The recently opened Hokuriku Shinkansen high-speed train line made the city of Toyama easily reachable from both Kanazawa (only a 20-minute ride) as well as from Tokyo, which is now only 2 hours away.
The Tateyama Mountain Range is the most spectacular natural landscape that this nature-rich region has to offer. It can be admired from anywhere within Toyama prefecture, from its coastlines facing the Sea of Japan to its more rural areas in the southern part of the region.
Copperware, lacquerware, and wood crafts have a centuries-long history here, with many local artisans working to make sure their skills find a place into the present as well as in the future.
The sophisticated beauty of traditional Japanese woodworking
Pay a visit to Kumiko Ranma, a traditional woodworking studio, and receive an overview of this mesmerizing art by the company’s president.
In Japan, the most refined woodworking techniques are famous for not using any nails: all wooden components are beautifully assembled through geometrical patterns so that the wooden structure becomes incredibly strong without the need for any nails nor joints.
This surprising technique can be used for furniture up until large wooden buildings and has been passed down through generations of craftsmen since the Asuka period, more than 1,500 years ago.
What makes Kumiko Ranma particularly special is their choice to make sure this ancient craft has a place even in the contemporary world, as even in Japan wooden products and buildings using this ancient technique are declining in number.
Bringing its tradition to a new level, the company started offering their woodwork style to major design and IT brands around the world, receiving appreciation and starting a collaboration with companies such as Apple, Starbucks, Hermes and the Ritz Carlton hotels.
Take a woodwork workshop to try your hand at this intricate ancient tradition.
Possibly the most sustainable car factory in the world? Visit a unique “hand-made car” factory
While Japan is worldwide famous for its Toyota factory model, in Toyama prefecture a small car brand called Mitsuoka Motors offers a completely different, yet indeed unique, take on car making.
While it is said that Toyota factories can produce a car per minute, Mitsuoka Motors only produces one per day on average. You will see no conveyor belts nor large machinery at this unusual factory, as each single car is produced by hand.
While this business model may seem outdated in today’s frantic globalized world, this small “car-making boutique” is very much appreciated by car lovers who enjoy Mitsuoka Motors’ unique car design and concept.
Take a factory tour and have a chance to talk to some of the workers about their passion for car making and their dream of a sustainable, community-based way of producing stylish vehicles.
Herbal workshop in the beautiful Toyama countryside
Located in the countryside of Toyama prefecture, surrounded by impressive rice fields and overlooking the beautiful mountains of Tateyama, Helthian Wood is a herbalism workshop and event space. Its main facility is an impressive building designed by world-famous architect Kuma Kengo.
Healthian Wood also hosts a 1-starred Michelin star offering a top-quality meal using local superfoods and healthy herbs and ingredients.
Stop for both a healthy lunch and a visit to the place, where Mr. Maeda, president of Healthy Wood, explains his vision to make this place a hub for herbalism as well as a healthy place for people to visit as well as live long-term in balance with nature, hoping to create a herbal village with people living here by the next century!
Owarakaze no Bon - feel the heart of an ancient traditional local festival
Since about 300 years ago, Owarakaze no Bon festival has been held every September, with locals enjoying a night of music, dancing, and celebrations.
Witness the town’s transformation for this special evening: thousands of lanterns light up the streets, shamisen, Kokyu music and drums echo the streets and both men and women flow through the town wearing traditional clothing knitted for the event.
With this tour, you will be able to meet many locals who regularly participate in the festival. If you are visiting Toyama when the event is not scheduled, performances of some of the most impressive moments of this matsuri can be arranged privately, as well as an evening featuring the traditional festival food and drinks.
Toyama hidden gem: onsen relaxation at a museum-hotel
In Toyama, we recommend you stay at a small luxury hotel nestled on the banks of Jinzu Gorge, one of the most scenic spots in Toyama prefecture.
Designed by famous architect Hiroshi Naito, you will experience a stay at a museum-hotel where more than 300 contemporary artworks are exhibited.
Contemporary art, surrounding nature and hotel comfort coexist in a perfect balance at this hotel, where all rooms are designed differently, and the natural hot spring facilities help guests unwind after a day of exploration.
A wide selection of wines is also available to pair with top-quality dishes featuring the freshest fish from Toyama Bay.