Your Dream Vacation is Here
Created by: Sayuri Tonami
Introduction Location: Toyama, Japan
Toyama is a beautiful site steeped in traditional Japanese culture that many people do not know. Let’s look into the culture and its history of this hidden gem in Japan.
Toyama is located in the center of Japan and faces the coast of the Sea of Japan. It takes about two and a half hours from Tokyo to Toyama by the bullet train (JR Hokuriku Shinkansen).
Nearly 1300 years ago, the Toyama area was called “Etchu” and was a part of the very first Japanese government. Later in 1639, a powerful samurai warlord, Maeda Toshitugu, became the first lord of Toyama Domain and Toyama grew into an important site of trade and politics in Japan. However, many years later in 1945, the ancient city of Toyama was burned down by the Great Toyama Air Raids during World War II. Toyama received some of the worst damage in all of Japan, with nearly 99.5 % of the city being destroyed by fire bombings. The people of Toyama, however, did not give up. They rebuilt their town in the following years and prospered again through the agriculture and fishing. Toyama is blessed by abundant water sources. Many beautiful rivers run through the prefecture and Toyama Bay is filled with sea life. Today, Japan’s emperor took his new era name “Reiwa” from an ancient anthology of poems called, Man’yōshū. The beauty of Toyama inspired the author of the poem from which the era name was taken, and so now Toyama is getting attention from all over Japan. Now is the time for Toyama!
Toyama’s weather changes through each season, spring, summer, fall, and winter. Toyama faces the Sea of Japan, and the cold wind comes from the north, so it snows frequently and sometimes has large snowstorms between the end of December and March. Even though it’s cold, visitors can enjoy looking at Tateyama Mountain covered with snow, which is beautiful and gorgeous during the winter and spring. Tateyama was a sacred mountain that was one of Japan’s three most visited religious sites during the last samurai period (1600-1868). Additionally, like much of Japan, humidity is high throughout the year and it can be quite hot in the summer. If you want to find a place to cool down and enjoy the Toyama scenery, the sea in Himi is a good place. Since Toyama has all 4 seasons throughout a year, visitors can enjoy the seasonal food and scenery no matter when they come to visit.
Firstly, tourists to Toyama consist of many different ages of people, from children to older adults. People from many walks of life such as historians, traditional festival goers, train enthusiasts, Doraemon fans, hikers, hot spring vacationers all frequent Toyama. People from all over in Japan come; however, the number of people from Hokuriku is relatively large. Since there is an airport in Toyama, people feel easy to visit nowadays. The highest number of tourists from other countries is from Taiwan. Most of the foreign tourists are from Asia, particularly from the countries close to Japan. According to research, about 364,954 foreign tourists and 35 million domestic tourists visit Toyama per year. Their length of stay at the hotel is 2.5 nights on average. In addition to hotel costs, the amount of consumption in Toyama per person is about 17,321 yen ($163.17). As for the travel industry in Toyama, there are several travel agencies that provide tourists with a tour and a travel plan in Toyama. There are 23 tourist information centers in Toyama. The tourists’ destinations vary; however, people frequently visit places such as the colossal Buddha of Takaoka, Unazuki Hot Spring, Mt. Tateyama, Kurobe Dam, traditional dance festivals like Owara-Kazenobon, and Doraemon Park. There are many tramways in Toyama and many tramways’ fans visit just to see them. For those interested in visiting these places, travel agencies in Toyama provide travel plans and tours in order to afford them an excellent opportunity to enjoy the culture and tradition.
Toyama Kitokito Airport in Toyama city connects Toyama and people from both domestic and overseas airports. The airport enables people to come from Tokyo, Sapporo, Taipei, Shanghai, Dairen, and Seoul. ANA offers domestic flights, and flight time is approximately one hour between Tokyo and Toyama.
Toyama is accessible by bullet train (shinkansen), train, bus, and car. In 2015, the Nagano-Kanazawa route of JR Hokuriku Shinkansen started operations, and it made it possible to take the bullet train (shinkansen) from Tokyo to Toyama. Thanks to this service, travel time between Toyama and Tokyo was shortened to 2 hours and 8 minutes. Tourists can travel from Osaka or Nagoya by express train and shinkansen as well, and each will take for 3 hours.
Getting around Toyama
Once you get to Toyama, several kinds of transportation will support your travel. People can easily access trains, busses, taxies, rental cars, and bicycles. If you prefer driving, you may rent a car at Toyama Station and Toyama Airport. It costs approximately 4,505 yen ($43.08) to rent a 5-seat car for one day. Toyama’s total area is 4,248 km², and Toyama is known as one of the prefectures with a high car possession rate in Japan, so residents use a car to go to work every day. Those who don’t drive, like young students, use bicycles and trains for school or going out. Sightseeing areas tend to be far from one another, so it is advisable to use a car, bus, or train to go to many sites within a short period. The main railway in Toyama is called Ainokaze Toyama Railway, which runs from west to east, and it costs approximately 210 yen ($2.01) from one station to the next. Many travel plans are planned based on this railway. However, in order to go and see each site, you may take advantage of Toyama Chihou Railway, Manyou Line, or Kaetsunou Bus. For example, you may want to visit Gokayama Shirakawa-Go which is designated as a world World Cultural Heritage Sites. If so, Kaetsunou Bus is one of the best transportation methods. You can buy a round-trip ticket between Takaoka Station and the site for 1,800 yen ($17.21).
Many types of hotels can be found in Toyama, such as airport hotels, business hotels, resort hotels, city center hotels, and so on. Since it is easy to travel by train, many hotels like city hotels or business hotels can be found near stations. It is usually a low price to stay at a business hotel and popular for those who expect an affordable trip.
Hotels / Resorts
APA hotel Toyama
SPA, Free Wi-Fi
Businessmen, guests with a few nights.
Royal Hotel Toyama Tonami
Hot spring, Outdoor Hot spring, Karaoke, SPA, Wedding
River Retreat Garaku
Hot springs, SPA, Library, Karaoke, Massage
Foreigners, guests with a high income.
Accommodations other than Hotels
If you want to experience a different accommodation style other than hotels, you may consider finding Ryokan and cottage style accomodations. These accommodations will add more cultural and traditional tastes in your travel. “Ryokan” is a Japanese style hotel and are made of wooden materials, and usually have a hot spring. It makes the best use of places where a hot spring wells up, and the residents have enjoyed for many decades. Additionally, traditional houses in Gokayama are also available to stay. The houses are made in a special way called “Gassho zukuri,” and it is registered in the world heritage list.
Unazuki Hot Spring Yamanoha
Ryokan (resort hotel)
Hot spring, Outdoor Hot spring, massage, Games
Foreigners, families, age 50+
Yukata for adult (It is like kimono), garden
Foreigners, those who are interested in world heritage site
Ryokan (resort hotel)
Hot spring, Open air bath, massage, Bar, garden
Food & Beverage
As for Toyama’s food and beverage, tourists can find many different types of restaurants, such as quick-service restaurants, casual restaurants, and fine dining restaurants. You may eat at fast food restaurants where you are used to going, or Japanese family restaurants to learn what restaurants are popular in Japan, or you may try restaurants making the most use of Toyama’s ingredients.
Toyama is known as an area with a rich natural environment, such as, Tateyama mountain, Kurobe Canyon, and Toyama Bay. This nature shapes the great food and beverage industry in Toyama today. When Japanese think of Toyama, the first thing that comes up in their mind is fresh fish. In Toyama Bay, you can eat a lot of fresh and delicious fish. Yellowtail caught in the cold season is considered a luxury brand in Japan because of its exceptional quality. However, in Toyama, you can often eat the cold yellowtail at a reasonable price. Additionally, white shrimp is also a specialty of Toyama and is loved by many tourists. The white shrimp burger became more famous after it was broadcast nationwide on television, and both locals and tourists enjoy trying it. Many seafood restaurants, including sushi restaurants, are highly recommended to tourists for its reasonable and high-quality food in Toyama. Other than fish, rice called “Fufufu,” black ramen, firefly squid, Himi udon, and Kurobe Japanese beef are famous and worthy a try.
These are examples of restaurants you may enjoy during your stay in Toyama.
Quick Service Restaurants:
Come on park Shinminato
Fast food, noodle, Takoyaki,
Take out, Online order, Coupons, Drive through
Take out, Coupons, Mobile order, Drive through, Delivery
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Take out, Online order, Coupons, Delivery
Take out, Serves Alcohol
Seafood, sushi, noodle, Japanese
Take out, Coupons, Online reservations,
Fine Dining Restaurants:
Sushidama, Toyama Station
Seafood, sushi, Japanese
Take out, Serves Alcohol, Reservations
Private dining, Tatami room, Pet friendly, Reservations
Seafood, Japanese, Western, Chinese, Bar
Private dining, Party room, Alcohol, Reservations
Meeting / Conventions
10 Good sites for Family reunion in Toyama (for 50 attendees)
- Tonami City Shogawa Lifelong Learning Center
- Ryokan NIEMONYA
- Hotel Grand Terrace Toyama
- Toyama Daiichi Hotel
- Royal Hotel Toyama Tonami
- Hotel Mori no Kaze Tateyama
- Toyama Jiyukan (Wheelchairs for rent, Bathroom for wheelchairs in public spaces, Wheelchair passengers can move alone between guest rooms or between guest rooms and public spaces (no steps), Wheelchair elevator, 2 Wheelchair parking lot.)
- ANA CrownePlaza (Wheelchair-accessible concierge desk, Wheelchair-accessible parking, Wheelchair-accessible path of travel, Wheelchairs available on site.)
Oaks Canal Park Hotel Toyama (Wheelchairs for rent, Bathroom for wheelchairs in public spaces, slope in front of the entrance, Wheelchair passengers can move alone between guest rooms or between guest rooms and public spaces (no steps), Wheelchair elevator, 2 Wheelchair parking lot.)
Recreation / Entertainment
Once you enter the Toyama prefecture, there are tons of things you can do! You can enjoy mountains, beaches, flower gardens, historical sites, art museums, hot springs, and spas. First, Mount Tateyama is one of the tallest mountains in Japan and loved by many hiking enthusiasts. If you are looking for historical sites, Takaoka city is an excellent place for you. Takaoka is famous for The Great Buddha Of Takaoka, which is one of the three Great Buddha statues of Japan and the Zuiryuji temple, which the Japanese government recognizes it as a national treasure. One fun fact is that Starbucks in Kansui Park has beautiful scenery, so it is one of the enjoyable options to take a stroll in the park and get some drinks there.
Sports & Recreation Spas:
Arts, Culture, Entertainment:
3 Days of fun in Toyoma: A travel itinerary for family
Enjoy learning the history of a temple built for one samurai and the old traditional houses by visiting the UNESCO World Heritage and National Treasure sites.
1. Zuiryuji Temple & Great Buddha of Takaoka (Morning)
Zuiryuji is a temple certified as a Japanese national treasure. It was built in the Edo period, and its architecture is unique. The Great Buddha of Takaoka is known as one of Japan’s three largest Buddhas alongside Nara and Kamakura. It has been a symbol of Toyama that has been loved by citizens since its establishment in 1933. Take a short walk under the Great Buddha. Children can test their courage to see if they can pass in front of the hell picture.
2. Gokayama (Afternoon)
Gokayama consists of 40 small villages, and two of them are registered as UNESCO World Heritage. As you walk around the village, you will get a chance to see beautiful traditional scenery and learn about what makes Gokayama special from tour guides or residents. It is a precious experience to hear from residents since only a few generations have experience living in the house. Lightened up village at night is fantastic and beautiful. Enjoy learning Japanese cultural and traditional lifestyles!
Central Toyama area cannot be missed for your travel during your visit. You will find many parks, museums, historical sites, and good restaurants that travelers enjoy.
3. Toyama Castle (Morning)
A museum is inside of the castle is open to the public. It is enjoyable for visitors to learn Toyama culture by seeing exhibitions of ancient documents, art, and crafts. Dress up in traditional Japanese clothes like kimono and take a pictures in front of the castle!
4. Fugan Unga Kansui Park (Afternoon)
Kansui Park is a 9.7ha hydrophilic cultural park that makes use of its waterside scenery. Please check out the local Starbucks, which has been selected as the one of the most beautiful scenes in the world. You may also enjoy illumination of the park at night.
Now is the time to relax in nature and Japanese hot springs. Depending on the area you choose to visit, there are different kinds of sightseeing opportunities. Kurobe area provides you with natural experiences.
5. Kurobe Gorge (Morning)
Traveling by Torokko electric train is a great way to feel the beauty of the nature in Toyama. It runs approximately 20 km, showing guests the impressive natural beauties by going through dam lake and mountains. Don’t forget to bring a camera to get the best shot!
6. Unazuki Hot Springs (Afternoon)
Unazuki Hot Springs is one of the most famous hot springs in Japan. Water from the hot spring smooths your skin and body. Hot water wells up around the area, so you may walk around to find a foot bath facility. This traditional ryokan provides you with a wonderful experience through both delicious meals and enchanting hot springs.
- Clean air and water
- Fresh seafood
- Activities, events, and facilities that make the most of nature; such as mountains and the sea
- Many historical sites only found in Toyama
- The long-distance between sites
- The necessity of using transportation
- Far from major cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto, which are frequently visited by tourists
- Learn tradition, culture, and history
- Enjoy fresh seafood
- Enjoy Hot Springs
- Visit a national treasure site in Japan
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Changes in the natural environment are likely to impact restaurants, events, or recreational activities negatively
- Deterioration of the historical buildings or sites
- A decrease in the number of people who inherit local traditions and pass them on to posterity
Toyama is a prefecture blessed with beautiful sea and mountains. Since Toyama is located in the center of Japan, it is relatively easy for people living in Japan to travel. There are plenty of places to relax, such as hot springs, spas, and a trolley train that travels through the beautiful mountain scenery. Overall, tourist destinations in Toyama are more based on culture, history, and nature than recreational areas such as theme parks. Children and families often prefer to go to large theme parks for fun. However, if you visit several places such as Gokayama, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will feel the splendor of Japanese culture that has been preserved for hundreds of years. While tourists have many options to travel in Japan, Toyama is the best site to visit for those seeking a real everyday-life Japanese experience. It also beautifully captures traditional lifestyles, and historical learning. Toyama prefecture provides you with relaxing environmental experiences where you can relax away from the hectic pace of the modern world.