Fukui #2: Echizen Crabs (越前ガニ)

Fukui’s next postcard features Echizen Crabs, one of Fukui’s most famous winter foods. These crabs are called “The King of Crabs” for their size as well as for their taste. There is a fishing ban on them during the year, which is lifted from about November through March. One of these crabs is even presented to the Imperial Palace, for the emperor’s table! Of course, they are also very expensive, as you can imagine! So I’ve never eaten one.

If you’re interested in these crabs, head out to Echizen or Mikuni ports in Fukui to watch the fishing boats go out and bring in their catch. The best day to watch is November 6th at around 9pm, when the fishing ban is lifted and hundreds of boats crowd the waters. But any time through March, you can watch them as well. And of course, in those port towns as well as Fukui proper, many restaurants will be serving the crab through the winter. So grab a bite (and your wallet!) to enjoy!

Finally, they are sold throughout Japan, usually at fish markets (like Ameyoko in Ueno or Tsukiji), or high end grocery stores. They’re usually bought for special occasions.

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Fukui #4: Daffodils (水仙)

明けましておめでとうございます, or Happy New Year as we say in Japan! I’m excited to start 2015 off with a card from a prefecture I’ve never visited, which hopefully means I will get to visit it this year. That’s right, home of Dinosaurs and Crabs, Fukui Prefecture is on the Sea of Japan side bordered by Ishikawa, Gifu, and Shiga. I have visited all three of those places, but Fukui somehow escaped. Soon.

Anyway, called suisen in Japanese and either daffodil or narcissus in English, these sweet-smelling pretty flowers are one of the first signs of spring, blooming in the cold January and February months when most flowers wouldn’t dare show their petals. A great place to see them in Fukui is at the Echizen Daffodil Village Park in Fukui City. At this park you can see both beds of daffodils from many different countries in the winter, and in the greenhouses year-round. You can even get the chance to pick some!

Another area is the Echizen coastline, which has both wild and cultivated daffodils. Don’t miss these sweet-smelling flowers at Daffodil Land. There’s even a Daffodil Festival from January 17th through 31st!

And if you can’t go to Fukui to enjoy these flowers, never fear… they grow all over Japan, so be on the lookout! In my area, they grow around February and March. Here are some pictures from previous years:

(By the way, the links above are Japanese only… I had a hard time finding any official information in English. If you’d like some help translating, please let me know in a comment below!)