The central plain of Fukui is the Tannan Region. It takes in the industrial cities of Sabae and Echizen (formerly Takefu), historic craft areas like Kawada, Ikeda and Imadate, and the beautiful Echizen Kaigan Coast. Tannan even has its own skiing in the form of Imajo 365 (san roku go). There is plenty to explore in Tannan.
ECHIZEN CITY 越前市
Located 30km south of Fukui City, Echizen City is the 2nd largest city in Fukui Prefecture with a population of 80,000. The area now called Echizen City was created in 2005 when the city of Takefu (west of new route 8) and the smaller town of Imadate (east of new route 8) were consolidated. A bit confusing at first, since Echizen and Takefu are both used regularly by locals.
The city is surrounded by mountains, the most famous being Mt. Hino, peaking at 871 m. Echizen City is large enough to offer some life outside of school while small enough to offer the peaceful comforts of the country. Most of the restaurants and entertainment can be found along Old Route 8 and New Route 8 but there are many treasures to be discovered on the narrow routes off the beaten path. Additionally, from Takefu Station you are only 20 minutes from Fukui City, and Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya are accessible in 2-3 hours making weekend trips easy to do.
IMADATE TOWN 今立町
Imadate is a small town just 5-10 minutes East of Takefu and Sabae. It is famous for Japanese handmade paper (washi) and is quaint in that it is a very traditional town full of artistic people who give the town a unique and intriguing atmosphere. Imadate is small, yet there are many things to do and see (and eat!!!). Situated in a valley surrounded by green mountains and with many rivers, waterfalls, etc…
Imadate is a beautiful place to visit, and central and accessible to boot. It also has a lively summer festival in September. Check it out!
GETTING HERE AND AWAY
Take the JR train to Takefu and walk to the bus stop near Heiwado Shopping Center (turn right coming out of the station).
Traveling on Route 8 from Fukui (South), go past Sabae and turn left at 100 Man Volt (a big yellow and blue discount electronics store -good prices by the way!!). Continue along this road until you come to a large intersection with traffic lights and a big, fiberglass panda-bear on one corner (yes, I’m serious!!). Bear right of the bear (so to speak) and this road will take you all the way into Imadate.
When the road ends, turn right to get to the paper district. Soon after you turn, you will see the parking area on your right. Take the Tonoguchi bus to Washi no Saito Kaikan (about 400Yen). The bus lets you off at Washi no Kaikan (paper museum) near Washi no Sato Street (the traditional exhibition street).
The best cake and chocolate shop in Fukui! More western than Japanese, they are sweet and rich like the ones at home. They often have unusual ingredients like star fruit and raspberries. The chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sauce is especially recommended. Another shop is in Fukui City near Lpa.
A favorite Chinese restaurant which is delicious, cheap and has HUGE servings. Many different types of sets and usually at least two specials each day. The master is friendly and the atmosphere is homey! It’s across the road from Wanya.
A favorite haunt of Imadate’s artistically inclined, and many a JET has been known to come from as far as Ono or Tsuruga to savor the delicious cappuccinos here! A very sunny coffee shop, with the coolest Master, Ito-san. He knows tons about coffee, and will make special blends as well as liquor coffees, and serves tasty, western style snacks. The bakery there is great too. They are the only bakery, other than Donq, that makes good whole-wheat bread, pitas too! Situated on the river, everyone knows where it is, so it’s easy to ask directions.
This is a park set in the mountains to the north as you come into town. It’s kind of tucked away, so it might help to ask directions. The festival here during the cherry blossom season is lovely. There are some great, short hiking trails in the mountains that start out from here as well. Have fun!
This is a park dedicated to one of the greatest samurai warriors of all time, who was born in Imadate. It is about ten minutes east of town and a little hard to find if you don’t read kanji, so it might help to ask for directions.
YATSU SUGI CAMPGROUND
Open to anyone, cabins are available in the summer and Tannan RegionTannan Region the recently completed guest house and conference center is open for reservations all year round. This facility is dedicated to environmental protection and is situated high in the mountains between Imadate and Ikeda. Great views, it is also the meeting place for local stargazers. Picnics and barbecues are welcome. Contact the Imadate Board of Education or the CIR for details.
WASHI NO SATO STREET
This street is the exhibition street for the town. All the buildings are very traditional, and there is a lot to see and do. There is a paper history museum, a traditional papermaking display house and even a place where you can make your own washi for a small fee.
There are also many gift shops (paper products make great, traditional and light gifts to send home!!) and cafes and restaurants (Saiya, さいや, the place with the flashing red light and the red door, near the Papyruskan end of the street, has delicious udon and soba; the master and his wife are real sweeties. Try the curry udon: highly recommended.). Amida, the oroshi soba (Japanese noodles with grated radish and a spicy sauce) restaurant on this street, comes highly recommended too!!!
This is an ancient, very beautiful temple dedicated to the goddess of paper. It is set in a wooded grove with lots of moss, about a five minute walk from Washi no Sato Street and is a must-see.
Very contemporary for Fukui! A lot of unusual people play here (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the UCLA Chorus etc…). It hosts the annual Imadate Contemporary Art Exhibition with works from all over the world. It’s a must-see for art lovers!!
TAKEFU CITY 武生市
Echizen City is located on the JR line, so the train is the easiest way to get in and out of the city. The 22-minute (often faster) ride from Fukui city costs 320 yen (the last train back to Echizen City is at 11.02pm). From Tsuruga, the local train costs 630 yen and takes about 45 minutes. Most express and limited express trains stop here. The local trains, at peak times, run about every 40 minutes otherwise about every hour.
JR trains will take you just about anywhere….north to Fukui City, Kanazawa and Niigata or South to Nagoya and Tokyo (you will have to change trains in Tsuruga or Maibara), Kyoto and Osaka (these can be reached directly without changing trains). There are also special tickets available during certain times of the year, offering discounts.
Echizen City Shin Eki is a private railway (Keifuku Dentetsu) that runs from Echizen City to Fukui City. This is located just past Heiwado department store. It runs every 30 minutes, but is slower and more expensive than the JR.
By car, you can get to Takefu by following Route 8 south of Fukui or take the expressway. If you go on Route 8, it takes about 30- 40 minutes to get to downtown Fukui. The expressway takes about 10 minutes and costs about 500yen.
The base price for a taxi is about 600-700 yen (very expensive). The biggest taxi stand is located outside the JR train station and the taxi HQ is directly opposite. To call, dial 22-0012 or 22-0700.
Daikos are great alternatives to taxis. Daikos are essentially a person who drives your car home for you with you in the car. They are cheaper than taxis and often much more convenient. This is great if you are planning on having a few drinks and need to get home. Remember that in Japan the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.0%. Do not drink and Drive! Hino Daiko 0120-153-537 Shikibu Daiko 0120-927-601
Around the city you can catch a bus either at Echizen City JR station or across the street from the city hall.
Buses for long distance travel. Catch these buses at the Echizen City interchange on the Hokuriku Express. There is a night express bus to Tokyo that leaves at 10.22pm. It takes about eight hours, but it is by far the cheapest way to travel. It would be wise to reserve a seat well in advance. You can reserve at the station. The trip will cost about 15000 yen.
Fukui Bank is open Mon-Fri 9am to 3pm. Although the banks close at 3pm you can still withdraw money until 9pm. After 9pm the ATM’s lock up, this is standard all over Japan. If you want to get traveler’s checks, the main branch near City Hall is the only bank will do it. The branch by 3-chu is open on Saturday. There is a large branch on old route 8 near the main post office.
The main post office (opposite Nishi Elementary School) is open until 7pm but all others are open until 6pm. If you want to send a money order you must do so before 4pm. Most people can use their debit cards to get money from home there. I understand that you can also get travelers checks from here in smaller quantities. There are many small post offices spread throughout EC. The closest to Casa La Vita is across from Echizen City Industrial High School.
LAUNDRY / DRY CLEANING
There is a self-service Laundromat on Old Rt. 8 near Uniqlo. The nearest to Echizen City Station is across from Genky near Serio Garden. East of the River, just past Genky Drugstore, there is also a small Laundromat.
Located on the main road directly in front of the Station. From the station, walk across the street, follow the road and it is about 50m down on your right.
Fluent English speaking doctors and dentists aren’t easy to come by in Takefu. Many of the ALTs will go to Sabae or even Fukui for medical care. However if you find yourself in need just about any clinic or dental office can muster enough English to be helpful. Many clinics will have at least a nurse that speaks some English. If you are desperate just go to the nearest clinic, point where it hurts, and make a face. It always works.
Great okonomiyaki (Japanese style cook it yourself omelet made with cabbage) and yakisoba (fry it yourself-noodles) restaurant. It’s very cheap and a great spot to go as a group. It is located in front of the station.
A great place for steaks. They have a 900 yen steak set for lunch that includes some grilled vegetables, rice, miso soup, appetizers, pickles, and coffee. They also serve an amazing rice croquette. It’s a big ball of rice with cheese in the center fried with sauce on top. Take Route 2 west from old Route 8. It’s the turn with the barber shop with tons of barber poles. Turn left at the stoplight with Tarte Tarte on the left corner. It’ll be on the right side.
Classy Dessert shop. They have nice desserts and pastries as well as a cool modern feeling dining area for eating your cake and tea/coffee. The make great thick New York style Cheesecake. Probably the best you’re gonna get in Echizen City although it’s small and about 350 yen. Take Route 2 west from old Route 8. It’s the turn with the barber shop with tons of barber poles. It’ll be on your left at a stoplight before the railroad tracks. The parking lot is in the back.
They make Italian food. It’s a great little place situated amongst loads of snack bars. It has crispy thing crust pizza, which they bake in a wood-burning pizza oven whilst you watch. Other food is also good but can be a tad expensive. On the street across from Serio Garden
Grilled meat and veggies on skewers that are great to eat with a beer or two. There are two in Echizen City, one near the closed down Cipy and the second just opened near Takefu Station. The atmosphere is really relaxed. A great place to go with friends.
Just what it says, donuts! It’s a good place to hang and drink coffee. They have free refills if you ask. Open until 11pm. It’s on old route 8 beside McDonald’s.
GYOZA NO OSHO
Cheap Chinese food (especially dumplings-gyoza). The portions are very big and taste great! There’s a picture menu of the set meals which are the best value on the walls. It’s beside Tomato and Onion (another family restaurant with “Western” food, near the closed down Cipy).
The only place in town that delivers pizza. Don’t be surprised to pay triple what you would back home. They serve Japanese-style pizza (with corn, seafood etc.) but there is a version of American Pizza. There are two of these, one on old route 8 near the closed down Cipy, and the other is beside Gusto.
A cafe/shop selling great meat and select Brazilian foods for good prices. It also has a small cafe where you can order a few Brazilian dishes. Apparently the lasagna is great. It’s on old Route 8. Some of the cheapest steaks in town. Also a good place to buy all beef hamburger…most of the stuff you buy in supermarkets will be mixed with pork filler
It is located across the street from Wai Plaza on new Route 8. It got cheapish food and sell a pretty good burger. Open 24 hours.
A quiet Brazilian restaurant with a homey feel. Great atmosphere, and tasty meat. The majority of the patrons here are Brazilian employees who stop in after work for food and drinks. Its a small location but the people who run it are friendly. If your Portuguese or even Spanish is rocking you’ll find that a useful standing for broken Japanese.
The food is good and usually provides a different experience every time depending on what they have and if the fryer is working or not. A full meat set (usually meat, an egg, a salad, fried potatoes, salad, rice, and beans) runs about 1500 yen and beer is 450. Located just off old route 8. Turn down the street away from the Lawson next to 2nd street. Immediately on your left. Hygiene is rather questionable, but they often offer to drive us home after a night of drinking.
Panier is a delicious Italian restaurant located just behind the Taiyo pachinko parlor on old route 8 in south Echizen City. They serve a variety of excellent pasta dishes. The daily specials are usually great featuring one pasta dish and one meat dish.
It has a delicate atmosphere, with large windows facing an enclosed garden. A great place to take a date *wink* or to hang out with friends for a quiet night out. They have a full bar. The menu can be a little daunting because it’s all in Japanese, without pictures. Not to worry, the waitress there speaks excellent English. They are open from 11:30 am. – 2:00 pm. for lunch, 2:00 pm. – 4:00 pm. for afternoon tea, and 5:00 pm. – 10:00 pm. for dinner. The last order is taken at 9 pm.
CAFE C’EST LA VIE
Referred to as serabe by Nihonjin, Cafe C’est La Vie is a small omurice restaurant. (Japanese for omelet rice), omurice is a mound of rice wrapped in a thin sheet of scrambled eggs. Most of what you find here is some variation on that theme, such as katsu-curry omurice or omurice covered in a creme sauce with mushrooms. Most dishes tend to run about 1000 yen. They offer an extensive desert menu and freshly vacuumed brewed coffee. It’s located about a minute west of old route 8. Turn on the street between McDonald’s and the closed down Cipy. Just after the tiny bridge it will be on your right. Apparently closed on Sundays
The best ramen in Echizen City. You pay at a vending machine when you go in and give the ticket to the staff members who then show you an English menu with the choices available for your bowl of noodles. The other choices are toppings and some rice dishes. On Old rt 8 towards Sabae. About a kilometer past Uniqlo on the left. Just before the green pedestrian bridge.
LAMPONE WORLD CUISINE
You can get anything from Brazilian sandwiches, tacos (really more like a burrito) pasta, pizza, seafood paella, and loads of fruit shakes. They have a partial picture menu. Prices are a bit high, but it’s delicious. Across from C’est la Vie.
It is a Jamaican themed-curry place very near Casa La Vita. They offer various curries and the set menu is a good deal. Only place in EC to get Red Stripe. Off of old route 8 behind the fire station.
There is a nice Taiwanese Restaurant on Old route 8 near Yasubun. Serves cheap Authentic(ish) Chinese food at good prices. No one has been able to read the Kanji so it is simply called “the Taiwanese place” by ALTs.
In addition to the restaurants listed above, there are loads of family chain restaurants scattered around, such as:
- TOMATO & ONION
- 8 BAN RAMEN (old route 8 near Casa La Vita and near old route 8),
- TENGU (one on old route 8 and one on new route 8) and
- MATSURI ZUSHI (all plates of sushi are 100 yen) in Wai Plaza
- COCO ICHIBAN CURRY (nice Japanese flavored curry with tons of toppings and varieties) also in Wai Plaza.
- SAIZERIYA (right next to Mr. Donuts) Everywhere in Japan… cheap Italianish food
Don’t be afraid to venture into small bars and izakayas, too. There are so many and some are amazing little places. Be adventurous!
A really cozy shop. You cannot miss it. It sells coffee beans of coffee of all types, however it is extremely expensive for example, 500 yen for a piece of toast. It is the only coffee shop near Echizen City High School.
Located on New Rt 8 heading south to Tsuruga. It is on the left side of the road, just past Tengu’s. It has a nice atmosphere, well lit, has decent coffee and excellent desserts. It is open until10. It’s a little on the expensive side, but hey this is Japan! What did you expect, cheap coffee?
Gyms & Pools
There are two branches – one in Takefu and one in Sabae. Membership is around 6000 yen a month and you get unlimited use of the well equipped gym, pool and classes (yoga, aerobics, Zumba, etc.) It is usually open from 10am-11pm, though the Takefu one is closed on Fridays and the Sabae one on Mondays. The Echizen location is behind Sega World and closed down Cipy just off Old Route 8.
Well okay it seems as if it is in Sabae, but it is actually in EC. There’s no swimming pool, but the gym is supposedly nicely equipped.
This is the biggest and most popular pool in the area. It is situated in Nanjo town. It costs around 500yen for unlimited use of Gym and Pool, both of which are of a high standard.
Is a public bath and gym located on New Route 8, past Wai Plaza, on the way to Tsuruga. The gym is small and the bath is said to be rather stinky. 600 yen per visit or 7 tickets for 3500yen. It’s not open on Mondays. It has been recently renovated, so the stinkiness has not been confirmed.
TENNIS COURTS / OUTDOOR POOL / BASEBALL PARK
Are all situated near the Central Park in Echizen City. These are public facilities that can be used for a price. The pool is only open in the summer.
Is another option for a pool. It is located on the side of the Hino River close to the station. It’s a cheap pool that is mostly used by students.
- CHUO KOEN is located in central Echizen City.
- ROZEN PARK is located on top of Mt. Murakuni.
- ECHIZEN NO SATO AJIMANO-EN is a beautiful garden in East Echizen City.
- TAIYOO NO HIROBA A leisure park West of Echizen City, with running courts, tennis courts, Japanese bath and camping facilities.
- KINKAZAN GREENLAND is a natural campground tucked in the mountains.
- MURASAKI SHIKIBU KOEN is located on old Route 8. It’s a nice little park within walking distance of Casa La Vita . This park is dedicated to the author of the Tale of the Genji (an ancient Japanese Don Giovanni), who lived in Echizen City for 1 year.
THE LIFELONG STUDY CENTRE (Shogai Gakushu Centre)
Just behind the City Hall, offers many classes: Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), Tea Ceremony, Japanese Language Classes and Traditional Japanese art classes.All of the classes are very cheap! Call 22-3000 for more information.
THE BUNKA CENTRE (Cultural Centre)
Also offers classes in everything from ballroom dancing to pottery. Call 3-5057 for more information. There are many concerts and festivals held in the first week of June.
BUDOKAN, CENTRAL PARK
This is where martial arts are offered. Aikido (Wed-Fri 7:15pm-9pm), Karate (Wed upstairs and Fri downstairs), Kendo (inquire) and Kyodo (Japanese archery) (Wed 6-8pm).
EIA (Echizen International Association)
Located next to Echizen City Station on the second floor of the building next to Echizen City Palace Hotel. Offers Japanese classes and they plan various cultural events throughout the year.
There are more than enough places around town to get your shopping done. Most places close around 9:30pm but there is one rather big HONEY supermarket along route 8, north toward Sabae that is open until midnight. Also BIG BELLY (Honey) near closed down Cipy is open until midnight
Closest grocery store to Casa La Vita. You can find a good selection of foreign foods here (Mexican, Indian, whole wheat pasta). You can also rent movies (cheaply!) and buy books and magazines. They also have a dry cleaners, a small hairdressing salon and an ATM.
Close to Casa La Vita.
A nice grocery store in central EC. Taco Supplies can be purchased there.
One of the cheapest places to buy vegetables and drinks in EC. It is located in Norther Echizen City on old route 8. It has a green side and is on the east side of old route 8.
The best bakery/patisserie in Echizen City. It is located in the Palace Hotel mini mall, by the station. Best sandwiches and baguettes in town. It is expensive.
Another great bakery. It’s a little cheaper than Raffine. It sells rye bread and most other breads, which are all made with natural ingredients. It is close to the Lawsons near NTT building.
With a name like that, who could resist? Nice little cinnamon buns to be found in this bakery, situated in entrance to Heiwado (train station side).
Videos in Japan are usually very slow in coming out. However, big blockbuster films are released on a par, sometimes even quicker than the rest of the world. There is a big movie theater north of Echizen City on route 8 in Sabae (maybe an 8 minute drive) that is easily accessible. Music on CD in Japan is much more expensive than CD’s in the west and unless the band is world renowned you likely won’t find the album. But the internet should get you what you need.
Is located in Wai Plazas. It has a great selection of CDs, video and DVDs. It is good for Japanese music. You can rent CDs there for a few hundred yen, you can also buy blank CDs.
Located in front of the closed down Cipy. It has a smaller selection of videos than Tsutaya, And more cassettes than DVDs, but most newer movies have DVDs. You can rent CDs. Older releases and one-week rentals are only 100 yen.
100 MAN VOLT
This place sells everything from kitchen equipment to music stereos, massage chairs etc. In other words it’s excellent. Massage chairs are free and you can watch videos! It on route 8 as well.
This is another gigantic electronic store. It is across the street from 100manbolt and largely sells the same stuff. However, at Yamada you can get a point card that you can put in a slot machine every time you visit the store. You get 10 yen if you don’t buy anything. 100 yen if you do. Use your points within one year because they expire.
Just south of closed down Cipy off of Old Route 8. Large number of students visit there . . .
On Route 8 in Southern EC en route to Tsuruga
SHRINES AND TEMPLES
- SHOJA SHRINE
- KOKUNBUNJI SHRINE was built in 739 as a branch of the National Shrine.
- INNOJOJI TEMPLE is only open in July to display its many treasures.
- FUJUGAKI SHRINE was built to deify Tomimasi Honda, the feudal lord of Echizen City.
- GOSHOJI TEMPLE The gate and main building are famous as a head temple for Shinsyu.
- OSHIO HACHIMANGU SHRINE was built in 890. It has some of Echizen City’s finest cultural artifacts. Near 6chu.
The BEST shrine in EC is in Imadate. It is called Otaki Shrine. It is located about 1km from the Echizen Paper Village. Considered an important cultural property, it is a beautiful shrine surrounded by hills and mountains. The hills make for a nice walk in the woods with some spectacular old Japanese Cedars.
EC cannot be beat when it comes to local crafts and industry in the prefecture
ECHIZEN POTTERY VILLAGE is located in Miyazaki village about 30 minutes west of Echizen City. This is a village is sponsored by the prefecture. The pottery method dates back 700 years. You can try to make your pottery for a price; last year it was 1000yen, more if you wished it to be sent to your home.
ECHIZEN CUTLERY is made in Echizen City. In autumn during the doll festival, the cutlery is displayed. Ask a local citizen to take you to a local shop if you want to buy any knives. They offer classes in knife making. Ask Mitsuko if you are interested.
ECHIZEN PAPER Has a small museum and offers traditional paper making experience. Definitely worth doing at least once, even if you are artistically challenged. If you are interested, talk to your fellow Tannan JETs or contact Rina Aoki at the Paper Village (she speaks fluent English). Website http://www.echizenwashi.jp/english/
SHIKURA GALLERY Not really so traditional, but it is next to the Murasaki Shikubu Park. It has lots of exhibitions; don’t be put off by the huge Japanese sign in front of you.
MOUNT HINO FESTIVAL
July 20-21 People go to the Hino shrine in front of Mt. Hino. You can take part in the Mikoshi (people carrying a portable shrine and making lots of noise to wake up spirits), watch children’s Sumo and make a two hour climb up the mountain and arrive at the top to see the sunrise.
TAKEFU SUMMER FESTIVAL
August 13-15: On the evening of the 13th, there are lots of Japanese dancing along the street and there is a big fireworks display along the Hino River on the 15th, depending on the weather. The EIA organizes a group of foreign dancers every year.
GOSHOJI TEMPLE FESTIVAL
August 27-28: There are many stalls along the street where you can sample Japanese festival food at it’s best.
ECHIZEN CITY CHRYSANTHEMUM DOLL FESTIVAL
October 5-November 10: This is in Kiku Ningyo Park (you can see the big ferris wheel). The entrance fee is high (900 yen), so try to go with your schools. There are many displays worth seeing; otherwise, it’s just a small fair.
PAPER FESTIVAL (Washi Matsuri in Imadate)
Held on May 3-5 is the only one of it’s kind in Japan. At the Otaki Shrine, people enshrine the goddess of paper. This is the best time to get great deals on paper, art work and more paper!
LACQUERWARE FESTIVAL (Shiki Matsuri in Sabae)
Held during the same time as the paper village at the lacquerware village. An exhibition of local laquer works in the Echizen Lacquer ware hall.
(May 3-5) Japanese students dress in old style clothes including Yukata and Samurai uniforms.
MIYAZAKI POTTERY FESTIVAL
(May 27-28) In Miyazaki. There are many tables setup with plenty of pottery at cheaper prices than you’ll ever find at any other time of the year. This is a great place to find gifts at reasonable prices.
Echizen City is loaded with little places to drink. If you’re looking for a night out on the town full of dancing, fast cars, and fast women you won’t find it here. But if you are into bar hopping and lots of little sit down places there is an abundance of it in Echizen City. But club junkies don’t fret, Kanazawa is reasonable traveling distance away and offers all the delights of big city night life.
A reasonably good bar which is especially popular with those residents of Echizen City who still like Bon Jovi. There’s no cover charge if you go before 9.30pm. It’s near Wai Plaza.
It is a bright, pleasant bar serving excellent food and booze. It’s very expensive, but really friendly service and the manageress is a sweetie. Cover charge is about 700yen.
A tiny bar with a 500 yen cover charge in the center of the old town. Nice atmosphere.
Situated underneath Heaven on new Route 8. This average place won’t make your dreams come true, but a few drinks makes life a little easier to handle. Don’t eat here.
Named after the owner’s birthday, November 7th. It is very close to 100Man Volt on new Route 8. It has good food and drinks. Nicest bar in Echizen City. Great atmosphere. It is rather small and expensive, but best drinks in town.
Found just east of Taiyo pachinko in southern Echizen City
ECHIZEN TOWN 越前町
The whole northern half of Fukui used to be called “Echizen” way back when, so many things still have the name “Echizen” attached to them i.e. Miyazaki’s Echizen pottery village and the entire coast from Mikuni to Tsuruga, known as Echizen-Kaigan (越前海岸).
The actual town of Echizen is 7,500 people crammed in between the hills and the sea. Echizen Town stretches along the coast for about 10 km, but rarely gets more than 1 km wide. What it lacks in supermarkets or 24-hour convenience stores, is made up for by its winding road and friendly fishermen who speak Echizen’s strong dialect. With delightful hot springs and delicious seafood (especially crab), Echizen is popular amongst Japanese tourists, yielding many inns, restaurants with elaborate cuisine, several small karaoke bars, and a few coffee shops.
You need to have a car as there is no train and buses aren’t worth the hassle. Follow Route 365 from Ota and turn left onto 264. Once in Echizen there is only one road (route 05) so you can’t really get lost.
There are various swimming beaches along the coast near Echizen. Look for the characters: 海水浴場 written on the concrete walls beside the road. Echizen’s beaches are a bit pebbly (Koshino, 10 km to the north has a sandy one), but there’s a pretty good one near Active House, just south of Isaribi. At Active House there is a restaurant and you can also pay about ¥1500 to use the indoor pools and gym. There are also places to dive and fish.
Just south of Isaribi. At Active House there is a restaurant and you can also pay about ¥1500 to use the indoor pools and gym. There are also places to dive and fish.
For outdoor bathing the best place is Isaribi (漁り火). It’s quite small, but really wonderful with a view of the sea. I recommend going at sunset if you can. The cost is ¥400. Driving south it is before Active House on the right. For indoor bathing with a view of the sea, Uotake (うおたけ) is about 500m north of Isaribi. It is a big blue building and costs ¥500. There is also a coffee shop/restaurant here.
Echizen is famous for its crabs. They are large-up to 40 cm across and expensive (as much as ¥10,000). The best season is in winter from Nov. to Feb. They are quite tasty so do try if you get the chance.
Suisen (水仙), or narcissus are a fragrant variety of daffodils (the prefectural flower) and grow in abundance along the coast. For the daffodil fanatics amongst you, Suisen-land is about 10 min. to the north of town. There is a large walk in enclosure kept at 15 degrees-very nice in the summer heat.
ASAHI TOWN 朝日町
Asahi-cho is a small town of just under 10,000 people located between Sabae and the coastal town of Echizen. Sorry to say, it is not the home of the famous brew. However, there are a few things to see and do in this inaka town. Nature lovers can enjoy splendid views as the seasons pass.
Located on the north side of Rt. 417 near the Fire Station, this is where you’ll come for alien registration and health insurance. The B.O.E. is located on the 3rd floor.
POST OFFICE AND BANK
The main post office is located on the high street just across from Fukui Bank (which is incidentally the only bank in Asahi). Look out for the blue Fukui Bank sign 福井銀行 or the red post office symbol – 〒. They close around 5PM and are NOT open on Saturdays.
The second post office is located furthest west.. Banking services and postal money orders are also available from these offices.
There is no train station in Asahi, but one can reach the Fukutetsu Densha (the tram line connecting Takefu and Fukui City) if you take the Fukutetsu bus to Shinmei Station in northern Sabae. The Fukutetsu bus stop nearest the Nyu High School ALT’s house is called ‘Asahi’ (opposite the Circle K). The main stop near the center of town is called ‘Nishitanaka’ (at ‘Nishitanaka’ junction, opposite ‘Nyu Sports Shop’) and it’s convenient for shopping, errands, and meeting other people. All buses going to Shinmei will stop at ‘Nishitanaka’, but not all of them stop at ‘Asahi’ so be careful.
Buses are a bit few and far between, though, so be sure to check the schedule ahead of time. Bus schedules can be found at the stop locations. If you plan it correctly, you can reach central Takefu or Fukui by using both the bus and local train line within 45 minutes. Usually.
NOTE: Remember to get on the BACK of the bus and take a ticket – don’t try and get on the front! The screen at the front will tell you how much your fare will be (find the price corresponding with the number on your ticket), then pay at the front when you get off. Local bus service stops around 8pm, and there’s one or two buses per hour, depending on the time of day. From Shinmei to Nishitanaka by taxi is about 2000 yen (there’s a taxi company by the bus stop), or it’s a 50-minute walk or a 20-minute bike ride.
Life in Asahi without a car is almost unfathomable. The freedom it provides is worth the small cost of purchase. It will pay for itself in saving public transport costs, not having to bum rides, and being able to live on your own schedule. The main road through town is Route 417. It runs past the ALTs’ houses and provides an easy escape from town. Heading east will take you to Sabae the road intersects with Old Route 8 just before Shinmei station, and heading further east will take you to New Route 8. Heading West on Route 417 leads one to Ota-cho and then Echizen-cho by the sea. The quickest way to get to Fukui city is to take Route 28 – head east down Route 417 then turn left at the junction with a Family Mart and the Charmant office building.
Keep heading along this road out into the fields, then take a right at the traffic lights which have a stone pillar on the left with a sign for “Kenkou no Mori” on it (a big gym nearby). Stay on this road and you’ll eventually meet up with Phoenix-dori. It’s a little more confusing than driving up New or Old Route 8, but it saves a lot of time due to the lack of traffic lights. You can also take Route 28 to Takefu by turning right at the Family Mart/Charmant intersection. This will save you much time, as you’ll avoid the traffic and endless traffic lights on Old Rt8.
In nice weather a bicycle is a joy, although good gears are required for trekking into the hills of West Asahi. There are hundreds of shrines dotted around the landscape, so it’s well worth the time to go exploring. Just don’t fall into any rice fields.
The hot spot of the town. Located on Rt417 across from City Hall, this shop is infamous for it’s delicious soba and udon dishes, as well as the entertaining ojiisan who built the restaurant almost 30 years ago. The crab udon in the winter comes highly recommended. And if you’re lucky enough, maybe Akira Ojisan will invite you into his special party room on the second floor, complete with bear and wild boar skin! Closed every Monday.
Located just West of the City Hall, it offers a variety of athletic and culture related courses (Or so someone once wrote. We make no promises). Inquire within for details.
GYM / SWIMMING POOL
For the fitness-minded, the best bet is Kenkou no Mori (Fukui Health Woods) in Shimizu Town. Head north up Route 28 past Super Yamakishi and turn left where you see the sign (there will be a green ‘Shimizu Town’ tower sign at the corner), then head through a tunnel and turn right. This has to be one of the largest athletic centers in the prefecture. It has recently become quite a popular gaijin hangout.
It has a huge indoor pool (waterslide!!!), training room with cardio and weights, indoor track, badminton courts, table tennis tables, small onsen in the locker rooms, full outdoor track, a soccer field, and more. The cardio/weight room staff is really friendly. Six months for 21,000yen, 3 for 12,000yen. One time, 600yen. Or, just run around the outdoor track or the 2k and 4k running courses for free. Follow the signs. It’s fairly well marked. There’s also a fairly big onsen in a building next door, rumored to be quite nice.
This is commonly called “Morning” by locals, or just “The Kanji Supermarket” by ALTs who can’t read the big red neon Chinese characters on the front. It’s located on Route 417 near the town hall. They may have a piddling produce selection, but they also sell frozen pig heads and booze.
The larger of the two Nishitanaka stores has better vegetables but is still very limited. They’re open until 9PM. Note that you can’t buy town-appropriate trash bags here.
Asahi’s 24-hour beacon of rice balls and beer. All hail the Circle K. But be prepared to say hello to the hundreds of Nyu High School students that hang out there every afternoon, reading manga.
Globalization rears its ugly, convenient head in Asahi! On the edge of town bordering with Shimizu, all your shopping needs are fulfilled in this one-mega store (head north on Route 28 and look out for a giant black building on the right-hand side). Ass-cheap produce, cheese, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, cold meds, film processing, home supplies, a takoyaki snack bar. What else could you want? Highly recommended. 8 a.m.-10 p.m. everyday. Trash bags are sold at the check-out.
If you want to do your shopping at only one place, this is probably where you need to go. Twice as big as Super Yamakishi, consider this the Super Wal-Mart of Japan but not nearly as cheap. Prices are higher than you can find elsewhere, but that’s what you get for the convenience of only having to go to one store. This place includes a huge grocery store with a large selection of produce, a decent cheese selection, a delicious food bar, and not too shabby of a foreign foods section (though mostly breakfast and snacky foods). You can also find any other home goods here that you could possibly want and need. The bakery at the front of the store offers soft bagels. Plant 3 is technically in Shimizu-cho, but is easily accessible from Asahi as well. Go north on Rt28, pass Super Yamakishi on the right, go through several more stoplights, and you can’t miss Plant 3 on your left. It’s about a 10 minute car ride.
On Old Rt. 8 is one of the closest options. Turn right on Old8 from Rt417 towards the LAS pachinko parlor, and it’ll be on your right in a flash. Look out for the big blue and yellow sign.Registering is easy, and renting is only a couple of hundred yen for a week, so it’s a great way to keep yourself entertained in the winter.
Almost directly opposite Tsutaya. Its prices are generally cheaper than Tsutaya, but the range of DVDs generally isn’t as good.
More of a drive because it’s in Sabae across from AL Plaza on New Route 8. It boasts 100 yen old DVDs for one week, plus a great selection of video games.
Fulfills all of your drug store needs. It’s located on Rt417.
For beating the winter chill nothing beats a dip in somebody else’s tub. Admission is generally a few hundred yen. Bring your own towel and ‘modesty washcloth’.
TAICHO BI MORI
located very close to Itou (or Asahi Nishi) Jr. High in the mountains. Reviews have been good, though it may be a little difficult to find the first time. There’s also a lovely onsen at Kenkou no Mori, and several others in Echizen, Takefu and Sabae.
PLANTOPIA BOTANICAL GARDEN
This new and impressive monument to nature is great in seasons other than winter. The gardens may not have awe-inspiring floral displays, but there are plenty of paths to explore An ideal venue for a peaceful Sunday afternoon stroll. Admission is around 300 yen.
This park is dedicated to the ancient people who once dwelled here. Although it appears they lived in concrete huts. The park’s best attraction is a 100 meter slide made up of rollers — watch out for the spider webs.
There are loads and loads of shrines dotted around Asahi, and it’s worth taking the time to wander or cycle round and enjoy them. They all follow a similar kind of layout, but each is unique in its own way, plus most of them have a related festival at some point in the year, so it’s worth making some inquiries about when these take place. It’s one of the more impressive shrines, simply because of its spooky setting in the woods. If you’re heading west on Route 417, take a right by the Circle K and keep going straight until you see the shrine directly in front of you.
Every year in early August the town puts on a two day festival and everyone comes out to see and be seen. It’s a good chance to see the students in their yukata. Aside from all the usual festival things, the second night features a legion of townsfolk doing the Asahi dance in sync and a parade of floats made by the various neighborhoods. The floats are brought to the courtyard in front of the city hall where they are spun wildly and sometimes go reeling out of control into the unsuspecting crowd.
On route 417, about five minutes on foot from Solu Levente. The name is written in romanji so you can’t miss it. It’s a family run bar and the owner, a middle aged woman, is very pleasant and accommodating to foreigners. It’s a nice place to go for a quiet drink and a chat, but it serves equally well for a large group.
It can be a little expensive, particularly if you want to sing karaoke. However, the food is very, very good. I suggest the steak. Caution is required though as some of the locals, unused to foreigners, can get a little too friendly.
OTA TOWN 織田町
In the west of Fukui Prefecture in the newly formed Echizen Town. It’s to the west of Sabae and Takefu, and to the east of the Echizen Coast. The history of Ota traces back to the Paleolithic Period where the first stone axes are believed to have been used in the Takahashi and Higashi areas. It is also said to be the ancestral land of Oda Nobunaga, the prime leader in Japan’s 16th century reunification. Most people come for the tofu, Echizen Earthenware, the Tsurugi Shrine, or the taiko drumming.
Ota is a rural town, so it’s a bit quiet, and it’s mostly shut by 8pm, but if you want to see what life is like away from the urban centres of Fukui, this is as good a place as any, and the Otaiko Festival is really not to be missed; after all, why queue all the way up Fuji for just a photograph, when you can chill out on the grass all day watching some fantastic drumming?
This is the only form of transportation to and from Ota, the last train left years ago. There are supposedly direct buses to and from Fukui, but they’re expensive and ridiculously infrequent. The alternative is to get the bus to one of the JR or Tram stations in Takefu or Sabae, and then travel to Fukui-shi from there. The same applies in reverse for coming to Ota from Fukui-shi.
It’s all uphill to Ota, wherever you come from. From Takefu, follow Route 365, from Sabae follow Route 417. Both will be marked on the blue road signs, along with Echizen Kaigen.
Warning: Route 417 turns into 365 in Ota, then goes on to Echizen Town. From Fukui it’s a bit less obvious on the prefectural map. Follow Routes 6 and then out of the city (or get onto Akaribashi dori and head east towards the coast, following signs for Ota); you’ll be passing through Shimizu and Asahi. The main urban spread of Ota, is marked with a Circle K at one end of the main road and a Lawson’s at the other.
In case of emergency, it’s always nice to know where the hospital is. keep going past Komeri, and turn right at the second traffic light. It’s the first big building on the right, halfway up the hill.
This is the only chain store you get in Ota. It’s located on the main road through Ota . opposite Merci (Me-ru-shi) Shopping Centre. Like many places here, it shuts fairly early, but there is nowhere else to drink without really needing to make reservations either.
This shop is located next to the bus terminal. It is only a small shop but is very well known for its good quality. The katsu-dons (breaded pork on rice, with sauce or egg) are the best you will find in the area! They do home deliveries. TEL: 0778-36-0031
PIKKOLO FAMILY RESTAURANT This shop is located inside Merci Shopping centre. It is a simple cafe/ restaurant but the food not bad! They deliver for orders over a certain amount. Closes at 8pm. TEL: 0778-36-1198.
OTAIKO HILLS TOFU RESTAURANT
With chicken being regarded as vegetarian food, eating can be perilous for such people in Japan. Fear no more! This restaurant is in the Otaiko Hills Complex next to the central sports ground. It is a very good tofu restaurant and is famous for its tofu rissoles (hamburgers). They even have tofu ice-cream. A must for any vegetarians in Fukui. No meat, guaranteed. The problem is it only opens lunchtimes, 11am-2pm, so best eat there on a weekend. TEL: 077836-0261.
YOTTE EKI NA (The Flower Tea House)
Looking for something a little different from mochi? This shop sells kibidango. It’s like mochi, only made from buckwheat, not pulverised rice. It’s also a small restaurant. On Tuesday and Friday mornings there is a market where you can buy very cheap fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. On Route 417, opposite the Circle K.
Ota’s little secret; a nice bakery shop. They specialise in ice cream-pancake sandwiches that are rather tasty. You can choose from about ten different flavours of ice cream, including sweet potato and sesame seed. On the main road, go 50 metres east from Merci, and it’s on the right side.
Difficult to find, but worth it once you do. It’s near the bus station in the centre of town. If you can’t find it, ask at the JOMO petrol station. They’ll be happy to tell you.
It looks innocuous from the outside, but that’s definitely it. Coming from the centre of town on Route 65, it’s on the left side, just before the turn off (right) for Otaiko Hills.
The dominant shopping point of Ota. It’s a small mall, housing a supermarket, clothes shop, shoe shop, bookshop, photo shop (beware . it’s a little expensive), dry cleaners, restaurant, and best of all, a good 100yen shop, the only one until Takefu/Sabae. Merci is on the main street, Route 365/417 (it’s the same road at this point). It’s usually closed on Tuesdays, but it’s open every other day!
The red rooster is alive and well in Ota. For homeware needs, go to Lawson’s on Route 417, and turn left. It’s on the right.
This is one of the main attractions in Ota. The shrine was built by Emperor Kojin during the Nara Period and it is believed that Oda Nobunaga also came here to worship. The shrine houses the Shinsho Bell which has been dedicated a National Treasure, and many other precious manuscripts. A number of festivals take place here throughout the year.
Ota is one of the areas famous for producing Echizen Earthenware. Echizen Earthenware extends from one of the six ancient styles of pottery and their scale of production is the largest in the Hokuriku area. Ceramic artists from the area have exhibited their work both nationally and internationally. You can try making pottery at Wadumi-kan (Ota’s Ceramic Center). TEL: 0778-36-1922.
YUKYU ROMAN FOREST
Located at the top of Mt Eboshi. The complex includes a barbecue house, camping ground, bungalows, bird station, mini golf course, and a 400-metre super slider which is certainly worth a go. The log cabins are fully furnished, two storey modern buildings. Bookings 78 are necessary. For enquires telephone 0778- 6- 050.
This is a big sporting/music complex/ryokan. There is a variety of sporting facilities for tennis and archery etc and soundproof rooms for musical rehearsals. It is also the home of Taiko club. The ryokan has both Japanese and Western style rooms. Enquires/bookings 0778-36-2061.
TAIRA EARTHENWARE TOMBS
Considered to be the rarest of tombs in Japan. There were ten earthenware tombs in the Taira district of Ota which were built by potters hundreds of years ago. The tombs were preserved.
OTA HISTORY & CULTURE RESOURCE CENTRE
This is a multipurpose facility which holds the library, historical materials museum and an exchange hall. If you are interested in pottery and historical items then it is well worth a look-while there you may want to pop next door to the Amada Kohei Commemorative Hall. It houses some of this famous Fukui artist’s most famous pieces.
FESTIVALS AND SEASONAL ATTRACTIONS
For a few days around New Year, tens of thousands of people visit Tsurugi Shrine for their first temple visit of the year. There are usually a few food stalls set up, some of which are free. It is worth a look, just to see the number of people lining up. You may also be on local television as the fixed TV camera at the shrine is shown live on TV during this time.
On February 11th People burn old New Years’ products in a huge fire at Tsurugi Shrine, and then toast mochi in the coals. The fire is said to burn away all evil spirits and previous misfortunes, and promotes good fortune and a good harvest.
Hibike Drum Festival This festival is usually held on the 3rd Saturday of August. It attracts thousands of people from all over Japan and is definitely worth a look! Professional Taiko (drums) players from all over the nation, as well as Ota’s Taiko Club, come to compete and perform. If you go, be sure to stay for the Ota Taiko Club’s performance-it will take your breath away!
TSURUGI SHRINE MATSURI
Held on the 9th and 10th of October. There are a number of events including Japanese dance, Taiko, a ritual dance with lion masks, portable shrines and floats, and a traditional tea ceremony at Tsurugi Shrine. Contact the CIR for more details.
SABAE CITY 鯖江市
Sabae City is a small city of about 65,000, situated between Fukui and Echizen City. Its main industries are textiles, lacquer ware and eyeglass frames – over 90% of Japan’s eyeglass frames (and 20% of the world’s) are made here! It is home to the beautiful Nishiyama Park, historic temples and shrines, and the best movie theater in Fukui.
CITY HALL (市役所)
You get your Alien Registration card here if you live in Sabae. When you get your card you will be given a Welcome Information folder (English version available) with basic background info on Sabae, a map of Sabae with the local restaurants and shopping places marked, and a few other guidebooks.
POST OFFICE (郵便局)
Sabae Main Post Office – open from 9 am to 7 pm (Mon-Fri) (9 to 4 for money transactions). Postal services are also available until 7:30 weekdays, and from 9 to 7 Saturday and 9 to 1 on Sunday from an ‘out-of-hours’ window in the foyer.
BRANCH POST OFFICE
There are two small post offices in the center of Sabae, and one in Shinmei – they are open Mondays to Fridays only, until 4 pm for money transactions and 5 pm for postal services (marked テ).
FUKUI BANK (福井銀行)
Sabae main branch. Friendly, helpful service. Some staff speak English. This branch is authorized for foreign exchange. Also branches near Hani supermarket, near Route 8 and in Shinmei open from 10 am to 3 pm, Mon-Fri. ATM’s are open until 9 pm including holidays, and withdrawals are free of charge. There is a cash machine at each branch, next to Hearts Supermarket, next to Nishimura Cafe, in the City Hall, and in the shopping malls.
A beautiful new library near AL Plaza, with videos and video viewing facilities and even a coffee shop in addition to the books. Registration as a borrower is free and simple (take an ID), and there are approximately three shelves of English language books available. There are many places to sit quietly and study. Open 10 am – 6 pm (8 pm on Fridays). Closed Mondays, 3rd Sunday and 4th Thursday each month and public holidays. The coffee shop closes at 5 pm.
About 15 minutes by JR train from Fukui, 5 minutes from Echizen City. Normal train costs 230 yen to Fukui. You can get any tickets from this station, including Shinkansen tickets. It is possible to go directly to Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya and Kanazawa, although the trains do not stop here as often as they do in Fukui City or Echizen City.
Fukutetsu (福鉄) a smaller private line running from Echizen City to Fukui. The city center stop is Nishi-Sabae (西鯖江). Slower and more expensive (380 yen to Fukui) than JR, but they run more regularly (every 15 minutes) and there are more stops (Shinmei, Bell Shopping Centre, Harmony Hall). First train about 6:30 am, last about 9:30 pm. Two expresses per hour, no express surcharge. In Sabae, the express stops at Nishi-Sabae and Shinmei.
It takes about 30 – 40 minutes by car from/to Fukui depending on traffic. Main routes are Route 8 and Old Route 8 (which becomes Phoenix Doori in Fukui). New Route 8 is probably the quickest way to get to the heart of Fukui. There is a large car park next to the Kyoyo Kaikan by Nishiyama Park (free for the first three hours and 300 yen after that).
The local bus services are limited, infrequent and expensive (compared to the train). You can get to Ota, the Miyazaki Pottery Village, Echizen (on the coast), Kawada (lacquer ware village). The bus services start from the Kyoyo Kaikan, and there are also stops by Nishi-Sabae and Shinmei stations. There is also a bus to Echizen City and Fukui, but do yourself a favor and take the train! For longer distances, the bus can prove to be a more economic option, provided you have the time. There is a stop at the Sabae I.C. on the Hokuriku Expressway. Cars can be left in the car park here for a few days without problems. The Tokyo night bus stops here every evening. The bus to Nagoya, which usually takes the same amount of time as the JR (depending on traffic) at a fraction of the cost, stops here several times daily. Tickets for these buses can be purchased at any JTB branch.
Bike Route 8 has a cycle path alongside it to Fukui and Echizen City. Echizen City can also be reached by bike more scenically along the Hino River.
SASBAE KOKURITSU HOSPTIAL(鯖江国立病院)
The public hospital in Shinmei, behind Chuo JHS. There is an English speaking doctor, but only they’re only there once per week. The reception is very kind and understanding. If you feel able to have your supervisor call in advance, it may help them be prepared to deal with you better.
The admin. director here speaks excellent English and has a good relationship with local JETs through the aikido class where he teaches. His name is Mr Kasashima.
This hospital is open from 8:30-18:30 (Mon-Fri) and 9:00-15:00 on Sat. No appointment is necessary.
The English speaking doctor is available on Mon and Fri. This hospital is located opposite Shinmei station
KAWAGUCHI SHONIKA CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
The Doc is Kobayashi-san.
Cheap sushi! The sushi travels around on plates in front of you on a conveyor belt. It’s a good introduction to sushi as you can just pick what you like the look of. At the end the waiter counts the empty plates to calculate the bill. On Route 8. Open 11 am to 11 pm.
A ‘family’ restaurant selling western style food. Good quality and not too expensive. Easy and safe! On Route 8 by the entrance to Al Plaza. Open until 1 am.
This bar/restaurant seems to be a happening place, but has a seating charge.
HACHI BAN RAMEN (８番ﾗｰﾒﾝ)
A noodle restaurant chain. Cheap noodles and gyoza (fried Chinese dumplings). There are at least 3 in Sabae. Open until 2 am.
A yakiniku restaurant on Route 8, between Ai Ai Sabae and Kodawari Tonkatsu Restaurant. Grill the meat yourself at your table! Open until 12 midnight. Closed weekday lunchtimes.
On Route 8 opposite Al Plaza, next to Kabos. As well as coffee, drinks, ice-cream and “Western” style meals in the cafe, there is a shop selling coffee, tea, herbs, imported food (like taco shells and seasoning!) etc. Open until 11 pm.
On Route 8 behind the station. It’s a great place to consume grilled chicken, swilled down with beer. The atmosphere is great, as is the food, and the staff are very friendly. It’s open 5 pm – 11:30 pm (4 – 10:30 on Sundays and holidays) and closed Tuesdays. There is another Sabae branch on Old Route 8, across from Tsutaya Video. There is also a takeout-only Akiyoshi restaurant in front of Hearts.
Belle Verte (ベル・ベール) Ever wondered what it would be like to eat in the middle of a jungle? This cafe is a large (with a white wooden front) glasshouse with tables amongst the foliage. Coffees and drinks, snacks and light meals. You can also buy plants! It’s open until 11 pm and closed Tuesdays.
There are various pizza takeaway shops in Sabae – all pretty much of a muchness (i.e. pretty ropey). The one opposite the station also has a sit and eat in area, but doesn’t open late.
Located near the cheapest gas station in sabae and opposite valor supermarket.
Found just down the road from the Hearts on old Rt. 8. Cheap pizza if you take it home or eat in , but expensive if you have it delivered.
Excellent Italian food with very friendly owners. It’s rather expensive, but the 1,500 yen lunch set is very nice. Open to 9:30 pm and closed Wednesdays.
KODAWARI TONKATSU RESTAURANT(こだわりトンカツ)
On Route 8, just north of Hard Off/Book Off. Good food and good helpings. It’s open until 10:30 pm.
KINKA CHINESE RESTAURANT (金華)
Reasonably priced, genuine Chinese food and good beers as well. It’s open until 9 pm and closed on Wednesdays.
SABAE CITY HOTEL
Up-market hotel, but good lunch deals. The 8th floor restaurant lunch special costs 1,500 yen for 4 courses. The ground floor restaurant does a 3 course lunch for less than 1000 yen. It’s opposite the Kyoyo Kaikan.
KONOMI OKONOMIYAKI RESTAURANT (このみ)
Delicious okonomiyaki and takoyaki, from about 600yen per person. Recently renovated, it has a wooden exterior and is a couple doors down and to the right from Cackle Bar. Open 11:30 – 11, with last orders taken at 10:30 pm.
STAMINA TARO (スタミナ太郎)
Near the Sundome on Route 8, this restaurant offers an all you can eat buffet that includes yakiniku, salads, pastas, fruit, desserts and even candy floss (know to some as cotton candy). Dinner is around ¥2000 and lunch is around ¥1000 (but ¥1500 on weekends). Look for the sign with a bull’s eye.
KAITEN SUSHI RESTAURANT
On Old Route 8, near Sabae JHS. From the school go towards Echizen City, it will be on your left. It is a 2-story concrete building with sushi written in English in red neon. Pricey, but good.
On Route 8 next door to the Hachi-ban Ramen going towards Echizen City.
ECHIZEN SOBA AND SHUSHI
On Route 8 going towards Echizen City. If you reach Hana Liquor World, you’ve gone too far.
Satisfy your fast food burger cravings without having to bow to the evil of the golden arches! Newly opened, you can dine in or take out (drive thru available). On Route 8, nearly opposite Akiyoshi.
A good, inexpensive German(?) restaurant, right next to L’Amore. Excellent Monday to Saturday lunch special that includes an all-you-can-eat soup, salad, and pasta buffet for about 1,000 yen with an entree.
Next to Coco’s, in the Al Plaza area. An Italian restaurant with excellent food and desserts at reasonable prices. The pizzas are cooked on a wood-burning stove. It’spen until around 10:30 PM. Weekday lunch special: All the wine you can drink (with your meal) for 500 yen. It’s the cheap stuff, but it’s still booze.
AZIYA Y’S RESTAURANT
A gorgeous new Italian restaurant. Most entrees are around 1000 yen, also has great salads and desserts. It’s closed Mondays, lunch is served between 11:30 and 2:30, and dinner is from 5 to midnight. Heading north on Old Route 8, turn right at the set of traffic lights before Billiard Chokies. Go up this street and you’ll eventually see the Aziya sign on the right, just before Hachi Ban Ramen.
A delicious and reasonably priced yakiniku restaurant. It also has great bibimba, a spicy Korean fried rice. Next to Kodawari Tonkatsu on Route 8.
A nice Japanese restaurant with great soba and nabé sets that won’t break the bank. It has a warm environment that’s perfect for the frigid winter! Menus are written in both kanji and hiragana. Coming north on Route 8, it’s located just behind Kodawari Tonkatsu and Karubi Taisho.
SPORTS EXCHANGE HALL (鯖江スポーツ古流館)
A large sports hall next to the Sundome. Weights, badminton, basketball etc. It’s 250 yen entrance, or 2,000 yen for one month pass, 16,000 yen for one year. Aikido classes take place every Monday and Thursday at 7:00pm.
This gym has a good assortment of weights, both free and nautilus. Also exercycles, stairmasters and treadmills. Various classes also available including aerobics, dance and tennis. There’s an onsen upstairs. It’s a bit expensive at around 550 yen per visit, or you can buy a one month pass for \4,200, or a book of 11 tickets for \3,700 (the onsen and classes cost extra). Open 13:00 to 21:00, Monday to Saturday. It’s closed on public holidays as well as Sundays.
On Mondays and Thursdays at the Sundome (although sometimes at Sabae JHS on Thursday). Two teachers, both trained at the world headquarters in Tokyo, run the class. One teacher speaks English (spent two years in London, 9 as a translator, and 6 as a JTE) and is really cool. Foreign members in the past have come from Fukui to train and this teacher will pick you up and drop you off at the station. In February, the club hosts a special practice with clubs from Fukui and a large group from Tokyo.
KYOYO KAIKAN (Kyoyo Hall) (響陽会館)
Nobody really knows what goes on in this large building. It used to be home to the Sabae International Corner, but such is no longer the case. It is rumored to host banquets, conventions, weddings, and other events.
SABAE NPO CENTRE
This is the home of the Sabae International Corner, where you can sign up for Japanese tutoring. The teachers are mostly volunteers, so the prices are an unbeatable 1500 yen per month for a one hour class each week. Telephone 54-0059 for more information. Local “what’s on” information, several English publications, and a computer are all available here. In addition, other events, such as bazaars and cooking classes, are also held periodically throughout the year. Definitely check this place out.
SABAE BUNKA (Cultural) CENTRE(文化センター)
A large concert hall and various practice/ meeting rooms. Events take place at irregular intervals, including school and amateur concerts and occasional good professional concerts. A range of cheap language classes (but not Japanese) are held here.
SPORTS EXCHANGE HALL (鯖江スポーツ交流館)
A large sports hall next to the Sundome. Weights, badminton, basketball etc. It’s 250 yen entrance, or 2,000 yen for one month pass, 16,000 yen for one year. Aikido classes (with free entry to the sports hall) take place every Monday from 6:30-8:00 (the Thursday class was moved to the dojo at Sabae JHS, 7:00-8:30).
AI AI SABAE (アイアイ鯖江)
An enormous health centre with some large function rooms, which are sometimes used for international exchange events, so you may end up here someday. Opposite the library.
SABAE CLEAN CENTRE (鯖江ｸﾘｰﾝｾﾝﾀｰ)
This is a place to drop off large items of garbage. You can also buy other people’s cast offs for 300 yen. ALTs have been able to get bikes here. It is a group of buildings in the rice fields by the river, recognisable by the tall chimney.
10 pin bowling and karaoke.
SABAE CINEMA 7
Located just across from Al Plaza (use the same car park) and boasting seven screens, this is probably the best in the ken. There is also a bowling alley and a game center attached. Matinee shows cost 1,800 yen, but prices drop to 1,200 yen for evening screenings. Wednesday is ladies’ night, admission only 1,000 yen for women. The first of every month has every movie for 1,000 yen. Bowling also offers ladies’ night prices on Wednesday. For the men, dressing in drag for the discount has worked in the past. But does one really need a reason to slip on that sundress?
TONTON BYOSHI (とんとんびょうし) / HEY HEY HO
An izakaya/karaoke place next door to Al Plaza and across the street from Nishimura Cafe on Route 8. It has an excellent selection of English songs!
Malls and Department Stores
The biggest and best shopping mall on new Route 8! Inside is a large and well-stocked supermarket, and a department store selling everything from electronic goods to house wares and clothing. It also has a bakery (bagels occasionally available!), a florist, a jeweler, a dry cleaning shop, a photo developer, a 100 yen shop, a bookstore and a small CD shop. Doutor Café (with its delectable, and reasonably priced, smoked salmon bagel sandwiches) and McDonald’s are attached. Closes at 8 pm, but McDonald’s stays open until 9.
AZALEA SHOPPING CENTRE
“The poor man’s Al Plaza.” This recently renovated mall in Shinmei includes a florist, a dry cleaning shop, a cosmetics store, a pharmacy, a jewelry store, an omiyage shop, some clothing and shoe stores, a record store and a supermarket. McDonald’s and Atom Boy are here too. Open until 8 pm, closed Wed.
A four floor department store with supermarket on the ground floor. It’s pretty basic in comparison to Al Plaza and closes at 8pm. It’s closed two Thursdays a month, but they don’t know which two.
A home center which is virtually a department store, with a Wai Plaza Supermarket attached. It’s big! It’s open until 8 pm (9 pm Saturday), supermarket until 10 pm.
On Old Route 8, next to Sabae JHS. New and smart with some organic food and eco-friendly products. There’s an in-store bakery and dry cleaners. Also a cake shop, take-out Akiyoshi, and Hana Liquor World. It’s open until 9 pm and occasionally closed on Thursday, but good luck trying to determine which one.
HONEY’S SUPERMARKET (ハニー)
Open until 11 pm (latest of the supermarkets).
YOUTH SUPERMARKET (ユース)
Located just off Route 8. It’s open until 10.
A discount supermarket/pharmacy selling basics at significantly cheaper prices and larger quantities. They develop film for 500 yen (a real bargain!).
A famous bakery in Fukui, and for good reason. Excellent bread. Closed Sundays.
There are many of these. Open 24 hours, they sell a basic range of groceries, a wide range of drinks, and some prepared meals. Also have magazines, newspapers, film, stationery, etc. Most have photocopiers. Those with 酒 (sake) written on the sign sell alcohol. Main names are Lawson, Family Mart, Circle K, and Sunkus.
A DIY shop with a wide range of house, garden and car stuff, you can get keys cut here too. It’s very cheap.
A very, very cheap household goods and food. It’s a good place to buy dishes, plants, and furniture and has a large selection of discount food.
DIY Shop Low prices on household goods, tools and furniture.
Video and CD Rental
They cost about 300 yen for a one-week rental. New videos are more expensive and normally on one or two day hire. Unless stated otherwise they stay open until 12 midnight and have a box/slot for returning videos after hours.
On Route 8.
On Route 8 opposite Al Plaza. It also has a very big bookstore with stationery department, and CD shop. (Closes at 10 pm).
On Old Route 8, also sells books CDs and stationery
On Old Route 8 (no box after hours).
Bookstores and Sports stores
Has a wide selection of Japanese books, has an ordering service to get books in English using the ISBN number. It can also fill all your stationary needs.
UMEDA PRO BIKE SHOP
Closed on Thursdays. It’s famous for supplying JETs around Fukui with bikes and supplies. Good prices, inescapable installment plan, and year-round service. Mr. Umeda also speaks a little English. Excellent range of mountain bikes.
Sports equipment, including all your skiing and snowboarding needs. Bargain season for skis is January. On Route 8 near the Sundome.
Sells traditional Japanese products. A bit expensive, but great staff.
An excellent place for buying and maintaining a car. They are used to communicating in simple Japanese. There are also lots of second hand car shops along Old Route 8.
KOSHI NO YU (腰の湯)
This bath charges 460 Yen and is located just off Route 8 near Kabos. Look for the raccoon sign. Open 7 am until 2 am, 365 days!
NISHIYAMA PARK (西山公園)
A beautiful hill park with excellent views. It is a major site for viewing cherry blossoms around the first week of April. It is particularly known for its azaleas, in bloom at the end of April or beginning of May. From May 3-5 there is a big “Azalea festival”the Tsutsuji matsuri. In August, an O-Bon festival (with the requisite dancing) takes place here. The park also contains a small zoo, boasting a couple of lesser pandas from China.
HINO RIVER (日野川)
This scenic river is a good place for walking, cycling or just relaxing. There is a bike path along the banks of the river from Sabae through Echizen City to Imajo (about 20 km).
JOSHOJI TEMPLE (譲照寺)
The main temple in Sabae, this is the head temple of the Shinsyu Joshoji Sect. It was founded by Kageyuki Hatano and named Shinshoji by Emperor Gonijyo in 1310. It was named Joshoji by Emperor Gohanazono. It is famous for the dragon carving on the Shisoku Gate. Special services are held at the O-Bon period for Buddhists to honour their ancestors.
This was built 270 years ago as a family temple for the leader of the Sabae Clan. The big gate called Hosho was built in the Edo Period. There are three black and white paintings on the temple ceiling of the wind, thunder, and the dragon gods. The Sabae International Association hold an introductory zazen (Zen Buddhist meditation) session here every year in the autumn. Contact the International Corner or the CIR for more details.
Originally built by Taichodaishi in 718, it was burned down and rebuilt many times. The Suribachi Yaito (moxa cautery) Ceremony, also called Gomuso Yaito is a blessing practiced twice a year on February 20th and March 2nd. It is reputed to have miraculous effects on headaches and other illnesses.
This is an Amitabha seminary and temple, sited on a high hill called Uenogahara. The Shinshu Joshoji Sect originated here.
This is commonly called Jabonko no tera due to the legend that a big snake visited the temple on a special day every year to pray.
KABUTOYAMA ANCIENT TOMB (兜山古墳)
A two-tiered burial mound with a circular moat. This is considered the largest ancient tomb in the Hokuriku region.
SHINMEI SHRINE (神明神社)
Thought to have been originally established in the time of the Anko Emperor (454-456), the present shrine was built in the Meio Period (1492-1501), with spacious grounds. Just inside the entrance is the Uryu Family Home – the oldest family home in Fukui Prefecture, built for a priest and his family in about 1699. The pond is a centre for rainmaking ceremonies.
SUNDOME FUKUI (ｻﾝﾄﾞｰﾑ福井)
A huge round arena built for the 1995 World Gymnastic Championships. Events (like sumo, concerts, and the monthly flea market) take place here regularly.
ECHIZEN LAQUERWARE VILLAGE (越前漆器村)
The Kawada-cho district in eastern Sabae is famous for its lacquerware, made here since 527 AD. The Echizen Shikki Kaikan (Lacquerware Hall), with exhibits, an explanation of the lacquer-making process (in Japanese), and an expensive gift shop, is found here. In the beginning of April (usually during the Golden Week holidays), Kawada hosts a lacquerware festival, where goods can be purchased at a discounted price.
FUNATSU SHRINE (舟津神社)
Founded about 1,500 years ago, it is the oldest in Sabae.
LE BERVE (ル・べるべ)
A restaurant/bar in AL Plaza (no seating charge). This place usually draws a young Japanese crowd, giving it a good atmosphere. The food is decent, the drinks relatively inexpensive. Hisa, the 27-year-old manager of the bar, is a “hip” Japanese guy who speaks English pretty well. It’s open from 10 a.m. until midnight on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10-8 on Monday and Tuesday, and 10 until you are ready to leave on the weekends.
Driving to Toyo Chu Gakko, this bar will be on your left. It’s yellow and has a basketball hoop above the door. It’s a decent place; be sure to spread the word.
Perhaps the most sterile and sanitary pool hall on Earth, but with a friendly staff and CHEAP Heinekens. Head north on Old Route 8. Pass Joyland, and you’ll see the Chokies sign after the next set of traffic lights on the right. Open until 2 am.