It is amazing that there are so many beautiful places to visit throughout Japan. Around every corner there is something that will interest you. Toyama is just another example of an unexpected discovery.
Until recently Toyama was an out of the way city that most foreign travelers had never heard of. Now the new Hokuriku Shinkansen takes you directly from Tokyo to Toyama knocking off several hours travel time.
This was to be a stopover for our next day trip to Kurobe Gorge and Dam. We had not checked out what this city had to offer, because it was intended to be just a place to rest up before the big activities in the mountains.
That all changed when we arrived at Toyama station and walked into a convenient information center. We found that we were not as tired as anticipated and decided to use our half-day to tour the city.
With a self-guided map in hand we noticed a fish market and boarded a tram to the waterfront area. The tram dropped us off at the last stop, which turned out to be near the new Shinminato Bridge. You may be thinking, "so what a bridge?" This bridge spans 600 meters and after an elevator ride up one of the towers is a very nice enclosed pedestrian walkway. On a clear day you can see the Noto peninsula, the Tateyama Mountains, and Toyama Bay. Looking down on the left side is the Kaio Maru tall ship. We enjoyed a nice stroll over and back stopping often to take pictures from the large clear windows.
Not far from the bridge is a path that leads first to the Tall Boat Park and then onto to the Fish Market. Although on a smaller scale than most of the fish markets we have visited, it was clean and very organized.
When you travel throughout Japan there is one thing you will notice everywhere and that is that Japanese love soft cream. This is not your typical vanilla and chocolate flavors. The flavors range from green tea to seaweed and at this market shrimp soft cream. Like Kit Kats, most prefectures have a special flavor soft cream representing their area.
Our next stop was the Uchikawa Canal featured in several films because of its many artistic sculptured bridges. They claim to be the Venice of Japan, but Kyoto also has made that claim as well. I have been to both canals and cannot argue with either one.
We took a quiet walk along the canal and ended up in one of the many unique art galleries. As soon as we entered the gallery a lady sat us down and gave us a nice cup of hot coffee. After browsing the paintings we settled on two watercolors depicting the bridge and the canal. We found out our bus back to the station had already left and in a panic began asking various shop owners where we could catch another bus. She finished with her customer and then led us down several streets and made sure we boarded the proper bus. Now that is what you call customer service!
Upon returning to our hotel near the station we found a local sushi restaurant, where I experienced my first horse-tongue sushi. If you try not to think about where it came from, the taste is amazingly good. It is interesting how in each culture we get set in our ways as to what is good to eat and what not to touch.
Japan has helped me to broaden my horizons, especially when it comes to food. Japan’s cuisine is one of two countries, France being the other, designated as UNESCO cultural heritage status.
Toyama is also known for very sweet red queen crabs, Yellow tail, and white shrimp. With pleasure I tried them all.
There are many other attractions in Toyama, including Toyama Castle, Botanical Gardens, Fugan Unga Kansui Park where you can enjoy Starbucks coffee while watching the sunset and lighting of the Shinminato Bridge.
Once again I have discovered another not so well known city that offers several great attractions and awesome hospitality.