Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




Man who loved Fukui: W.E.Griffis’s 150th anniversary of the first visit to Japan



-This blog follows my last blog The very first student studying abroad from Fukui: Taro Kusakabe.


The letter that Griffis received was an invitation from Fukui Domain. And, Griffis left for Japan in 1870. Griffis taught in the domain school in Fukui City. He taught chemistry, physics, German, and French. The Fukui Domain built a chemistry laboratory that was rare at that time, and made new textbooks. These show the Fukui Domain was active in education. He taught his classes in English with a Japanese interpreter.


In Fukui, Griffis met Taro’s father, Kimimasa Yuri, and Tsunatsune Hashimoto (the first Red Cross Hospital’s director), who is a younger brother of Sanai Hashimoto. Griffis stayed in Fukui for only 11 months, but he achieved significant results and his students were active in their respective areas in the Meiji Period.


Afterward, Griffis went to Tokyo in 1874, but his health broke down due to his hard work and he left Japan. Since returning to America, Griffis worked as a pastor. However, he couldn’t forget about Fukui. He wrote books about Japan one after another, and the books became bestsellers, which introduced Japan to the world.


55 years after, in 1926, Griffis returned to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese government. He was 83 years old. Of course, he visited Fukui, where as many as 1,500 people welcomed him. It is said that he felt that the town of Fukui had changed but the kindness of the people had not. While he was staying in Japan from 1926 to 1927, he toured all over Japan giving talks as many as 250 times, and he urged the audience the friendship between Japan and America, and peace. Later, regrettably, Japan and America walked the path toward war. Griffis died in 1928, the year after he returned to America, without knowing Japan and America entered into a war. This year marks the 150th anniversary of his first visit to Japan. His passion that he spoke at his lectures all across Japan at that time stands up still now. The origin of Griffis, who is a leading authority of study about Japan, was a warm heart-to-heart relationship between him and the people of Fukui. (H.S)




Fukui City Griffis Museum
This museum is a reconstruction of Griffis’s home.


Sundial in front of the Griffis Museum: Griffis’s wife, Sara donated a sundial to Fukui City. But it was lost after the war, so they replicated it based on a document that was kept.

The very first student studying abroad from Fukui: Taro Kusakabe 



I watched a special program of FBC (local TV station of Fukui), which depicted Taro Kusakabe and W.E. Griffis. I know their names, but I didn’t know how they lived their lives. And I was moved by their lives watching the program.


Taro Kusakabe was born in 1845 in Fukui City. In 1856, a new domain school was opened in the city. Normally, students enter the school at the age of 15, but Taro was such a bright child and he entered it at the age of 13. In 1867, Taro went to America to study Rutgers University in New Brunswick, where Taro met Griffis to learn Latin. Taro often used to boast to Griffis about how good Fukui was.


On the other hand, things were very expensive in America at that time. Taro lived on a little money from Fukui, so he had to cut down on food expenditure. Also, he cut back on sleeping and studied hard in a cold room, and finally, he became infected with tuberculosis. In 1870, Taro ended his short life of only 24 years in New Brunswick just before his graduation.


The university was closed because of Taro’s funeral. In the church that it was held, professors, students, friends, and also Griffis, who was overwhelmed with sadness, attended. No words can describe his loneliness and sorrow that died in a far foreign country. I feel a great pity.


That is, in Fukui, in the era from the late Edo Period to the beginning of the Meiji Period, two brilliant young persons, Taro Kusakabe and Sanai Hashimoto (executed in 1859 at the age of 25). I cannot help but think if they were alive.


By the way, Griffis received a letter from Fukui Domain after several months after Taro’s death. I will continue this in my next week's blog. (H.S)


Taro Kusakabe (From Fukui City History Museum’s website)


Bronze statue of Griffis and Taro located on the river bank of Asuwa River in Fukui City

A memory of the heavy snow in February, 2018




Fortunately we have few snow this winter in Fukui so far. But February comes soon, which reminds me of the heavy snow a year ago.


The picture above was taken from my car that was stuck in a traffic congestion at 13:18 on the February 6th, when I was on my way home because our company instructed all employees to go home at 12:00.


After this, I could go home safely in 4 hours though it usually takes 20 minutes. But around the same time, National Route 8, which crosses this road a little ahead, had been in serious trouble.


More than 1,000 vehicles could not move and Fukui Prefecture asked the Self-Defense Forces for help at 14:00, and it took whole two days until the road situation was relieved.


I often drive National Route 8, and it was a mere coincidence that I did not use the road that day.

The Typhoon Season Has Arrived



Typhoon Prapiroon occurred and it was the 7th typhoon this year. On average, there are about 26 typhoons occur every year, and about 4 of them strike Japan. (The average numbers were calculated from the typhoon record of 2011-2017)


From July to October, it is the typhoon season in Japan. There are 3 major damages caused by typhoon which are wind damage (including storm, salt damage, fire caused by a foehn-like hot and dry summer wind blowing and tornado, etc.), damage from heavy rain (including land slide and flood) and wave damage like tidal waves. We must be very careful with these damages.



The numbers of the typhoon which occurred in the world / landed in Japan from 2011 to 2016.










of typhoons








Typhoons landed in Japan










On average, the numbers of the typhoon which occurred in the world from 2011 to 2016 (monthly).















by month













Source: Japan Meteorological Agency



This is the video of Asuwa River which I took last year (2017).

You can see that the river level increased within 20 hours in Asuwa River in Fukui City.


The 21st typhoon of 2017 occurred, and it had struck Fukui from October 21st to 23rd, 2017.


On October 22nd, as I was walking outside (I didn’t want to go outside but I needed to, for the voting and taking care of a few things), I saw every tree in the city was swayed by the strong wind making so much noise, some parts of houses and/or buildings were destroyed and they flew in the air, and the rain was very heavy. It was terrifying to walk in the town that day.


Because of the heavy rain from the 21st typhoon, the Asuwa River which flows through Fukui City was risen. The path by the river which usually has people jogging and biking was covered with water. Luckily, the water did not go above the bridge, so Fukui City was not flooded.



after the typhoon was gone in Fukui City on October 24th, 2017after the typhoon was gone in Fukui City on October 24th, 2017after the typhoon was gone in Fukui City on October 24th, 2017

After the typhoon was gone, as I was walking in Fukui City in the morning on Oct. 24th, I saw so many leaves, tinplates of houses and/or buildings and broken flower pots on the street.



Please stay safe when a typhoon strikes where you live.




Heavy Snow January 27th-February 14th, 2018



In Fukui City, it usually snows a lot in January and February but not as much as it did this year (2018). I am originally from Fukui City and I thought that I was used to seeing so much snow, but it was unbelievable to see that much snow. It was my first and frightening experience to see the heavy snow paralyzed the city.


It started snowing heavily on and off since the end of January until around February 13th. Especially, from February 5th until the 8th, As I mentioned in our previous video that 145 centimeters of snow was recorded in Fukui City at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on February 7th, 2018. It was the heaviest snowfall since 1981 in Fukui City!!



 by February 10th, most of the snow on main roads in Fukui City had been cleared

By February 10th, most of the snow on main roads in Fukui City had been cleared, so cars were moving with any major problems.



the bad road in Tawara-machi, Fukui City on February 10th

However, unlike on major roads, there were still so much snow on smaller roads, and many cars were getting stuck there. People were trying to dig their car tires out of the snow by shovelling the snow around the tires. Because people shovelled snow on roads here and there, they made the roads worse and worse.


On February 10th, in Tawara-machi area of Fukui City, the roads were very bad. I saw about 5 cars getting stuck in snow in about 30 minutes.


On February 14th, the sun came out and it was a warm and sunny day finally! People in the city seemed to be relieved to see the sun and it was melting the snow.





Our previous blogs about snow in Fukui.

Heavy Snow in Fukui City on February 6th, 2018

Heavy Snow in Fukui City on February 7th, 2018


Winter Scenery in the Center of Fukui City #1

Winter Scenery in Fukui, Japan #2 -Heavy Snowfall in Fukui / Beginning-