Toyama is part of Japan's snow country, and perhaps at its most beautiful in winter when the thatch-roofed houses of Gokayama conjure images of Lapland. When the snow begins to melt, the Tateyama Mountains and various gorges draw nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts for scenic hikes, mountain exploration and casual hot spring getaways. While in the area, keep your eye out for bronzeware, wood carvings and other traditional crafts with centuries-long histories.
Toyama is easily accessible by bullet train from Kanazawa, Nagano, Tokyo and other stations on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line. Express buses also connect Toyama with Matsumoto and other transport hubs near and far.
From Tokyo, the bullet train takes two and a half hours. From Osaka and Kyoto, you can take the JR Thunderbird Limited Express to Kanazawa after which it is a 20-minute ride on the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen to Toyama Station. Highway buses run from Nagoya (three hours) and Nohi express buses connect Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture with Toyama City.
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While most of Japan goes crazy with cherry blossom fever in April, visitors flock to Toyama to see the 20-meter tall snow walls in the Tateyama Mountains—a lingering testament to the severity of winter in the Japan Alps.
Cool down with refreshing breezes—or lingering snow—in the Tateyama Mountains. Visit Kurobe Dam or hang out on the coast at Kaiwomaru Park, home to an impressive 29-sail galley from a bygone era.
Temperatures cool off quickly in Toyama, which gives the October fall foliage an especially pronounced hue. The thatched-roofed houses in Gokayama are just waiting to be photographed. For invigorating fall hikes, head to Kurobe Gorge.
Winter is severe in Toyama with Siberian winds and blankets of snow. Copy the locals and ski, snowboard or enjoy scenic snowscapes—particularly pleasurable from a steaming outdoor hot spring.