Photo:さかおり on Wikimedia Commons

15 Things to Do in Toyama City

Welcome to Toyama City! Before we start, let’s begin with a brief geographical orientation. Toyama prefecture consists of 10 major cities and numerous minor cities. Toyama City is the central and largest city within Toyama prefecture. If you are traveling to Toyama City and need to ask for directions, it helps to specify “Toyama SHI (富山市:とやまし)” vs “Toyama KEN (富山県:とやまけん)” to avoid confusion and to ensure a smooth journey.

With some knowledge of the local dialect and the following guide, I am sure you will enjoy your stay at Toyama city. Any season is a great time–why not drop by for a visit?

15. Enjoy Fresh Seafood

This is perhaps the greatest pull factor to visit Toyama for many people. Toyama is blessed with treasures such as the white shrimp (“shiroebi”) and the firefly squid (“hotaru-ika”). These are seasonal seafoods with shiroebi available during summer and the firefly squid can be enjoyed between March and June. Another distinctly Toyama cuisine, masu-no-sushi, is readily available through out the year.

These foods are, in fact, very common and widely advertised on food menu in eateries and shopping outlets in Toyama city. The Toyama railway station is the fastest and most accessible spot to enjoy delicacies native to Toyama prefecture. You will be spoiled with choices when you walk down the rows of restaurants within and around the Toyama station building.

Masu no sushi. hirotomo t from japan on Wikimedia Commons
Firefly squid. Toukou Sousui 淙穂鶫箜 on Flickr

14. Learn About Sake at Masuizumi Brewery

Toyama Prefecture is blessed with an abundance of pristine water that is essential for brewing high quality sake. Toyama City is home to the Masuizumi Brewery, an acclaimed premium sake brewer with a world-wide following. It is one of the first brewers in history to specialize in “Ginjo-shu”, or sake that is not diluted with alcohol. The brewery is open to the public. Come and learn about the history and qualities of “Ginjo-shu” – you can even bring home a bottle or two at the retail section of the brewery!

Photo by Richard, enjoy my life! on Flickr

Where is This?

The Masuizumi Brewery is at 269 Higashiiwasemachi, Toyama City. It is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and closed on weekends and public holidays.

How Do I Get There?

Hop on a Toyama Light Rail (PORTRAM) tram in the city and alight at “Higashiiwase” tram stop. The Masuizumi Brewery is about 7 minutes away on foot.

13. Make Your Own Glass Artwork at Toyama Glass Studio

Besides fresh seafood and premium sake, Toyama City is widely known for inspiring and producing exquisite glass art. This city has the largest glass artist community in Japan and serves as an influential base in glass artistry through the renowned Toyama Institute of Glass Art. Allow your interest to be piqued and unleash your hidden talent at the Toyama Glass Studios. At the studio, visitors can make their own glass art under the guidance of experts and purchase art work on display by local artists.

On the same note, the Toyama International Glass Exhibition 2018 is now calling for domestic and international entries. This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring and/or accomplished glass artists to share their art work with the world.

Rosa glass art on Max Pixel

Where is this?

The Toyama Glass Studio is at 152 Furusawa, Toyama City. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and closed from 28 December to 4th January.

How Do I Get Here?

• At Toyama Station, hop on a Chitetsu bus towards the direction of Toyama University Hospital.
• Alight at “Family Park-mae” bus stop (a 25-minute ride from Toyama Station).
• The Toyama Glass Studios is a 5-minute walk away from the “Family-Park mae” bus stop.

Special note:
Free admission for visitors. However, prior reservation and a fee is required for glass art making.

12. Go for a Romantic Walk at the Serene Fugan Canal Kansui Park

Bright sunshine, clear waters, gentle breeze and a picture of tranquillity - such wonderful ingredients for romance! Come experience love in the air at the Fugan Canal Kansui Park. With the “Heaven’s Gate Bridge” welcoming visitors, convenient walking paths, an art museum, outdoor theatre and elegant restaurants, this is a popular spot for couples to spend quality time together.

Fugan Canal Kansui Park. えむかとー on Wikimedia Commons

Where and How Do I Get There?

The Fugan Canal Kansui Park is at Minato Irifune-cho, Toyama City. It is within short walking distance from the North Gate of Toyama Station.

Special note:
From April to November, a boat cruise is available during weekends for a 5.5km round trip from the park to the Sea of Japan. Fare as follows: (i) Adults – 1,500 yen (ii) Children – 750 yen.

11. Nature Worshipping on a River Boat Cruise

Between March and April every year, the Matsu Riverwalk Sculpture Park attracts people from near and far with a picturesque scene of 500 cherry blossom trees in full bloom. The best way to savour this view? Cruise down the river and worship the work of Mother Nature alongside the marvel of human work in the form of glass art decorations adorning bridges and walkways.

Matsu Riverwalk Sculpture Park. アラツク on Wikimedia Commons

Where and How Do I Get There?

The Matsu Riverwalk Sculpture Park is at Sakurabashi Street, Toyama City. A 10-minute walk from the JR Toyama Station will bring you to the bridge of cherry blossoms, Sakurabashi.

Special note:
The Matsu River Boat Cruise is available throughout the year except in winter. It leaves from the northeast corner of the Toyama Castle Park. Fare as follows: (i) 1,500 yen for adults (ii) 750 yen for children.

10. Visit Toyama Castle Park

The Toyama Castle is one of the most historical sites in the city. Situated along the Jinzu River, it was known as the “floating castle” in medieval times. During the era of power struggle amongst feudal lords back in the 1500s, Toyama Castle was attacked and destroyed. From the 1600s to the Meiji Restoration in the 1870s, the castle was rebuilt twice by the Maeda Clan that governed Toyama. Today, we can experience remnants of history through a peaceful stroll around the serene Toyama Castle Park. You will be amazed by the breathtakingly beautiful Japanese garden and be inspired by intricate medieval and modern architecture.

Toyama Castle. Pazuzu on Wikimedia Commons.

Where and How Do I Get There?

The Toyama Castle Park is at 1 Honmaru, Toyama City. There are basically 3 ways to access the Toyama Castle Park:

(a) A 10-minute walk from Toyama Station.
(b) A 2-minute walk from “Kokusai Kaigijo-mae” tram stop (loop line).
(c) A 2-minute walk from “Joshi Koen” bus stop (City Tour Bus).

Special note
At the northeast corner of the Toyama Castle Park, the Matsu River Boat Cruise leaves for a trip down the Matsu Riverwalk Sculpture Park (please see section 5).

9. Take a Step Closer to Better Health and Beauty at Kasuga Hot Spring Village

The Kasuga Hot Spring Village around the Jintsukyo Canyon is popular amongst ladies for delightful reasons. Legend has it that the purifying waters from Jintsukyo have been blessing generations of women with beautiful skin. It is said that the wonderful waters of Jintsukyo could heal chronic conditions in a woman’s body. The Kasuga Hot Spring Village welcomes visitors throughout the year. However, the best season to enjoy these healing waters is during spring, when the cherry blossom trees provide a paradise-like backdrop for a relaxing dip.

Onsen. on Flickr

Where and How Do I Get Here?

The Kasuga Hot Spring Village is at 56–2 Kasuga, Toyama City. There are a few ways to access the Kasuga Hot Spring Village:

• From Sasazu Station on the JR Takayama Main Line – a 10-minute walk.
• From Toyama Kitokito Airport – 20 minutes by car.

8. Experience Paper Making at A Traditional Japanese Paper Exhibit

Before the invention of machines and plastic, handmade traditional Japanese papers (“washi”) were highly valued for their beautiful, durable and waterproof qualities. In ancient times, expensive goods were wrapped with unbreakable Japanese papers to protect the valuable items from damage. Also, the unfading brilliant designs on a sheet of traditional Japanese paper reflected the status and value of goods during times when advertising campaigns were not as sophisticated as how it is today.

With technological advancement, the production of handmade “washi” is becoming rare and at one point, close to extinction. In Toyama city, efforts have been made to preserve the traditional art of papermaking through “Keijusha”, a traditional paper manufacturer. This enterprise exhibits paper crafts from around the world and holds papermaking sessions for visitors. The original Keijusha products are also available at the retail section of the facility.

Traditional Washi Paper. Photo by すしぱく on Pakutaso.

Where is This?

The Keijusha Traditional Japanese Paper Exhibit is at 668-4 Kagamimachi, Yatsuomachi, Toyama City. It is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Keijusha is closed on Mondays and holiday seasons: (a) 5 – 6 September (b) 29 December – 10 January.

How Do I Get There?

• From Toyama Station, take the bus bound for Yatsuo-kagamimachi. Get off at Yatsuo-kagamimachi bus stop, the building is about 5 min. by foot. It takes about 50 minutes.

Special note:
Admission fee applies: (i) 500 yen for adults (ii) 250 yen for children. Prior reservation is required for hands-on paper making session.

7. Learn About Traditional Medicine at Kokando Museum

The archaic name for Toyama prefecture is “Etchu Province” and during the Edo period (1603-1867), Etchu medicine achieved almost legendary status in Japan. The reputation of Etchu medicine spread across land and sea with foreign traders from nearby regions sailed to Japan to bring Etchu medicine back to their homelands.

A folktale described how it all began. It started with an incident at the Edo Castle. Two feudal lords – Lord Maeda of Etchu Province and Lord Kawachinokami of Miharu Province (present day Fukushima prefecture) – made a working visit to the Edo Castle. During their time at the castle, Lord Kawachinokami was struck with a bout of severe stomach ache. After hearing what has happened to his colleague, Lord Maeda opened up his first aide kit that he brought from home (Etchu) and gave some medicine to the ill Lord. The remedy cured Lord Kawachinokami instantly and words about this incident at the Edo Castle spread across the land. It was said that feudal lords from other provinces petitioned to get the miracle Etchu medicine for themselves and Lord Maeda of Etchu Province decided to put together a start up to meet these demands for Etchu medicine. And thus, the beginning of national and international Etchu medicine trade.

We are fortunate to live in this era when we do not have to ask our political leaders to petition for good traditional medicine to be supplied to us. Just drop by Kokando Museum when you are at Toyama City and you will be able to buy the herbal remedies that were once legendary. If you would like to know more about the history and philosophies of traditional Japanese medicine, the Kokando Museum is a good starting point to satisfy your curiosity.

Kokando museum. あばさー on Wikimedia Commons

Where is This?

The Kokando Museum is at 2-9-1 Umezawa-cho, Toyama City. It is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and closed during public holidays and the New Year season.

How Do I Get There?

You can get to the Kokando Museum through a few routes:

• A 20-minute drive from Toyama Airport.
• A 10-minute drive from Toyama Station.
• A 15-minute tram ride (Toyama City Tram) from Toyama Station to “Kokando-mae” tram stop, followed by a 3-minute walk after alighting from the tram.

6. Appreciate Literary Work at Koshinokuni Museum of Literature

The inspirational poems and magical tales from the “Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry” (“Sanjūrokkasen”) have captured the imagination of people since a millennium ago. These 36 historical figures were Japanese poets who demonstrated exceptional abilities in Japanese poetry from 3 different dynasties in Japanese history. One of these immortals, Ōtomo no Yakamochi, was the governor of ancient Toyama prefecture (the Etchu Province) during the 8th century. Today, the Koshinokuni Museum of Literature celebrates the beauty of Japanese literary art and the lives and tales of eminent poets from Etchu Province. If you find that Japanese literary work touches your heart and enlightens your mind, drop by the museum to soak in the magic!

Poetry. Colibrix on Wikimedia Commons

Where is This?

The Koshinokuni Museum of Literature is at 2-22 Funahashiminamimachi, Toyama City. It is open for admission daily from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m; closed on Tuesdays and New Year’s season.

How Do I Get There?

There are a few ways to get to the museum:

• A 15-minute walk from Toyama Station.
• A 5-minute walk from “Kencho-mae” tram stop (city tram).
• A 5-minute walk from “Koshinokuni Bungakukan” bus stop (city tour bus).

5. Enjoy the Harvest Wind Festival

The first 3 days of September are filled with colours, music and celebration at the heart of Toyama City. The Harvest Wind Festival (“Owara Kaze no Bon”) has been bringing people together for the past 300 years. One of the most famous festivals in Japan, “Owara Kaze no Bon” is born out of an ancient ritual in appeasing the Typhoon God with hope for a bountiful harvest during autumn. Come and join the festival at Yatsuo, a well-preserved 19th century town along the Jinzu River. The most enjoyable way to participate in “Owara Kaze no Bon” is through learning the Owara dance so that you can move in harmony with the crowd and to the tunes of “kokyu” and “shamisen” (traditional Japanese musical instruments) – more details in the next section!

Owara Kaze no Bon. さかおりon Wikimedia Commons

Where is This?

The Harvest Wind Festival celebration takes place at Yatshuo-machi, Toyama City. It is an annual event with various activities from 1-3 September.

How Do I Get There?

• Get to the Etchu-Yatsuo station. This is about 20 minutes away from JR Toyama station (on the JR Takayam Honsen Line).
• From Etchu-Yatsuo station, you will have to walk to the main dance stage (enbujo). It takes about 40 minutes to reach the centre of activity. With the beat and buzz in the air serving as your compass, you will not miss the spot!

4. Learn the Owara Dance at Hikiyama Exhibition Hall

A distinctively native art, the Owara dance is synonymous with Toyama. If you would like to watch and learn the dance, come and visit the Hikiyama Exhibition Hall! It’s best to learn the Owara dance before going to the Harvest Wind Festival (“Owara Kaze no Bon”) so that you can join in the fun! Also, the exhibition hall displays historical and cultural items in commemoration of the ancient silkworm industry in Yatsuo.

Owara dance. さかおりon Wikimedia Commons

Where is This?

The Hikiyama Exhibition Hall is at 2898-1 Kamishinmachi, Yatsuomachi, Toyama City. It opens daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and closes from 29 December – 3 January.

How Do I Get There?

Hop on “Yatsuo machimeguri” bus at the Etchu-Yatsuo station. After an 11-minute ride, alight at “Hikiyama Festival Float Centre” bus stop.

3. Visit Hie Shrine

Experience history and spirituality at the Toyama Hie Shrine. Built in 1335, it stood between the feudal lord’s dwelling (Toyama Castle) and the old samurai quarters. Every year, the 1st of June marks the height of activity at Hie Shrine with over 200,000 visitors gathering at the shrine grounds to celebrate “San-no” festival. During this festival, you will be presented with a great opportunity to taste a wide variety of local snacks – lines of food stalls will greet your pathway towards the shrine!

Toyama Hie Shrine. Nnh on Wikimedia Commons.

Where and How Do I Get There?

The Toyama Hie Shrine is at 4-12 Sannomachi, Toyama City. It is a 3-minute walk from Nishimachi Station; or 20 minutes on foot from JR Toyama Station.

Special note:
It will be extremely difficult or perhaps impossible to access the Toyama Hie Shrine by car during the “San-no” festival. It is not a good idea to travel by car.

2. Journey Into Space at The Toyama Science Museum

At the Toyama Science Museum, science can be enjoyed with a dash of Toyama flavour. This is perfect for people who would like to know more about the natural landscapes and marine characteristics of Toyama. It is a family-friendly museum with a big welcome by a Naumann elephant at the entrance, and a host of interactive dinosaur models to entertain adults and children. Don’t miss the main attraction – journey into space at a planetarium through virtual reality and cutting-edge digital technology!

Toyama Science Museum. あばさーon Wikimedia Commons.

Where and How Do I Get There?

The Toyama Science Museum is at 1-8-31 Nishinakanomachi, Toyama City. The museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and closed on New Year’s season. It is accessible via the following ways:

• Take a city bus tour and alight at “Kagaku Hakubutsukan” bus stop, or
• Hop on a city tram and alight at “Nishinakano” tram stop. The museum is 7 minutes away on foot.

Special note:
Admission fee applies for adults only (520 yen). Free admission for school going children and teenagers (up to high school).

1. Go For a Dip at Iwasehama Beach

Picturesque and easily accessible from the city, surfers and sunbathers crowd the Iwasehama beach in summer. Imagine appreciating a stunning view of the majestic Tateyama Mountain Range as you enjoy a dip at Iwasehama – it is an amazing experience! Also, with ample space for picnics and BBQs, a great outdoor kitchen awaits you after a good fishing trip from the sea – so remember to bring your fishing gear!

Stunning beach and majestic mountain range. kiwa dokokano on Wikimedia Commons

Where is This?

The Iwasehama beach is located at Iwasekoshimachi, Toyama City.

How Do I Get There?

• Take the light rail (PORTRAM) from Toyama Station and alight at Iwasehama station (25-minute ride).
• The Iwasehama Beach is a 5-minute walk away from the Iwasehama station.

Time and tide wait for no man,
One day passed and another anew,
Youth is precious, waste it not.
All good things in life
May be wished but not granted,
Allow your heart be tamed with peace.

Climb the Alps and gaze afar,
In silence we pray for a good year ahead,
Thank you for reading my article,
Your “like”, “share” and comment appreciated!

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