Hi, how’s it going?
I went on a trip to Toyama city the other day.
It is one of the closest and the biggest city areas from Takayama city in Gifu prefecture, where I currently live.
Toyama city takes one-third of the land of Toyama prefecture, and is the capital of the area. It flourished as a castle town and the production of medicine was the major business during Edo period.
There still remains a lot of drug stores, and you can enjoy visiting many museums and great sushi restaurants.
Here is the list of must-see places and things in Toyama prefecture.
Kurobe Gorge (黒部峡谷/Kurobe kyokoku)
Kurobe Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in Japan.
You can enjoy the natural scenic beauty as well as some hot springs around.
There is a slow-moving train which was originally made for the construction of Kurobe Dam during 1920s to 1930s.
It connects Unazuki and Keyakidaira stations (takes about 80 min to travel and goes through over 40 tunnels and across over 20 bridges).
The train runs from April to November and is especially popular during Autumn when visitors can enjoy beautiful Autumn leaves.
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
It is a mountain sightseeing route between Tateyama(Toyama) and Omachi(Nagano), which goes through the Japanese Northern Alps.
The highest point is 1975m, and it includes 7 different transports such as a trolleybus, funicular, and ropeway.
You can enjoy panoramic view of the mountains, ponds, as well as famous Kurobe Dam, which is 186 m high and the biggest dam in Japan.
Until the end of May, the wall of snow (that is about 20 m high) can be seen on the road.
The area is closed for private vehicles. Be careful not to get confused with Kurobe Gorge which is located in the different area.
It is a traditional style village designated as a world heritage site along with Shirakawa-go.
Traditional architectural style (called Gassho-Zukuri) can be seen there together with beautiful nature around.
Many of the houses are over 300 years old and you can learn how people managed to live in the countryside of Japan.
Toyama Castle park
Located near JR Toyama station, Toyama Castle Park covers the former grounds of Toyama Castle.
Although the castle keep is a reconstructed building, the area has a Japanese garden and an art museum.
You can enjoy the view of the city from an observation deck located on the top floor.
The park is popular during April when people gather to enjoy the cherry blossom.
The Sato Memorial Art Museum is located across the park, which has paintings, local lacquerware, ornaments, and some traditional Japanese tea rooms.
Fugan Canal Kansui Park
Located about 9 min walk away from the North exit of JR Toyama Station, Fugan Canal Kansui Park is a popular spot to relax.
It has a spring, waterfall, playground and bridge.
Starbucks coffee there won the best store design award in 2008, and is known as one of the most beautiful Starbucks buildings in the world.
Toyama Glass art museum
This museum has a large collection of both traditional and modern glass art works and is also a library inside.
The building was beautifully designed by world-renowned architect, Kengo Kuma.
On the 6th floor is a glass garden produced by Dale Chihuly, a famous contemporary glass artist.
・Open from 9:30am to 6:00pm (until 8:00pm on Sat).
・Closed first and 3rd Wednesdays each month, on Dec 31st ,and Jan 1st.
・Price: 200 yen for permanent exhibition, 700-1,000yen for temporary exhibitions.
It is a festival which is usually held on the second weekend of June.
Giant lantern floats (a big one can go over 7 meters in height) go around the city.
After the procession, they are bashed into each other to destroy the opponent.
It is said that the tradition of fighting started over hundreds years ago when the roads were narrow.
Each group that carry lantern floats wouldn’t give way to the other, and they fought to show which one was stronger.
The tradition is kept to this date but the festival is not just for the fighting of people merely competing for winning.
It is to vitalize the city and the communities, and energize the people who participate and view the event.
In May, pre-festival event, Fukuno Yotaka Festiva is held.Lanterns are displayed and lit up during the night time.
Traditional music and dance are performed and people sing Yotaka song.
Owara kaze no bon
It is an annual traditional dance performance event held during the night of Sep 1st to 3rd and has a history of about 300 years.
It is said that the festival was started to appease typhoons and hope for good harvest of rice.
As many as 250,000 visitors come during the event every year.
People wear Kimono and a hat (dancers hide their faces from the wrath of the god) ,and dance to the traditional music played by instruments like Shamisen and Kokyu. The performance lasts all night.
Fish, Shrimp(Shiroebi) ,and squid(Firefly squid) caught in Toyama bay are really fresh and tasty especially between March and June.
Masu-zushi (pressed-trout sushi) is a speciality of Toyama.
It is kind of sushi which is made using traditional food-preservation skills. Slices of trout are prepared on vinegered rice and wrapped with bamboo leaves. It is then pressed for several hours.
There are a lot of sushi and sashimi places in the city where you can enjoy these fresh seafood and Masu-zushi.
Toyama city is near Gifu and Ishikawa prefectures and is a great place to stop by.
You can enjoy amazing nature, inspiring museums, and delicious seafood as well as exciting festivals.
Take your camera with you and enjoy your visit to Toyama city!
See you next time,