The Wakasa area of Fukui is located on the coast some two hours north of Kyoto by car. However, by helicopter, this region of magnificent nature famed for its five Mikata lakes can be reached in only 30 minutes. Discover an extraordinary part of Japan far from the hustle and bustle of city life.
On this tour, experience everything the Wakasa area has to offer, such as serene landscapes and lavish cuisine, as well as a rich history and the fascinating culture of everyday life.
The tour begins at Fushimi Heliport in Kyoto. Board a helicopter and in only 30 minutes you arrive at Wakasa Heliport in Obama, Fukui Prefecture. Begin by travelling by luxury private vehicle to the Mikata Five Lakes area to enjoy craft beer tasting at a local beer hall and a special lunch made with plenty of locally sourced ingredients. After lunch, head to a nearby museum with your guide to observe 70,000 years of varves, annuals layers of sediment or sedimentary rock that are the world standard in archeology and geology for measuring age. After an in-depth explanation by your guide, begin a cruise around the Mikata Five Lakes. Kayaking on the lake is an option for the physically fit, but a boat powered entirely by renewable energy is highly recommended. Enjoy a private 50-minute cruise aboard this environmentally friendly boat, admiring the wild birds and scenery as your guide provides background information.
Next, head to Rainbow Line Summit Park, where there are superb views of Mikata Five Lakes and the Sea of Japan. Enjoy after-hours exclusive use of the observation deck along with some hot soup, and have the spectacular sunset all to yourself. Soak your feet in a hot footbath while appreciating the soothing effects of Wakasa’s unique scenery. Dinner is at a minshuku, a family-run guesthouse. Savor dishes made with plenty of freshly caught seasonal fish and served by the guesthouse’s proprietress, who is quick to laugh and very welcoming.
(*On the assumption that the first night is spent in the Wakasa area.)
With its resource-rich mountains and sea, Wakasa has long flourished as a center for trade with Kyoto. Travel south about 30 minutes to Kumagawa-juku, which retains much of its bygone ambience as a post town on the old trade route. At a 140-year-old house, use an old-fashioned rice oven to cook delicious Wakasa rice, miso soup, and other traditional dishes using locally sourced ingredients. For Japanese food lovers, learning how to make such tasty rice is an experience not to be missed.
In the afternoon, hike the 11-kilometer (6.8 miles) Kumagawa Trail to Mount Wakasa Komagatake to enjoy the spectacular views. Canyoning is also possible in the summer months.
(*On the assumption that the second night is spent at Yao Kumagawa.)
On your final day, return to the city of Obama for an introduction to lacquered chopsticks, one of Wakasa's traditional crafts. Some 80 percent of Japan's lacquered chopsticks are made in Obama. Their distinctive feature is the use of seashells and eggshells coated with colored lacquer. Try your hand at sharpening a set of chopsticks and make your very own original style.
Walk through the streets of Obama and you will soon arrive at Jokoji, an old temple with a beautiful Japanese-style garden. A gracious geisha is there to welcome you. Here, use Wakasa lacquered chopsticks to savor cuisine from the old Miketsukuni region, which long played a prominent role in supplying food to Kyoto. Spend an unforgettable evening chatting with a geisha and playing traditional teahouse games.