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.
Once you reach Toyama, after enjoying sightseeing in and around the city, you will probably want to try some of the local dishes. Toyama is renowned for the quality of its seafood, rice, and vegetables, as well as for its local sweets. The facilities introduced below are places where you can actually taste Toyama's specialties and even purchase them as souvenirs.
5. Umekama Museum U-mei Kan
One of Toyama's specialties is kamaboko, a product made of kneaded fish paste. Umekama is Toyama's leading brand in kamaboko production, being in business since the early days of the 20th century.
Kamaboko itself has a long tradition in Japan, being enjoyed since ancient times. It is made of fish meat that has been minced and ground with spices, then shaped and steamed. At the Umekama Museum U-mei kan, the visitors can hear a short explanation of how kamaboko is made, of its history, and of its high nutritional value.
You also get to see the making process of decorative kamaboko products, such as red snapper shaped kamaboko, which is popular as a gift on congratulatory occasions.
A great variety of kamaboko products lines the shelves of the Umekama shop. The konbu (seaweed) kamaboko rolls are a popular choice, being the favorite of the locals, who consume it on a daily basis. On the other hand, the sophisticated decorative kamaboko products make gorgeous souvenirs that are also very tasty.
Please keep in mind that kamaboko products have a shelf life of at least one week provided that they are kept in the refrigerator until served.
When in Toyama, do pay a visit to the Umekama Museum and taste their delicious kamaboko products. They offer precious insights on the food culture that developed in Japanese port cities such as Toyama.
6. Shimakawa Ame Shop
Candy made of malt syrup is another specialty of Toyama. Because it reduced the bitterness of medicine, malt syrup was put to pharmaceutical use in the old days. In close connection to Toyama's pharamaceutical industry, shops making candy out of malt syrup thrived in the area, ever since the Edo period.
Shimakawa Ame was opened as a branch shop of Shimakawa Seitai, a candy factory specialized in malt syrup products whose roots go back to 1663.
At Shimakawa Ame, visitors can learn about the stages of making candy from malt syrup through the pictures displayed in the shop. You can also sample the two main types of malt candy - mizuame (malt syrup), which can be enjoyed as is or used to sweeten drinks and foods, and solid malt candy, which comes in a variety of flavors.
What makes malt candy a long time favorite of customers of all ages is its moderate sweetness. Although it's candy, its natural, delicate sweetness doesn't make one thirsty. If you're looking for a souvenir that's representative of Toyama, the malt candy at Shimakawa Ame is one of the best choices.
7. Tsuki Sekai Confectionery
Tsuki Sekai is a famous sweets manufacturing company based in Toyama, boasting a history spanning over one century. Their refined sweets have fans all around Japan, who love them for their soft texture that melts in one's mouth.
Their main store, located in the center of Toyama City, offers many types of confectionery made at Tsuki Sekai, including the sophisticated sweets used in tea ceremony.
Their signature items are the "Tsuki Sekai" confections made with fresh eggs and wasanbon (refined Japanese sugar). Inspired by the "world on the Moon" which stands at the origin of their name, these sweets have a softness that is almost surreal. They are sure to bring joy to anyone who receives them as a gift.
Bonus! Stay in Toyama - Hotel Grand Terrace Toyama
With so much to explore and enjoy in Toyama, it well worth staying overnight in the city. If you're looking for accommodation in Toyama, we can recommend Hotel Grand Terrace Toyama, which is conveniently located 10 minutes away by foot from JR Toyama Station.
Hotel Grand Terrace Toyama offers spacious rooms with a view over the city and toward the impressive Tateyama Mountain Range. English-speaking staff is positioned 24 hours a day at the reception desk and they will be happy to help you with information on what there is to enjoy in the city.
The beautiful, artistic interior of the lobby, which makes full use of Toyama's refined glass art, makes it an ideal place for meetings or for time spent leisurely reading a newspaper or admiring the works of art on display.
You will most surely enjoy your time at Grand Terrace Toyama, which brings the best that the area has to offer when it comes to architecture, interior design, art, and cuisine.
Enjoy Your Trip to Toyama!
Toyama has always been a popular destination for mountain climbing enthusiasts who would take on the challenge of hiking the Tateyama Mountains. However, Toyama City itself offers so much to explore and experience, as we have hopefully shown in this article.
Starting with the Matsukawa River Cruises, which are a great way to get acquainted with the story of the city, every place you visit in Toyama will offer insights into the fascinating culture and histoy of the area.