Translated by Lester Somera
Discovering Fossils At The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Written by Keisuke Yamada
Enormous dinosaur fossils have been discovered all over Fukui. Visit the Prefectural Dinosaur Museum to learn more about them, and perhaps find some yourself!
Though the dinosaurs have gone extinct and no longer walk the earth, they are still quite popular with people of all ages. The reason for that enduring popularity, naturally, is their enormous size. It is said that some varieties of dinosaurs weighed over 80 tons, a scale unimaginable today. Dinosaurs may have died out, but many things about them remain mysteries. Various research studies are conducted as new fossils are discovered.
In fact, even up to the present day, many dinosaur fossils continue to be unearthed in Fukui Prefecture in Japan. Furthermore, because of where their fossils were discovered, some dinosaurs have been named after the prefecture. The bones of the fukuisaurus (scientific name: Fukuisaurus tetoriensis) were excavated in 1989 in Katsuyama City, Fukui.
This time, we will introduce you to a place in Fukui that still finds new fossils: the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum.
What is the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum?
The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is a natural museum where dinosaurs are displayed as the main exhibits. The exhibits are detailed and high-quality, and it is the most popular dinosaur museum in all of Japan. Apparently, people even visit from overseas specifically to see the fossils here.
Inside the permanent exhibition room (the Dinosaur Hall), which serves as a portal to “the world of dinosaurs,” more than 40 complete dinosaur skeletons are on display. The reconstructed skeletons of fukuisaurus and fukuiraptor, discovered in Fukui, are both on display as well.
Learn about the History of Earth Sciences and the History of Life
The “history of earth sciences” zone features exhibits which contain the history of earth sciences, fossils discovered on land and at sea, and the minerals which make up the earth. In the “history of life” zone, dioramas tell the story of life’s appearance in the oceans 4.6 billion years ago, how vertebrate creatures were born, and how they came to live on land.
The Building Also Has Fascinating Architecture
The actual museum building itself is quite interesting. As you can glean from the picture, it is designed to have perfect symmetry. The architecture ensures an efficient route from when you first descend the entrance elevator to when you see the final exhibit, and feels like an excellent use of the interior space.
In addition, while it may not be visible from outside the building, the architects exercised restraint in order to minimize any environmental impact, while also retaining as much of the original area topography as possible. They did this through various techniques such as actively using the land’s rugged qualities and reclaiming the smallest land area necessary during construction.
The layout was conceived by Kishō Kurokawa.
Plenty of Souvenirs are Available
Before you leave the museum, there is a gift shop that sells souvenirs. Enjoy looking at the bounty of dinosaur-themed goods and sweets inside. As seen in the photo, there are clothes with dinosaur designs and other products which can only be bought here.
There is also a machine which sells large super balls. They contain dinosaurs inside, and are sure to delight children.
Experience Excavating Fossils for Yourself
Long ago the Japanese archipelago was connected to the continent of China. It is said that at that time, many dinosaurs existed in the area that became modern-day Fukui Prefecture. At the Open-Air Dinosaur Museum, located outside the actual museum, you can take a look at the geological strata where dinosaur fossils were really discovered and the fossils of dinosaur footprints, then try your hand at excavating some yourself. You can also get explanations about the dug-up fossils from a researcher at the museum.
The chance to excavate a dinosaur fossil is a rare and precious opportunity, so why not make a once-in-a-lifetime memory at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum?
Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Address: Fukui Prefecture, Katsuyama City, Murokochō Terao 51-11
Hours: 9:00-17:00（last entry at 16:30）
Closed: Second and fourth Wednesday of every month (in the event that a public holiday falls on a Wednesday, the museum will close the following day instead; no closures during summer vacation), New Year’s Holiday (12/29-½)
Other Languages: English, Chinese
Displays in Other Languages: English, Chinese
Nearest station: Katsuyama Station (Echizen Rail Katsuyama Eiheiji Line)
Access: From JR Fukui Station, take a train bound for Katsuyama on the Echizen Rail Katsuyama Eiheiji Line (about one hour); get off at Katsuyama Station, then take a community bus (about 15 minutes) or a taxi (about 10 minutes)
Price range: 720 yen (regular admission), 460 yen (high school or college students), 260 yen (elementary or junior high school students)
Website: Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum