Another untouched Kyoto,Heart-warming castle town
Central area, Ono-city
January 3rd, 2018
by Yoshihiro Hosokawa

The central area of Ono City, Fukui Prefecture has been called “a little Kyoto in the Hokuriku Region,” since old buildings are located on the streets and avenues like Kyoto.  While Kyoto is packed with tourists, Ono on the other hand is not, yet you can experience a truly traditional Japanese atmosphere.  ECHIWA organized a tour for Jennifer and Shana, two ladies from the United States.

First, they walked around the traditional part of the town in kimono.  “Kaseya” is a kimono shop where tourists can rent and be dressed in a kimono of their choice.  They can choose and wear a kimono and an obi belt.  Ms. Chieko Urata, the owner of the shop, gives the visitors a talk about Japanese mentality and teaches them how to sit and move wearing a kimono.

The two ladies dressed in kimono then took a rickshaw ride from the corner of the street.  A member of the volunteer group Echizen Kobushi-gumi pulled the rickshaw while talking about the history of Ono City.  The volunteer, Mr. Ikuo Dochin, made them laugh with his stories and gestures.

They enjoyed chatting with friendly farmers who sell their fresh vegetables and other products along Shichiken Avenue which is famous for its morning market.  Along the avenue, you can see Nanbu Shuzo brewery where you can taste sake, a soy sauce shop, a Japanese cake shop and other traditional shops. Each time you step into a shop along the avenue, you experience a little non-verbal communication.  There are not so many tourists here, which creates a more relaxed atmosphere and affords visitors a greater opportunity to interact with local people.  When you visit the avenue, you will feel a greater connection than that in Kyoto. 

Ono is famous for an abundance of spring water.  There are several spots where water is collected by locals daily to be used in their homes.  Tourists can taste Ono water in these spots. 

Above all, the “Oshozu” water spot is the most famous.  It is ranked as one of the top 100 best waters in Japan and is located in an area of Samurai houses from the Edo era.  The water from there was used to cook rice for the Samurai ruler of Ono at his castle at that time and so it was named “Tonosama shozu” which means the special water for the Samurai ruler of Ono.

Tawaraya Ryokan is an old inn with the longest history in Ono.  You can experience a tea ceremony there, the tea is made from “Oshozu” water.  Ms. Mayumi Tsutsui, the owner of the inn, is a master tea maker; she teaches her customers “Otemae” which means the manner of making and tasting authentic Japanese tea.

Matcha tea made from the special water of Ono boiled in an iron pot is truly special.  The two Americans spent their luxurious time in such a traditional gorgeous inn and were impressed with delicate manners of the tea ceremony.  Ms. Tsutsui seemed wanting to meet her guest by saying, “I want every guest to feel true peace of mind.”

Echizen Ono Caste is known as the castle in the sky.  From fall till spring, thousands of tourists and photographers visit Ono to see the castle which looks as if it is floating on a sea of clouds.  The best time to see it is at sunrise.  Inns in the central area of Ono City serve a nice breakfast with local ingredients for visitors who wake up early to see the castle.

They enjoyed lunch at Uomasa Café, which is run by a fish monger in the “Goban” shopping street.  The main dish of “Ono-Zen” is grilled mackerel.  Traditionally, mackerel is eaten on the 11th day after the summer Solstice in order for local people to resist fatigue during the very hot and humid summer days.

 Shinokura Shrine was established in 717 by Taicho Taishi who opened Mr. Haku. Visitors can experience the shrine services in the costume of a shrine maiden.  Mr. Takeoki Inoshima, works at the shrine and teaches visitors how to behave when entering; for example; how to wash hands, how to walk along the road towards the shrine.  He also teaches the meaning of the shrine gate and the rope tied to decorate the shrine.

An “Ema” is a little wood board which is used to send your wish to the gods.  Visitors write their wishes on their “Ema” and display it somewhere inside the shrine area.  Jennifer and Shana learned the meaning of “Ema,” and wrote their wishes from the bottom of their hearts: “Love and happiness will come in my future.”  They looked very content in learning about and practicing Japanese spirituality.

 You can have an unforgettable experience both on the Spring Equinox Day and on the Autumn Equinox Day at Shinokura Shrine. It is a view of the sun setting in the mountaintop which can be seen located on the extension of the line connecting the two points: the shrine gate and the approach to the main hall of the shrine. It is absolutely mysterious.



Shana said,“Ono feels like the Kyoto of Hokuriku. It has a very similar atmosphere but more relaxed and approachable. I enjoy spending time in Ono,  it makes me feel like I am connecting with an older Japan.”

“The shopkeepers were very welcoming and warm. Even with a language barrier I felt very at home and comfortable. I loved sampling the local foods and drinks on the tour.”

Jennifer said,“During this tour, I saw Ono’s rich history and how prevalent it was in the city. Both Kyoto and Ono offer a lot of opportunities, but Ono’s nature views are one of a kind.”

“The most touching part of the tour was being able to interact with
people you normally wouldn’t. Through dressing up and showing interest in
the culture, people stopped by to teach us more or ask us questions.”































 シャナ「大野は北陸の京都のよう。非常に似通った雰囲気を持っていますが、京都よりもリラックスして親しみやすいです。 私は大野で過ごす時間を楽しみ、古い日本とつながっているように感じました。店主さんたちはとても歓迎してくれて温かかったです。 言語の壁があっても、アットホームでとても快適に感じました。 ツアーで地元の食べ物や飲み物を試食するのがすごくよかったです」

 ジェニファー「このツアーでは、大野の豊かな歴史と、それが街に広がっている様子を知った。 京都にも大野にも多くの良さがありますが、大野は自然の眺めが素晴らしかったです。ツアーの中で最も感動的な部分は、普通は交流できないような人と交流できたこと。着付けや文化への興味を示すと、人々は立ち止まってさらに教えてくれました」

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