Having been 99.5% destroyed from firebombing in World War II, Toyama is a city rebuilt from the ashes. Aiming to be a "compact city", Toyama has seen large development in transportation, living, recreation and shopping facilities in recent years. As such, visitors to Toyama can enjoy nearby attractions and comforts without having to travel very far.
While there are a few interesting attractions within the downtown area of the city, many tourists use Toyama as a hub for hiking or sightseeing opportunities in the surrounding areas.
Toyama has its own airport, from which buses run to the city center (25 min, ¥400). Toyama Airport has international flights to Shanghai, Seoul, Vladivostok, and Dalian and local service to Tokyo, Sapporo, and Fukuoka. However, flight schedules change heavily with the season so it would be worth checking out in advance what is available for when you will be traveling.
From Tokyo Station, Toyama can be reached by taking the Joetsu Shinkansen (Tanigawa, Max Tanigawa, Toki or Max Toki) to Echigo-Yuzawa (越後湯沢) and then transferring to the Hakutaka (はくたか) limited express train for the run to Toyama. This ride lasts about 3 1/2 hours with a good connection in Echigo-Yuzawa, and it costs ¥11900 each way. Japan Rail Pass holders have to pay ¥1450 each way for the portion of the trip between Echigo-Yuzawa and Naoetsu, which is operated by Hokuetsu Railway. The JR East Rail Pass covers the Echigo-Yuzawa - Naoetsu segment, but does not cover the portion onward to Toyama; the full fare must be paid (¥4200).
The journey from Tokyo will be reduced dramatically with the extension of the Hokuriku (Nagano) Shinkansen to Toyama in 2015.
Frequent Thunderbird (サンダーバード) limited express trains run to Toyama from Osaka and Kyoto in Kansai. The one-way ride from Osaka lasts around 3 hours on the fastest service and costs ¥8690 (No charge for Japan Rail Pass holders).
Seibu runs three daily buses (one of which is overnight) to Toyama from Ikebukuro and the Sunshine City Prince Hotel. It costs ¥7340 one-way (¥13210 round-trip) and takes seven hours to make the journey.
Several companies have bus runs from Osaka and Kyoto to Toyama. West JR Bus has a morning run (5 1/2 hours) and an overnight run (8 hours) from JR Osaka station, while Hankyu has an evening run (5 hours) and an overnight run (7 3/4 hours) from Umeda. The one-way cost for these lines is roughly ¥5200 from Osaka and ¥4800 from Kyoto.
Central Toyama prides itself on being a "compact city" and most sights of interest may be reached from the station on foot or by bike. The public transport is excellent with several upgrades in the past few years, the streetcar line operates just south of Toyama station, it has been upgraded and expanded in December 2009 into a 3 line system, one downtown loop, one south, and one west, (with many connections to various regional rail lines except the western end) while the newish port light rail operates from the north of the station (Ekikita) to the seaport and Iwasehama (Iwase beach).
Toyama station is served by the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, as well 3 regional lines, Ainokaze Toyama Railroad (servicing all major stations from east-west), Toyama Chiho main line, and Fujikoshi line (from southeast), all of which may be used to get around town and/or beyond. The Hokuriku Shinkansen continues toward Kanazawa, the Takayama main line heads southwest.
To complement the 4 light rail lines and 4 regional rail lines are the riverboat going north-south through the center of town and a bus system.
Toyama Folk Village - a series of small cultural museums located about a half hour from the station. Buses leave at regular intervals from a bus stop located near Toyama Station. Each museum is located in a traditional house and they feature a large number of crafts, tools, toys and furniture. There is a also a beautiful shop full of traditional Toyama clay crafts made on the premises.
Gohyaku-rakan - also known as the "Hills of 500 Buddhas", is located right next to the Toyama Folk Village. Even from a short distance away, nothing is visible but a few trees and a small, dilapidated temple. When you get closer however, you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of eerie and atmospheric Buddha statues, dressed in multi-colored ribbons. The statues are disciples of Buddha.
Toyama Castle - a small residence dating from the 15th century, and Toyama Castle Park, are a short walk south from the station. Along the way are showcases of local artworks.
Toyama City Hall - there is a free observation deck where you can see the whole city.
Iwase Town - To see some pre-war Japan and get a taste of Toyama's shipping history, take a walk through this old district. Take the lightrail to Higashi Iwase to visit the Mori residence (1878), or to Iwasehama for the beach.
Matsukawa River Cruises - One of the highlights of a trip to Toyama is a riverboat ride around the center of the city. Boats leave at regular intervals from a stand next to Toyama Castle and a 30 minute trip costs ￥1,500 for adults, and ￥750 for children.
Festivals - Many festivals can be enjoyed in Toyama and the surrounding region year round.
Toyama festival is held in August and includes a fireworks display and various local activities. The Yosakoi dance festival, held over a weekend, occurs at the end of July/begnning of August, and some of the best spots for viewing displays of this modern Japanese dance style include around Toyama Castle, Kencho-mae Park, and the Sogawa shopping arcade.
Owara Dance Festival is held every year in Yatsuo town from September 1st to 3rd, and attracts tourists from all over Japan. Running for three days, lanterns line the streets of this picturesque town and dancers and musicians parade through the streets demonstrating this traditional dance style. There are also many food and souvenir stalls. Rumor has it the best time to enjoy the atmosphere is after midnight.
National holidays and festivals also provide opportunities to catch events in Toyama, including Tanabata, Kaze-no-bon, and cherry blossom viewing in spring. The Toyama International Center has up-to-date listings on notable events in Toyama and the surrounding area in several languages including English.
IkiIkiKan(いきいき館) - Located on the 5th floor of the CIC Building just across the street from the station, here you can purchase a number of traditional goods, souvenirs, and local products.
Daiwa - Opened since September 2007, this department store has multiple levels of international and Japanese designer label clothing, accessories, shoes, homewares, books, stationery and so on. Head to the basement for local and imported foodstuffs, from sushi to cheeses. There are also a range of restaurants and cafes in the complex, as well as a Mochi Cream counter on the ground floor. Running next to the store is the Sogawa shopping arcade, lined with boutiques and stores, including a few Kimono boutiques and a bookstore.
Marier(マリエ) - This multistory shopping complex offers a mix of some of the usual Japanese chains like Muji and ABC Mart, with some local shops, as well as some options for more upscale clothing. Nousaku(能作) on the 2nd floor offers some high quality tin and copper goods and tableware produced from traditional methods. Located just outside Toyama Station
Morning Market at Gokuku shrine(護國神社) - The first Sunday morning of each month, a market is held in the grounds of the Gokoku shrine (by the Jinzu river, at the end of Heiwadori), with a range of secondhand and handmade goods on sale, including kimono, ceramics and food. Earlier is better to catch the best bargains or just take in some of the atmosphere.
Around the station can be found many restaurants serving local and international food, including Korean, Chinese and Indian. Another area densely packed with restaurants are the alleys around and behind the Sogawa shopping arcade, as well as the Daiwa department store.
For an inexpensive Izakaya experience, try the 5th floor of the CIC building (opposite Toyama station).
Head to La Yuuki, in Sougawa, for Mexican-style food (near Daiwa).
The most popular area for nightlife for foreigners is around Toyama station, and home to Toyama's only major nightclub, Club Mairo  (Japanese Language), as well as My Pleasure Karaoke(歌んだ村） Also just south of the station is a building named 'Twenty One', which is home to many small, friendly bars, most of which offer karaoke and nomihodai. Some charge a cover, others do not.
Just around the corner from My Pleasure and down the street from the Lawsons convenience store you'll come across the Irish pub Pot Still which has a sign (an image of a traditional Irish distilling apparatus) remotely resembling a pile of crap. Grab a pint of Guiness and Bass to go with a plate of the best fish and chips in town. Pot Still has darts and pool and a very foreigner friendly environment.
For a more relaxed bar/club, try Beeline in an alley off the Chuodori end of Sogawa. This area is also home to a few bars and Izakaya. Just opposite and south of Daiwa, the quirky De Niro lies in an alley.
Right across from Beeline is a restaurant called Pepin. Good food and service with and English menu. Food is smaller portioned and presented but is still a casual relaxed dining atmosphere. Generally, modern music plays low in the background and a small counter/bar for those dining alone or just like a drink.
Hotels around Toyama station, even business hotels, seem to run a bit expensive.
ANA Crowne Plaza. Many weddings held here but good service, comfortable beds and great breakfast. Traditional Japanese breakfast on 5th floor at the Unkai restaurant. edit
Daiwa Roynet Hotel, ☎ 076-420-0055, . Business travelers hotel. The price is very reasonable (<8000 yen) and the amenities are excellent. Plus, for a small addition <1000 yen, you can add a buffet style breakfast. edit