Wakasa sightseeing information
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Mikatagoko (grouping of 5 lakes)is one of the most popular scenic sites in Wakasa Bay Quasi-National Park. The beauty of these lakes, which change from season to season, has been well-known for centuries and they also appear in the ancient 'Manyoshu' poetry collection (The Anthology of Myriad Leaves). In 2005 they were registered in the Ramsar Convention as a wetlands of international importance. The five lakes are: Mikatako, Suigetsuko, Sugako, Hirugako, and Kugushiko. The waters in each exhibit differing characteristics, such as fresh, salt or brackish. As such, the species of fish in each differ, some being home to more freshwater fish, others to seawater fish.
The lakes also play an important role as wintering habitats to more than 10,000 waterbirds including Steller's sea eagles and White-tailed sea eagles.
Many remains from Japan's pre-history (the Jomon Period, 13,000~300 BC) have been found around Mikatagoko, including the Torihama shellmound dwelling structures, which show that the Mikatagoko area was an ideal environment for those early peoples. They had the waters, woods and sea. Suigetsuko Lake has the unique feature of sediment layers on the lakebed revealing climate change history going back 100,000 years . Since 2006 an international project team led by Associate Prof. Nakagawa of Newcastle University (UK) has been carrying out academic research on these special lakes. (Only two other similar lake phenomena exist elsewhere in the world).


Mikatagoko consists of five different lakes: Mikatako, Suigetsuko, Sugako, Hirugako, and Kugushiko. They were mentioned by an unknown author within a waka-genre poem, part of Volume 7 from Japan's ancient 'Manyoshu' Poetry Anthology. The poem speaks of the popularity of these lakes since ancient times, their famed beauty and the charms of their seasonal change through the year. About 20,000 years ago at the time of the 4th glacial period the Japan Sea was 100 meters below the current level. At that time the Mikatagoko lakes were located within an inland area far from the coast. Then, about 5,000 years ago in the early Jomon period, sea levels rose 3 to 5 meters higher and Mikatako became almost twice the size of the lake that exists today. After this period, the sea level lowered down and the shapes of the five lakes were almost completed. In this period Kugushiko was still a bay but the sand brought by the Mimi River accumulated at the entrance of the bay and formed the shape of Kugushiko of today. Therefore Kugushiko is a seashore lake while the others are fault lakes that were formed with the sedimentation of the Mikata Fault. Mikatako is located at the southern tip of Mikatagoko and was connected with Suigetsuko by canal at north-west. Suigetsuko and Kugushiko were connected by the Urami River, which had been cut since 1662. Suigetsuko and Hirugako were connected by the Saga Tunnel Canal in 1751. Through these artificial processes, the five lakes were connected with one another and became the shape of Mikatagoko of today.

Nature and the water

Mikatagoko is a popular scenic site located in the Wakasa Bay Quasi-Natioal Park. The area around the lakes together with Tsunekami Penisula that streches to north-west was designated as a national place of scenic beauty, "Mikatagoko" on July 15, 1937. The scenery along the lakefront of Mikatagoko makes a beautiful contrast with the ria coast of Wakasa Bay with sheer cliffs facing the Japan Sea. Listed below are the features (dimension and water type) of these five lakes of Mitakagoko.

  • 1)Mikatako(perimeter: 9.6km, max. depth: 2.5m, dimention: 3.45km²) Water type: fresh water lake Inhabiting fish: carp, gibel, grouper, shrimp, pond smelt, eel
  • 2)Suigetsuko(perimeter: 9.85km, max. depth: 38m, dimention: 4.06km²) Water type: brackish water Fish inhabit above the intermediate water of the lake
  • 3)Sugako (perimeter: 4.2km, max. depth: 14.5m, dimention: 0.95k) Water type: brackish water Bird sancturay around the lake area.
  • 4)Kugushiko (perimeter: 7.0km, max. depth: 3.0m, dimention: 1.25km²) Water type: brackish water and salt water with back flow at full tide.
  • 5)Hirugako (perimeter: 3.6km, max. depth: 38m, dimention: 0.92km²) Water type: fresh water Inhabiting fish: octopus, black porgy, mullet, sardine

Scenic features

Mikatagoko' is the general name for the group of five lakes that lie nestled beneath gently sloping mountains each one having its own gentle and tranquil atmosphere. A total view of all the lakes can be enjoyed from Mt. Baijodake (height 400m) that can be reached by the 'Rainbow Line' sightseeing road. The water of each has a different hue, caused by its own characteristics, and is the reason for the Mikatagoko also having the name "the Lakes of Five Colors." Harmonized with the local dwellings and villages, the nature of surrounding mountains and the lake-side plum groves, Lake Mikatako has a quiet and peaceful charm that follows each season. The fresh spring-time greens and autumn-leaf reds reflecting on the lake surface are delightful. Having an abundance of nature with a variety of landscapes, Wakasa Bay offers an ideal environment for birds. A number of migratory birds winter in the area every year, especially in Lake Sugako and its surrounding area which is designated as a wildlife special protection area. Steller's sea eagles, White-tailed sea eagles and ducks make this area their home. Lake Kugushiko, which stretches out to the neighboring city of Mihamacho, is a scenic spot with a sand beach and pine groves along the shore. The view of the Japan Sea and Mikatagoko can be enjoyed from the peak of the mountain on the north side of the lake. Lake Hirugako is surrounded by the steep inner walls of mountains looking like water at the bottom of an angular mortar bowl. It has a unique fishing village atmosphere with houses strung along the narrow lake shore sandwiched between the mountain-side and water.


In the past, the exposed areas surrounding Lakes Mikatako, Suigetsuko and Kugushiko, with their rice fields, farm lands and houses, were blighted by floods on a number of occasions. As a result, since 1976, restorative construction projects have added an extra 1 meter to embankment heights. However, the constructions around Lake Mikatako, together with a rapid decrease in hygrophytes (such as reeds and water caltrops) have led to lake waters being rapidly contaminated by drainage inflow containing detergents, chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the past few decades. These have also caused the eutrophication (chemical nutrient increase) of the water and, eventually, heavy water bloom (algae growth). By improving the sewage system of the nearby communities and by placing floating reed islands on the lake, the local people have been trying to decrease lake eutrophication. Each household now employs more environmentally-friendly practices by, for example, only using powdered soaps and not draining the rinse water from rice-cleaning into the river. Local volunteers, groups and schools contribute to keeping their precious lake beautiful by collecting litter from the lake shore, environmental-protection education, etc.
Access: 30 mins. from Tsuruga IC off the Hokuriku Expressway. 50 mins. from Kohama-Nishi IC off the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway.
Inquiries: Wakasa Mikatagoko Tourism Association, 0770-45-0113

The Ramsar Convention

Official Name:The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat
`The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat', popularly known as the 'Ramsar Convention', was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar near the Caspian Sea in 1971. As of March 8th 2006 there were 150 member countries including Japan which joined in 1980.
Conservation and Regeneration
The Ramsar Convention supports the conservation and regeneration of wetland areas, not only to secure habitats for waterbirds, but also to maintain them as integral to the ecosystems that support the living environments of human communities.
Wise Use
The Convention advocates the wise use of wetlands which seeks to conserve them in a balance with the industries and living communities of local peoples The 'wise use of wetlands' is defined as "the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of utilizing their resources for sustainable development of industry, tourism, etc.
Communication and Education
The convention has been implementing the Resolutions of the CEPA (Communication, Education and Public Awareness) program for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

Rainbow Line

The Rainbow Line is an 11.2 km-long scenic toll road stretching from Mihamacho-Sasada to Wakasacho-Umiyama via Mt. Baijodake. A beautiful panoramic view of the Mikatagoko lakes and across to the Japan Sea and surrounding mountains can be enjoyed from the observation point. The Summit Park offers some activities for good-luck: "Kawarakenage" (throwing a clay tile with your wish written on it), "The Key of Vows"(hanging a padlock as a wish for a good job, better health, loving relationship, etc.). "Bara-en"(a rose garden) with 600 roses in 80 different varieties that bloom in spring and autumn is a popular spot for dating couples who consider it the ideal scenic spot to propose marriage. Cable cars and lifts to the summit are also available. (Nb. A park entrance fee of \500 is also charged).
Access: 30 mins. from the Tsuruga IC off the Hokuriku Expressway or 50 mins. from the Kohama-Nishi IC off the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway.
Road Open Hours: Road Opening Hours October to April: 08:00 to 18:00
May, June, July 1st to July 20th, September: 07:00 to 19:00
July 21st to August 31st: 06:00 to 20:00
*Opening hours are subject to change
(Nb. Summit Park Admission hours do not always correspond to Rainbow Line opening hours.)
Toll: Mini-Vehicles, Compact Cars, Ordinary Vehicles: ¥1,000
*Toll varies according to car type
Summit Park admission fee: ¥500
Parking: Spaces available for 500 cars
Inquiries: Rainbow Line Co., Ltd. 0770-45-2678

Yuhodo (promenade)

"Wakasa Shizen Yuhodo" is a promenade where you can enjoy the nature of Mikatagoko. With fresh breeze blowing from Wakasa Bay, "Nagisa Yuhodo" is an ideal spot for a relaxed stroll.
Inquiries: Wakasa Mikatagoko Tourism Association, 0770-45-0113

Lake Center

Lake Center, situated on the shore of Lake Kugushiko (one of the Mikatagoko lakes), offers pleasure cruises around Mikatagoko. Passing between the 60 meter-high sheer cliff faces that sandwich the Urakami River is a particular highlight of every cruise.
Access: By car: 30 mins. from the Tsuruga IC off the Hokuriku Expressway, or 50 mins. from the Kohama-Nishi IC off the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway.
Cruise Schedule: Cruise Length: 40 minutes.
March to November
10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00
§Boats at 16:00 also available Saturdays and Sundays from April to November.
December to February
10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00
Closed Days: Year-end and New Year holidays
Fare: Adult: ¥1,210 Child (1st∼ 6th graders): ¥610
Group discounts available
Inquiries: Mikatagoko Lake Center 0770-32-1161

Wakasa Mikatagoko Pleasure Boats

These jet 'yuransen' (pleasure boats) take tours around the Mikatako, Suigetsuko and Sugako lakes in 40 mins. This is an ideal way to enjoy the nature of the Mikatagoko (Five Lakes of Mikata) close up. Sometimes your captain may be a lady officer. A houseboat is also in operation.
Access: By car: 30 mins. from Tsuruga IC off the Hokuriku Expressway
On foot: 20 mins. from JR Mikata Station (or 7 mins. by taxi)
Opening Hours: Cruises are available and depart on demand anytime between 9:30 and 15:00. More than 7 adults for the jet boat and 10 adults for the houseboat are minimum requirements.
Closed Days: Year-end and New Year holidays. Cruise availability is subject to change depending on weather conditions.
Fare: Jet boat: Adult: \880 Child (1st to 6th grader): ¥440
Houseboat: Adult: \1,200 Child (1st to 6th graders): ¥600
                    §Group discounts available
Parking: Available
Inquiries: Wakasa Mikatagoko Yuransen, 0770-45-3311

Funagoya Boathouse

Funagoya is an agricultural boathouse located on the Mikatako lakeside. Vessels departing this boathouse cross the lake to transport cherry harvests. The steep roofing rafters of the boathouse with the lake in the background are highly picturesque, and even more so with early spring plum blossoms or winter snows.
Access: By car: 40 mins. from the Tsuruga IC off the Hokuriku Expressway. 60 mins. from Kohama-Nishi IC off the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway.
By taxi: 12 mins. from JR Mikata Station
Closed Days: Open to the public all year-round
Fare: Free
Parking: Not available
Inquiries: Wakasa Mikatagoko Tourism Association, 0770-45-0113

Uramigawa (Urami Canal)

Urami-gawa is the largest man-made water way in Mikatagoko and connects the Suigetsuko and Kugusiko lakes, The channel was cut by a man named Namekata Kyubei to prevent flood damage to lakeside fields after heavy periods of rain. It is said that Namekata was successful because he took heed of an oracle which told him to cut the waterway in the same direction that cormorants fly by. Construction took 2 years with a workforce of 220,000 people and the project eventually created areas of land for two new villages, namely Ikura and Narude. These villages are part of the Lake Center's jet boat tour.
Access: By car: 40 mins. from Tsuruga IC off the Hokuriku Expressway. 60 mins. from Kohama-Nishi IC off the Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway.
By taxi: 10 mins. from JR Mikata Station
Closed Days: Open to the public all year-round
Parking: Not available
Inquiries: Wakasa Mikatagoko Tourism Association, 0770-45-0113

Lake Cruises

Cruises around Suigetsuko and Sugako lakes, sanctuary to many wild birds, aboard a ship with air conditioning on one level and an open-air space on the level above. This is a perfect way to connect with nature while enjoying the lake breeze.
Access: By car: 40 mins. from Tsuruga IC off the Hokuriku Expressway.
By taxi: 13 mins. from JR Mikata Station
By bus: Take the bus bound for Tsunekami from JR Mikata Station and get off at "Umiyama."
Opening Hours: From 8:00 to 16:00 §Minimum requirement of 4 adults on board
• Suigetsuka Pier→Suigetsuko→Sugako→Suigetsuka Pier
 8:00 (note: Morning cruises include breakfast)
 (Only available to Suigetsuka Hotel guests)
• Umiyama Pier→Suigetsuko→Sugako→Umiyama Pier
 16:00 (via Suigetsuko at 16:10) only between March and November
Closed Days: Please inquire beforehand (contact details below) on bad weather days and during winter.
Fare: Adult: ¥1,000 Child: ¥600 §Group discounts available
Parking: Available
Inquiries: Wakasa-cho Kankou Lake Cruise 0770-47-1127
Fax: 0770-47-1129

Yakatabune Houseboats

These houseboat cruises offer beautiful nature views around the lakes while passengers dine in relaxed surroundings.
Access: By car: 30 mins. from Tsuruga IC off the Hokuriku Expressway
By taxi: 10 mins. from JR Mikata Station
Opening Hours: By advance reservation only and minimum requirement of 10 people.
Closed Days: Please inquire beforehand (contact details below)
Fare: Charges vary according to meal contents
Parking: Spaces for 20 cars
Inquiries: 0770-45-0255
Special Note: Service is strictly by advance reservation only.


In Wakasa Town there are over 100 lodging places. Every one of them offers the visitor the freshest sea-food harvested from the waters of Wakasa Bay, as well as seasonal produce grown within the rich nature of the surrounding mountains. The taste of the sea-food in particular is unequalled anywhere else.
Among them are a large number of Japanese-style 'bed and breakfast (plus dinner)' establishments called 'minshuku'. These pride themselves on their outstanding variety of sea-food meals. All year round they offer the tastiest fish of the season with autumn and winter catches being especially recommendable. The 'Wakasa fugu' (local blowfish) and crab, for example, are highly-regarded throughout Japan and attract many aficionados of high-quality natural food.
Whether during the season of spring-time's sublime cherry blossom, summer's camping and beach-side pursuits, or autumn's gradual turning to reds and golds, visitors will delight in the prized seasonal tastes of Wakasa.
The host and hostess from any of Wakasa's homely lodgings will give you, the visitor, the warmest of welcomes and looks forward to your visit very soon.
WAKASA Visitors Association 39-5-2,Mikata,Wakasa,Mikatakaminaka,Fukui 919-1303,Japan TEL:+81-0770-45-0113/FAX:+81-0770-45-0129
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