Next to the station, Sunnymart is wonderful. It has some foreign food, including pesto, sundried tomatoes, salsa and many other things. But like most things in Japan, the selection is seasonal.

HAKASHIKA

On route 21, at the limit of the prefecture. It’s got a bit of foreign cheeses, imported wine and plenty of stronger booze. It is off route 27, turn right onto route 21, near Takahama Genden. A short way down the road, you will see in English “LIQUOR”. That’s the place.

GENOVA

Between Takahama and Oi. It’s huge and orange, so you can’t miss it if you’re driving. They have all kinds of foreign foods and omiyage. It’s a bit on the expensive side though. If you don’t mind that, then you’ll love this place.

RESTAURANTS

LA IL MARE ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Not too bad. The pizza is pretty good but a bit expensive, about 1200yen for a small.

SING SING

Next to La Il Mare. It’s a ramen restaurant. They are both on route 27, past the Sunnymart and the busy area.

LA PLAGE

Coffee and dessert place, a little bit further down the Italian restaurant.

CAKES BY KEIKO

Absolutely awesome pastry chef, she makes western style pastries and cakes. Great place to go for coffee too, with a small outdoor patio (sits probably 3-4 people comfortably). 0770-72-2776, Keiko speaks perfect English. Depending on the days, you can get chocolate chip cookies that taste “just like home,” all kinds of pudding and coffee sponge cake. The real deal. Worth every hard earned yen it costs.

ATTRACTIONS

WADA BEACH

The best beach in Wakasa. You can easily walk or cycle the length of the beach. It gets very busy in summer. By car, turn right off Route 27 at Takahama station and follow the road to Shiroyama park. By train, Wakasawada and Takahama stations take you to either ends of the beach. Go straight out of either station.

AOBASAN: The Mt. Fuji of Wakasa

This 699 meter peak overlooks the bay. There are fantastic views on a clear day. A round trip hiking course is about 5 km. By car, turn right off Route 7 immediately after a golf club on Maizuru side of Takahama. Follow the road up to Matsunodera. The trail starts just behind the temple. By train, go straight out of Aonogou station to Route 27 and follow the left fork to the golf club.

SHIROYAMA PARK

It is a beautiful park and it’s probably the only place you’ll get to sit on grass under a tree. There is an absolutely beautiful view from there. It’s a great place for picnics, although you need to be aware of the kites, they tend to steal your food if you’re not careful enough. It is best to use the covered spaces. There is also the mountain in the town, part of Shiroyama park that is very nice and you get a nice view of the sea and the town.

TSURUGA CITY 敦賀市

Tsuruga is situated in a great location, one hour from Kyoto and one hour from Fukui-shi. The city is surrounded by mountains on the east, west and south sides, and opens to the Sea of Japan on the north side. Tsuruga has wonderful natural beauty, the Sea of Japan coast, mountains, lakes, and rice fields. Tsuruga has always been known as a port town, and has prospered in trade with Hokkaido, Korea, China, and Russia. In 1955, Tsuruga City was born, uniting five villages around Tsuruga. Today, Tsuruga’s main industry is nuclear power (there are five power plants in Tsuruga).

GETTING HERE AND AWAY

TRAIN

All prices are one-way. Local trains generally leave every hour, and express trains every 30 minutes. Think about whether you need to spend the extra cash for expresses.

To Fukui(Takefu-Sabae-Fukui-Kanazawa line): Local train takes 1 hour and costs 950. The express takes only 30 minutes but is more expensive at 2,100 for unreserved and 2610 for reserved.

To Obama(Mihama-Mikata-Obama line): The local is a nice new train that just opened in 2003. It takes one hour and costs 950. It goes further to Ooi (Wakasa Hongo) and costs 1110.

To Kyoto/Osaka: The express takes one hour to Kyoto and costs 2,770 for unreserved and 3080 for reserved. To Osaka takes 1.5 hours and costs 3990 for unreserved and 4300 for reserved. For the local, one can get two either location by one train, but sometimes you have to take the train to Maibara, Nagahama, or (less often) Omi Imazu and transfer. It takes 2 hours to Kyoto for 1,500¥ and 2.5 hours to Osaka for 2,200.

To Nagoya, there are about 10 express trains a day (around ¥4500) with a change at Maibara. It takes about 1.5 hours. On the local, change at Nagahama or Maibara, and then probably again at Ogaki. It takes at least 2.5hrs, but is only about ¥3000.

Town Map Useful and interesting places in Tsuruga City

BUS

To Nagoya there are about 8 a day from Tsuruga highway interchange (get a taxi out there (¥1000) or ask someone for a ride). It costs about ¥2000 and takes about 2hrs. By car, drive to Omi Imazu or Shin Asahi station about 45 minutes away on Route 161. From there it takes 1 hour to Kyoto for 950¥ and 1.5 hours to Osaka for 1,600¥.

To Tokyo, there is a late night bus that comes to the entrance of the Highway. There are usually two that travel close to each other. They arrive around 10:50 and leave around 11:10. You can buy tickets at the Tsuruga train station and it costs 7000-8000. They start in Fukui City and stop in the top cities until they reach Tsuruga. They then depart for Tokyo. It is usually 8 hours long.

FACILITIES (by area)

HONMACHI / STATION AREA

HEIWADO

A large department store near Honmachi. You can get groceries, clothing, household goods here.

A.L. PLAZA

Has a movie theater, game center, bookstore, and 100¥ store amongst other things.

KABOS AREA

KABOS

Kabos is near V-Mart. You can buy books/CDs/videos and there’s also video and CD rental. Classic Hollywood DVDs from the 30s to the 60s are only ¥100 as are all videos except new releases. In the bookstore, there are a few English books and an ok selection of foreign CDs. You can buy your textbooks for studying Japanese here.

V-MART

Near Kabos, it’s an average grocery store.

YASUBUN

Near Kabos, it’s a liquor store with lots of beer, sake, wine, and hard liquor, frozen foods and snacks.

100 MAN VOLT

Near Kabos, it’s a large electronics store with a great range of computers, stereos, TVs, etc.

BOOK-OFF

Near V-Mart, it sells nearly all 2nd hand manga and CDs and some computer games. Look around and you may find some good stuff in here.

BOB’S CLUB

Near Kabos, it’s a clothing store with expensive, trendy clothes.

JACK

Near Kabos, it’s another expensive clothing store, but sometimes has a sale rack.

2ND STREET

Near Kabos, It has a lot of used items that are in great condition.

ROUTE 27 / AWANO AREA

WAI PLAZA

Is near Awano JHS. It’s a big grocery store with a good selection of produce. There’s a nice bakery which also sells prepared meals. It’s probably the cheapest groceries in Tsuruga and the best selection of veggies.

HEARTS

Off Route 27. It’s a grocery store which newly opened in spring 2003. You can find a lot of ingredients that you can not find at other stores.

YASUSAKI

Near Awano JHS. It’s a home center with cheap household items, plants and furniture.

UNIQLO

Is near Wai Plaza. It’s a clothing store, very much like Gap but Japan style. It’s cheap and has men’s clothes in large sizes.

DOLLAR STORE

Off Route 27. Everything is 100yen. There’s some useful and not so useful stuff!

CITY HALL AREA

PORTON

A department store selling groceries, clothing, household items. There’s also a food court.

TAKARAJIMA KINGDOM

A chain video/CD rental store with a music, video and computer games store too.

SHIMURA

Near Mr. Donut, it’s a small clothing store with cheaper clothes.

BULLDOG

Near city hall is a gift/novelty store selling lots of knickknacks and some costumes.

PLANT 2

Is a home center on Route 27. It’s not technically in Tsuruga (near Obama) but worth the drive. It’s like Wal-Mart.

AMENITIES

Dry Cleaning & Laundry

There are a couple of places near V-Mart – 50m East of the Volvo car dealership. As well as one between Hearts and BIS-2 pachinko parlor.

LAUNDRY

Shyapan is good. Also there is dry cleaning near Hearts as well as one on the corner of Rt. 8 at Honmachi, north of the Fukui Bank

CABLE TV AND INTERNET

Go to RCN building near Kehi HS. TV is 3,000¥/mo for basic, 5,000¥ for basic+3 movie channels and the Internet is 3,000¥/mo. There is also Yahoo BB for internet at 100 Volt. They may be more expensive so look around for the best deals.

CAR RENTAL

“Carspot” in Tsuruga rents cars to ALTs. It is located next to the Hearts grocery store parking lot just off route 27. Ask for Mr. Nakajima at 0770200033 or 09013933217 or 09070839215. I rented a small yellow-plate Subaru automatic transmission for 9000yen per month, 15000yen per month including insurance (they organised insurance for me). White plates are more expensive.

Alternatively, Hiro in Fukui rents cars to many ALTs. He usually charges 10,000¥/mo (not including insurance). His number is 090-2090-9090.

TRASH

Take large items to Tsuruga Clean Center, near Kehi HS and the power plants.

MOVIES

There’s a movie theater in A.L. Plaza and you can find movie info at www.alex-cinemas.com. Wednesdays are ladies night and Mondays are men’s night for 1,000¥, also the 1st day of month is 1,000¥. Also, late shows are ¥1200 instead of ¥1700

POOL

There is a pool hall upstairs in ‘Tsuruga Bowl’ Pachinko parlor (not a bowling alley!) across from Porton. 600¥/hr. Also, there’s a small club with 4 tables near the harbour bridge (look for the white building with ビリアールド – Billiards – on it in Katakana).

BOWLING

NOT at Tsuruga Bowl but just around the corner by KFC, Heiwa Bowl has a big pin outside and shuts at 9pm.

ONSEN

RIRA PORT ONSEN

Opened in 2003. It’s a nice new complex with an onsen plus a large pool, restaurants and karoke. It’s located on mountainside behind station. Very nice! ¥700 for Tsuruga residents, ¥1100 for non-residents (show your alien card for proof). Closes at midnight. If you have large tattoos make sure to cover up. Tattoos are prohibited there and they will not let you enter if they see one on you, even small ones.

TUNNEL ONSEN

Is behind the station. There is a bus that goes there several times a day from the station. They pipe the water from Takefu. Good variety of baths but expensive.

SANPIA

Is near Porton in a building that is a hotel, sento, and in the winter an ice skating rink. It’s cheap and has free soap and shampoo.

KOSHINOYU

Is next to Kabos. There’s a good variety of average quality baths, including 3 TVs within the sento as well as a salt sauna and steam bath that neither Riraport nor Sampia offers. The rotemburo (outdoor bath) regularly features exotic additives such as wine, milk, or herbal oils. Korean massage or akasuri (naked scrub-downs) are offered. On the 26th of the month, a discount coupon booklet can be purchased, 12 tickets for the price of 10. On days ending in 6, the price is reduced from ¥600 to ¥500. Closes at 1am every night.

RESTAURANTS (By Area)

HONMACHI / STATION AREA

HAYASHI

Near the station. It sells good udon and soba meals. It’s fairly cheap and the portions are large.

AKIYOSHI

Is near Kehi shrine. It’s a yakitori restaurant with everything on a stick from regular chicken to cartilage and tongue. Be careful what you order! It’s busy. and a little expensive.

MURASAKI

Is in Honmachi. It’s an izakaya with lots of food. It’s a good place to come with friends before drinking.

TOKU TOKU

Is in Honmachi. It sells tonkatsu and udon. It’s a small place but the food is good and the owner is nice.

HONOKA

Is a small cute place on the 2nd floor near A.L. Plaza. You can get coffee and okonomiyaki. It’s a nice place to relax and have good food!

JIDAIYA

Is an Italian restaurant and bar in Honmachi.

COCO’S ICHIBAN

Is in Honmachi. They have many types of curry for cheap prices.

BAMIYAN

Is near A.L. Plaza. It’s a Chinese restaurant with greasy food that’s open late.

L BLACK

This is a pizza place that serves different style pizzas, pastas, etc. The pizzas are brick oven made and are delicious. They are quite pricy, so if you want to treat yourself, this is a nice change of pace.

RAMEN TRUCKS

On different nights, different ramen trucks park along the Honmachi street. They usually have two sizes for ramen and are fairly cheap from 600-800. Red Tent ramen is good, but try them all and you decide.

KABOS AREA

HARUBARO

Is behind 100 Man Volt. It’s a Japanese restaurant which boasts 52 different kinds of local sake and the best in Tsuruga. The food is good too!

TARO STAMINA

Is near Kabos. It’s a buffet with lots of food- sushi, udon, tempura, ice cream, you name it! All you can eat for 1 hour is 800¥

TOMATO & ONION

Is a Western food restaurant close by. It specializes in hamburg steak.

GUSTO

Another “Western” restaurant open until 5am.

ROUTE 27 / AWANO AREA

OSHO

Is off Route 27. It sells Chinese and Japanese food. It’s a cheap truck driver stop with good food and large portions.

IBIS

Is behind Osho. It’s another izakaya and is really good food. It’s good fun too and there’s always a crowd of younger people.

SING SING

Is near the overpass. You can choose your ingredients for soba or udon. Probably the best ramen in town.

YOSHINOYA

Is off Route 27. It’s a gyudon chain fast-food restaurant that sells only cheap beef and rice bowls. It’s open late and is another popular truck driver stop.

KATSUDOKI

Is also off Route 27. It’s a tonkatsu restaurant selling many kinds of breaded fried foods.

ATOM BOY

Is off Route 27. It’s famous for its conveyor-belt of sushi. It’s cheap and pretty good quality.

PIZZA DEA PASTA

Is near the overpass. It’s a pizza and pasta place where you can order delivery or pickup. The number is 21-8419.

COCOS

Is near Hearts, the relatively new grocery store. They sell Western food.

MOS BURGER

It is Japan’s take on the hamburger. They have some good choices to choose from and they are like any western burger joint.

CITY HALL AREA

PALAZZOS

Is near the City Hall. It has trendy decor with comfortable couches and good food and coffee and friendly staff, but portions are small.

DAI KIKUMON

Is near City Hall. It’s a Korean style yakiniku restaurant that is popular in summer. It’s not very expensive.

BEER DARU

Is a brewery behind Takarajima Kingdom. The beer is awesome! They make dark and light microbrews. The food is good and there’s a nice owner. It’s not always open, so it’s best to call first.

NAKANISHI

Is near City Hall. It’s a small, cheap Japanese restaurant usually filled with single men.

ICHIRIKI

Is near City Hall. It’s said to be Tsuruga’s best ramen.

TEATRO

Is near Shoryo JHS. You can get good Italian food though it’s expensive.

CALDO

Is near Undo Koen. It’s a really expensive, very classy Italian, but portions are ridiculously small.

WESTERN RESTAURANTS

CoCo’s (Y), Gusto(Z), Tomato and Onion, and Mos Burger. All sell western-style food that’s reasonably cheap. Gusto is open until 5am. McDonalds are in Porton, Heiwado and near City Hall. KFC is near City Hall.

BARS

ROCK DO!

The bar staff are the friendly! There’s usually a good crowd of cool Japanese people. It’s a small, but nice.

SLANG

Is good when It has events (but that’s not often). It’s the only “club” In Tsuruga, but not many people actually dance.

TREE

Is not actually In the Honmachi bar district. It’s down on a side street, in the opposite direction. From Honmachi, turn on the street with the travel agent. In about 2 (3?) blocks you should see It on the right. The bar staff are very cool and speak English, but cover charges after 7 is 700. During special events, the cover charge is 3000 but that also includes a drink.

KIRAKUHAS

Two floors. It’s got a classy atmosphere and is usually crowded.

GRAMMEH

Is a friendly bar staff and a cool decor, TV with music videos. It’s usually empty though they sometimes have events.

COCO AZURE

Avery small jazz style bar. It’s sometimes busy.

ARENA BAR

Is a blues, sports bar. It too is usually empty though they sometimes have shows.

ACTIVITIES

REINAN INTERNATIONAL CENTER

Is open Tuesday to Saturday, 9:30 to 6pm. It’s near Kehi shrine. They offer Japanese lessons, a library, calligraphy classes, Internet access and Ikebana.

TAIKO DRUMMING

There is a gaijin team taught by Mr. Maruyama who play at festivals and other events in the Reinan area. Practice is once a week, currently Thursdays at 7:00pm.

BUDOKAN MARTIAL ARTS CENTER

Is near Kehi shrine. Kendo, judo, and karate are taught here. It’s mostly elementary kids, but they will let you participate. The staff are friendly, but don’t speak English.

UNDOU KOHEN (ATHLETIC PARK)

Has a track, baseball field, Japanese garden, tennis courts and gym. The gym is open Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30am to 8:45pm (on Saturday it closes early at 5pm). To use the gym you will need to obtain a member card. The first time the staff insists on teaching you how to use the machinery. Costs are as follows:

-Training room: 300¥ Weights, treadmills, bikes, and stairmasters. You’ll need to bring shoes.

-Indoor pool: 300¥ (200¥ in summer, July to August) Closed from 12 until 1pm and 5 to 6pm. Bring cap to swim (you can purchase one there or at Kobayashi Sports – across from Reinan Center – or ¥100 shop)

-Outdoor pool: 300¥ Open July to August. It closes at 5pm.

HIKING

1.NOSAKA YAMA

914m high 3 hours up and down 15 min. from station

The largest mountain in Tsuruga. There’s a great view from the top, where you can see Biwako and Hakusan. Also has a mountain house for overnight stays.

By train, take the Obama line to Awano station. Go out of the station and turn left, walk under the tracks and follow the paved road to the trailhead (about 30 mins from Awano station).

By car, start at Tsuruga station and drive straight past KFC, Porton, Sanpia, Uniqlo, Wai Plaza, continuing on same road. Go through lights at the liquor store, and you’ll pass a pachinko on the right. Take the first major left, and follow the signs to the nature house.

2.SHIOGADAKE

764m high 3 hours 25 minutes from the station

A beautiful day hike on the Tsuruga peninsula. There’s a mountain hut at the top of the main peak. It’s about 2 hours to the top and another 45 minutes to a smaller peak along the same ridge.

By car, drive along the east side of the peninsula to Jogu Jinja and park there. The trail starts up the road a bit. You have to walk through the little town towards the mountain. You’ll see a little shed beside the mountain and there should be a sign. Just beside it is an opening into the forest.

By bus, there’s one that leaves from Tsuruga station.

3.IWAGOMORIDAKE

800m high 3.5-5 hours 15 min. from the station

Great day hike with three separate peaks. The path to the top zig-zags across a river and waterfalls. Camping is possible but bring your own food and water.

To get there, head for Hikida on Route 8. Take a right at Ichihashi (the first light after the road splits), follow a narrow road under the railway into a grassy parking lot. The trail starts in Ichihashi along the river and forks. Take the right fork, and you’ll get to the top of the first peak. Take the left fork, and you’ll head south through the forest to two separate peaks. The southern peaks have the best view.

4.MIKUNIDAKE

876m high. An all day bike trip or hike. Mikunidake is the larger of two peaks that straddle the border between Shiga and Fukui. Camping is possible but bring your own food and water.

To get there, go to Wai Plaza. Instead of driving straight towards Mihama, turn left and follow a newer road, past a community center and into the hills along a river. Eventually you’ll reach a narrow road, continue up to a construction site and park there. Take the road on the left and ride for 45 min. until you come to a fork, then take the road on the right.

5.KINOME TOUGE

700m high 1 hour 30 minutes from the station

It’s an old trade route between Echizen and Wakasa, once traveled by Matsuo Basho. The pass still has an old samurai gate house at the top.

To get there, start at Kehi shrine and take the road in front of the Tsunoga ALT’s house, heading toward Tsuruga IC. Go past Lawson, heading to the right at the fork in the road. Head toward Shinbo and park at the construction site. Follow sign up to forest trailhead. After your reach the top, you can continue over to Imajo via the ski grounds if you brought a bike.

6.MIKATA GO KO (Five Lakes)

Good full day bike ride from Tsuruga. Around the lakes, there are maps that show various routes. If you are driving you can park at the space shuttle in Mihama. See the Mikata guide for more information.

7.TEZUTSUYAMA

There are some easy hiking trails that stretch from Kanegasaki Castle to the wooded area near Tsunoga JHS.

8.SANJUSANGENZAN

850m high 3 hours 45 minutes from the station.See the Mikata guide for more information.

9.YASHAGAIKEYAMA

1100m high 4.5 hours 1 hour from station

It’s a mountain lake in Imajo backcountry. See the Takefu guide for more information.

10. KANEGASAKI MOUNTAIN

(the mountain adjacent to the shrine atop Rt. 8 tunnel to Fukui9) Starting at the shrine, this can be hiked in about 30 minutes at a steady pace to the yellow concrete tower at the pinnacle, with four different trails exiting east of Rt. 8. It consists of stairs and a paved path and is a good daily trek well suited to training.

ATTRACTIONS

KEHI SHRINE

Was designated as an important cultural site. It houses a bronze statue of Matsuo Basho. Tsuruga residents get married here.

KEHI NO MATSUBARA (Pine Tree Forest)

Is one of Japan’s three most beautiful pine groves. It has nice trails for walking or running. The beach is ok too. There are over 18,000 pine trees here.

MIZUSHIMA

Is down the coast south of Matsubara. There is a boat that leaves several times a day to the island. The beaches are quieter and more beautiful. During swim season it gets busy, so get there early to get a good spot.

SAIFUKUJI TEMPLE

Near Kehi HS.

KANEGASAKI CASTLE RUINS

Near Tsuruga port

AQUATOM WELL

It’s hardly a cultural site, but this nuclear-power sponsored hands-on science museum is worth a look and has a good view of Tsuruga from the top floor. And it’s free! It’s in the centre of town, near the Reinan Centre; look for the futuristic building.

JOGUJINJA

Is famous for having a Korean bell, and because Basho came here. It’s along Tsuruga peninsula towards power plants, bus from station. Tsuruga couples go here during pregnancy to pray for a safe delivery and healthy baby.

FESTIVALS

This is just a small selection of festivals that we know about … Tsuruga is a pretty big city (well, for Fukui-ken anyway) and has quite a bit of history, ergo, there are loads of festivals. Many of them are pretty small but there are a few biggies. Dates are for 2002-3 but will probably change slightly for 2007-08.

JANUARY 18TH

Tug of War between the fishermen representing their god (Ebisu) against the farmers representing theirs (Daikoku). In the back streets behind the Reinan Centre and Aquatom. You can see the giant rope being made in the days beforehand.

APRIL 6th

Kanegasaki Sakura Festival. This is well worth a look as the cherry blossoms are gorgeous here. There is taiko drumming, hanami parties, festival stalls.

MAY 5th

(Golden Week) Shirogane Fire Festival. The area that is now the city center gets a flaming mikoshi and torchlit procession, accompanied by taiko drumming.

MAY 14th

Hachiman Shrine Festival. A low-key festival at this shrine opposite the Reinan Centre and back a couple of blocks. More taiko and … umm, a karaoke contest?

JULY 20TH / 21ST

Tsuruga Summer Festival. At the harbour.

AUGUST 16TH

Kehi Matsubara O-Bon Festival/Fireworks. Don’t miss this if you’re in the area. Thousands of paper lanterns are floated out from the beach to calm/contact roving dead souls during O-Bon. Then a yen-guzzling fireworks display (of course). Make a day of it by going to the beach first.

SEPTEMBER 1ST-6TH

Tsuruga Festival. Tsuruga’s biggest, centering around Kehi Shrine. Floats, processions, costumes, music, dancing, drinking … the works. You can see photos of this one in any brochure on the city.

OCTOBER 19TH

Tsuruga Marathon. As the name implies … a mass run. You can join in by registering and you don’t need to do a marathon – distances from 3km to 20km are offered.

OCTOBER 20TH

Port Festival. A small affair featuring some brightly coloured boats and lots of chanting and offerings to sea gods. Oh, and more taiko drumming.

Wakasa Town 若狭町

Contains Mikata Town (美方町) and Kaminaka Town (上中町)

KAMINAKA TOWN 上中

Kaminaka is a small place that seems to pride itself on its small size and beautiful surroundings. Kaminaka is easily accessed by following route 27 down from the northern towns. Kaminaka has a huge store that should fill all of your needs and as such has made the rest of the town with few shops that are helpful. There is also a wonderful building that included a library, a concert area, a children’s area and a gym. It is not what would be called a highly vibrant city as Obama takes much of the excitement and remaining shopping.

GETTING HERE AND AWAY

CAR

While there are quicker routes to take a simple one is about a 50mins – 1 hour from Tsuruga and about 25mins from Obama on route 27.

TRAIN

Take the train from Tsuruga on the JR Obama line. There are trains about every hour between 06:31 and 22:20. The price from Tsuruga to Kaminaka is about 8000¥ and from Kaminaka to Obama about 280 ¥. The trip on the train will take around 45 mins from Tsuruga and about 15 mins to Obama.

BUS

There are busses that go in and out of Kaminaka. Most of the times that you will need transport from Kaminaka will be fine if you use the train. The town is small so you can walk around it easily. Getting out to Plant 2 (the big store) is possible by foot or bike but will take a bit longer.

FACILITIES

While there are the standard things such as a police station, post office and train station etc, as mentioned a lot of the town is supplied by Plant 2. if you really want to do much more outside of that you will have to make a little trip to one of the surrounding towns.

FUKUI BANK

This is very close to the Junior High School. It is almost straight out of the front door.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

It appears that most people make trips into Obama or other towns for this sort of activity.

ATTRACTIONS

Kaminaka has some places to look at. There is a very well known waterfall in the area called Uriwari no taki. It is supposed to have some of the tastiest water in Japan coming from this spring. This is located on route 27 about 300 meters out of Kaminaka town.

They also have an old building is a neighboring village called Kumagawa. There is a building there called Kumagawa Juku which is an old and historic building.

There are shrines and little knick knacks located around the place, happy exploring. It is inland so there is not beach front to speak of but they do have many beautiful mountains surrounding the place. There are bound to be walks in them somewhere, but bring a whistle or something as there are bears and other magical forest creatures in the woods (there are not many).

MIKATA TOWN 三方町

Nestled between the mountains and the Sea of Japan, Mikata is a quaint town of about l0,000 people, at the northern end of Wakasa Bay. Consisting of numerous small villages, it occupies a surprisingly large area. Although rural, it is conveniently situated for access to the larger cities of Tsuruga and Obama.

GETTING HERE AND AWAY

TRAIN

From Tsuruga/Obama, take the JR Obama line to Mikata. It takes about 30 minutes and there is usually one train an hour and they run from approximately 6.00am until 9.50pm. (Tsuruga/Obama to Mikata ~480\)

CAR

Route 27 runs right through both Mihama and Mikata. From Tsuruga, the drive to Mikata is approximately 30 minutes. Pass through Mihama and central Mikata is 10 minutes further down the road. Likewise, if you continue south on Route 27 it is another 30 minutes to Obama. For a better view of the lakes, drive down the Umekaido, which branches off of Route 27 in Mihama.

BUS

It is possible to take a bus from Tsuruga Station to Mikata Station. The bus leaves four times a day from Mikata Station. It takes about an hour and costs 1170\. However if the trains are not running for whatever reason (landslides, snow, etc) the JR company has a bus service for the same cost of a train ticket.

FACILITIES

BANK

A short walk from the station, you can find Fukui Bank (with ATM). You will rarely need to speak to the bank staff as you can do pretty much everything from the ATM.

Post Office is a little further from the station and has a very helpful staff. Not much English, but always smiling.

LAPIA SHOPPING MALL

You can get pretty much everything here. It’s open from 9:30am until 7.30p (although Tsutaya Video Store stays open until 10.00pm). However, on 2 Wednesdays per month the whole place closes down. There is a supermarket, restaurants, bakery, deli, fish market, sushi shop, liquor shop, camera shop, chemist/pharmacy, dry cleaners, florist, mini department store, and 100\ shop. Tsutaya also sells magazines (Japanese), stationery, etc and will rent CDs as well as videos. There is also a Fukui Bank machine, which is open the same times as the shopping mall.

Lapia can be a little expensive, so some alternatives are Plant-2 in Kaminaka (15 minutes south on Route 27) and V-Mart in Tsuruga. Both are a far from the train stations, so you will need a car.

CONVENIENCE STORES

FAMILY MART

There are 2 on Route 27. From Mikata Station the only one that is convenient to walk to is a Family Mart on the Umekaido near Lapia.

MINI STOP

Is located off of Route 27 in the southern half of town

HAIR SALONS

KEY POINT

On Route 27. It’s 3,500¥ for a ladies cut and blow dry (neck and head massage thrown in too!). The staff are really friendly here. This salon is conveniently situated by the superb cake shop mentioned above.

RIRI(リリ)

Also very good at 3000¥ for a ladies cut. It’s near the Laundromat on Route 27.

RESTAURANTS

Mikata has many family-run restaurants. Although it is sometimes difficult to find them, the real difficulty is arriving when they are open.

LAPIA

There are two restaurants in Lapia shopping mall where you can buy draught lager and eat reasonably priced Japanese fare (ramen, katsudon etc). There is also a fast food counter which sells fried potato, fried chicken, yakisoba, and ice cream! The only snag is Lapia (and therefore the restaurants) close at 7:30pm.

SUKUURU RESTAURANT

Located on Route 27 near Mikata Senior High School. This quaint little restaurant is reminiscent of someone’s grandmother’s dining room.

DRIVE IN

On Route 27 (right side of the road if you’re heading towards Mihama), this restaurant serves great oyakudon, steak etc and again, is pretty reasonably priced. Open for lunch and dinner and stays open later than the Lapia restaurants.

TAKENOKO

Also on Route 27, it is before Drive In when heading to Mihama.

JOMON PLAZA RESTAURANT

Located at the farmer’s market area around the corner from the Jomon Museum. This new restaurant (2002) serves interesting meals, including wild boar. It has a beautiful view of the lakes, especially from the restroom!

UNAGI RESTAURANT

Located on the right-hand side of Route 162 heading toward the Rainbow Line. (Look for the big black and white sign with うなぎ written on it). This is by far the best restaurant to try Mikata-raised eels! If you are looking for variety then this is the wrong place because they only serve eel. However, you can choose how it is prepared and which grade of eel you want! It is a little expensive with the cheapest meal at 1300¥.

WOOD HOUSE

Also located on Route 162. It is on the left side of the road. This restaurant serves a variety of reasonably priced Japanese food.

THREE OMIYAGE STORES/RESTAURANTS

Right before the Rainbow Line Entrance, there are three omiyage store/restaurants. They serve a variety of reasonably-priced meals. Also, a less expensive unagi-don can be eaten at any of the three.

SKY LINE

You’ll find Sky Line in Tomura (take Route 27 towards Obama). This French restaurant is on the left-hand side of Route 27, just before a pedestrian bridge that crosses the road. It’s pricey but if you want to treat yourself, it’s the place to go. There is a superb set menu (between 3,000\ and 5,000\ for 5 or 6 courses) but you can also choose from the “a La Carte” menu. It’s highly recommended, but only after payday!

KANAMORI CAKE SHOP

On Route 27 near Right In, there is an excellent place to pick up some delicious cakes. Or sit down and take in some cake and tea there.

BARS

If you’re desperate for a drink and have run out at home, just by Mikata Station there is a bar. Its prices are extortionate. You can’t miss it – small gray building on a corner with a neon flashing sign protruding from one wall. It’s very small and a little intimidating when you go in (the locals will almost certainly look to see who you are) but the owners are friendly and speak a little English.

Other places for alcohol: Mikata makes its own sake called kamozakae and has a micro-brewery next to the boat quay near the entrance to the Rainbow Line.

ATTRACTIONS

FIVE LAKES OF MIKATA

The Five Lakes of Mikata and the Rainbow Line.These should really be called the 3 Lakes of Mikata and 2 Lakes of Mihama, but I guess that just wasn’t as catchy.

Anyway, they’re ours too and if you are traveling by car or bike, they are equally accessible from Mihama or Mikata. All around the lakes are small roads used by fishermen and farmers, which are great places to cycle. Parts of the lakes are lined with fruit trees, so March and April are good times to go for the plum blossoms and November for the kaki (persimmon) fruit. If you’re coming on the train and walking, Mikata or Kiyama stations are probably closer to the water than Mihama station.

THE LAKES

Hiruga is the smallest lake, covering only 900 square metres. Although it’s called a lake it is really more of a lagoon, as it has a small opening to the sea and the water is salty. Sugu lake is the second smallest, and is half fresh water and half sea water. It’s used for raising eels. The largest lake (at 4 sq. kms) is Suigetsu. It is also half freshwater/ half salt water, as is Lake Kugushi, which is also used by a boating and rowing centre. Mikata Lake is the only fresh water one.

THE RAINBOW LINE

This is the toll road that takes you and thousands of other visitors to the top of Mt. Baijo-dake for a great view of the lakes and the Fukui coastline. However, it’s really expensive and a much cheaper alternative is to walk up the mountain. It’s an easy climb and takes about an hour. You might even see some monkeys. On holidays and weekends, the road gets very busy, while the back roads around the lakes themselves are near-deserted.

By car: From Tsuruga, take Rte. 27. Before you reach Mihama, (shortly after Higashi Mihama), the main road forks: straight on for Mihama Town and a tunnel, or right for the lakes and a tunnel. Follow the signs. A big blue road sign (in Japanese and English) directs you to Hiruga and Kugushi and the other lakes. If you want to avoid holiday traffic, it’s probably better to approach the lakes from the Mihama end.

From Mihama station. It’s about a 4km walk or cycle. As you come out of the station, turn right, following the train tracks. At the first railway crossing, turn right again and cross the tracks. Go straight until the road curves to the left. Follow the road around until you hit the lakes. There are loads of signs.

For the mountain track take route 162 off route 27 (after Mikata station). Follow the signs to the Rainbow Line and Suigetsu lake. The Rainbow Line turns off up a steep hill. Ignore this and keep going until you reach Umeyama village (just before the road goes into a tunnel). Turn right off the main road just before the tunnel. Take the next left (maybe!), which is a rough road leading uphill through a field of fruit trees. At the back of this field on the right and on the edge of the woods is the start of the track. I remember it being fairly self-evident, even though it is unmarked, but be prepared for some exploring.

LAKE BOAT CRUISES

There are two cruises that you can take around the lakes. One departs from the Route 162 side of Suigetsu Lake and another from the other side of the lake. The newest (and apparently by far the best) is the one, which you can take if you follow the directions above to the Rainbow Line. Don’t go up the toll road to the Rainbow Line but keep the lake to your right and you will eventually see the white boat. They will serve you with teas and coffees for a nominal fee. Unlike the other lake cruise, you can sit on the deck and enjoy the weather, but the other lake cruise does offer speedy jet boats.

GLASS BOTTOMED BOAT TSUNEKAMI

You can take a glass bottomed boat ride from the small fishing village of Tsunekami at the end of the peninsula. This is reached by sticking to the main road past the Rainbow Line entrance. The road goes through a tunnel and then winds along the coast.

The scenery along this road is breathtaking, as are the sunsets. Great for biking or a drive. If you’re looking for a beach, turn left immediately after the tunnel and descend through the tiny village where there is a swimming beach (although it is sometimes a little dirty Mihama and Takahama have better beaches). There is a good chance of spotting monkeys around here too!

ISHIKANNON TEMPLE

Is just off Route 27, to the left as you enter Mikata traveling south. It was built on a large stone and is interesting in its structure. Continue past the temple and you can hike up the mountain behind to a waterfall.

SANJUUSANGENZAN

Is the tallest mountain in Mikata-Cho at about 800m. It is easily hiked in about two hours and the view from the top is great. Going south on Route 27, pass the village of Tomura and continue for about 3km. Turn left at a fenced-in gateball field (it’s also signposted in kanji – 三十三 間山). The name of the village is Kurami. Go through the village and field and into the forest. The pavement stops, but the road is still fine. The marked trail entrance is about 2km further on your right.

JOMON MUSEUM AND ROMAN PARK

Located on Route 162, just look for the big man-made hill. The recently opened museum has interesting displays about the Jomon Period, which includes the Jomon Boat discovered in Torihama, Mikata and rope-designed pottery. Audio guides in English and Chinese can be rented from the front desk. For more information, please speak to Mr. Eto, the museum director, who speaks excellent English.

BIKING

You can rent bikes from Mikata Station and have a great day’s cycling around the lakes and through the small villages which make up Mikata. There is a narrow path almost all the way around the lakes, which passes through beautiful orchards. When you reach the Suigetsu hotel/onsen mentioned previously, you can continue round the lakes on Route 162 and return to Mikata, but it’s quieter and more scenic to retrace your steps back again. It takes about 1.5 hours to cycle at a leisurely pace the whole way round.

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

JOMON FESTIVAL (Sept.)

This event is held at the Jomon Roman Park, and includes dancing, concerts, and Jomon Boat races; however, the highlight is the laser light/firework show.

UWASE SHRINE FESTIVAL (Jan.)

Near Mikata High School. Not quite sure what this festival entails; however, it is on the Wakasa Area Guide Pamphlet.

MIKATA TWO DAY MARCH (May)

Is held every year and attracts people from all over Japan. There are 40km, 20km, 10km and 5km courses, depending on how far you want to walk! The courses really show off the natural beauty of Mikata. Registration is required and ends about two weeks before the event.