If you are planning a trip to Japan, be sure to add Toyama Prefecture to your list of places to visit. Toyama is a hidden tourist destination. Breathtaking scenery, delicious food, rich history and more will enchant you. In recent years, the number of foreign tourists has gradually increased.
This page introduces recommended places and things to do in Toyama.
Table of Contents
Outline of Toyama
Toyama Prefecture is located on the Sea of Japan side. Toyama Prefecture, together with Ishikawa Prefecture and Fukui Prefecture, is sometimes called the Hokuriku region.
One of the most popular sightseeing spots in Toyama Prefecture is the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. This route is a spectacular mountain road through the Northern Alps, offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, lakes and valleys. You can travel by cable car, bus, and ropeway while enjoying the breathtaking scenery.
You can also see these mountains (Tateyama mountain range) from the city of Toyama. A lot of snow falls on the Tateyama mountain range every year. In the spring, the snow is cleared and buses can pass, as you can see in the photo above. It’s also good to get on the bus and go see the snow wall.
Toyama is located quite far from Tokyo. There is also an airport, but it is not very convenient. We recommend coming from Tokyo by Shinkansen. A station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen that runs to Kanazawa, Toyama Station is easily accessible from Tokyo in about 2.5 hours. You can also easily access Kyoto and Osaka by connecting to a limited express train via Kanazawa.
If you want to travel around Toyama, a rail pass that allows unlimited rides on the Shinkansen and local trains is a great deal. >>See here for details.
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is one of the world’s leading mountain sightseeing routes that traverses the mountainous region of Central Honshu at an altitude of 3000 m. It is a magnificent route from Tateyama station in Toyama prefecture to JR Shinano-Omachi station in Nagano prefecture with a total length of about 40km and a height difference of 1,975m. Along the way, you can enjoy the spectacular scenery by using cable cars, ropeways and buses.
Tateyama is one of Japan’s three sacred mountains, along with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Hakusan, and is a popular hiking spot. You can choose a course according to your physical strength and schedule. Anyone with moderate physical fitness can participate, so it is crowded with Japanese hikers on weekends. We recommend coming on a weekday. July to October is the season for the most pleasant experiences.
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is closed during the winter when there is a great deal of snow in the mountains. It is open from mid-April to the end of November. In spring you can enjoy the amazing world of snow. In summer, you can experience the cool alpine atmosphere. And in the fall, you can admire the magnificent foliage through the ropeway.
Shomyo Falls is a must-see when visiting the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. If you go up from Tateyama Station, you will find it between Bijodaira and Midokahara. Shomyo Falls is the tallest waterfall in Japan with a drop of 350 meters. You can walk the boardwalk to the waterfall. The waterfall seen in spring, when the amount of water increases due to the melting snow, is powerful and overwhelming.
Another must-visit place in Toyama is the historic Gokayama village. This village is surrounded by steep mountains and is in a heavy snowfall area, with nearly 2 meters of snow in winter.
In Gokayama Village, there are still unique old farmhouses. Houses built in an architectural style called “Gassho-zukuri” are characterized by steep thatched roofs designed to withstand the heavy snowfall that is unique to this region.
The houses of this traditional village in a remote mountainous area are famous for being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You may have seen the photo too. If you actually visit here, I think your heart will be at peace. Then, learn about the traditional way of life of the locals and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.
Kurobe Gorge, which is counted as one of the three most beautiful valleys in Japan, is a spot that is rapidly gaining popularity among foreign tourists.
We recommend taking the Kurobe Gorge Railway, which runs for about 80 minutes for a meandering 20km length. An open-air train allows you to fully experience the surrounding landscape. You can also get off at stations along the way to access the promenade, hot springs, restaurants, and accommodations. Unazuki Onsen, which I will introduce next, is highly recommended.
Unazuki Onsen is the largest hot spring town in Toyama Prefecture. It is located at the entrance of Kurobe Gorge, so staying here and thoroughly experiencing Kurobe is a recommended travel style. There is a wide variety of accommodation options, from traditional inns to large hotels and guesthouses.
The water quality of Unazuki Onsen is a weakly alkaline simple hot spring that is gentle on the skin, and is also known as a “hot spring for beautiful skin.” It is also close to the sea, so seafood dishes caught in Toyama Bay are one of the pleasures. Crab and squid are famous, but Toyama’s specialty, trout sushi, and white shrimp from Toyama Bay are recommended. A local craft brewery is also nearby, so please enjoy hot springs and gourmet food.
If I was asked by someone, “Where is the most beautiful rice field landscape in Japan?” I would answer, “It’s the Tonami Plain.” In the Tonami Plain of Toyama Prefecture, vast rice fields spread out as shown in the above photo. About 7000 farmhouses are scattered and each has a windbreak forest. The view from the hills is spectacular.
Generally, farmhouses are gathered in rural Japan, but in Tonami Plain, farmhouses are scattered. This is because in the Edo period, each farm was given the land it had reclaimed. Each farmer built a windbreak forest around his residence. These forests served as accents, creating a beautiful rural landscape.
Also, Tonami is also known for its tulip cultivation. The scenery of spring when the vast tulip fields are in full bloom is very beautiful and spectacular. If you visit Tonami in spring, be sure to visit the Tulip Park. Please check the link below for more information, including the tour menu.
Shogawa Gorge cruise
The Sho River is one of the largest rivers in the Hokuriku region, which irrigates the Tonami Plain and flows into Toyama Bay. From the Edo period to the early Showa period, it was used as water transportation to transport wood cut from the mountains of Hida.
The area upstream from Komaki Dam on this river is called Shogawa Gorge, and many people visit it as a scenic spot. Above all, the scenery up to Soyama Dam, which is a prefectural park, is particularly worth seeing. You can experience the powerful natural beauty of each season on a pleasure boat cruise that runs upstream in the great outdoors.
Also, Omaki Onsen Kanko Ryokan, a secluded inn that can only be reached by boat, is a luxury ryokan on the lake that you would definitely want to stay at least once.
Thank you for reading to the end.
>>If you want to know the tour menu of Toyama, click here!
Now, let’s plan to make your vacation in Japan the best experience ever!