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.
— The Katsuyama Sagicho Festival —
On February 25, I rode the Katsuyama-Eiheiji Line of the Echizen Railway from Fukui Station to Katsuyama Station. My plans for the day: to see the Katsuyama Sagicho Festival, a festival with three centuries of history. The charmingly old-fashioned Katsuyama Station building marked my starting point, and the first thing that caught my eyes was the large dinosaur statue greeting us outside — Fukui Prefecture is known nationwide for the many dinosaur fossils found here, and Katsuyama City has proven an especially good place to hunt for fossils.
After ten minutes of walking from the station, I noticed the sounds of shamisen and fue flute music, punctuated with the rhythms of the taiko drums. They led me to an exciting road packed full of festival-goers and festival food stands.
A little more walking led me to these impressive yagura towers, with men and women, boys and girls, young and old dressed in long red robes. They danced and played the taiko drums in a style known as uki-daiko, or “floating taiko drum” — a real treat to watch!
The Katsuyama Sagicho Festival is a unique festival known locally as the first sign of spring, held on the last Saturday and Sunday of February. Each year, it draws more and more visitors: nowadays, over 100,000 people visit this giant traditional event each year.
There are twelve parts of town that each have their own yagura tower, with beautifully dressed drummers performing in a way that could almost be considered dancing — it’s easy to lose yourself watching their performances!
This festival is also famous for its grand finale on the second night, the Dondo-yaki bonfire. This bonfire serves as a way to say farewell to the spirits who have visited for the weekend, and as a prayer for a rich grain harvest.
At 9:00 p.m., the torches are lit, and the flames rising from the bonfire light up the night sky with beautiful warm light, marking the end of winter.
Festivals like this make a great way to enjoy the changing seasons. Just one more way that the spirit of ZEN lives on in Fukui’s lifestyle.
【Katsuyama Sagicho Festival】
Snow Lanterns and Winter Fireworks in a Castle Town
The Echizen Ono Winter Story Festival
Delicate Winter Blossoms in Fukui
A Stylish Way to Enjoy the Flavors of the Season
Seasonal Dinner at an Izakaya Pub
Experiencing Fukui’s Food Culture with a Soba-making Hands-on Experience at
Echizen Soba 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