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2024.03 Winter Adventures in Gifu and Toyama: from Snow-Capped Mountains to Seaside Gourmet [PR]

Explore the prefectures of Gifu and Toyama in winter to enjoy spectacular views of the snow-capped Northern Japanese Alps and the gastronomic delights of Toyama Bay. The bay ranks among Japan’s richest fishing grounds, offering a habitat for approximately 500 of the 800 species of fish and shellfish found in the Sea of Japan. Travel around Gifu and Toyama in winter, immersing yourself in the snowscapes of the region and enjoying seafood delicacies.


3,000-meter peaks, traditional country houses, and hot-spring inns in Okuhida


Your journey begins in the scenic, mountainous region of Okuhida in Gifu Prefecture. The Shinhotaka Ropeway takes you up to an elevation of 2,156 meters (approx. 7,066 ft) into the Northern Japanese Alps where mountains reach heights of around 3,000 meters (approx. 9,842ft). There are observation decks and viewing platforms around the upper station of the ropeway for views of the snow-covered surroundings.


The ropeway departs from Shinhotaka Onsen Station


Take in spectacular mountain views from the ropeway’s double-decker gondola lifts


Enjoy snow views from within a clear dome tent



The surrounding mountains reach heights of around 3000 meters


Enjoy tasty churros and activities high up in the mountains


Browse souvenirs at the upper ropeway station


There is a bakery at the midway station where you can buy gondola-themed bread


Yumoto Chohza is a traditional inn in Fukuji Onsen, one of five hot spring villages in the Okuhida-Onsengo hot spring area. Luxuriate in the baths of Yumoto Chohza which include indoor and outdoor baths, open-air baths on the riverbank, and private baths. Enjoy regional meals that reflect the Okuhida terroir, served around a sunken hearth. Stroll through the town and experience everyday life in this charming mountain hamlet. Don’t miss the beautiful, natural pillars of blue ice known as “aodaru.”



Entrance to Yumoto Chohza



Living room area


A sunken hearth



Kawara-no-yu, an open-air riverside bath


Shizuku-no-yu, private open-air baths


Large open-air bath


Rest area



Dinner (above) and breakfast (below) served around a sunken hearth


Traditional architecture and bathing facilities in Yumoto Chohza


Taking a stroll through Fukuji Onsen


Giant pillars of ice known as “aodaru”


Gourmet food, local sake, and light displays in Toyama City


Toyama is a gastronomically rich prefecture that has many gourmet restaurants. Try authentic Japanese cuisine made with local ingredients and paired with locally brewed sake at Oryouri Fujii in Toyama City.

After your meal, take a walk in Fugan Unga Kansui Park to see the sparkling winter light displays. The light displays are typically held from around October to the end of February.



Oryouri Fujii


Soup with taro dumplings and shrimp


Bear meat udon noodles




Light displays illuminate Fugan Unga Kansui Park


A train journey with scenic views and sushi


Indulge in seasonal sushi made with local ingredients while taking in snowy landscapes from aboard the sightseeing train “The Story of 13,000 Feet.” The “No. 1 Toyama Bay Sushi Course” is an approximately two-hour round trip from Toyama Station in the city of Toyama to Tomari Station in the east of the prefecture. The “13,000 Feet" refers to the 4,000 m (13,123 ft) difference in elevation between the deepest point of Toyama Bay (approximately 1,000 m/3,280 ft below sea level) and the highest peaks of the Tateyama Mountain Range (approximately 3,000 m/9,842 ft above sea level). Enjoy the sights while feasting on fresh sushi prepared by on-board sushi chefs. You can reserve your seats for “The Story of 13,000 Feet” via the link at the end of this article.




The Story of 13,000 Feet: No. 1 Toyama Bay Sushi Course


Snow-covered roofs in a World Heritage Site


Visit the World Heritage Site of Ainokura Village in Gokayama, and experience fantastic scenes of snow-covered thatched-roof houses. There is an observation deck in the village that has unforgettable views of the rooftops.


Ainokura Village, Gokayama


View from the observation deck


Satoyama Auberge Maki No Oto is an accommodation in the city of Nanto which accommodates up to three groups per day. Each room has a private bath from which you can watch snow flutter down while soaking in the tub. For dinner, enjoy French cuisine made with local ingredients and savor seasonal crab. In the morning an elegant Japanese breakfast is served with rice cooked in a traditional kamado cooking range.


Satoyama Auberge Maki No Oto





Executive room: Yotsuhanabishi








Traditional kamado cooking range


Cozy interior decorations


Before or after a stay at Satoyama Auberge Maki no Oto, make time to visit Shogawa Gorge, where you can join a beautiful sightseeing cruise. The approximately 25-minute gorge cruise to Nagasaki Bridge is a great way to view picturesque snow scenes from the water.


A sightseeing boat cruising through Shogawa Gorge


From historical townscapes to spectacular views of the sea


Takaoka City is a former castle town with historical streetscapes and structures. These include the Kanayamachi district with its rows of traditional houses and the Great Buddha of Takaoka, a large copper statue of Amithaba Buddha. Within the preserved townscape of the Yamachosuji area is Ahora Aqui, a favorite of local gourmands, where novel Japanese cuisine is served in a building constructed in 1900. Ahora Aqui’s luxurious course meals are prepared using only the finest ingredients, and the menu changes every day.


Kanayamachi is a preserved townscape of traditional homes with distinctive lattice facades


The Great Buddha of Takaoka is a symbol of the city



Ahora Aqui




Enjoy views of the courtyard with your course meal




Dishes crafted from carefully selected ingredients


The Amaharashi Coast is a quasi-national park which, on a clear winter day, has breathtaking sights of Toyama Bay with the Tateyama Mountain Range in the background.

HOUSEHOLD is an inn that accommodates only two groups per day, located near the coast in Himi, a city famous for its seafood. The friendly atmosphere at HOUSEHOLD makes it easy to connect with the local community during a stay. Interact with regulars at the café on the first floor and go to community-favorite gastropubs and restaurants nearby. You can also try your hand at making seafood dishes in the kitchen of the inn, with help from the owner. The minimalist décor of the rooms creates a peaceful space for you to relax and listen to the sounds of the sea. On clear days, you can see the Tateyama Mountain Range from the coast.


Amaharashi Coast is a quasi-national park


HOUSEHOLD’s kitchen and café area


yane, a room with views of the roofs of houses


nami, a room with views of the ocean


View from the terrace


Enjoy cooking with local ingredients


The inn is in a renovated building on the seaside


How to get there


Toyama Station is a good starting point for your adventures in Gifu and Toyama. From Tokyo Station, it takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes via the Hokuriku Shinkansen. From Osaka Station, it is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes via the JR Hokuriku Main Line’s Limited Express Thunderbird with a change to the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen. To get to Toyama by plane, it takes about 1 hour from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Toyama Kitokito Airport.


Related Links


The Official Toyama Travel Guide


Travels in Toyama Japan




Shinhotaka Ropeway


Yumoto Chohza 


Oryouri Fujii reservations


Ainokaze Toyama Railway’s sightseeing train: The Story of 13,000 Feet


World Heritage Gokayama Official Travel Guide


Satoyama Auberge Maki No Oto


Shogawa Gorge Cruise


Ahora Aqui





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