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Toyama Travel Guide Keep your camera constantly at the ready!

Have you ever dreamed of a place which gives you the possibility of exhausting your camera by the continuous flow of scenic spots which shout at you to capture them and share them with your loved ones back home?

No one could blame you if you feel enthralled by The Japanese Alps, which have been dubbed as the roof of the world. Toyama Prefecture, here we come.

The location of Toyama Prefecture is in central Japan. Noteworthy mountains on three sides, and opening on to the majestic Toyama Bay and the Sea of Japan surround it. There are ten cities within this mini Prefecture that forms part of Chubu on the main Island of Honshu.

Things to do

Your visit to this Prefecture can be as varied, exciting, laid back, culturally enriching as you care to make it. In between playing Golf, there are loads of attractions for you and family members.

You may wish to relax and vegetate in a sand bath at the Hanayama Onsen Hotel, where they cover most of your body with the sand while listening to relaxing Zen music. Following this you may choose to immerse yourself in the natural hot spring (Onsen) at the same hotel.

One trip, which is really worth taking, is the Tateyama Korube Alpine route. This usually operates from April to October and besides passing through one of the most impressively scenic mountainous routes you will be able to walk on a snow walled passageway. You will take in snow-capped peaks, gorges, dams, lakes, tunnels, bridges, greenery, flowers, highs and lows on this spectacular bus trip. There are also numerous pistes for skiing and snowboarding for those interested in these sports.

Between March and June, you will be able to visit one of Toyama Bay’s Beaches in the early hours of the morning to witness one of the most electrically charged natural phenomenon on the planet. Firefly Squid, which come up from the depths of the Japan Sea to the shallow beaches to mate, offer an intriguingly unusual spectacle of a deep blue twinkling luminescence. It will probably be one of the most unusual and rewarding sights of your entire life.

For art and Nature/Science lovers, there are quite a few Museums to visit, such as the famous Toyama Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Toyama Science Museum of Natural History or the Toyama Glass Art Museum. The Suiboku Museum showcases both ancient and recent Chinese art, while the Fukumitsu Museum, exhibits works by Japanese Wood Block artist Munakata Shikoh. For opening times and locations of all the different Museums, you may wish to contact the Toyama Museum Association.

Another attraction, which falls under the Toyama Museum Association, is the Uozu Aquarium. This was the first Aquarium incorporating marine life from the Japan Sea and although the structure is a tad dated, it is still worth a visit. Within walking distance of the Aquarium, you will find the Mirage Land Amusement / Water Park where, besides a number of rides and games for all the family, you may also opt to snap some aerial shots of the park itself by riding the giant Ferris Wheel.

Throughout summer between June and September, you will be able to participate in various folk festivals with different themes, such as the Bamboo Pole and Lantern highly decorated artistic floats in the Jankotoi Uozu Festival. You may remain for the Kokiriko Festival in Gokayama, which is held in late September. A number of Fireworks festivals in different locations are also the norm in this region during summer.

PHOTO: Harvesting Fire fly squid in Toyama by phil halper

Flavors of Toyama

It is an undisputed fact that one cannot fully appreciate the culture of the people, which one is visiting without savoring the culinary diversity of which the locals partake. In Toyama, as in any other Prefecture in fact, you will be able to choose from themed ethnic eateries to traditional ones, with a special accent on the ingredients associated with a particular locality. Firefly Squid Tempura can be eaten near the bay; Traditional Tea Ceremonies can be experienced at the Gokayama Gassho-style Houses in the picturesque valleys, which are a veritable world heritage. You may wish to indulge in Japan’s finest delicious seafood from the deep Toyama Bay after experiencing the auctioning of Crabs, which takes place in Shinminato at around 1300 Hrs. The types of restaurants in this Prefecture include Indian, Vietnamese, French, Cantonese, Vegan, Pakistani besides the traditional Sushi, Ramen and Japanese BBQ.

PHOTO: Crab Auction at Toyama Bay 

What to bring back

Depending on which cities and places you decide to visit, you will find an abundance of Traditional Japanese Craft Items which you may wish to take home as a souvenir. These include Bronze and Copper Utensils, Decorative Glass Art, Washi Paper and Laquered mini works of art as well as Wood Crafted Sculptures. Having said that, the best souvenirs will be in your heart, on your mind, because they will consist of the pleasant positive experiences to which you have been exposed by the places and courteous locals you have met. 

PHOTO: Local Toyama Crafts by Motohara Miyata 


Where to stay

For a truly memorable experience why not stay in the UNESCO world heritage site at Gokayama? Gokayama Gassho-no-Sato Gassho Cottage for groups up to 16. Stay in the cottages and get a true feeling for this incredible and remote location. Find out more on their website. 

Another traditional and luxurious experience can be had by staying at Etchu Yatsuo Base OYATSU enjoy the lovely garden and historic architecture. 


Getting there

How To get There:

From Tokyo,

Ride the Hokoriku Shinkansen in the direction of Kanazawa to Toyama Station. Total Journey 2 hrs 08 Min   Cost 12530 Yen

From Osaka 

Ride the JR Thunderbird 17 For Kanazawa. Transfer to Hokoriku Shinkansen Tsurugi 712  (2 stops) to Toyama Station. Total Journey 3 Hrs 9 Mins    Cost  9130 Yen


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