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  • The True Sapporo Ramen Experience

    I love ramen. Not the instant stuff served in Styrofoam cups, but the fresh noodles served in a bowl of rich soup stock topped with…

  • The True Sapporo Ramen Experience

    I love ramen. Not the instant stuff served in Styrofoam cups, but the fresh noodles served in a bowl of rich soup stock topped with…

  • The True Sapporo Ramen Experience

    I love ramen. Not the instant stuff served in Styrofoam cups, but the fresh noodles served in a bowl of rich soup stock topped with…

  • The True Sapporo Ramen Experience

    I love ramen. Not the instant stuff served in Styrofoam cups, but the fresh noodles served in a bowl of rich soup stock topped with…

gokayama

HOKURIKU-SHINETSU Toyama Rural Japan at its finest, from the mountains to the sea

Toyama, Japan

Famed for the World Heritage Gokayama villages and Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Toyama is home to some of Japan's most spectacular forests and waterways

Toyama is part of Japan's snow country, stunning in winter when the thatched-roof houses of Gokayama conjure images of Lapland. When the snow begins to melt, the Tateyama Mountain Range and local gorges draw nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts for scenic hikes, mountain exploration, and casual hot spring getaways. Seasonal seafood, such as firefly squid in spring, is another regional draw. While in the area, keep your eye out for glassware, bronzeware, wood carvings and other traditional crafts with centuries-long histories.

How to Get There

Reach Toyama by bullet train from Kanazawa, Nagano, Tokyo and other stations on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line. Express buses also connect Toyama with Matsumoto City and other transport hubs.

From Tokyo, the bullet train takes two and a half hours. From Osaka and Kyoto, 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 City in Nagano Prefecture with Toyama City.

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Don't Miss

    The World Heritage villages of Suganuma and Ainokura, collectively known as Gokayama
    Kurobe Dam, an impressive feat of engineering and Japan's tallest dam
    The enormous towering snow walls of the alpine route's snow corridor, open in spring
    Trekking the Tateyama Mountains and visiting a volcanic crater lake

Local Specialties

  • Hotaruika

    Known in English as firefly squid due to the bluish light they emit, hotaruika are found and fished in the waters off Toyama Prefecture between April and May. Try some marinated in soy sauce or topped with vinegared miso. You can also savor them fresh and without cooking as sashimi, or dried and roasted—an excellent accompaniment to the local sake.

    food-craft
  • Toyama Hoshigaki

    Toyama persimmons are some of Japan's sweetest. When they've been hung up outside and air dried, they become even sweeter and are known as hoshigaki.

    food-craft
  • Shiro Ebi

    A rare species that makes its home in Toyama Bay, shiro ebi or white shrimp are famous for their delicate flavor and refined sweetness. They are delicious as sashimi or sushi, or topping a fresh bowl of rice.

    food-craft
  • Takaoka Lacquerware

    With a history dating back over 400 years, Takaoka shikki lacquerware has several distinctive variations. Aogai involves using thin slices of shell to create geometric images of birds and flowers; Yusuke incorporates shell, gold, and stones; and Chokoku involves carving designs prior to lacquering. All result in beautiful, original works.

Seasonal Highlights

  • Spring

    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.

    Cherry blossom of Matsukawa Beri riverside-SPR
  • Summer

    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.

    gokayama
  • Autumn

    Temperatures cool off quickly in Toyama, which gives the October fall foliage an especially pronounced hue. The thatched-roof houses in Gokayama are just waiting to be photographed. For invigorating fall hikes, head to Kurobe Gorge.

    Cosmos at Tonami Yumenotaira-AUT
  • Winter

    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.

    gokayama

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