Photo:tsuda on Wikimedia Commons

3 Memorable Winter Experiences in Toyama

Among the four seasons in a year, winter is perhaps the least popular. Just mention the word “winter” in a conversation and you will almost certainly hear tales of horror–ranging from a bad flu to a variety of accidents. Despite of its gloomy reputation, winter has a special place in my heart. I am spending my first full-length winter in Toyama and I am enjoying some really memorable experiences!

1. Seafood Delight at Shinminato Kitokito Market

Welcome to Shinminato Kitokito Market!

I have heard numerous times that winter is the best season to enjoy fresh seafood in Toyama. This piece of information remained just another head knowledge in me that I could not empathize with. One sunny weekend, I finally understood. My perception of winter and seafood changed forever after a trip to the Shinminato Kitokito Market.

The original plan was actually a road trip to and around Shinminato Ohashi Bridge to be awed by the majestic view of Tateyama Mountain Range. Located at Imizu City, this grand bridge offers amazing scenery and excellent photo opportunities for shutterbugs like me.

Shinminato Ohashi Bridge. ESU at Wikimedia Commons.
Driving through Shinminato Ohashi Bridge with Tateyama Mountain Range as backdrop.

As I gazed across the horizon, something bright and red caught my eyes – a gigantic crab on a roof! Amused and curious, I approached the enormous crab to take a closer look at it. I unwittingly arrived at the Shinminato Kitokito Market!

Winter is the best season for fresh seafood in Toyama!

The seafood at the market was delightfully fresh, delicious and heavenly. I truly understand and agree why people say winter is the best season for fresh seafood in Toyama!

2. Romantic “Swan Lake” Moment at Tajiri Pond

Swans have captured the imagination of people since time immemorial. A strong feature in mythology across civilizations, cultures and languages, swans are often a symbol of love or fidelity because of their long-lasting, monogamous relationships. Seeing them in Japan, was especially enchanting for me since I have fallen in love with this country and that love has continued to expand the longer I have stayed.

Swan love. AnemoneProjectors on Wikimedia Commons

When I heard about the “swan lake” of Toyama, Tajiri Pond, I asked my husband to take me there. I imagined a romantic and inspirational afternoon by the pond.

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.”

—The Wild Swans at Coole, 1st stanza, William Butler Yeats—

The Tajiri Pond is 20-minutes away from the centre of Toyama City by car. Soon after arriving at the pond, I scanned around the area with excitement. I could not wait to see the gentle yet strong creatures. Every autumn and winter, swans from Siberia fly 3000km from their home to escape the cold and to find love at Tajiri Pond.

Welcome to Tajiri Pond!

The pond was practically colonized by ducks when we arrived. After almost half-an-hour, we were still surrounded by ducks and then more ducks followed.

Ducks, ducks–everywhere!

There are still swans at Tajiri Pond in January. The school children count the swans everyday from December to March. Here are the daily statistics between December and today (the third week of January):

Number of swans in a day (December–March)

We concluded that our visit to the pond was at a bad timing. The swans were likely up in the air enjoying their own romantic and inspirational afternoon. Although the swans were nowhere in sight, me and my husband holding hands by the calm, peaceful pond warmed my heart in this cold winter.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

—The Wild Swans at Coole, 5th stanza, William Butler Yeats—

3. Ice Skating at the Sogawa Grand Plaza Skating Rink

Since 2007, the Sogawa Grand Plaza ice skating rink has been a compact and convenient place to have fun during the winter. Strategically located at the Sogawa Grand Plaza, the skating rink has brought friends and families together during winter for 10 years.

As I have limited knowledge of the Japanese language, little did I know that my first skating spot in Toyama City will be the first and the last for me — and for everyone in the city. The 14th of January marked the final day of operation for the skating rink. It closed down permanently as part of the city’s development plan. I did not get the chance to say my farewell to the skating rink but the fond memories from this skating spot will live in my heart and mind permanently. I believe that the Sogawa Grand Plaza Ice Skating Rink will definitely be a part of people’s memory in Toyama city.

Ice skating. Benson Kua on Wikimedia Commons.

W elcoming your visit,
I n this fun snowy winter,
N ext to each other – let’s ski, let’s skate!
T o the readers of Taiken Japan,
E njoy this seafood season full and well,
R egret not, for dieting can be planned again!

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