Some places make one feel almost like a child again. Amusement parks, zoos, old-fashioned game arcades … and of course, one shouldn’t forget dinosaur museums.
You might remember a few pictures I included in recent posts…
…showing dinosaur-themed displays and decorations at JR Fukui Station. The reason behind them is quite simple: one of Japan’s richest fossil deposits was unearthed near Katsuyama, a city located right here in Fukui Prefecture. That discovery spawned the creation of what might well be the best dinosaur-related museum in the country, an institution advertised in the last of the three images posted above (the one with the raptor scientist staring intently at a fossilised skull).
Incidentally, the large text in the middle of that board reads 恐竜王国 福井 (Kyōryū-ōkoku Fukui, “Dinosaur Kingdom Fukui”). They make no secret of one of their main claims to fame here.
So it was that after a hearty breakfast at my hotel…
…I made my way to the Echizen Railway platforms on the other side of Fukui Station and boarded a Katsuyama Eiheiji Line service bound for Katsuyama, about 1 hour away.
At Katsuyama Station – which happens to be the very end of the line – I was faced with a couple of options for reaching today’s destination: an expensive taxi ride, or a cheaper bus service. (A no-brainer, really … not for a cheapskate like me, anyway.) For those planning a visit, transportation details are outlined here and here. If you’re able to read Japanese (or know at least enough to work past Google Translate’s inevitable errors), some very useful timetables that connect specific train and bus schedules can be accessed here and here.
A short while later, I got off at the appointed stop and walked towards the entrance of this morning’s sightseeing target: the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum (福井県立恐竜博物館, Fukui Kenritsu Kyōryū Hakubutsukan).
Years ago, I was as obsessed with dinosaurs as any kid of a certain age would be. Though I’ve long since outgrown that childhood interest, the museum’s spectacular exhibits – consisting of scores of full-sized skeletons and detailed informative displays to provide context – succeeded in briefly reigniting that old spark, if only for the time I was there.
There were also some interactive exhibits laid out for patrons of all ages. This one, for example, invites visitors to step on the platform, whilst the display above shows how much they weigh relative to certain dinosaur species.
Thanks to this device, I discovered that about 400 to 500 of me would weigh the same as an Apatosaurus. (The machine is actually quite precise, but I wouldn’t want to give away my exact reading, haha.) More interesting are the comparisons with smaller dinosaurs, which weigh roughly the same or even much less than a full-grown human adult.
Right then, I’ve had my fun. Back to Katsuyama Station now, where I did a bit of trainspotting…
…though there was really only one train to spot at the time, a type MC6101 electric unit.
The station itself is pretty old – established the year before the Titanic sank, with the current building dating from just a few years after. A nice contrast to the bland modernity of many larger railway stations.
There’s lots more to tell about today’s sightseeing, including not one but two castle visits, as well as the tale of an oversized lunch…
…which we’ll save for the next post or two.