Fukui, Obama

Images/text: the Kyoto Traveller

The Wakasa Bay is located on the side of the Sea of Japan, offering a clean and clear coastline which stretches some 8 km along Wakasa-Takahama and Wasasa-Wada in Fukui, while bordering the City of Maizuru in Kyoto. It is a hotspot for surfing and swimming in Japan. The area also made it to the list of “Japan’s top 100 beaches”. Other than water-based activities, enjoy specialty cuisines like fugu (blowfish) and crab here. Fear not – the prices are totally affordable!

Getting there

Obama is included in the “Kansai Wide Area Pass”. Visit during the summer for its beaches, or in the winter for its Matsuba crab and scenes of snow. Those are some of the most popular tourist seasons.

If you do not have a JR pass, you can also take a high-speed bus (Wakasa Maizuru Express Kyoto 1) for Obama, leaving from Kyoto train station at 8 am. You will reach Obama at 11:13 and it will cost you 3,100 yen.

If you are leaving from the city of Kyoto, it’s best to take the express train departing for East Maizuru from Kyoto station at 8:36 am. You will reach East Maizuru station at 10:11 am. Switch to the Obama-Tsuruga at 11:04 am and you will reach Wakasa-Takahama at 11:23 am. As you will have about 2.5 hours before taking the 1:56 pm train to Obama, have lunch first, then head to the town or the Shiroyama park after for a walk. Be sure not to spend too much time at the restaurant and miss the train! Of course, if you want to spend more time in time, spend a night in Maizuru or try heading to Takahama and Obama to stay the night before.

Itinerary

Today’s itinerary:
Departing from Kyoto station at 8:36 am > reach East Maizuru at 10:11 am > switch to Obama-Tsuruga line at 11:04 am > arrive at Wakasa-Takahama at 11:23 am > get a map from the Takahama Tourism Board > lunch (at Genji) > Shiroyama park > 1:56 pm, depart from Wakasa-Takahama > arrival at Obama at 2:21 pm > get a map and sightseeing boat discount coupons at the Obama Tourism Board > walk 15 minutes to reach the Wakasa Fishermen’s Wharf > 3 pm hop on the sightseeing boat > get back to the Wharf at 3:50 pm > walk 25 minutes to Sanchomachi > walk around Sanchomachi in the direction of Obama station > walk 20 minutes back to Obama station > head to East Maizuru, Kyoto or Tsuruga, or stay a night in Obama

Please note: if you must head back to Kyoto that same day, you must board the 4:49 train back to East Maizuru. You can then board the 6:07 pm express train back to Kyoto.

From Wakasa-Takahama, take the 1:56 pm train to reach Obama at 2:21 pm. Head to the office of the Obama Tourism Board to get a map of the area. The office is located on the left side upon exit from the station. Obama is also known as “Little Kyoto” in the Fukui Prefecture. Other than the Sotomo Caves and Cliffs, a national tourist sight, the Sanchomachi, designated as an “important preservation district of historic buildings”, is not to be missed.

If you are planning to take the Sotomo sightseeing boat, be sure to get a discount coupon here. One coupon is valid for four people.

Walk for 15 minutes and you will reach the Wakasa Fishermen’s Wharf, where you can board the Sotomo sightseeing boat or take a break. On the way to here you will pass the beginning of the Mackerel Road and the Mackerel Road Museum. Come by and take a look.

You can buy tickets to the sightseeing boat, souvenirs and enjoy a meal here at the Wakasa Fishermen’s Wharf.

Boat tickets are 2,000 yen each, but with the discount coupon each ticket costs 1,800 yen.

Boarding area and the sightseeing boat

The Sotomo Caves and Cliffs, where you can see spectacular works of nature. The rock formations are created as waves from the Sea of Japan rushed onto the rocks overtime.

About 5 minutes on foot from the Wakasa Fishermen’s Wharf you will find the Miketsukuni Wakasa Obama Food Culture Museum. The ground floor of the museum offers an exhibition of traditional buildings in the Fukui Prefecture, as well as information on mackerel dishes. Near the side door, there is a free onset where you can soak your feet. On the first floor you can join classes teaching traditional arts and crafts. Come by and take a look! The tour will take about a 20 minutes.

After visiting Sotomo, follow the coastline and tread back to your starting point and head over to Obama Park. Turn left to head to Obama station or go straight ahead to Obama Park.

Keep walking ahead and you will see a bronze statue of a mermaid. Move further ahead and you will see Obama Park.

Once you reach Obama Park, you will see signs leading to Sanchomachi. Take this road and make a left, and you will see the entrance to Sanchomachi.

Sightseeing

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Sanchomachi

Doesn’t it look the same as the old streets in Kyoto?

Once you’ve toured the old streets and taken enough photos, head back to Obama station!

If you are worried about getting lost, walk back the way you came from. If you aren’t worried or you’re staying the night in Obama, be sure to take a detour or a different path on the way back and enjoy the sights.

You will pass by a lot of temples and shrines. Take a look if you have time.

Jokouji temple: O-Hatsu of the Asai sisters was buried here. Come here to see iris in full bloom in June, or fall leaves in November.

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Kuinji temple: It is rumored that the Yaobikuni, a nun who lived 800 years, entered into a special state of meditation at one of the caves here.

Yawata Shrine, the biggest shrine in Obama

If you wish to use the JR pass and see a few more cities and towns, this itinerary should satisfy your needs. If you prefer spending quality time at certain places, there’s actually more to see in Obama. If possible, it’s best to spend a whole day here.

Getting back to Kyoto: take the 4:49 pm train to East Maizuru and hop on the 6:07 pm express train to Kyoto.

Heading to Tsuruga: 5:28 pm train


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