The Takefu Kiku Ningyo Festival: one of the three best chrysanthemum doll festivals in Japan

October/24/2021

You can see colorful life-sized chrysanthemum dolls and numerous kinds of chrysanthemums for free at the Takefu Kiku Ningyo Festival. (Kiku means “chrysanthemum” and ningyo means “doll.”) Kiku Ningyo festival is one of Japan’s cultural traditions.

The Takefu Kiku Ningyo Festival has a 70-year history and is one of the three best Kiku Ningyo Festivals in Japan. It’s held every year from early October through early November at Takefu Chuo Park(武生中央公園), Fukui. read more

Wada Tsunashiro: The founder of modern mineralogy in Japan

(Source:故和田維四郎君追悼会記事)

October/30/2021

Wada Tsunashiro (1856–1920) was born in Obama, Fukui, Japan. In 1873 he got into Kaisei School, where he learned mineralogy from the German mining engineer Carl Schenck. (Kaisei School was the predecessor of the University of Tokyo.) In 1884 he went to Germany and studied mineralogy. In 1885 he came back to Japan and took a post at the University of Tokyo, becoming the first professor of mineralogy in Japan. He’s considered the founder of modern mineralogy in the country. read more

Satsukigase Senbei : a specialty of Fukui that has been awarded a prize by the Monde Selection for 27 years in a row

September/28/2021

Satsukigase Senbei (五月ヶ瀬煎餅) is a well-known sweet in Fukui. It’s one of the best-known local specialties of Fukui.

Senbei (煎餅) means rice cracker or Japanese cracker. Usually rice crackers are salty, but Satsukigase Senbei is sweet. The biggest feature of Satsukigase Senbei is that it has peanuts in it. read more

Akiyama Tokuzō: The emperor’s master chef in Japan

(Source: 「味」(秋山徳蔵)(中公文庫)) 

August/28/2021

Akiyama Tokuzō(1888-1974) was a Japanese-French chef who served as imperial chef for the Taisho and Showa emperors. His life story was made into a novel and a TV series, so he’s popular in Japan.

Akiyama was born in Takefu, Fukui. He was the second son of a couple who ran a restaurant, and he was very mischievous when he was young. He went to live in a Zen temple when he was 10 because he admired a young Zen monk. There he practiced Zen meditation, chanted Buddhist sutras, and did religious mendicancy. However, he was forced out of the temple a year later because of his mischief. Then, he got interested in his family business of cooking. read more

The Awara International Karuta Tournament

July/31/2021

The Olympic and Paralympic Memorial Awara International Karuta Tournament was held on June 6th in Awara, Fukui, Japan. It was held without spectators because of the coronavirus, and only seven players who live in Japan came for the event. (A lot of karuta players from around the world were supposed to play.) They were from Pakistan, Sweden, Brazil, and some other countries, and they were all in their teens or 20s. read more

William Elliot Griffis: an American who was loved by the people of Fukui, Japan

(Source:福井市立郷土歴史博物館所蔵)

July/3/2021

William Elliot Griffis (1843–1928) was an American who taught physics and chemistry in Fukui. He also wrote a lot of books that presented Japan to the world. Thanks to his great achievements and character, he was loved by people in Fukui.

Griffis was born in America in 1843. In 1865, when he was 22 years old, he got into Rutgers University. At that time Japan was in a turbulent period. The nation had been closed from 1639 to 1853, and during that period it had rarely had diplomatic relations. However, in 1853 Japan had opened its doors and begun rapidly adopting Western culture. It was as part of this trend that Griffis was invited to Fukui when he was 27 to teach physics and chemistry. read more

What does Fukui mean? Who named it?

Jun/9/2021

Fukui is one of the prefectures in Japan.

What does Fukui mean in Japanese?

Fuku is written as 福, which means good fortune, good luck, and happiness, and i, which is written as 井, means a well, or a deep hole in the ground from which people take water. In other words, Fukui means a well of good fortune, good luck, and happiness. read more

Maruoka Castle: site of one of Japan’s 12 castle towers that remain from ancient times

March/31/2021

Maruoka Castle(丸岡城, Maruoka-jō) is one of the best-known sightseeing spots in Fukui. Every year about 120,000 people go there. The castle tower there is one of only 12 remaining in Japan, and it’s so precious that it’s been designated as an important cultural property.

(The 12 towers referred to here are ones that were built in the Edo period (1603–1868) or earlier and that still exist. There are a lot of other castle towers in Japan, but they’re mostly restored ones.) read more

Fukui Castle Ruins: site of one of the tallest castle towers in old Japan

March/27/2021

Fukui Castle was built in 1606 by Yuki Hideyasu, who was the lord of the Echizen Fukui domain. Until 1871 the castle was used mostly by the Echizen Matsudaira family, who were the lords of that same domain. Sadly the castle tower was destroyed by fire in 1669.

You might be surprised to find out that the Fukui prefectural government building, the prefectural police headquarters, and the prefectural assembly hall are all within the site of the Fukui Castle Ruins. read more

Goma dofu (sesame tofu): a well-known Fukui’s Zen food

April/2/2021

Goma dofu (sesame tofu), a dish in shojin ryori, is a specialty of Fukui. Goma in goma dofu means sesame. Dofu means tofu, which is a well-known food made from soybeans.

What is shojin ryori ?

Shojin ryori is a type of Buddhist cuisine that contains mainly vegetables and grains. It doesn’t contain any meat or fish. Strict Buddhist monks have compassion for all living things, so they don’t eat meat or fish. read more