JAPAN TRAVEL: Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Museums, even those dedicated to the Sciences, are usually located in big cities to take advantage of the foot traffic.
They are also (more often than not) four to five-floor buildings that may take up a considerable amount of space, since the outside of the building is always taken into account. And then there are museums like the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama City.
The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is quite possibly one of the most unique museums you will see in terms of its location and layout.
The name instantly gives away what is displayed inside the halls of the museum: a selection of dinosaur bones (either real or made out of a synthetic material), animatronic displays, and a section dedicated to Earth Science and the evolution of life on Earth.
What sets the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum apart from others is the way it looks. Its most prominent feature is the dome structure that covers the top of the museum that, get this, looks like it’s built into the mountain/hill it’s on!
Once you go through the revolving doors that is its entrance (if you can resist not taking photos outside the museum), you will then have your choice of exploring their special exhibit, located at the left of the entrance, or going down their long escalator to the basement and start off your tour of the museum.
Each floor is dedicated to a certain aspect of dinosaur research, whether it’s paleontology or Earth Science. The basement and first floor are usually the biggest draws as it is where the museum’s world-famous dinosaur collection resides.
The Fukui Dino Museum is the largest of its kind in Japan, and houses what might be the largest collection of dinosaur specimens in the country, including all seven dinosaurs found and named in Japan (five of which were found in Katsuyama City).
An area of the first floor is also reserved for their Earth Sciences exhibit, giving visitors a glimpse into how the Earth was formed and how the area could have looked like during prehistoric times.
The second floor houses their History of Life exhibit, which lets people see everything that came before, during, and after the time of the dinosaurs. It’s also the floor where you can see scientists prepping the fossils for research at their Fossil Preparation Lab.
One of the better parts of the Fukui Dino Museum can’t be found inside the museum, though. If you want to sink your teeth into what it must have felt like to discover one of the five Fukui dinosaurs, make sure you book a two-hour bus tour to their Field Station.
Here, you can see a variety of real fossils from the Dinosaur Discovery Site, located about 20 minutes from the museum itself. It’s dubbed as the mecca for Japanese dinosaurs, as four of Fukui’s five dinosaurs were found at this very site. You can even try your luck and find dinosaur fossils yourself!
How to get there
Renting a car is always a good option, but the best way to get to the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is by train. Using your Hokuriku Arch Pass, take a JR Train and get off at Fukui station, where you will then board the Echizen Railway Eiheiji Katsuyama Line.
It’s about a one-hour trip to get to Katsuyama station, where you can take a taxi (10 minutes) to the museum, but it’s best to take the community bus to the museum so you can take in the sights along the way.
Address: 51-11 Terao, Muroko, Katsuyama city, Fukui 911-8601
Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm daily (last entry at 4:30 pm); closed every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month and from December 29 – January 2 (may also be closed for facility check-ups)
Museum – ¥720 for adults, ¥410 for high school and college students, ¥260 for elementary and junior high students (lower rates available for groups of 30 or more)
Field Station (reservation required) – ¥1,200 for adults, ¥1,000 for high school and college students, ¥600 for elementary and junior high students (lower rates available for groups of 30 or more)
- Visitors over 69 years and under 7 years old are free
- Annual passes are available
- Tickets can be bought from 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and other convenience stores nationwide
Tel. No.: +81779-88-0001
Written by Andronico Del Rosario
Supported by GCP
This first appeared in Philippine Primer Magazine Vol. 33 – December issue.