Toyama Japan – Toyama is a cosy city located in northern-central Japan, an easy day trip from tourist-attraction beasts such as Kanazawa and Nagano, and sitting comfortably and conveniently on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line in a location that makes it easy to slot it into an itinerary already containing attractions such as the famous Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
Toyama is famous for many things amongst the domestic tourist market, however, a few things stand out from the rest: due to its location, the seafood is super fresh and highly sought after; it boasts the largest glass artist community in the entire country and does a splendid job of supporting and promoting the almost lost art; and it was also historically a famous city of medicine, renowned across the lands.
Nowadays, if you visit Toyama you will be able to experience castle grounds and ruins, gorgeous sakura blooms in spring, blankets of thick and heavy snowfall in winter, delicious local cuisine and multiple other unique and interesting things. We’ve listed the best attractions Toyama has to offer below, which we hope will pique your interest enough for a visit!
How To Get To Toyama, Japan
There are multiple ways to get to Toyama, however the easiest and simplest way would be to take the direct JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo. It will take roughly two hours and cost 12,500 yen per person, one-way. If you have a JR pass, it is fully covered.
If you’re looking for a more cost-effective method to get to Toyama, you can book bus tickets online for roughly 4,5000 – 7,000 yen on average, however please note that these trips will take around 7 hours. You can book with either Willer Express or Japan Bus Online.
Lastly, a flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Toyama’s Airport is only one hour, however, you will need to consider getting to and from the airport, and needed to get to the airport a few hours earlier than the actual flight. This will cost between 12,000 to 25,000 for a one-way ticket with ANA.
Where To Stay In Toyama, Japan
Hostel in Toyama, Japan – Iruka Hostel
This quaint little hostel right opposite Toyama Station is the most unassuming, no-frills accommodation you will come across, but it absolutely ticks all the right boxes for a comfortable stay. The place is surprisingly large and spacious, and offers various types of rooms, from family rooms to female/male separated dorm rooms, to mixed dorm rooms. It’s well-maintained and is run by a small team of extremely friendly and accommodating staff. Given its excellent location, you’ll be able to easily walk to public transport hubs to make your way around Toyama.
Book It Now: Iruka Hostel
Hotel in Toyama, Japan – Toyama Onyado Nono
This gorgeous modern hotel stands out a bit like a sore thumb in Toyama’s stunning traditional landscape. However, if class, comfort, and cleanliness is what you’re after, then the Onyado Nono Toyama Natural Hot Spring hotel is exactly what you’re after in this little town.
It offers large and spacious guest rooms which boast western-style bedding with fluffy futon-like blankets, multiple gorgeous hot spring baths to experience onsite, free Wi-Fi throughout, and a delectable restaurant onsite.There’s a 24-hour front desk for your convenience, and if you opt for the breakfast, it’s a feast for sore eyes: a colourful assortment of multiple traditional Japanese dishes prepared using only the freshest seasonal ingredients – don’t expect lukewarm fried eggs here!
Book It Now: Onyado Nono Toyama Natural Hot Spring
The Best Things To Do in Toyama, Japan
- Experience the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
- Eat The Local Specialty: Firefly Squid and Shiro Ebi
- Visit the Famous Toyama Glass Studio
- Take a Cruise Along Matsu River
- Visit Toyama Castle Park in Spring
- Visiting During September for the ‘Owara Kaze no Bon – Harvest Wind Festival
Experience the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Arguably one of the most popular winter activities in Japan would be to experience the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a spectacular route which goes from Toyama City to Omachi City (in Nagano). The entire route hosts many forms of transport throughout its entire duration, from cable-cars, to tunnel trolley buses, to trains, buses, and ropeways – it’s an adventure just being able to experience them all in one sitting!
The route is closed from December until mid-April most years, however, throughout the rest of the year, the beauty of the scenery is simply gorgeous, and attracts thousands of visitors here just to experience the beauty for themselves.
In particular, from mid-April, as it is just after winter, the upper sections of Midagahara and Murodo host a stunning snow hallway, whose walls can reach up to 20 metres high! Imagine walking through this, it would be so surreal!
During summer and autumn, the colours of the Tateyama Mountain Range absolutely pop off. Alpine flowers and autumn leaves create the perfect scenery for photography and leisurely sightseeing. There are hiking trails that cater to both serious hikers as well as those after more of a stroll.
- Address: Tateyama, Nakaniikawa District, Toyama 930-1406, Japan
- Access: Purchase the Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket at selected JR ticket offices. This ticket will cost 9,800 yen, is offered to foreign tourists only, and needs to be purchased a day in advance. You can park your car at Tateyama Station and make your way from there.
Eat The Local Specialty: Firefly Squid and Shiro Ebi
Toyama Bay is one of the largest bays in Japan and boasts pristine clean waters, thus the seafood that comes from there is absolutely incredible. You can pick pretty much any seafood dish and be guaranteed a flavour and freshness hit, however, the two things to really look out for are the firefly squid and shiro ebi. Shiro ebi are these small shrimps that are slightly pink in colour, usually served up as a side dish for garnishing, or to add as a punch to a main dish. If you’re looking to bring some home as a souvenir, we suggest you look out for shiro ebi chips or crackers which are extremely common in Toyama stores!
Firefly squid (hotaru-ika) are named after their ability to glow in the dark – just like fireflies. Each year during the spring season, you can catch them gathered along the coast of Toyama Bay showing off a gorgeous display of lights. In restaurants, you can order them grilled, stewed, or fried, however, eating them raw and fresh is considered the best way. It’s usually served with mustard, seaweed, and daikon radish.
Visit the Famous Toyama Glass Studio
The Toyama Glass Studio is globally famous amongst the glass artist community. Visit this museum to experience one of the biggest collections of glass art pieces from around the world. You’ll find that even the building interior is a work of art!
Here, you can actually undertake classes to produce your own unique glass art under the guidance and tutelage of experts and purchase artwork on display by the local glass art artists as well. It’s a great way to show support for the local community, and hey, you’ll never know what hidden talents you might have!
- Address: 5-1 Nishicho, Toyama, 930-0062, Japan
- Access: From Toyama Station, take the tram line number 3 and alight at Grandplaza-mae. It is a short walk from there.
- Hours: 9:30am – 6:00pm
- Price: 200 yen
Take a Cruise Along Matsu River
There’s nothing quite as serene and peaceful as taking a leisurely boat ride through a river that will take you through the centre of a gorgeous traditional city like Toyama. If you happen to go during spring time (this is the most popular time!), then you will be able to capture the beauty of the cherry blossoms from a unique perspective – right on top of the water!
The boat operators will go at a leisurely pace, tell you a bit about where you are and what you’re seeing, and generally let you just take in the sight with your very own eyes. You will pass glass art decorations and bridges along the way that will absolutely beg to be photographed, so keep that phone and camera up!
- Address: 1-34 Honmaru, Toyama, 930-0081, Japan
- Access: It is a 10-minute walk from JR Toyama Station. The cruise leaves from the north-east corner of the Toyama Castle Park.
- Hours: It runs throughout the year except from December – February.
- Price: Adult: 1,500 yen, Children: 750 yen
Visit Toyama Castle Park
Across the entire Toyama City, the Toyama Castle is the most historic structure – it actually dates back to the mid-1500s! It’s actually not standing in its original form (as it was attacked during the 1500s, but restored again during 1600s – 1870s), but it bears amazing semblance to its true structure so you won’t even know. Inside the castle, you can visit the Toyama Municipal Folk Museum, which tells the story of the history of the castle and the city, and if you make your way up to the highest floor, there is a stunning observation deck.
Also located within the Toyama Castle Park is the Sato Memorial Art Museum, which displays the widely-known and stunning art collection of Sato Sukekuro, a prominent figure who hails from Toyama.
- Address: Japan, 〒930-0081 Toyama, Honmaru, 1−1
- Access: From Toyama Station, it is a 15-minute walk.
- Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
- Price: 210 yen (for castle only); 310 yen (for castle and Sato Memorial Art Museum)
Visiting During September for the Owara Kaze no Bon – Harvest Wind Festival
This stunning festival which is held annually during Autumn in Toyama draws immense crowds for its beautiful traditional elements. It’s a Japanese folk festival which entails mysterious songs and stunning dances and costumes. It originated more than 300 years ago, when the people of Toyama wanted to appease the gods and pray for respite from the natural disasters that were occurring.
Nowadays, the quiet unassuming village of Owara in Toyama transforms into a stunning display of costume, song and dance during the three nights of the year that the festival is on. From mid-afternoon until well into the night you will experience a procession through the historic streets of Owara and it will almost seem like the entire village is in on the festival. A great little festival that will immerse you back into Old Japan!
- Address: Yatsuomachifukujima, Toyama
- Access: From Toyama Station, there will be free shuttle buses that run for the duration of the festival. Otherwise, you can catch a train from Toyama Station to Etchu Yatsuo Station, and then catch a bus to the town centre of Yatsuo.
- Dates: September 1 – 3
If you are interested in Japanese traditional festivals, check out our list of the best Matsuri in Japan.
Toyama is a great way to get off the beaten path in Japan and experience something a bit different. Whether it’s to try their local specialty dishes, visit a stunning art museum (there are no shortages of them in Japan, you should make it a quest to visit them all!), or visit a historic Japanese castle, the attractions of Toyama cater to a wide range of visitors in the best way possible. Stop over on your way to places like Takayama and experience this gorgeous small town in Japan before joining the crowds!
If you have more time to visit the area, you can also explore the beautiful village of Gokayama Ainokura which is also located in Toyama prefecture.