Awara onsen is the most famous hot spring town in Fukui prefecture, situated 18 kilometers north of Fukui city. The town has a rich history dating back to 1883. A farmer first found the hot spring when he was digging a well in a swamp. Soon after, many onsen hotels opened and now attract visitors from the Kansai and Kanto regions. The town is surrounded by rice fields, between the mountains and sea, where you can experience the best of both worlds.
Only a five minute walk from Awara Yunomichi station on the Echizen Railway Mikuni Awara Line, Seifusou onsen hotel is a large beautifully decorated hotel with a small red bridge and a man-made waterfall connecting the two buildings. With more than a hundred Japanese-styled, western-styled, and Japanese-western-styled rooms, each room is spacious and beautifully decorated. I stayed in a Japanese-western-styled room, and the bedroom with two huge beds was separated from the main tatami-floored living room.
As the area is near the sea, there is plenty of fresh seafood available. For meals, there are flexible plans ranging from buffet styled to traditional Japanese multi-course dinners. Choose from beef hot pot, the area's Zuwai crabs, seasonal seafood, and more. There is also a choice to have your dinner spread comfortably in the room.
The bath house is in the main building, and there are three outdoor baths where you can gaze at the stars while soaking. For an extra fee, there is a tatami flooring private bath area. In the summer, there is a swimming pool as well. The gift shop features Fukui’s popular Habutae mochi (羽二重餅), which is a very soft steamed rice cake made with starch sugar and syrup. Outside the gift shop is a morning market filled with fresh seafood and local snacks, a veritable feast for the senses.
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I still clearly remember the day I first landed in Japan, and since then it has been my goal to set foot in all 47 prefectures. I try to look for less touristy areas, preferring the countryside to the city. I'm always amazed by the many Haagen Dazs and ice cream flavors available only in Japan.