Difference between revisions of "Toyama"
Revision as of 06:30, 15 April 2008
Toyama has its own airport, from which buses run to the city center (25 min, ¥400).
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 (The Hakutaka travels on the Hokuetsu Railway between Echigo-Yuzawa and Naoetsu, therefore that portion of the journey is technically not covered under the rail pass).
The journey from Tokyo will be reduced dramatically with the extension of the Hokuriku (Nagano) Shinkansen to Toyama in 2012.
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 is compact and any sights of interest may be reached from the station on foot or by bike. The old streetcar line operates south of the station, while the new light rail operates from the north of the station (Ekikita) to Iwasehama (Iwase beach).
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.
West of Toyama station, at the foot of the Kureha hills, lies Gohyaku-rakan, the "Hill of 500 Buddhas". The hillside is home to statues of the disciples of Buddha, and the Toyama folkcraft village lies nearby.
To see some pre-war Japan and get a taste of Toyama's shipping history, take a walk through Iwase town. Take the lightrail to Higashi Iwase to visit the Mori residence (1878), or to Iwasehama for the rather ordinary beach.
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 Soogawa shopping arcade.
Attracting large crowds at the beginning of September, Owara dance festival is held in Yatsuo town, a few stops from Toyama JR station. 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. Rumour 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 Centerhas up-to-date listings on notable events in Toyama and the surrounding area in several languages including English.
Aside from seafood specialities, and the Kureha pear, there are few local products of note specific to Toyama. Above the station, a range of souvenirs can be found, but a greater range of traditional objects can be found in nearby tourist towns such as Kanazawa. Toyama clay dolls and local glass art can be found at the folkcraft village.
Opened in September 2007, the new Daiwa department store has multiple levels of inetrnational 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 Soogawa shopping arcade, lined with boutiques and stores, including a few Kimono boutiques and a bookstore.
Next to the station can be found the Marier shopping complex for more upmarket clothing labels.
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 get 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 Yuki, on Joshi-Odori, for Mexican style food in cosy surroundings (near tram stop Aramachi station).
Further down Joshi-Odori, just near the Apita supermarket, Chattori Khattori can be found, for good value Nepali curries, with good vegetarian options.
The most popular area for nightlife is around Toyama station, and home to Toyama's only notable nightclub, Club Mairo (in Japanese), as well as My Pleasure Karaoke.
For a more relaxed bar/club, try Beeline in an alley off the Chuodori end of Soogawa. 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.
ANA Crowne Plaza is the best in Toyama. Many weddings held here but good service, comfortable beds and great breakfast. Traditional Japanese breakfast on 5th floor at the Unkai restaurant.