Spring is a calm, relaxing season when one can enjoy the warm sunshine. Toyama’s spring is painted with a myriad of colors when the plants bud and the blossoms of many different flowers bloom. In particular, the sakura cherry blossom is a representative flower announcing the arrival of spring in Toyama. The bank of Matsukawa River, which snakes through Toyama city, provides one of Toyama’s prefecture’s most beautiful sakura-viewing locations. A leisurely boat ride downstream through a tunnel of magnificent sakura will no doubt make for a lifelong memory. Moreover, the Tonami Tulip Fair, held every year in early May in Tonami city, is a major event boasting 500 species and 1 million tulips. During the fair, concerts, street performance and other forms of entertainment ensure visitors have an enjoyable time.
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route opens in spring time, after being isolated through winter due to deep snow. The most impressive view in spring time is by far the giant snow wall “Yuki-no-Otani”, which towers 20 meters up into the sky. Yuki-no-Otani is an immensely popular tourist spot, attracting crowds from all around the world. The Kurobe Gorge Torokko Train reopens at the same time as the Alpine Route becomes accessible. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful contrast of lingering snow and new buds on their journey through Kurobe Gorge, adorned with fresh greenery.
In summer, the sun’s rays grow more intense, and the mercury soars. However Toyama has several sightseeing spots which make one forget about the heat. Our recommendation simply has to be Tateyama Kurobe Apline Route. Summer is the liveliest time of the year in Tateyama. The plants in the highlands bloom in unison, as if to mark the arrival of summer. People walking the trekking road which enjoying the mountain streams and refreshing breeze blowing through the gorge can enjoy stunning scenery at the same time as a respite from the summer’s heat. They will even see lingering snow here and there. Playing in the snow under the summer sky is definitely an experience only to be enjoyed at Tateyama.
Kurobe Dam, a giant arch dam, the tallest in Japan, is a summer retreat not to be missed. From June to October, controlled water release is carried out for visitors. The deafening roar of the water as it plunges down at over 10 tons a second is an impressive sight to behold. Depending on the position of the sun, you may even see a giant rainbow in the spray.
At Kaiwomaru Park in Shinminato, the sailing ship Kaiwomaru gets “fully-decked out” with all 29 of her sails. Beneath a summer sky, the beauty and splendor of Kaiwomaru floating in the water with her magnificent sails outstretched with the largest cable-stayed bridge in Japan, the “Shinminami Bridge”, behind her, is a sight undoubtedly worthy of the title “The Lady of the Sea”.
Autumn is a season where a cool wind blows and the leaves of the trees change color. Toyama is home to many famous autumn-leaf viewing spots. Leaves begin changing color on trees at high altitudes first. On Tateyama, leaves begin being stained brown as soon as summer draws to a close, and visitors can view autumn leaves a step ahead of those on the plains below. Visitors can trek or mountain climb while gazing upon the beautiful blanket of vividly-colored leaves. In particular, Mikurigaike Pond is a must-see, with the autumn leaves of the surrounding flora and mountains in the background being reflected in the pond’s water.
World heritage site, Gokayama Gasshozukuri Village is another famous autumn-leaf viewing spot. The sight of the village with golden-brown mountains rising up behind it is an authentic Japanese landscape which one will not easily forgot. Moreover, autumn is the season in which the “Kokiriko Festival” is held in Gokayama. Kokiriko is an ancient folk song originally performed for the local Shinto deities, and the sight of the performers is sure to impress. Autumn is also the season when the “Owara Kaze no Bon Festival” is held in the town of Yatsuo. Amidst the sounds of the kokyu, an instrument unique to the region, the song and dance of the young women dressed in happi coats, yukata and wearing low-brimmed straw hats gives an impression of elegance, and the performance is a beautiful combination of melancholy and grace.
As soon as autumn draws to an end, the temperature plummets and winter arrives. The number of cold days increases and then the snow begins to fall. Pure white snow falls and accumulates on the plains and rivers of Toyama, transforming the surrounds into a magical world of white. Many events enjoying the snow are held in the towns and villages at the foot of Mt. Tateyama, with its heavy snowfall. The Tateyama Sanroku Kamakura Festival is the grandest of these events, with huge snow huts lit up by lights. The pure white snow ablaze with brilliant lights makes for a romantic setting indeed. This event can be enjoyed by families and couples alike.
Shogawa Valley is also adorned in a thick layer of snow. Visitors will surely be able to relax both their body and mind when beholding the majestic sight of the pure white mountains in the lake’s surface during a leisurely boat ride between Komaki Dam and Omaki Onsen, which takes roughly an hour return.
Also, in the thick of winter, from January to March, the gassho zukuri villages of Suganuma and Ainokura come alight with illuminations. All sense of time will be lost as you gaze upon the dreamy scene of snow silently falling on the softly-lit gassho zukuri huts.