Japan Atlas: Nature 


Mikuni Town, Fukui Prefecture

Echizen Kaga Coastline Quasi-National Park Designated on May 1, 1968.

90 sq km (34.7 sq mi) 

Number of Visitors:
6,717,000 (1998)  


Legendary cliffs composed of huge columns of rock  

Tojinbo is a place of scenic beauty located in Fukui Prefecture in the northern part of central Japan; it belongs to Echizen Kaga Coastline Quasi-National Park.  

A 30 meter (approximately 33 yards) high rugged cliff of wave-worn pyroxene andesite extends for about 1 kilometer (approximately 0.62 miles) at Tojinbo.  

The cliff is a natural collection of giant pentagonal and hexagonal columns of rock eroded by the waves of the Sea of Japan. Called columnar jointing, this geologically rare phenomenon can only be seen in three places around the world: Geumagang San in Korea, Norway's western coast, and here at Tojinbo. It has been designated a Natural Monument in Japan.  

The sea is also dotted with such strangely shaped andesites, and this sight can be enjoyed from the top of the cliff as well as aboard sightseeing boats.  

In winter, waves crash to form what look like soap bubbles that collect between the reefs. As they are blown apart by strong winds, these bubbles seem to dance atop the water. These are called "Nami no hana" (the flowers of waves) and are a scenic symbol of winter.  

There is a legend that the name Tojinbo comes from a dissolute Buddhist monk. According to the legend, a Buddhist monk named Tojinbo, who was disliked by everyone, fell in love with a beautiful princess named Aya. Tojinbo was tricked by another admirer of Princess Aya and was pushed off these cliffs. The legend says that ever after that time Tojinbo's vengeful ghost would go on a rampage around the same time every year at this place, causing strong winds and rain. Some decades later, an itinerant priest took pity on Tojinbo and held a memorial service for him. After that, the storms ceased.  

Photo: Cliff of Tojinbo (Mikuni Town)

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