I thought my first winter in Japan would be snow-less since I stayed in Indonesia during January and February. Fortunately, my friend invited me to Toyama prefecture, where they still have lumps of snow in March. I was so excited!
My day started with a pleasant lunch at Matsuribayashi (祭ばやし滑川店), a local sushi restaurant. Toyama is famous for its fresh seafood, especially for its Hotaru Ika (firefly squid) and Shiro Ebi (white shrimp). Hotaru Ika is famous for its blue light along Toyama bay during mating season while Shiro Ebi is known as “The Jewel of Toyama”, for the beauty of its transparent colour. I also had a special miso soup, which is unlike the usual miso soup with tofu and wakame, this one contains fish inside. It might sound like I am bragging, but it was really the best miso soup I have ever had!
Satiated with sushi, we decided to go for sightseeing at the Suganuma Village. The village is part of “Gokayama” along with Ainokura Village in Gifu. Both are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage site.
Suganuma Village is divided into two parts: Okayama Gassho-no-Sato and World Heritage Site - the Thatched Roof Houses of Suganuma. Both are located at walking distances and are connected by a tunnel. That day I walked around the Thatched Roof Houses of Suganuma, happy like a three-year-old kid enjoying the beauty of snow all around me.
Other than the snow, I admired the beautiful traditional houses in Suganuma. It is said that these traditional houses were built as residences as well as workplaces for people who engaged in silk farming. The uniqueness of the house is that it has Gassho-zukuri (thatched-roof), which makes it look like a magical place where an elf or a fairy might appear all of sudden, out of nowhere.
That day seemed perfect, the weather was nice - the sun was there, just at a perfect level to not melt the snow while still keeping us warm. I didn’t get a chance to explore Okayama Gassho-no-Sato, but I enjoyed my time at the Thatched Roof Houses of Suganuma.
Grilled mochi and tea
Learning about the history of the village from a local shop owner.I tasted grilled mochi accompanied with tea as a snack, met a souvenir shop-owner who told us about the history of the village (unfortunately in Japanese), had the breath of fresh air from the mountains, and watched the picturesque combination of traditional houses covered in snow, and the Shogawa River. Suganuma is really a perfect place to escape from the humdrum of the city.
On my way back home, I decided to buy some omiyage at the station. My Japanese friends suggested me to buy the famous trout sushi. You can find sushi everywhere in Japan - but for me, I found the ‘pizza sushi’ only here in Toyama. So yes, I bought it! And it tasted delicious.
Toyama might not be recognized as a very touristy place compared to other places in Japan (except for the quite famous Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route), but one can say that a quiet city like this is all you need to refresh your soul once in a while.