The Awara International Karuta Tournament


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



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?


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


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


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

(Source: Fukui Photo Gallery)


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

Happiring: a shopping complex next to JR Fukui Station

(source: Fukui Photo Gallery)


Happiring is a medium-sized shopping complex next to JR Fukui Station in the city of Fukui. Inside Happiring, there’s Fukui City Tourist Information Center, a convenience store, gift shops, restaurants, and a science museum.

At Fukui City Tourist Information Center, you can get tourist information about Fukui in English from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. read more

Mizu yokan (red bean jelly): a well-known Japanese winter sweet in Fukui

Mizu yokan in Fukui
These are Mizu yokan in Fukui (source: Fukui Photo Gallery)


Mizu yokan (水ようかん、水羊羹 in Japanese) is a well-known dessert in Fukui. It’s also called decchi yokan.

Mizu in mizu yokan means water in Japanese. Yokan is one of the most well-known Japanese sweets. Mizu yokan contains more water than usual yokan. In general, the ingredients for mizu yokan are adzuki bean paste, sugar, and kanten agar. read more

Fukui Shrine and what’s a Shinto shrine?

Fukui Shrine1


Fukui Shrine has three characteristics.

  1. It’s dedicated to Matsudaira Shungaku.
  2. It’s a very modern Shinto shrine.
  3. There’s a ginkgo tree there that’s a symbol of Fukui.

Fukui Shrine, which is dedicated to Matsudaira Shungaku, was built in 1943. Matsudaira Shungaku (1828-1890) was one of the most famous feudal lords of the Fukui clan. He was known as one of the four remarkable Japanese feudal lords of the end of the Edo period(1603-1868). You can see a statue of him to the left of the main building of the shrine. read more

The ginkgo tree in Fukui Shrine: The symbol of Fukui

The ginkgo tree in Fukui Shrine1


There’s a ginkgo tree in Fukui that, along with the phoenix, is known as a symbol of the city.

The ginkgo has green leaves in spring and summer. Its leaves change from green to yellow in autumn, and it has no leaves in winter.(If you want to know more about the ginkgo, please read my previous post: Hirase Sakugoro: a unique researcher who overturned common conceptions of plants) read more