To be frank, Fukui is not known for its beaches. It’s the lush mountains and wet lowlands that attract most visitors to the prefecture. Visitors to the coast are often there to visit desolate, rocky strips, like the Echizen Coast. But that’s not to say that there aren’t a few worthy strips of sand in the prefecture, especially around the cape north of Tsuruga. Here are a few of the best.
Kehi no Matsubara
Kehi no Matsubara is a strip of sand located not far from the center of Tsuruga. The charms of the beach aside, the area is historically significant as a scenic spot in this part of Fukui, its trees and views written about in ancient almanacs and poems; it became part of a national forest preserve in the Meiji Era, and, after a brief period when anti-aircraft guns were stationed there, finally passed into the control of the municipal government.
The sandy beach has waned in popularity In recent years as resorts have been developed in the neighborhood—but that’s a plus for those in the know, especially locals: outside of the short, hectic days of high summer, the beach is nigh deserted, a peaceful, private place close to the center of town. Since it’s so close to town, and set in a pristine block of parkland, the beach also makes a great place to visit, even if you’re not planning to strip down for a swim.
Looking out on Wakasa Bay (and if you headed out beyond that, you’d wind up in Vladivostok), Suishohama is a lovely beach with sugary sand, another prime spot out on the cape north of Tsuruga. The shallow waters make it a great place to wade with kids. Suishohama has also become known as a spot for windsurfing. A bonus, if you want to show your tattoos and enjoy the local body art: this beach allows tattoos, definitely not a given in Japan.
Locally, the beach is renowned for stunning, romantic sunsets. Hang on until dusk (quite early in Japan, a perhaps unforeseen benefit of the country’s refusal to implement daylight-savings time) and watch the sun melting into Wakasa Bay.
Getting to this islet off the cape near Tsuruga requires some effort, but getting out to Mizushima is part of the fun. It’s a thirty-minute
drive up the cape from Tsuruga, and a bus, the Jogu Line Community Bus, runs from Tsuruga Station up to Irogahama Bus Stop, as well. From the start of July to the end of August, a ferry runs back and forth between the tiny port at Irogahama, ten minutes out to Mizushima and ten minutes back.
Mizushima’s claim to being an undiscovered gem is questionable, these days, as visitors from near and far have flocked to the uninhabited island. Even in the madness of the high season, it’s still worth the trip, especially if you’re into people watching. But for those looking for a quieter experience, head to Mizushima at the beginning of the season, before summer vacation starts, when there are still some relatively vacant stretches of beach to be found.