Translated by Lester Somera
See The World's Most Beautiful Bay! Cycling Through Toyama
Written by Keisuke Yamada
Toyama Bay is recognized as one of the world's most beautiful bays, and the annual Toyama Bay Cycling event is a wonderful way to see its gorgeous coastline.
Toyama Prefecture, which faces the Sea of Japan, is blessed with plenty of natural resources and delicious seafood. Toyama also features sightseeing spots like the Mt. Tate Kurobe Alpen Route and Kurobe Dam, as well as the representative food for winter palates, yellowtail caught in the coldest part of winter.
Toyama Prefecture also boasts about the inclusion of Toyama Bay in the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club. If you really want to get the best view of gorgeous Toyama Bay, then the perfect thing to do is join the annual Toyama Bay Coast Cycling event, which we’ll explain in this article.
Why Is Toyama Bay Recognized As One Of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays?
The international World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club was founded in Berlin, Germany on March 10th, 1997. Backed by UNESCO, the prestigious club is intended to promote tourism in bay areas, safeguard marine resources, allow for the continuance of traditional lifestyles by the local residents, and preserve the natural scenery.
There are five conditions for membership.
1. Outstanding natural beauty
2. A rich ecosystem
3. Economic potential
4. Existing organizations with legal stewardship at the regional and national level
5. Conformity to the appraisal standards of a World Heritage site
A bay cannot be approved without clearing the above conditions. Incidentally, in the case of Toyama Bay, it’s said that the sight of the 3000-meter-tall Mt. Tate in the distance was assessed very highly. The soaring ascent of the 3000-meter-tall mountains, which contrasts with the sea floor that plunges a thousand meters deep, is a dynamic topographical sight that is exceedingly rare, even on a global level.
Toyama Bay Cycling
The Toyama Bay Cycling event is held once a year. The event begins in Himi Harbor in Himi City, which is famous for its midwinter yellowtail, and there are four courses - the challenge course (169 km), the long course (126 km), the middle course (90 km) and the cycling course (38 km).
Since it’s open to anyone, people from Japan and people from overseas flock to Toyama for this popular event. Rental cycles suitable for rally courses are not available, so you’ll need to bring your own bicycle for participate.
*There are rental cycles available for general use, just not for the cycling event.
The course has midway aid stations for hydration, and you can grab a local snack and talk to residents while fully enjoying the cycling portion of the event.
An Introduction To The Middle Course
This time I took the middle course (90 km), so let’s take a look at the course details and the midway aid stations, in addition to the amazing scenery.
The Opening Ceremony And Start
First, all the participants gathered at the start for the opening ceremony, to hear words of encouragement from the Toyama prefectural governor and the mayor of Himi City. This year (2016), they actually both joined the event!! The governor and mayor gave easy-to-understand speeches about how to enjoy the event and the splendor of the courses, and they had a captive audience.
After the opening ceremony, participants were split into groups, then several people at a time would leave from the starting point. Entry is staggered to minimize congestion and allow for a smooth start to the race.
Riding Along The Bay Coast
Leave the starting line and you will travel along the coastal course pictured here. Dash alongside the sandy beaches under a bright blue sky. Breathing in the crisp air on your pleasurable ride, you realize what a luxury it is to be able to ride your bike here.
Since it’s not a race, but a cycling event, you will have to stop at red lights. However, this is a good time to get a look at the scenery and have a chat with your fellow cyclists. The rider behind us was kind enough to let me snap a photo. There is a track alongside the bay, and I got good pictures while leaning against the fence.
After that, continue along the coast.
Soon, you will arrive at the first aid station. Here I received water and local kamaboko chips.
Cyclists can take a breather here. I got off my bike, too, and talked with other participants about our impressions of the course up to this point.
Soon after that, you will arrive at the turnaround point , where there are plenty of waiting volunteers, as shown in the picture.
Volunteers will hand you water and a special bento lunch when you arrive. In addition, the volunteers are making the local specialty, dondon-yaki, to serve to cyclists hot off the grill. The volunteers warmly told the participants, “Eat a lot!”
At the turnaround point, the crowd of cyclists relaxed and made small talk while enjoying their lunches, with snippets of pleasant chatter like “beautiful scenery, right?” “what a smooth course,” and “this bento is delicious!” fluttering about.
From The Turnaround Point To The Goal
After taking a break at the turnaround point, the only thing left to do is is go back the way you came and make it safely to the goal. As you can see in the picture, the cycling course is marked by conspicuous lengths of blue tape, so you don’t need to look at a map to follow the course. When going back and forth, just use these lines as your guide and you can enjoy your ride to the fullest, with no worries about getting lost.
There are also several cycle stations midway through the course. Some of these spots are have cafes or shower room facilities, and you can also ask about rental cycles.
The cyclists reached the goal after making it through the 90km course. There’s even a cameraman waiting for you to reach the goal, so decide on your pose and cross the finish line! After you finish the course, the event organizers will give you a proof of course completion certificate, so get it as a keepsake.
What do you think? The Toyama Bay Cycling event is held at one of the world’s most beautiful bays. At the end of the race, all of the participants seemed like they really enjoyed themselves, with people going to nearby onsen hot springs to clean up and dropping by local izakayas to wet their palates. It was really impressive to see everyone having a great time both during and after the event.
You can also traverse the course when the event isn’t going on, so if you love cycling, how about riding down the coastal roads and gazing at the spectacular sights of Toyama?
*Event entry is done through ‘sports entry’ applications or via fax.
Himi Fishing Cultural Exchange Hall Totoza
Address: Toyama, Himi City, Chuomachi 7-1
Hours: 9:00-17:00 (Last entry at 16:30)
Closed: Every Wednesday and during the New Year’s holiday
Closest station: JR Himi Station
Access: Five minutes from Himi Station by taxi
Homepage: Himi Fishing Cultural Exchange Hall Totoza