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Toyama

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Toyama

Toyama Banner.jpg


Toyama City (富山市) [1] is the capital of Toyama prefecture, Japan.


Understand[edit]

The chance to experience the ancient Edo streets of Kanazawa via the new Hokuriku Shinkansen will surely draw many to the long-neglected west coast of Japan. But those who travel this way on a clear day will no doubt feel spendor as they pass by the sight of the massive Japan Alps towering over a cityscape that thins out into the distance. A few may feel that irresistable draw of going further off the beaten path, wondering what secrets are hiding in those distant settlements and mountain peaks. For those craving such adventure, a stop in Toyama is a good place to get started while maybe enjoying another detour or two along the way.

Known for its chemical and pharmacutical industries since the Meiji era and beyond, 99.5% of Toyama was obliterated in the firebombing raids of the second world war. Rather than fall into decay, however, these strong industries, combined with the promise brought by the opening of the shinkansen, have helped Toyama to rise above the ashes. Designed to be a "compact city", Toyama has seen large development in transportation, living, recreation and shopping facilities in recent years, perfectly suited for its population of half a million. You won't find all of the conveniences of some of the larger modern Japanese cities, but those who visit can enjoy some nearby comforts without having to travel very far.

While the city proper offers a few interesting attractions within its center, many of Toyama's sightseeing and hiking opportunities are scattered throughout the several surrounding towns it administers, as well as in the dense mountains to the south. Thus, for many visitors, Toyama serves as a hub to reach these surrounding areas.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Toyama has its own airport, from which buses run to the city center (25 min, ¥400). Toyama Kitokito 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. With the recent start of the Hokuriku Shinkansen and relative inaccessabilty except by car or bus, the burden is on Toyama airport to keep customers. When travelling to Toyama on a budget, be sure to check flight prices to see if you can't get a cheaper deal over the Shinkansen.

By train[edit]

From Tokyo Station, Toyama can be reached in just over two hours by taking a Kagayaki-class train on the recently opened Hokuriku Shinkansen. At 310 km, a one-way trip regularly costs ¥12,730 for a reserved seat, ¥17,360 for Green Class, or ¥25,580 for a "Grand Class" seat, though JR Rail Pass holders pay no extra costs for a basic reserved seat. The first train departs Toyko Station at 6:16am and the last leaves at 10:04 in the evening. If you're a fan of scenic travel, be sure to stay awake through the last leg of the trip after the long strech of tunnels from Itoigawa Station. The view of the towering Tateyama mountain range on a clear day is really spectacular.

Frequent Thunderbird (サンダーバード) limited express trains run to Toyama from Osaka and Kyoto in Kansai, and will take you as far as Kanazawa, where you'll need to transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen. From there, Kagayaki trains are the most direct, whereas Hakutaka and Tsurugi trains will stop at ShinTakaoka Station along the way. The full trip will take at least three hours - not including transfer time - and costs ¥9430 one-way with reserved seats (free for JR Rail Pass holders). If you need to save a little money and time isn't an issue, an unreserved seat and a transfer to the IR Ishikawa Railway at Kanazawa will save you a marginal amount at ¥8350.

Toyama is also a morning stop on the Twilight Express (トワイライトエクスプレス) overnight train from Sapporo, and Nihonkai (日本海) overnight train from Aomori.

By bus[edit]

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.

By boat[edit]

There are regular services roughly once per week to Vladivostok, Russia. Contact EURAS [2] to arrange your tickets. Fares start from ¥25,200 ($235) one-way.

Get around[edit]

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 transportation is excellent with several upgrades in the past few years.

By Street Car[edit]

Two light rail systems operate directly from the north and south sides of Toyama station with trains running several times an hour throughout the day.

  • CENTRAM[3] - This light rail system south runs 3 lines - the Loop Line(環状線)circling the downtown area, a line running south to Minami Toyama Station(南富山駅), and one westward line which runs to the gates of Toyama University(大学前). Each line offers connections to various regional rail lines except the westbound line.
  • PORTRAM - PORTRAM operates from the north of the station (駅北) to the seaport and Iwasehama (Iwase beach), though construction is currently underway.

By Train[edit]

Toyama station is served by the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, as well 3 regional lines, Ainokaze Toyama Railroad (servicing all major stations from east-west), the Toyama Chiho main line, and the 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.

By Boat[edit]

To complement the 4 light rail lines and 4 regional rail lines are the riverboats going north-south through the center of town and a bus system.

See[edit][add listing]

  • 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.
  • Toyama Street Museum - Part of Toyama's effort to become a world-class city for glass craftsmanship, you'll find many unique works of glass art along the sidewalks of the city center.
  • 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.

Museums[edit]

  • Toyama Suiboku Museum(富山県水墨美術館)[4] - A small museum dedicated to Japanese ink-wash or suiboku paintings - more popularly known as sumi-e. Its permanent collection includes works from 19th and 20th century artists important to the style, as well as local suiboku artists. General admission is 200 yen to view the permanent collection, with special exhibition tickets at about 900 yen, but visitors with no money to spare can still enjoy the small, beautiful gardens around the facility.
  • Toyama Folk Village(富山民俗民芸村)[5] - 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.
  • Toyama Glass Museum(富山ガラス美術館)[6] Open August 2015. One of the centerpieces of Toyama's efforts to brand itself as a "Glass City". The Glass Art Garden on the sixth floor will have a collection of local modern works. The facility will also house a library, cafe, and gift shop.

Do[edit][add listing]

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[edit]

Many festivals can be enjoyed in Toyama and the surrounding region year round. 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 [7]has up-to-date listings on notable events in Toyama and the surrounding area in several languages including English.

  • Toyama Festival (富山まつり)Held the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of August around the city center and Toyama Castle Park. Visitors can enjoy a festive atmosphere with a fireworks display, several food stalls, and various local activities. The Yosakoi dance festival usually coincides with the Toyama Festival, 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(おわら風の盆)(September 1-3) Held every year in the town of Yatsuo, this festival 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.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • IkiIkiKan(いきいき館) - Here you can purchase a number of traditional goods, souvenirs, and local products. Located on the 5th floor of the CIC Building just across the street from the station.
  • 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.

Eat[edit][add listing]

The new station building at Toyama Station offers a small selection of restaurants to sample the local cuisine without traveling very far. In the area immediately surrounding the south side of the station can be found many restaurants serving local and international food, including Korean, Chinese and Indian. If you want a decent selection without searching the back alleys, Marier, the shopping mall right next to the station, has a restaurant floor with food samples and menus on display outside each shop. Another area densely packed with restaurants are the alleys around and behind the Sogawa shopping arcade, as well as the Daiwa department store.


Budget[edit]

  • LOTTERIA (ロッテリア) - Toyama Chiho Testsudo Station. One of Japan's original fast-food burger joints. The food is a tad pricey for the portion size, though not outside the norm for Japan. Located in the small Esta complex in front of the ticket gate of Toyama Chiho Testsudo Station.
  • Yakeru Yanka Chibo (やけるやんか千房) 1-3-9, Shintomicho, 11:30-2:30AM(3:30AM Friday and Saturday). A small Osaka-based Okonomiyaki chain with authentic Osakan food and a nice, grungy atmosphere perfect for a late night visit. Stop by Fridays for their 94 yen kushi katsu special. Chibo is located right outside the back door of the CIC building on the corner.
  • Saizeriya (サイゼリヤ) CIC Building, 4th floor, 10AM-10PM. An inexpensive Japanese Italian restaurant. Check it out when saving money means more than enjoying a satisfying meal.
  • Menya Iroha (麺屋いろは)[8] CIC Building, B1, 11:00-2AM. A Toyama-based award-winning ramen shop near the station. Though it's not the pioneer of Toyama Black ramen, Iroha has consistently taken home several awards for it's take on the dish, considered slightly more mild than the original.

Mid-range[edit]

  • ±0cafe (ゼロカフェ) 2-14 Uchisaiwaichou, tel: 076-441-0029, 11:30-12:00AM. Closed Thursdays. A nice fusion of Okinawan and Hawaiian cuisine with a cozy atmosphere. Located on the 3rd floor in the same building as South by Southwest Cafe.
  • Uotami (魚民) CIC Building, 6th floor - For an inexpensive Izakaya experience, you can try this chain on the 5th floor of the CIC building opposite the south gate of Toyama Station. Like most izakaya, the prices for individual menu items aren't so much, but neither are the portions. With a few drinks and a chunk of time, your bill can quickly add up.
  • La Yuuki (ラユウキ)3-2-22, Sougawa, tel: 076-422-1039, 11:30-2PM and 5PM-9:30 (8:30 Sun). Closed Monday and every third Sunday. Decent Mexican-style food and perhaps the only Mexican restaurant in the prefecture. If you're used to Mexican food you may not find anything spectacular, but it's a good option for first-timers or those with a craving.(near Daiwa)
  • South by SouthwestCafe (サウス・バイ・サウスウエスト・カフェ) 2-14, Uchisaiwaichou, tel: 076-441-7087, 11:30-11PM. Closed Monday. Authentic hamburgers in the heart of Toyama. The fries leave a little to be desired, but the burgers are big, with no filler and plenty of toppings. Located just one minute from Shintomicho Station.
  • Santoshi (サントシ)[9] - 1-3-17 Jinzuuhonmachi, tel: 076-432-3104, 11:30-2:30PM and 5PM-11PM. Open year round. Perhaps Toyama's best Indian restaurant within walking distance of Toyama Station. Try the Tandoori Lunch set (1050 yen) for a filling meal.

Splurge[edit]

  • Trattoria Viva la Vida[10] - 3-14、Yasudamachi, tel: +81-076-413-7166, 11:30-2PM(weekdays only) and 5PM-11PM. Closed Monday. An authentic Italian eatery tucked away in the quiet neighborhood near Shintomicho Station. Lunch is very affordable, but expect to pay 7000 yen or more for a special dinner for two. Has a good selection of imported wine, and a cozy, intimate atmosphere.

Drink[edit][add listing]

The most popular area for nightlife for foreigners is around Toyama station, and home to Toyama's only major nightclub, Club Mairo [11] (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.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Hotels around Toyama station, even business hotels, seem to run a bit expensive.


Mid Range[edit]

ANA Crowne Plaza, 2-3 Ote-machi (Located in front of Toyama Castle Park), 0120-677-651, [12]. checkin: 1:00PM; checkout: 12:00PM. Many weddings held here but good service, comfortable beds and great breakfast. Traditional Japanese breakfast on 5th floor at the Unkai restaurant. Single Rooms from +10000 yen.  edit

Daiwa Roynet Hotel, 6-1, Aramachi, (Located just off the Aramachi tram stop on the Loop Line), 076-420-0055, [13]. 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

APA Villa Hotel, 1-5-20, Sakuramachi (Just a short walk past Mr. Donut on the left side of the CiC Building), 076-431-3111, [14]. checkin: 3:00PM; checkout: 11:00AM. A slightly upscale version of the popular hotel chain. Has an Italian bar that does authentic brick-oven pizza. From 15000 yen.  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Mount Tate (Tateyama) — One of Japan's best-known mountains and one of the highest peaks in the area can be climbed in a challenging day-trip.
Routes through Toyama
KanazawaTakaoka  W noframe E  ItoigawaJoetsu
END  N noframe S  Hida-TakayamaGifu
KanazawaOyabe
S  Tokai-Hokuriku expwy icon.png junction ←
 W noframe E  ItoigawaNiigata


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