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Toyama

Toyama
A haven for budding mountaineers and amateur anthropologists — the mountains of Toyama have kept the beautiful villages between them frozen in time.
Toyama Tourist Attractions
Featured Restaurants

L'Ensoleiller

Lunch: ¥3672-6696 - Dinner: ¥5184-10800

La Chance

Lunch: ¥3800-8000 - Dinner: ¥5800-10000

Ippuan

Dinner: ¥15,000-19,999

Takano

Lunch: ¥10,000-14,999 - Dinner: ¥10,000-14,999

Tucked away on the north coast of Japan, just above Gifu and Nagano, you’ll find a real jewel of Japanese natural beauty and rural culture — Toyama Prefecture. The capital city shares its name, and was once known as a center of Japanese medicine, and once had quite a formidable castle at its center.

Nowadays, visitors are much more likely to come for the incredible scenery which lies outside the bounds of the city. This prefecture is home to one of the most familiar and idyllic postcard scenes in the country: the traditional old houses of the UNESCO-listed Gokayama.

This area is home to the villages of Ainokura and Suganuma, which are filled with triangular thatched-roof houses built in a style called gassho-zukuri. In winter, the snow resting on the roofs creates one of the most stunning rural scenes in the country.

For another vision of rural Japanese living, head along to the capital in summer for the Ukai Festival: a showcase of traditional cormorant fishing in which fires are lit to attract fish, before the tamed birds are sent to catch them. The warmer months also mean the thawing of the mountain snows, leaving them open for adventurers to explore. Hikers flock here to walk the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, and to enjoy the dramatic scenery of the Kurobe Gorge and Dam.

If rural exploration is what gets you going, then you should put Toyama right at the very top of your to-do list.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What to eat in Toyama?
Firefly squid — known as hotaruika in Japanese — is a spring favorite in Toyama, often served as sashimi (a traditional Japanese food similar to sushi, but without rice). The seas of Toyama also have their very own species of shrimp, the deliciously sweet shiro-ebi. Fans of persimmons will love the local variety, which is often air dried to give it an even sweeter flavor.
What are the best things to do in Toyama?
Visiting the historic villages at Gokayama is a must, but you should be aware that it isn’t just some open-air museum; these are living and breathing, genuine villages. Because of that, you can even make a weekend of it by staying at one of the inns which occupy some of the thatched houses.
How to get to Gokayama?
From Toyama Station, take a bus to Shirakawa-go. These villages are truly rural, so the journey takes about 90 minutes, and costs 1730 yen each way. The trip is well worth it to reach one of Japan’s most attractive destinations.
What is Toyama famous for?
The dramatic mountain passes of this prefecture are well known in the hiking world. However, the rest of Japan knows Toyama as a haven for the preservation of authentic Japanese folk culture.
What to buy in Toyama?
The local variety of lacquerware makes for a ritzy souvenir. It’s known as Takaoka-shikki, and for 400 years artisans have been using strips of seashells, carving, and old inlays to create intricate patterns and images on these beautiful works.
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