Beautiful Beach for Tomorrow
Wakasa Wada beach (Takahama town)
March 1st, 2017
by Yukiko Matsuoka

Oceans are valuable natural resources, which hold about 68.5 percent of water on the earth according to the USGS. It provides us with food, water and a treasured source of recreation. Moreover, it plays a critical role in removing carbon from the atmosphere and providing oxygen.

The Blue Flag is the most well-known eco-label, annually awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach, marina or sustainable boating tourism operator meets its highly environmental and quality standards for water quality, safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental management, education and information. It was established in 1987 in France and has been expanded to areas outside Europe since 2001.

The awards are announced annually. As shown the map below, 4,266 beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism operators in 47 countries are awarded in 2016.

The Wakasa Wada beach (若狭和田ビーチ) in Takahama town (高浜町), the westernmost Fukui, won the first Blue Flag award in Asia in April 2016. It is also known as one of the best 100 bathing beaches (快水浴場百選) in Japan.

It is one of the 8 beaches in Takahama, along the 8-kilometer-long beautiful coastline of Wakasa Bay (若狭湾), which is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach dotted with pine trees. Seawater is very clear with the highest quality thanks to the unique terrain that less rain flows in, and the well-maintained sewage system.

In Takahama, fishery has been the major industry since the 6th century due to plentiful fishing grounds along the coast of the Sea of Japan, e.g., mackerels, squids, halfbeaks in spring, globefishs and crabs in winter. Especially, the local tilefishes called Wakasa-guji (若狭ぐじ) are known as one of the luxury food for Japanese cuisine.

Takahama had also been a popular destination for sea-bathing in summer since the early 20th century, bringing large benefits for the local tourism industry. At a peak period, more than 1.5 million people visited the beaches in Takahama, mainly from the Kansai (関西) region, and more than 500 B&Bs (Bed and Breakfast) were in business. However, the number of visitors has been declined to about 250,000 per year. Many of the local B&Bs closed their business. It become more difficult for local business to manage and maintain the beautiful beaches by themselves.

The Blue Flag is like a milestone toward a self-sustaining beach. Local stakeholders, such as residents, business owners, the municipality, and the tourism bureau, are collaboratively working so that the Wakasa Wada beach may meet the criteria of the Blue Flag for beaches. Local people and tourists are voluntarily cleaning the beach. Environmental education programs are provided for local kids in order to raise eco-friendly awareness.

According to the the researchers report in Science, about 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic washed offshore in 2010 alone, or about 1.5% to 4.5% of the world’s total plastic production. Undoubtedly, oceans are valuable natural resources not for us, but for future generations. The Wakasa Wada beach steps ahead toward a clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly beach for tomorrow.










September 19th, 2017

Fireflies in Fukui,Lighting our way into summer

Measures of a healthy environment

The start of summer in Japan is traditionally announced by the appearance of fireflies.  Every year in June, these tiny, fantastic insects illuminate the darkness like dancing fairies.  They are plentiful in Fukui, particularly in Satoyama, an area of outstanding natural beauty, close to where Fukui locals live.  When you...
May 22nd, 2017

The Sustainable “Great Lakes”

The Five Lakes of Mikata, Mihama Town & Wakasa Town

Located just a 40 minutes’ drive south from Tsuruga Station, you’ll find the Mikata Goko (the Five Lakes of Mikata) within the Wakasa Wan Quasi-National Park. Yes, these majestic lakes are beautiful to look at, but there is more to them than meets the eye. Read on to find out...
November 18th, 2016

A Mossy 1300-year-old Shrine

Heisenji Hakusan Shrine (Katsuyama City)

‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’ is a common proverb in English. Coincidently, the Japanese have a similar idiom, ‘No moss grows on a rolling stone (転がる石に苔むさず)’. In Japanese, the meaning differs from the modern English interpretation of the proverb, suggesting that a person who does not settle in one...