Wakasa Bay 若狭湾
One bay, five lakes, and waters with distinct colors
Wakasa Bay is about 70 kilometers north of Kyoto, part of Wakasa Bay Quasi-National Park. Located in Fukui Prefecture , it is one of the largest and best fishing grounds in Japan with a history that stretches back 1,200 years, when local fish merchants supplied Kyoto with seafood.
The bay's five lakes, known as Mikata Five Lakes, are an unusual combination duplicated in just two other places in the world.
Fresh mackerel is a local culinary favorite
The nearby city of Obama was once a bustling trade town
Each of Mikata's five lakes exhibit a distinctive color
How to Get There
From major cities the area is best accessed by train.
From Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto Station, take the Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Tsuruga Station. Transfer to the Obama Line and get off at Mikata Station.
The lakes of five colors
On the eastern shore of Wakasa Bay are the Mikatagoko, or Mikata Five Lakes . The waters of these lakes are at different depths and have varying levels of salt, giving each a different hue. The species of fish found in each lake differ as well, some being home to more freshwater fish, others to seawater fish.
The colors are said to change with the seasons. The lakes are connected by a canal, and you can get great views from the deck of a sightseeing boat. The nearby Mt. Baijo observation point also offers an excellent perspective on the surroundings.
Take a dip in the sea
On the west side of Wakasa Bay lies Suisho-hama, a white sand beach. The beach is also known as Nakisuna, or singing sands, because of the unusual sound you hear when walking on it.
Snack on mackerel
The mackerel that comes from Wakasa's waters is especially delicious. Try the local specialty heshiko (preserved mackerel). This is made by packing mackerel into rice bran, which is then pickled in a marinade made from sake, soy sauce and various seasonings, and then aged for one year. It is served at local restaurants and gift shops on Wakasa Bay.
Splurge on wakasa-nuri
This area is famous for its lacquerware embedded with intricate patterns of abalone and eggshell, a craft known as wakasa-nuri that began 400 years ago. Local stores also offer workshops in the local craft.
For further exploration
If you have time, visit the city of Obama, which is on Wakasa Bay. Once a bustling trade town that did business with China and Korea, Obama has many historic sites such as the ruins of Obama Castle.