Toyama has its own airport, from which buses run to the city center (25 min, ¥400). Toyama Airport has international flights to Shanghai, Seoul, Vladivostok, and Dalian and local service to Tokyo, Sapporo, and Fukuoka. However, flight schedules change heavily with the season so it would be worth checking out in advance what is available for when you will be traveling.
Train travel from Tokyo to Toyama dramatically improved in 2015 with the opening of a 228km extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen north and west of Nagano. It currently takes as little as two hours for this trip on the fastest service - the Kagayaki (かがやき) - which generally operates during the morning and evening hours. The more frequent Hakutaka (はくたか) makes all stops north of Nagano yielding slightly longer travel times.
The regular fare from Tokyo to Toyama is ¥12,730 for a reserved seat. Standard and Green Car seats are fully covered by the respective versions of the Japan Rail Pass, but if you want to use the premium GranClass seats - which feature airline-like business class seats and personal attendant service - you will have to pay the limited express and GranClass surcharges (an additional ¥19,100 from Tokyo to Toyama), as any version of the Japan Rail Pass only covers the base fare.
Note that regional JR passes will only cover part of the above journey... for example the JR East Rail Pass will only cover trips to Jōetsu-myōkō, at the end of JR East's territory; to continue to Toyama you will have to pay for a regular ticket (¥5,050 for a reserved seat) over the portion operated by JR West.
Travel from the Kansai and Chubu regions to Toyama used to offer one-seat rides, but these trains now terminate at Kanazawa and you will have to transfer to the shinkansen to complete your journey. The Thunderbird (サンダーバード) runs from Osaka and Kyoto to Kanazawa; the complete journey from Osaka to Toyama takes approximately 3 hours, 20 minutes (¥9,430; no charge with the Japan Rail Pass).
Nagoya serves Toyama every day with four direct limited express services called the Hida (ひだ), which take 4 hours and cost ¥7,650 yen reserved. More expensive, but faster, is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Maibara, the Shirasagi (しらさぎ) from Maibara to Kanazawa, and finally the Hokuriku Shinkansen (3 hours 15 minutes, ¥11,350; no charge with the Japan Rail Pass). Some Shirasagi trains start in Nagoya.
Complementing the Kagayaki and Hakutaka trains in Toyama is a bullet train shuttle, called the Tsurugi (つるぎ). The Tsurugi only operates between Kanazawa and Toyama, covering the journey in just 23 minutes.
The Ainokaze Toyama Railway operates local services to train stations formerly served by Japan Railways. The Japan Rail Pass is valid only Toyama-Takaoka without stopover. If you disembark at any other stations except Toyama station or Takaoka Station, Japan Rail Pass is not valid.
Seibu runs three daily buses (one of which is overnight) to Toyama from Ikebukuro and the Sunshine City Prince Hotel. It costs ¥7340 one-way (¥13210 round-trip) and takes seven hours to make the journey.
Several companies have bus runs from Osaka and Kyoto to Toyama. West JR Bus has a morning run (5 1/2 hours) and an overnight run (8 hours) from JR Osaka station, while Hankyu has an evening run (5 hours) and an overnight run (7 3/4 hours) from Umeda. The one-way cost for these lines is roughly ¥5200 from Osaka and ¥4800 from Kyoto.
Central Toyama is compact and any sights of interest may be reached from the station on foot or by bike. The public transport is excellent with several upgrades in the past few years, the streetcar line operates just south of Toyama station, it has been upgraded and expanded in December 2009 into a 3 line system, one downtown loop, one south, and one west, (with many connections to various regional rail lines except the western end) while the newish port light rail operates from the north of the station (Ekikita) to the seaport and Iwasehama (Iwase beach).
Toyama station is served by 3 incoming (from the East) regional lines, Hokuriku main line (from Niigata), Toyama Chiho main line, and Fujikoshi line (from southeast), all of which may be used to get around town and/or beyond. The Hokuriku line continues west (to Kanazawa), the Takayama main line heads southwest.
To complement the 4 light rail lines and 4 regional rail lines are the riverboat going north-south through the center of town and a bus system.
- Toyama Folk Village is a series of small cultural museums located about a half hour from the station. Buses leave at regular intervals from a bus stop located near Toyama Station. (http://museums.toyamaken.jp/e_kenpaku/e_kenpa/e_23.html) Each museum is located in a traditional house and they feature a large number of crafts, tools, toys and furniture. There is a also a beautiful shop full of traditional Toyama clay crafts made on the premises.
- Gohyaku-rakan, also known as the "Hills of 500 Buddhas", is located right next to the Toyama Folk Village. Even from a short distance away, nothing is visible but a few trees and a small, dilapidated temple. When you get closer however, you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of eerie and atmospheric Buddha statues, dressed in multi-colored ribbons. The statues are disciples of Buddha.
- Toyama Castle, a small residence dating from the 15th century, and Toyama Castle Park, are a short walk south from the station. Along the way are showcases of local artworks.
- At the top of Toyama City Hall, there is a free observation deck where you can see the whole city.
- To see some pre-war Japan and get a taste of Toyama's shipping history, take a walk through Iwase town. Take the lightrail to Higashi Iwase to visit the Mori residence (1878), or to Iwasehama for the beach.
One of the highlights of a trip to Toyama is a riverboat ride around the center of the city. Boats leave at regular intervals from a stand next to Toyama Castle.
Many festivals can be enjoyed in Toyama and the surrounding region year round.
Toyama festival is held in August and includes a fireworks display and various local activities. The Yosakoi dance festival, held over a weekend, occurs at the end of July/begnning of August, and some of the best spots for viewing displays of this modern Japanese dance style include around Toyama castle, Kencho-mae Park, and the Sogawa shopping arcade.
Attracting large crowds at the beginning of September, Owara dance festival is held in Yatsuo town, a few stops from Toyama JR station. Running for three days, lanterns line the streets of this picturesque town and dancers and musicians parade through the streets demonstrating this traditional dance style. There are also many food and souvenir stalls. Rumor has it the best time to enjoy the atmosphere is after midnight.
National holidays and festivals also provide opportunities to catch events in Toyama, including Tanabata, Kaze-no-bon, and cherry blossom viewing in spring. The Toyama International Center has up-to-date listings on notable events in Toyama and the surrounding area in several languages including English.
Above the station, a range of souvenirs can be found, but a greater range of traditional objects can be found in nearby tourist towns such as Kanazawa. Toyama clay dolls and local glass art can be found at the folkcraft village.
Opened in September 2007, the new Daiwa department store has multiple levels of international and Japanese designer label clothing, accessories, shoes, homewares, books, stationery and so on. Head to the basement for local and imported foodstuffs, from sushi to cheeses. There are also a range of restaurants and cafes in the complex, as well as a Mochi Cream counter on the ground floor. Running next to the store is the Sogawa shopping arcade, lined with boutiques and stores, including a few Kimono boutiques and a bookstore.
Next to the station can be found the Marier shopping complex for more upmarket clothing labels.
The first Sunday morning of each month, a market is held in the grounds of the Gokoku shrine (by the Jinzu river, at the end of Heiwadori), with a range of secondhand and handmade goods on sale, including kimono, ceramics and food. Earlier is better to catch the best bargains or just get some of the atmosphere.
Around the station can be found many restaurants serving local and international food, including Korean, Chinese and Indian. Another area densely packed with restaurants are the alleys around and behind the Sogawa shopping arcade, as well as the Daiwa department store.
For an inexpensive Izakaya experience, try the 5th floor of the CIC building (opposite Toyama station).
Head to La Yuki, on Joshi-Odori, for Mexican style food in cozy surroundings (near tram stop Aramachi station).
Just around the corner from My Pleasure and down the street from the Lawsons convenience store you'll come across the Irish pub Pot Still which has a sign that remotely resembles a pile of crap. Grab a pint of Guinness and Bass to go with a plate of the best fish and chips in town. Pot Still has darts and pool and a very foreigner friendly environment.
For a more relaxed bar/club, try Beeline in an alley off the Chuodori end of Sogawa. This area is also home to a few bars and Izakaya. Just opposite and south of Daiwa, the quirky De Niro lies in an alley.
Right across from Beeline is a restaurant called Pepin. Good food and service with and English menu. Food is smaller portioned and presented but is still a casual relaxed dining atmosphere. Generally, modern music plays low in the background and a small counter/bar for those dining alone or just like a drink.
ANA Crowne Plaza is the best in Toyama. Many weddings held here but good service, comfortable beds and great breakfast. Traditional Japanese breakfast on 5th floor at the Unkai restaurant.
Another very nice hotel for business travelers is the Daiwa Roynet Hotel. The price is very reasonable (<8000 yen) and the amenities are excellent. Plus, for a small addition <1000 yen, you can add a buffet style breakfast. PH: 076-420-0055
- Mount Tate (Tateyama) — one of Japan's best-known mountains and one of the highest peaks in the area. Can be climbed in a challenging day-trip, or viewed at leisure on the many cable cars and gondolas of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
|Routes through Toyama|
|Kanazawa ←||W E||→ Nagano|
|Kanazawa ← Takaoka ←||W E||→ Itoigawa → Joetsu|
|END ←||N S||→ Hida-Takayama → Gifu|
|Kanazawa ← Oyabe ← S junction ←||W E||→ Itoigawa → Niigata|