Zen, Alive. Fukui

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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.

A Unique Festival to Mark the Start of Spring

— The Katsuyama Sagicho Festival —

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.

Katsuyama Stationmany dinosaur fossils found here

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.

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.

unique festival known locally as the first sign of spring

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!

yagura toweryagura toweryagura tower

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】

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