Fukui may not be full of large shopping malls or sightseeing destinations that attract large groups of tourists from overseas, but the lush environment, terroir and distinct climate of Fukui have led to the creation of our outstanding traditional slow food and sake cultures, while Fukui's history and climate have shaped our traditional arts and crafts. Our deep Zen-like spirituality has been handed down from generation to generation, becoming the cultural and historical heritage that lives on today.
On January 13, I took a 20-minute bus ride from JR Takefu Station, and walked to Echizen Washi Village in the Imadate area of Echizen City. Imadate is home to a washi paper industry with 1,500 years of history. The Echizen Washi paper made here is so renowned for its quality that until 1950, Japan’s banknotes were printed on Echizen Washi. Even today, Echizen Washi is used in famous buildings like the Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in Temple in Kyoto, a national treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
My first destination was the conjoined Okamoto and Otaki Shrines, the only shrines in Japan dedicated to Kawakami Gozen, the goddess of paper.
The entrance is marked by a stately torii gate.
I made my way inside to the peaceful shrine grounds to offer up a prayer. The tranquility gave off a feeling of Zen, and as I brought my hands together I could almost feel my senses sharpening. This shrine is nationally registered as an important cultural property— it is a must-see!
After paying my respects, I headed to Echizen Washi Village at the foothills of Okamoto and Otaki Shrines. The beautiful and charming townscape is filled with various workshops and businesses related to Echizen Washi.
My first stop in Echizen Washi Village was the Udatsu Paper & Craft Museum.
I got to see experts in traditional handicrafts perform every step of making washi paper, from preparing the raw materials to forming sheets of paper in a wooden mold.
They also offer a hands-on washi paper-making experience here: an expert washi paper maker taught me the basics, and I got to try making washi paper by hand for myself!
Hand-made washi paper is a process that takes days from start to finish. If you don’t have that much time to wait for your own, you can take home washi paper made by an expert instead.
After trying out making washi paper by hand the traditional way, I headed to the nearby Papyrus House, where even very young visitors can try simple hands-on washi paper-making experiences. Papyrus House also has a great shop with all sorts of Echizen Washi products for sale.
One of the most popular items here is goshuin-cho registers (used to officially record visits to temples and shrines) made of Echizen Washi — Echizen Washi’s 1,500 years of history help give these old-fashioned registers an especially “official” feel.
There are a wide variety of styles available, making them a great souvenir!
Echizen Washi Village makes a great place to experience the spirit of Zen through Fukui’s traditional techniques.
Echizen Washi Village
Inheriting and Preserving Traditions for the Future
Echizen Pottery – Designated Japan Heritage
Learning about the Value of Life
at the Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum
Experiencing the Heart of Zen
through Zazen Meditation at Daijoji Temple
Exploring the Natural Beauty and the History of Wakasa
Uriwarinotaki and Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town
Enjoying the Charming Atmosphere of
A Mystical World of Water and Flame
The Omizu-Okuri Rite
A Unique Festival to Mark the Start of Spring
The Katsuyama Sagicho Festival
Enjoying the Finest Seafood in Fukui’s ZEN Environment
Nihonkai Sakanamachi Seafood Market
Coming in Contact with Traditional Technique
The Highlight of Winter in Fukui
Echizen Gani Crab
Beneath the Brilliant Red Leaves
The Autumn Colors of Echizen Ono Castle