These Lakes in Japan Were Featured in a Famous Poetry Book

They're collectively known as the Mikata Five Lakes.


Japan is home to a lot of beautiful heritage sites and natural sightseeing spots. These places, with their charm and history, have inspired many poets and authors to write about them in their works. 


One of these works is
Manyoshu (literally meaning the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), Japan’s famed anthology, which mentions Mikatagoko or the Mikata Five Lakes consisting of Mikata, Suigetsu, Suga, Kugushi, and Hiruga. Known for offering breathtaking mountain views, these lakes are popular destinations among tourists going for a drive to Wakasa in Fukui Prefecture. 


In this article, we introduce the best spots to visit within the vicinity. Follow our two-day itinerary below! 


Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum


The
Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum houses a 45-meter long varve from Suigetsu Lake. To preserve its existence, this varve was processed and displayed on stained glass. Part of the reason why it's given so much importance is because it contains a record of the natural environment dating back to 70,000 years ago. 


The stained glass, made from the varve, is beautiful. The building's design was conceptualized by Hiroshi Naito, a famous architect in Japan.


Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum is located at 122-12-1 Torihama, Mikatakaminaka District, Fukui Prefecture. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except on Tuesdays (If it falls on a Japanese holiday, it will be closed the next day. It is also open during the summer holidays and closed from December 29 to January 2. Schedules may vary). You may call them at +81-770-45-0456. Admission fee is ¥500 for adults.


Unagi Ryouri Tokuemon


For lunch, you can dine at
Unagi Ryouri Tokuemon. The 130-year-old restaurant offers fresh unagi (saltwater eel) caught from the Mikata Five Lakes. These are cooked Kansai-style to give both the fat and skin a light taste that is still bursting with flavor.


The restaurant's
Natural Unagi no Take Una-juu (¥6,000) and domestically-farmed Take Una-juu (¥4,000) are must-tries. Since the supply of their wild-caught unagi is irregular, it is best to confirm with the restaurant at least one or two days in advance. 


The Natural Unagi no Take Una-juu (¥6,000) has a flavorful skin and fluffy meat texture. 


Unagi Ryouri Tokuemon is located at 44-18 Torihama, Mikatakaminaka District, Fukui Prefecture. They are open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily. You may contact them at +81-770-45-0039. 


Mikatagoko Rainbow Line


Mikatagoko Rainbow Line
is a sightseeing spot where you can admire all five lakes at once. The view from the park, located on the summit of Mount Baijo, is amazing. This park also has terraces, footbaths, and cafes where you can spend leisure time while enjoying the view of the lakes. 

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The view from the summit park. 
The lakes' color varies depending on the salinity and water depth. 


The terrace and footbath at the park offer an unparalleled view of the lakes. 


Mikatagoko Rainbow Line is located from Mihama-cho, Mikata-gun to Wakasa-cho, Mikatakaminaka-gun, Fukui Prefecture. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with the summit park being open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (depending on the season) daily. You may contact them at +81-770-45-2678. Summit park admission fee is ¥800 for adults. 


Kaiko no Yado Namihanaro


If you're ever in the Wakasa area, some things you shouldn't miss out on are the delicious seafood and amazing seaside views


Kaiko no Yado Namihanaro
, a hidden inn facing the Shakushi Coast, brings all of these to you. After undergoing renovation in 2017, the building now has a wider space that lets guests enjoy a panoramic view of the sea outside the windows. 


For dinner, you can enjoy luxurious meals prepared with seasonal and locally-sourced fish in traditional
kaiseki cuisine style. 


All in all, there are six guest rooms. The interiors feature a cozy wood design. 


Imagine bathing and looking out to the sea from this spot! These Hinoki wood open-air baths can be reserved for free. 


Seafood dishes, consisting of fresh catches like
abalone and fugu (pufferfish), are carefully prepared by the inn. 


Kaiko no Yado Namihanaro is located at 3-11 Shakushi, Wakasa-cho, Mikatakaminaka District, Fukui Prefecture. You may contact them at +81-770-47-1423. Fees for one night inclusive of two meals for two people start at ¥19,980 for each person. Not available for those below elementary school age. 


Uriwari Falls


Start your second day with a trip to
Uriwari Falls. Since ancient times, its spring water is believed to be holy. 


According to legend, a gourd (
uri) was immersed in the spring water to cool it down. However, it got split (wari) as a result of the water being too cold. This was how the waterfalls' name came to be. 


The surrounding area is maintained as a park. It has a shop that sells
kuzumanju (kuzu meaning arrowroot and manju meaning sweets bun) among other things. 


Uriwari Falls is one of the 100 Best Waters in Japan. Feel the cool breeze when you visit this place. 


Eighty-eight Buddha stone carvings can be found at the park. Visiting this spot is equivalent to doing the Shikoku Pilgrimage (a pilgrimage of 88 temples on the island of Shikoku).  

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Uriwari Falls is located within the Wakasa Uriwari Meisui Park at 37-1-3 Tentokuji, Wakasa-cho, Mikatakaminaka District, Fukui Prefecture. You may contact them at +81-770-62-0186. Admission is free.


Kumagawajuku


Because Wakasa has been blessed with an abundant supply of seafood, some regions in Japan, like Kyoto, turn to this town for their ingredients. The mackerel (
saba in Japanese), in particular, is transported in large quantities through a road that was later called "Saba Kaido". 


This same road is found in the country's largest post town,
Kumagawajuku. In the middle of the Edo period, it became a huge town consisting of over 200 houses. 


The water flowing along the sidewalk is called Maekawa. Make sure to take a photo at this site!
 


Today, the post town is a popular tourist destination home to several museums and restaurants designed using traditional architecture. It is also included in the Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings of Japan. The townscape showcases different kinds of architectural forms—from townhouses with lower second floors to buildings that use the
sodekabe udatsu-style of construction.


Kumawagawajuku is located at Kumagawa, Wakasa-cho, Mikatakaminaka District, Fukui Prefecture. Its opening time depends on the shops found below. You may contact the Wakasa-cho Tourism Mirai-souzouka at +81-770-45-9111. 


SabaCafe 


SabaCafe
, named after Saba Kaido, takes pride on their special menu, Saba Sandwich which was named after Saba Kaido. This menu item consists of homemade baguette and fried juicy mackerel. 


The Saba Sandwich (¥1,080) has a mayonnaise sauce that uses Wakasa’s condiment, kan-nanba.


Saba*Café is located at 12-16-2 Kumagawa, Wakasa-cho, Mikatakaminaka District, Fukui Prefecture and is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or when the snow piles up. You may contact them at +81-770-62-9048. 


Kuzu to Sabazushi no Mise Marushin


Kuzu to Sabazushi no Mise Marushin
(or simply Marushin) infuses locally-grown kuzu or arrowroot in its sweets. Their Kuzukiri (¥800) is made upon ordering, so you can enjoy its fresh sticky texture. Their Sabazushi (mackerel sushi, ¥3,000 for one block), on the other hand, is perfect as a souvenir.


The Kuzumochi Parfait (¥700) is made up of smooth kuzu topped with soft-serve ice cream.


Kuzu to Sabazushi no Mise Marushin is located at 39-11-1 Kumagawa, Wakasa-cho, Mikatakaminaka District, Fukui Prefecture and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. You may contact them at +81-770-62-0221. 

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Michi no Eki Wakasa Kumagawajuku


Michi no Eki Wakasa Kumagawajuku
is a roadside station with a cafeteria where you can enjoy set meals and delicious noodles. Wakasa specialties such as mackerel sushi and kuzu products are also available here. Aside from this, the station has an exhibition hall showcasing the history of Saba Kaido. 


Yakisaba-zushi (Grilled Mackerel Sushi) (front, 4 pieces for ¥650), which uses Koshihikari rice from Fukui Prefecture, and Sabazushi (Mackerel Sushi) (back, 8 pieces for ¥1,520)


Michi no Eki Wakasa Kumagawajuku is located at 11-1-1 Kumagawa, Wakasa-cho, Mikatakaminaka District, Fukui Prefecture and is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the months of December to February. They are closed on the second Thursdays of March, June, September, and December, as well as from December 29 to January 3. You may contact them at +81-770-62-9111. 


Myotsu-ji Temple


To cap off your trip, visit the historic
Myotsu-ji Temple. This temple was founded in the year 806 by General Sakanoue no Tamuramaro. Its Hondo building, three-story pagoda, and four Buddhist statues are considered valuable cultural treasures. Enjoy the rest of the day leisurely exploring the area. 


The Hondo building in front and three-story pagoda in the back are products of Kamakura period architecture.


Myotsu-ji Temple is located at 5-21 Monzen, Obama City, Fukui Prefecture and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 4:30 p.m. during the months of December to February. You may contact them at +81-770-57-1355. Admission fee is ¥500 for adults. 


Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokai Walker™ (31 July 2019)


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