Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




Fukui Shrine in the snowy morning


Life in Fukui

Fukui Shrine in the snowy morning

This snowy morning, I just walked into Fukui Shrine in the Fukui castle ruins.


Beside the hurrying crowd,
I could enjoy a quiet air and felt even more divineness
in the precincts that is beautifuly covered with snow.


The buildings are modern style of bare concrete.
Though it was totaly made of cypress originally,
after being burned down in the WW2,
it was rebuilt as a new architectural style shrine for the coming era.


Looking at the torii of a form that I had never seen before,
I was interested in that it is not only a reproduction of the past,
but designed towards the future.
It also reminded me of the churches that Le Corbusier or Tadao Ando designed.


However, It has unfortunately no permanent chief priest.
The other day a shrine man said to me,
"Of course they have been trying to manage it,
this shrine belongs to the highest rank among the many shrines in Fukui prefecture,
and ordinary priests can't play the role."


Besides the shrine there is the moat of Fukui castle ruins
Besides the shrine there is the moat of Fukui castle ruins.


A monument of Fukui Shrine
The monument shows the shrine is the highest rank.


From inside of Fukui Shrine precincts
People commute outside the precincts.


New Year’s party



I went to an annual New Year’s party with friends.
We always hold the party at a Japanese restaurant where a friend used to help there.

The entrance


Shochu bottles are lined up on the counter.


We usually reserve an inner Japanese room.
I saw Daruma on a hanging scroll, which made me motivated this year, too.


The sake “junmai daiginjo” is made in Yoshida Sake Brewery in Eiheiji Town, Fukui Prefecture.


Some of what we had.


We also celebrated a friend’s birthday in January, so another friend brought a hand decorated cake. This is actually a macrobiotic cake, which made with tofu, soy milk, canola oil, flour, orange and almond slices. The cake was moist and so good. (H.S)

A Girl from Bhutan -Miraculous Reunion-



A photographer from Ono City, Fukui visited Bhutan and met a girl there and it was 9 years ago.
They said goodbye without asking each other’s information. They both had no idea who they were and where they lived, and many years went by.


After 9 years later, miraculously, they finally saw each other again on January 22nd, 2018.


Sonam Choki from Bhutan, when she was 14 years old


9years ago, a photographer, Munekazu Matta saw a group of Bhutanese children by chance while he was visiting Bhutan. The children were on their way going home from their school. All of the children in the group were very cute but there was a girl who caught Mr. Matta’s eyes the most. That girl was Sonam Choki. She was only 14years old at that time and she was a student of Middle Secondary School in BUMTHANG.


Mr. Matta took photographs of Ms. Sonam and her friends. And one of the photographs that he took that day, was used for Bhutan Museum’s poster.



According to Mr. Matta, as Bhutan Museum was founded in 2012, many people said “who is this girl?” but no one knew who she was. They tried looking for her, but they could not find her. Many years went by again.


Finally, last year, the founder of the museum, Genji Nosaka contacted Bhutan to find her.
The secretary of the king of Bhutan said that it would not be that difficult for them to find her because there are only two types of school uniforms in Bhutan. The clothing that Ms. Sonam was wearing in the photograph above was one of the school uniforms. They helped Mr. Nosaka finding her.


And finally, the day had come.


As Ms. Sonam’s sister was checking one of Bhutan related Facebook pages randomly, she saw a photograph of her sister, Ms. Sonam. And with the photograph, it said that “do you know her? We are looking for this girl”.


Ms. Sonam contacted the secretary and told her that it was her who was in the photograph. And then, she was invited to the palace. After that, as you can imagine, it brought endless surprises.



Sonam Choki who is now 23 years old

Finally, on January 20th, 2018, Ms. Sonam was invited to Fukui.

And then…


Munekazu Matta, photographer who took the photograph of Sonam Choki 9 years ago and Ms. Sonam

Though they never thought they would see each other again, miraculously, they did!

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs about Ms.Sonam’s stay in Fukui.




Official Website of Bhutan Museum Fukui

Snowy morning in the vicinity of Fukui Castle Ruins


Life in Fukui

Since the weather report said it was going to be a heavy snow, I left a car at home this morning and went to work by train. So I walked from the Fukui station to the building of Bhutan Museum (here we have an office) through the side of Fukui Castle. Because of a surprisingly good weather, I felt like a comfortable morning walk. However after that the snow came again.

Snowy morning in Fukui begins with a scenery of snow shoveling. A camera person was shooting it.


Students walking on the frozen snowy road are used to walking on such a surface.


Some ducks floated in the moat.


The most recent change in the scenery of Fukui Castle's site is that this Yamazato-guchi-gomon gate was restored.


Pine trees are protected by ropes against snow in the central park. The dark part in the lower right is not a road but a pond.


Snow is also a great enemy for coin parking lots.


Sweets I bought at New Year’s Cat Festival

At Seibu department store in Fukui, the New Year’s Cat Festival was also held during
the photo exhibition of “Cats” Travelogue which I wrote on our blog the other day.



At the event, craft workers opened stalls to sell items on the theme of cats.
And limited-sale sweets designed cats were sold, so I bought some automatically.


Sweets I bought at the New Year’s Cat Festival


The Cat Festival is an event that was started two years ago by shops in front of Fukui Station to vitalize the shopping area. Now it is held regularly and I hope it will continue. (H.S)