【Fukui】Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum – the world’s largest museums dedicated to dinosaurs


Have you ever heard that there is the largest dinosaur discovery site in Fukui prefecture and Fukui prefecture is called “Dinosaur Kingdom”?

In Katsuyama city, the big and incentive excavation project was started in 1989 inspired by finding alligator bone from the Cretaceous period in 1982.

In fact, about 80% of dinosaur bones discovered in Japan are found in Fukui prefecture ! In addition, among them, there are dinosaur bones which were discovered for the first time in Fukui Prefecture, and there are many dinosaurs named “Fukui” such as “Fukuisaurus”, “Fukuiraptor”, “Fukuibenator”, and “Fukuititan”. Also, in Fukui prefecture, historical discoveries other than dinosaurs have been made one after another, such as the oldest new species of mammal bones in Japan.

The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, locatd in Katsuyama Dinosaur Forest Park, was opened in 2000 to promote Fukui Prefecture domestically and internationally by utilizing these many valuable dinosaur resources for academic research, lifelong research, and tourism resources. is. Within the park, there are many dinosaur-related facilities as well.

The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is one of the three largest dinosaur museums in the world, along with Canada’s Royal Tyrrell Museum and China’s Zigong Dinosaur Museum. The academically supported exhibits are enough to satisfy even researchers.

After more than 20 years since opened, The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum was re-opened in July 2023 with new exhibition hall “Small egg”, the special exhibition room with giant screen, the labo where you can be a dinosaur resercher and etc.

I had a chance to visit there in August 2023 (during summer holiday called “Obon”) so I’m gonna share with you how was like this museum.

The big metalic dome is the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum. The entrance of the museum is located on the 3rd floor and once you entered, you will take a looong escalator to get to the B1 floor.

The exhibition hall is mostly composed of three areas, where visitors can enjoy unique specimens and attractive exhibits. “Dinosaur World” – you can meet time-traveling dinosaurs, “Earth Sciences” – systematically displays rocks and minerals formed by the Earth and its activities, “History of Life” – Touches on evolution from the birth of life to mankind.

Dinosaur World

The Dinosaur World starts with a Tyrannosaurus dinosaur robot made on a three-forth scale. The Tyrannosaurus robot had been a familiar symbol of the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum to visitors before the renovation, but has now been modified to reflect the latest research findings that when the mouth is closed, the teeth are not visible.

It is common for children who visit the Tyrannosaurus to cry because they are afraid that they will be eaten (I have seen my friend’s children cry many times). My 5-year-old daughter understands that it is not real, so she said, “Hey, take a picture of me with Tyrannosaurus! It’s not scary at all! She seemed to be calm and calm, but…when I held her in my arms and showed her the Tyrannosaurus, she got scared, and from then on, when approaching the dinosaur diorama, she said, “You shouldn’t get so close,” which was cute.

Surrounding the Tyrannosaurus are a total of 50 full-body skeletons of dinosaurs, including ornithischians, sauropods, and theropods, 10 of which are made from actual fossils.

Whole body skeletons of Tyrannosaurus and Brachiosaurus (replica)

It is usually difficult to imagine that dinosaurs of this size existed, but when skeletons are shown in actual size like this, it is easy to get an image. It was frightening to imagine what it would be like if humans existed in a world with dinosaurs.

The exhibition includes a dinosaur theater with 200-inch giant screens on both sides of the building to show the Jurassic Period, and a full-scale diorama of a Mesozoic scene in China’s Sichuan Province.

Giant video screens “Dinotheatre”
Moving dinosaur dioramas

Also featured are five new species of dinosaurs discovered during excavations in Fukui Prefecture.

History of Life

In the History of Life, exhibits follow the 4.6 billion year history of the earth, from the repeated evolution and extinction of life due to changes in the earth’s environment to the birth of mankind. Even if you are not familiar with dinosaurs or are not that interested in them, the evolutionary process leading up to you (human beings) is sure to be interesting and enjoyable!

When I asked my 5-year-old daughter what impressed her the most in the museum, then she answered, “The evolutionary process of birds from feathered dinosaurs,” which was exhibited in this zone. Birds can be seen in the city and are familiar to us, so she was able to learn with great interest even as children.

If we look at the rulers before the dinosaurs were born, they look like long-legged crocodiles. I was able to learn that life was born from the sea and evolved from being able to live underwater to being able to live on land.

In addition to these exhibit rooms, a special fossil cleaning room is also open to the public, although it is originally a research work. Visitors can observe museum staff removing rocks from around excavated fossils. The detailed techniques used to remove small fossils are interesting to watch.

There is also a kid’s room set up for families with small children. (Of course, there is also a nursing room and diaper changing area.)

How was that? Although it is a bit inaccessible, the Dinosaur Museum is well worth a visit!

Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum

Address51-11 Terao, Muroko-cho, Katsuyama-shi, Fukui, 911-8601, Japan
Open Hour9:00 – 17:00 (No entry after 16:30)
8:30 – 18:00 (No entry after 17:30)(during the summer holidays)
Close2nd and 4th Wednesday(except during the summer holidays)
Year-end and New Year holidays
Admission FeeAdults 1,000yen
High school andcollege students 800yen
Primary / Secondary school students 500yen