Seven things to do in Toyama | Time Out Tokyo
© Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design

Seven things to do in Toyama

This picturesque city on the Sea of Japan coast offers a wealth of art and food

Written by
Yukako Izumi

Accessible in a mere two hours by the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo, the city of Toyama is far from a staple on most travellers’ itineraries. But this pretty home of around 400,000 people on the Sea of Japan coast is actually a rather charming destination, packed with excellent food and interesting museums – most notably the all-new Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design, opened in August 2017. Here are seven things you should experience in Toyama.

Visit a brand-new shrine to art

1. Visit a brand-new shrine to art

One of the most eagerly anticipated new openings in Japan’s art scene this year, the Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design aims to combine, well, the worlds of art and design in its exhibitions – the first of which is called ‘Life: In Search of a Paradise’ (on until November 5). In addition to the displays, highlights include stunning views of the Tateyama mountain range and the popular Kansui Park from within the museum.

Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design. 3-20 Kibamachi, Toyama.

See the seasons in architecture

2. See the seasons in architecture

Built in 1950, this traditional Japanese home houses up to four exhibitions annually, most of them focused on ceramics. The beautiful garden out front is where to find the original Rakusuitei, a traditional gazebo. The museum is a ten-minute walk from Toyama Station.

Rakusuitei Museum. 2-27 Okuda-Shinmachi, Toyama.

Get an intro to ink wash painting

3. Get an intro to ink wash painting

Ink wash painting (suiboku-ga in Japanese) is a style of brush painting that uses calligraphy ink. This spacious specialist museum presents an overview of Japanese ink art through the ages and has its own garden, complete with a tea house where you can sit down for a cup of matcha.

The Suiboku Museum. 777 Gofuku, Toyama.

Read some local literature

4. Read some local literature

Toyama is known as a literary city, and this museum is where to learn more about the region’s famous authors. These include novelist Yoshie Hotta and manga duo Fujiko Fujio (aka Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko), creators of Doraemon.

Koshinokuni Museum of Literature. 2-22 Funahashi-Minamicho, Toyama.

Stare at samurai swords

5. Stare at samurai swords

The Mori Shusui Museum of Art is one of Japan’s handful of museums dedicated entirely to swords. Its 200-strong collection spans over 1,000 years of history, beginning in the Heian era (794-1185), when blades were still used for their original purpose, and including several decorative weapons made during Japan’s long periods of peace. The museum sees visitors from all over the country, with young women inspired by the popular ‘Touken Ranbu’ video game making up a significant percentage of these.

Mori Shusui Museum of Art. 1-3-6 Sengokumachi, Toyama.

Snack on hundreds of shrimp

6. Snack on hundreds of shrimp

Had enough art? Then it’s time to savour some of Toyama’s many edible specialities. One of these is the Japanese glass shrimp (shiraebi), a tiny type of crustacean only found on Japan’s shores. It’s often eaten raw, but we recommend the shiraebi dango dumplings at Shogetsu. In business since 1911, this venerable purveyor uses over 200 mini-shrimp for each dumpling. Reservations essential.

Shogetsu. 116 Iwase-Minatomachi, Toyama.

Slurp up black ramen

7. Slurp up black ramen

Regional ramen varieties are legion in Japan, but none are as dark in colour as Toyama’s ‘black ramen’. The rich soup is rather salty – to satisfy the cravings of local labourers who used to slurp up this quirky delicacy after a hard day’s work. Menya Iroha near the station is one visit-worthy shop.

Menya Iroha CiC. CiC Bldg B1F, 1-2-3 Shintomicho, Toyama.

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