Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




Visiting Fukui City Osagoe Minkaen Garden


Places to visit

The other day that was sunny spells during the rainy season, I strolled in the Fukui City Osagoe Minkaen Garden.


In the garden, five old folk houses and a wooden storehouse in the Edo period were relocated from some areas in Fukui Prefecture.


The old folk houses, including the Jochi Residence located previously in Ono City, which is the biggest one in Fukui Prefecture, from Awara City, Echizen City, Fukui City and Wakasa Town, are lined and you can enter each house freely.


As I entered an old folk house, an administrative man was eating lunch by the fireside that was actually put wood on the fire. When I saw the scene, I caught a glimpse of a traditional life.


Since the garden is not that far from Fukui Station, it is a good place to take guests from other prefectures with Yokokan Garden and Mt. Asuwa. It is located on a higher ground, so you have a good view and can spend a quiet time that can make you forget a busy daily life.


The old folk houses are used for experience learning for elementary and junior high school students. Also, anyone can apply to use for events. Actually, sometimes events and concerts are held in the garden. (H.S)


Irori fireplace and a spacious wooden floor


Open zashiki (Japanese-style room)


You can see Fukui City's urban area from the veranda.


There is Mt. Osagoe behind the bamboo forest.


The pond in the garden and hydrangeas that are "Flower of Fukui City"


Fukui City's urban area from the walking path in the garden

Cardboard art


Arts and crafts


I found the corner shown in the photo above in Yuko Hirata's exhibition space at Fukui Kougeisha Craft Gallery. The works are that Haru, who is an acquaintance of Hirata, made for his children beside his work for a cardboard company.


Nowadays a lot of artists including its pioneer Katsuhiko Hibino, make art works with cardboard. But I didn't know that there also was a cardboard artist here in Fukui. Though cardboard is a common packing material, its texture has an intriguing attraction.


Even the stencil mark was depicted on the badminton racket. It's amazing that he focused on small details as well.


Speaking of cardboard, two years ago, I went to Onagawa Town, Miyagi Prefecture to see this "Damborgini" made by some staff members of Konno Packing Co., Ltd.


The 160th Naoki Award-winning novel "Hero's Island" written by Junjo Shindo



The novel's editor says that the manuscript is the best he has ever worked on and recommends it risking his career as an editor. Shindo himself also says that he is so proud of the novel.


The novel depicts three young people grow in Okinawa after the war with actual persons and incidents. When Kamejiro Senaga appeared in the novel, I cheered, but as for the scene of US Air Force F-100 crashed into Miyamori Elementary School, I felt twinges of horror with the cruelty and outrageousness.


Throughout the novel, it was like a hot, deep, strong adventure mystery movie. As a matter of fact, Shindo once intended to become a movie director, so that makes sense. I have read several pages every day. It was so much fun to read it and I wanted to read furthermore but even felt it was too nice to finish, and really overwhelming.


He put Okinawan readings on many words in the novel. I admire that he took the time and trouble to do it despite not being an Okinawan. And, his supplemental remarks were funny and they made me giggle. I like his sense of humor.


By the way, upcoming June 23rd is the memorial day of Okinawa Prefecture commemorating all who died in the Battle of Okinawa. The day is a public holiday in Okinawa Prefecture. On this occasion, I would like to think deeply about the current situation in Okinawa and the victims' souls. (H.S)


The author's autograph message, and it also says "Please read."

Napoleonite produced in Ono City, Fukui Prefecture

Size: width 85 cm, depth 40 cm, height 55 cm
The big Napoleonite was exhibited in the lobby of Ono City Hall. It was found in Managawa River in 1965, and the discoverer donated it to the city last year. Currently, it is on display at Ono City History Museum.


At any rate, the patterns look unique. I looked at the stone for the first time when I visited the city hall in March this year (2019) and thought it was a fossil of an ancient organism like Fusulina or Trilobite. But in fact, the patterns with circles are the mineral crystals grew in magma. Such a big Napoleonite seems quite unusual.


The stone's official name is spherical diorite and it is designated as a natural monument of Ono City as "Napoleon Stone". The name comes from the fact that Corsica, in which Napoleon was born, is a good producer of the stones. And, Shimowakago district (upstream site of the Managawa River) in Ono City is one of the only four production areas of the stones in Japan.

I went to Kohfukuji Temple to see the statue of Ashura (a national treasure)


Kyoto and Nara

On the second day in Nara, I visited the Kohfukuji Temple (a World Heritage Site). I have passed through its precincts before, but it was the first time that I took time to pray and to see there.


Of course, I wanted to see the Central Golden Hall, which was rebuilt for the first time in 300 years and opened last autumn. Nevertheless, now that I am in the Kohfukuji Temple, I cannot leave until I see the statue of Ashura.


The statue of Ashura in the Kohfukuji Temple is very famous for the realistic sad look on its face. "The Exhibition of the National Treasure Ashura" held in Tokyo and Fukuoka in 2009 attracted about 1.95 million people, and an Ashura boom arose in Japan. The number of visitors was far more than the exhibition of Vermeer, ancient Egypt and Da Vinci. Also, I have heard that there is a fan club of the statue of Ashura.


The statue of Ashura is exhibited in the Kohfukuji National Treasure Hall, which was renovated recently. The inside was modern atmosphere, simple and sophisticated such as a picture of Buddha was used for a pictogram.


The statue of Ashura was exhibited with other Buddha statutes and not in a separate room. As I came to the front of the Ashura and faced the handsome features, I couldn't believe that it was made in Nara Period (the 8th century) and didn't look old at all. I wondered what the characteristic face with a frown showed. Maybe it did suffering, frustration and sadness. The site that Ashura fought with Taishakuten was called "Shuraba" in Japanese, which means a dreadful scene.


The statue of Ashura is a dry-lacquered one and its weight is only 15 kilograms, so they could take it out every time the temple was struck by repeated fires. That is why the statue is still remains. At any rate, it's amazing that in the Kohfukuji Temple, there are 18 Buddha statues out of 136 ones designated as national treasures in Japan.


It is said that the Kohfukuji Temple was a huge one that there were 10,000 priests at its peak. Since its foundation, the Central Golden Hall was burnt down seven times and the eighth rebuilding was completed last October. At the ceremony to celebrate the completion, the chief priest read in the announcement as follows.


The golden hall of the Heisei era.
We pledge to keep it long with the heaven, the earth and the years.


Although it sounded a quiet poem, what I felt was a solemn vow for the future and passion. (H.S)


The signboard in front of the National Treasure Hall


The reconstructed Central Golden Hall
It is about the same size as Daigokuden of Heijo-kyu Palace.


Looking up at the Central Golden Hall


The Five-Storied Pagoda and the Eastern Golden Hall viewed from the square in front of the Central Golden Hall (Both are national treasures)


Goshuin (ink writing and stamp that are given at a shrine or a temple) of the Kohfukuji Temple
You can choose one among five designs.


Japanese deers in Nara Park on their break
Originally the Nara Park was the precincts of the Kohfukuji Temple. It recalls the vastness of the past.


The video is from Kyodo News YouTube channel.
The Central Golden Hall of the Kohfukuji Temple was rebuilt (2'02")