Translated by Ramona Taranu
Toyama, The City Of Rivers And Glass - 7 Wonderful Must-Visit Places
Written by Tomoko Takahashi
Toyama, often called "the Venice of the East", has many wonderful points of interest that reveal the fascinating history and rich culture of the city. This article introduces seven destinations in Toyama that come highly recommended by the locals.
2. Toyama Municipal Folk Museum
The Toyama Municipal Folk Museum is located within the main tower of Toyama Castle, which was partly rebuilt after the war. Through the exhibitions on the first and second floors, the visitors can learn about the history of Toyama, from the earliest settlements in the area until the modern period.
Toyama Castle was built in 1543 and its history, which spans over four centuries, is quite fascinating. The location of the castle and the city which developed around it made it strategically important during the late medieval times (last half of the 16th century). As a result, Toyama often ended up being the battleground of the powerful feudal leaders who were disputing their authority during those times.
The maps and other exhibits on display show the tumultuous history of the castle before the Edo period (1603 - 1868), as well as how the city thrived in the latter half of the 17th century and afterward, until the Meiji period (1868 - 1912). By 1873, the castle was abandoned and its ruins gradually left the place to the modern city of Toyama to develop. The main tower of the castle, which can be seen today in the heart of the city, was built as a symbol of revival after WWII.
The area surrounding the museum is the Toyama Castle Park, a recreational space for the citizens, full of seasonal flowers and plants that enchant the eye. The park includes a beautiful Japanese garden, where visitors can enjoy exquisite miniature landscapes of the mountains and the sea.
3. Ikedaya Yasubeie Shoten
Toyama is famous for its production of medicine, an industry that has flourished in this area since the 17th century. During the Edo era (1603 - 1868), medicine sellers used to travel from Toyama to all the regions of the country to sell their products.
One of the pharmacies that have been in business ever since the Edo era is Ikedaya Yasubeie, renowned for producing Hangontan, a medicine effective against stomach pain and digestive disorders. Hangontan and all the medicine made by Ikeda Yasubeie follow the principles of traditional Chinese medicine , being produced with organic ingredients.
At the main store of Ikeda Yasubeie, which is located in the heart of the city, visitors can see a display of traditional tools, as well as containers and drawers with hundreds of ingredients used for making medicine. Several times a day, a member of the staff explains how Hangontan is made and even performs a demonstration. The visitors are invited to try their hand at cutting the medicine using traditional tools.
The first floor of the store is also a shop where the medicine, herbal teas and other pharmaceutical products made at Ikedaya Yasubeie can be purchased.
The second floor of the store is occupied by Kenkozen Yakuto, a dining space specialized in healthy dishes made based on the old Chinese principle that food itself is a type of medicine. All the ingredients used in preparing these dishes are chosen with the utmost care, creating a well-balanced combination that is believed to have good effects on the body.
Customers can choose between 2000 yen courses and 3000 yen courses. Please note that prior reservation is needed for a meal at Kenkozen Yakuto.
4. Toyama Glass Art Museum
The glass industry is another representative branch of Toyama's culture and economy. It has developed since the Edo period, in close connection to the local pharmaceutical production, as glass containers were needed in order to store the medicine. As a result, Toyama is home to several glass art studios.
At the Toyama Glass Art Museum, visitors can enjoy exhibitions of the finest glass artwork made by artists from all around Japan and from overseas. In addition to the temporary exhibitions which display the latest developments in glass art, there is also a permanent exhibition dedicated to the world history of glass art and crafts.
The Toyama Glass Art Museum occupies the floors between the 2nd and the 6th of TOYAMA KIRARI, a complex designed by architect Kuma Kengo. In addition to the museum, the building contains the Toyama City Library and an elegant cafe with a view over the city.
For more information on the features and highlights of the Toyama Glass Art Museum, please refer to our articles:
Toyama Glass Art Museum: The Beauty of Kengo Kuma's Architecture
Toyama Glass Art Museum: Contemporary Glass Art Exhibitions