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Tsuruga (։) is a mid-sized city in southern Fukui Prefecture. The city is most famous for its port, which has been relevant both domestically and internationally over the centuries. More recently, it gained prominence as the new future terminal station of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, which is scheduled to be extended from Kanazawa to Tsuruga on March 16, 2024.

Tsuruga's port played a central role in the city's development because it provided the easiest connection from the Sea of Japan to Kyoto, Japan's former capital (by land and water via Lake Biwako). As a result, Tsuruga became a thriving port along the Kitamaebune shipping route, Japan's most important shipping route during the feudal ages, which connected Hokkaido via the Sea of Japan, Shimonoseki and the Seto Inland Sea with Osaka.

Following Japan's forced opening to international trade and subsequent industrialization, the city's port flourished once again in the first half of the 1900s as the main departure point for travelers to Europe via Vladivostok and the Trans-Siberian Railway. However, the port's and city's importance faded as air travel gained popularity.

Although not a popular tourist destination, the city offers a peaceful atmosphere and a number of interesting attractions, all of which can be experienced in a single day.

Attractions around Tsuruga Port

A cluster of tourist attractions, including a few museums, is found around the Kanegasaki Park, a waterfront park at Tsuruga Port, which also offers free parking.

Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: Wednesdays (or next day if Wed is a holiday), New Year
Admission: 500 yen

Tsuruga Red Brick Warehouse

Hours: 9:30 to 17:30 (restaurants until 22:00)
Closed: Wednesdays (or next day if Wed is a holiday), New Year
Admission: 400 yen (diorama)

Tsuruga Railway Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: Mondays (or the next day if Monday is a national holiday)
Admission: Free

Kanegasaki-gu Shrine

Always open
Admission: Free

Attractions in central Tsuruga

Kehi Jingu Shrine

Always open
Admission: Free

Tsuruga Municipal Museum

Hours: 10:00 to 17:00
Closed: Mondays (or next day if Mon is a national holiday), New Year
Admission: 300 yen

Minato Tsuruga Yama Museum

Hours: 10:00 to 17:00
Closed: Mondays (or next day if Mon is a national holiday), New Year
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen for a combination ticket that also includes the municipal museum)

Other attractions

While the eastern shore of Tsuruga Bay is heavily industrialized, the western shore is dominated by wooded hillsides with several sandy beaches.

Kehi no Matsubara Pine Grove

Getting there and around

How to get to Tsuruga

From Fukui City

Tsuruga and Fukui are connected via the JR Hokuriku Line (30 minutes, around 2200 yen one way by limited express or 50 minutes, 990 yen by local train; both are covered by the Japan Rail Pass). From March 16, 2024, the two cities will become connected by the extended Hokuriku Shinkansen in just 15 minutes and for 2730 yen one way for an unreserved seat.

From Tokyo

Take a Hikari train along the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Maibara (130 minutes) and then the JR Shirasagi limited express to Tsuruga (30 minutes). The entire one way journey takes just under three hours, costs around 13,000 yen and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Despite the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Tsuruga this spring, which results in direct trains between Tokyo and Tsuruga (3.5 hours, around 16,000 yen), the journey via Maibara will remain the quicker and cheaper route.

From Kyoto and Osaka

Osaka, Shin-Osaka, Kyoto and Tsuruga stations are connected by twice hourly JR Thunderbird limited express trains. The one way journey takes about 80 minutes and 4500 yen from Osaka and about 50 minutes and 3000 yen from Kyoto. It is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

How to get around Tsuruga

Good walkers can reach the port area in about 30 minutes from Tsuruga Station. Alternatively, there is a tourist loop bus, the Gurutto Tsuruga Shyūyū Bus, which connects Tsuruga Station with all sites of interest once per hour on weekdays and twice per hour on weekends and national holidays. The fare is 200 yen per ride or 500 yen for a 1-day pass.