Driving through the city of Katsuyama, you'll notice a large silver egg-shaped building in the hills. This is the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, the center of dinosaur research in Japan and recognized as one of the greatest dinosaur museums in the world. It's the biggest in Japan, making it one of Fukui's most popular tourist destinations with 700,000 people visiting annually.
The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is accessible by bus or taxi from Katsuyama Station.
Take the community bus bound for Nagaoyama, and get off at Kyoryu Hakubutsukan-mae (20 minutes). A taxi will get you there slightly faster.
Katsuyama is home to Japan's largest excavation site
This site is responsible for the majority of dinosaur discoveries in Japan
Five dinosaurs have been discovered here: the Fukuiraptor kitadaniensis, Fukuisaurus tetoriensis, Fukuititan nipponensis, Koshisaurus katsuyama, and Fukuivenator paradoxus
The entrance hall to the museum is on the third floor and includes a special exhibit hall, movie theater, and the Dino Library.
There are three main exhibitions at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, the largest being Dinosaur World. You'll be greeted here by a life-sized animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex, which guards the skeletons of over 40 dinosaurs. You'll also be able to find the skeletons and fossils of locally discovered dinosaurs including the Fukuiraptor and Fukuisaurus. Seven of the skeletons are original specimens.
The Earth Sciences exhibition, on the same level as the Dinosaur World exhibition, tells you all about the Earth and how life came to exist through hands-on displays and videos. There is another zone on the second floor called the Dino Lab where you touch some real fossils.
The History of Earth is the third and final exhibition, located on the second floor. Browse the exhibitions to discover more fossils and dinosaur models which illustrate the evolution of life. Also on display are the skeletons of several large prehistoric mammals, including elks and mammoths. This level gives a panoramic view of the first floor.
On the second floor, you'll find the Fossil Preparation Lab. Technicians meticulously clean fossils found at the nearby Kitandani Quarry excavation site for research and exhibition. Visitors are free to observe them as they work through the window.
The museum is only open during the daytime, and you need to be in the doors by 4:30 p.m. It's open every day from the end of July until the end of August and closed on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month and from December 31 to January 1.