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There's a Premier Dinosaur Museum in Japan's Oft-Overlooked Fukui Prefecture

fossilized horseshoe crab

Fossilized horseshoe crab, Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum. Photo by Nevin Thompson.

Fukui, Japan's least-known prefecture to international tourists, is home to one of the most impressive dinosaur museums in Japan, if not the world.

With a collection of about 40 different species of dinosaur, the museum features a massive variety of displays that make for fantastic Twitter and Instagram posts.

福井県立恐竜博物館に来た。

A photo posted by Fujio Kojima (@fujiwo) on

We have arrived at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum.

The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama, Fukui, is built into a hillside, and is designed to look like a dinosaur egg. The whole mountain features dinosaur exhibits and dinosaur-themed activities.

fukui prefectural dinosaur museum

The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, in Katsuyama, Fukui. Photo by Nevin Thompson.

The museum was opened in Katsuyama, a rural township about 600 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, in 2000. The museum features realistic displays that were designed with input from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, Canada.

Visitors to the museum are greeted by Fukuiraptor, a theropod dinosaur native to Fukui that was described and classified in part by Philip J. Currie of the Tyrrell Museum.

A photo posted by shinichi_okuno (@oku_sin) on

Fukuiraptor was discovered in the Kitadani geological formation just north of Katsuyama. The mountains of Fukui Prefectures are one of the few places where dinosaur remains can be found in Japan.

Fukuiraptor kitadaniensis #dinosaur

A photo posted by Sayuri Yamamoto (@s.yamamoto1127) on

Besides local specimens, the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum features complete recreations of many different dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus rex.

恐竜大好きです

A photo posted by Sigeo Noda (@sakakiaoi06) on

I love dinosaurs.

Old Men. Older Bones. #sonya6000

A photo posted by Shun Nakamura (@shunnak) on

There are also stunning recreations of dinosaurs, such as this Allosaurus, that visitors can view up close.

ぎゃー、がおーー #0914 #0915 #0916 #福井県立恐竜博物館 #PRONTOILBAR #4年生 #北陸 #女子旅 #卒業旅行

A photo posted by はやしさおり。 (@saoriii_a7) on

Agh! Scary! #fukuidinosaurmuseum #hokuriku #4thyearuni #womens #graduationtrip

The hillside outside the museum is also dotted with realistic dinosaur displays, such as this Deinonychus attacking an Iguanodon.

A photo posted by Tatielli Nakagawa (@tatiellinakagawa) on

And the hilltop above the museum is giant park with other not-so-realistic displays that make for great social media posts.

吾輩は人である?(笑) #福井県立恐竜博物館

A photo posted by 草 (@kusa93) on

I am a cat human?

Fukui Prefecture is hard to reach by tourists, and is still waiting to be linked with high-speed rail service to Tokyo. The rural and picturesque prefecture is generally passed over by tourists traveling to the old castle town of Kanazawa to the north. The prefecture has branded itself as Japan's dinosaur ground-zero in order to appeal to tourists, and persuade them to consider stopping in Fukui.

The Fukui train station has itself transformed into a dino hot spot:

Dinosaurs at Fukui Station.

Dinosaurs at Fukui Station. Photo by Nevin Thompson.

If you want to explore more of Fukui's dinosaurs, follow the hashtag #福井県立恐竜博物館 on Twitter and Instagram.

  • Thanks for letting us know about the museum. The pictures are compelling! By the way, it’s not Alan Currie who described Fukuiraptor, it’s Philip J. Currie.

    • Nevin Thompson

      Good catch! Fixed!

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