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.

Exploring the Natural Beauty and the History of Wakasa

Uriwarinotaki and Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town

Exploring the Natural Beauty and the History of Wakasa

Today’s journey starts with a train ride on the JR Hokuriku Main Line to Tsuruga Station, where I changed over to the JR Obama Line, which I rode to Kaminaka Station. After a ten-minute walk from the station, I arrived at my first destination: a famous spring.
Wakasa Town, Fukui is located along the Sea of Japan, and is known for the five lakes of Mikatagoko. The area’s deep ties to water extend even further, to my first destination of the day: Uriwarinotaki, a spring that provides a refreshing natural coolness.

provides a refreshing natural coolness

Uriwarinotaki is located deep within the grounds of Tentokuji Temple. This whole area was once known as the “forest of water,” and is said to have been a sacred place where people would come to perform prayers for rain.

beautiful garden

The temple grounds are also home to a lush and beautiful garden, with flowers that blossom all throughout the year — when I visited, the hydrangeas were in bloom.

the hydrangeas were in bloompassing through a torii

After enjoying the garden, I headed upstream, walking into the forest for about five minutes. After passing through a torii gate and climbing a stone staircase, I was almost there.

Uriwarinotaki

I arrived at Uriwarinotaki. The surroundings were so peaceful that all I heard was the sound of the water.

I heard was the sound of the water

“Uriwarinotaki” literally means “gourd-splitting waterfall.” They say that the name comes from the fact that the water from this spring is incredibly cold, even in summer — cold enough to split a gourd open, apparently.
The water from this spring is filtered through the strata of the ground below, making it rich enough in minerals to effectively be considered natural mineral water.

Water scoop

There’s a place by the park entrance where you can fill bottles with this water, and it’s popular with locals and travelers alike who want to experience this outstanding water. (There is a mandatory fee collected for cleaning and upkeep.)

the Wakasa region has enjoyed the blessings of nature

For centuries, the Wakasa region has enjoyed the blessings of nature, and water sources like this are still just as important a part of life there as ever.


【Uriwarinotaki】
http://www.town.fukui-wakasa.lg.jp/kankou/english/hyaka/sonota.html

After visiting Uriwarinotaki, I hopped on a West JR Bus on the Jakko Line and rode it for about fifteen minutes to my next destination: Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town.

Kumagawa-juku

The Wakasa Highway once stretched from Obama to Kyoto, via the post town of Kumagawa. Kumagawa was an important post town along the way, connecting the Wakasa region with Kyoto, and truly flourished during the Edo era (16031868).
Today, visitors can still see the remaining townscape from this bustling town, which was nationally designated an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings in 1996.

still see the remaining townscape

Along the street, there are plenty of destinations that allow visitors to learn about the history of this post town, including the machiya townhouses that still retain their old-fashioned atmosphere, and the Kumagawa-Juku Shukubakan, which was built in 1940 as the town hall and features exhibits of tools from that era and more.

including the machiya townhouses that still retain their old-fashionedlearn about the history of this post townShukubakanfeatures exhibits of tools from that era and more

One great way to make walking around this old post town more enjoyable is with a guide to provide both friendly small talk and interesting information. (¥1,000 guide fee; available in Japanese only.)

with a guide
Marushin

And if you find yourself craving something sweet while you’re out walking around town, drop by Marushin to try some of Kumagawa’s famous kudzu starch specialties, like kuzu-mochi, kuzu-kiri, and kuzu manju. They go perfectly with the kuromitsu molasses syrup.

kuzu manju
Michi no Eki Wakasa Kumagawa-Juku

To finish up my day’s travels, I stopped by Michi no Eki Wakasa Kumagawa-Juku, at the southern end of Kumagawa-Juku, to pick up some local souvenirs, like grilled mackerel sushi and items made with kudzu starch.

grilled mackerel sushiitems made with kudzu

Kumagawa-Juku still enjoys a historic post town atmosphere; the spirit of Zen can still be felt through this town’s connection to the good old days. I hope that you’ll come visit too, and find your Zen in Fukui.


【Kumagawa-Juku Historic Post Town】
http://kumagawa-juku.com/


Copyright © 2015 Fukui Prefectual Tourist Federation. All Rights Reserved.

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