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In this article, I would like to talk about Sabae Momiji Festival at Nishiyama Park and Sabae city. By the way, do you wear glasses? There are eyeglass frames with a wide variety of designs and materials to choose from when you visit a glasses shop. It’s fun to pick and try some of them to see how good it looks on me even if I don’t intend to buy it. So, I would prefer glasses to contact lenses.
By the way, Sabae City in Fukui prefecture is famous for its production of eyeglass frames. (Fukui Prefecture accounts for about 90% of the domestic production of eyeglasses.) Sabae is the “town of eyeglasses”, as it were.
Nishiyama Park is a public park in Sabae city, Fukui prefecture. It has many kinds of beautiful flowers and plants. In spring, the park is brimming with the pale pink of gorgeous cherry blossoms. Then, the azalea viewing season follows the cherry blossoms. Nishiyama Park is especially famous as home to about 50,000 azalea plants which make it the best place in the Hokuriku region.
In Nishiyama Park, there is also a gorgeous Japanese style garden, Kyoyo Garden, where about 1,600 maple trees boast of their beautiful color combinations of red and yellow every autumn. The garden is on the list of Japan’s 100 Top Historical Gardens and attracts a lot of visitors every year. The history of The Garden reaches back to mid-19th century. In 1856, the feudal lord of the Sabae Domain had this park designed not only for his family and retainers but also for the common people.
The autumn colors in the grounds of Konpira Shrine are also picturesque. According to a signboard information in the grounds of the shrine, it came here in 1744 from the famous shrine with the same name in Kotohira, in Sanuki (current Kagawa Prefecture.)
There are many other attractions in the park: a small zoo, a huge area of green lawn for people to relax and enjoy a picnic with their families, or beautiful azaleas in May. From the observation deck on the top of the mound, you can also enjoy the beautiful outlook over the whole town.
The Azalea Festival at Nishiyama Park is one of the major seasonal events the park hosts. It is held for three straight days from May 3rd to 5th. Looking all around you on the hillsides in the park, you’ll find yourself in a sea of beautiful colors: red, white, purple and pink. They are like colorful flowers popping out of a picture book when you open it. The contrast of the colorful flowers on the fresh green trees makes the azalea garden all the more beautiful and instagenic. There is a food stand in the park that even sells soft ice cream with azalea flavor.
Nishiyama Park houses a zoo with small animals such as red pandas, squirrel monkeys, and some birds. According to the announcement of Sabae City, it is the “smallest” zoo in Japan. In the zoo, especially, the red pandas, which live in an enclosure for their exclusive use, attract a lot of visitors. They have such cute and round faces and fluffy fur that people in and out of the Fukui Prefecture come to see them and fall in love. Freddie Mercury, the legendary lead vocalist of the British rock band Queen, used to sing: “I was born to love you!” Maybe the red pandas were born to be loved by everyone? The admission fee is free, but there is a “charity box” at the entrance gate of the zoo. So, your donation is always welcome.
If you want to take a rest and get something good as a souvenir from Sabae, why don’t you drop by a “Michi-no-eki” roadside station? The Michi-no-eki Nishiyama Park deals with many kinds of agricultural products from the area. You can get azalea ice cream in this commercial facility as well.
Dates: Middle of November every year depending on the weather. Please refer to the official website for the exact dates closer to November.
Place: Nishiyama Park
Address: 3 Chome-8 Sakuramachi, Sabae-shi, Fukui-ken 9
Official website (Japanese only): https://www.fuku-e.com/070_event/?i=183
Nishiyama Park is located just in front of Nishiyama Koen Station on Fukui Railway. It runs from Tawaramachi Station through Fukui Station, Fukui Prefecture’s biggest terminal on JR Hokuriku Main Line, to Echizen Takefu Station. Nishiyama Park is about 20 km away from Fukui Station. If you get off at JR Sabae station, about 20 minutes’ walk will take you to the park. I don’t recommend driving to Sabae during the Golden Week. Traffic on every road is so busy that finding a parking lot is very difficult.
Nishiyama Park is free to enter, so everyone in Fukui visits the park to enjoy cool and fresh air in November. If I have an opportunity to go there, I’ll get a pair of glasses from in Sabae and enjoy the beautiful maple leaves and cute red pandas through the lenses.
If you would like to explore Sabae town and Fukui Prefecture with a local guide who will show you all the hidden gems in the area, please check the banner below!
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