5 Things to Do in Toyama City, Chubu’s Little-Known Castle Town

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  • Toyama City (富山市), the capital of Toyama Prefecture (富山県), is a city in the Chubu (中部) region. It is one of the gateways to the Japanese Alps and other popular tourist attractions in the nearby prefectures. If you’re planning to go to any of the known attractions in the nearby areas, consider stopping for a day in this former “castle town” and discover its hidden gems. Though less popular than Kanazawa (金沢) and Takayama (高山) for tourists, the city offers equally inviting attractions that can fill your entire day with fun-filled escapades. Here are five things to do in Toyama City.

    1. Tour the City Using the City Tram

    Author’s photo

    The city uses trams as one of the common methods of transport for the locals. It’s a great way to visit the city without spending a lot of money. Hop onto the tram, watch the surroundings pass you by, and decide your destination when and where you want to.

    One possible route that I recommend is the north of Toyama Station via Toyama Light-Rail that starts at Toyamaekikita (富山駅北) and ends at Iwasehama Station (岩瀬浜駅). For only 200 yen, it will bring you to Iwase Canal and some white sand beaches like Yaezuhama (八重津浜), Iwasehama (岩瀬浜), and Hamakurosaki Beach (浜黒崎). On a nice, clear day the Iwasehama area is perfect for a stroll.

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    2. View the Cityscape with the Japanese Alps in the Background

    Toyama is one of the places in the Chubu (中部) region where you can see the majestic Japanese Alps. Though you will be able to see it in most places in the city, the best view is always on top. There are two places that you can visit for the best view of the city. These are Mt. Kureha Park Observatory and Toyama City Office View Tower. There is no entrance fee for either of the two places.

    3. Explore Toyama Castle and Park

    Author’s photo

    This place will keep you busy taking pictures! The reconstructed castle grounds has a Japanese garden, an art museum, and a statue of the former local lord. It is also near Matsukawa River (松川), a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing from early to mid-April.

    It’s free to roam around the castle grounds but you need to pay 210 yen to enter the castle or 310 yen to enter both Sato Memorial Art Museum (佐藤記念美術館) and the castle.

    Toyama Castle and Park website *Japanese only
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    4. See Some Glass Art by Visiting Toyama Glass Art Museum (富山市ガラス美術館)

    Designed by renowned architect Kuma Kengo (隈研吾), this glass art museum is a haven for art lovers. Not only can you find glass art pieces from all over the world, but you will also be mesmerized by the architecture design of the building in and out. You pay 200 yen for the permanent exhibition, while the fee for the temporary exhibition ranges from 700-1000 yen.

    Toyama Glass Art Museum website
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    5. Try Toyama’s Famous Black Ramen

    This award-winning local specialty is cheap, different because of the soup’s dark color, and very tasty. Find Ramen Iroha in the basement of CiC Department Store, around a three-minute walk from Toyama EkiMae, to try this famous dish.

    Toyama is also known for its firefly squid, Japanese glass shrimp, and fresh sushi. If you have the budget to indulge, searching for the best sushi restaurant and having these delicacies for dinner is a great way to end your day in the city.

    Ramen Iroha website
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    You can get to Toyama from Tokyo (東京) by taking a bus from Shinjuku for around 6000 yen. You can also take the Hokuriko-Shinkansen (北陸新幹線) bullet train from either Tokyo Station (東京駅) or Ueno Station (上野駅) for around 12000 yen.

    So whether you are going to Shirakawa Go to visit the famous Japanese village or you’re visiting the majestic Kurobe Gorge (黒部峡谷) in autumn, make Toyama City your starting point for some your epic adventure in this part of Japan.