Toyama Bay is known as a “natural fish tank”, and its unique topography is the reason why. The sea floor of Toyama Bay drops sharply, forming a submarine canyon close to the shore. This is a prime location for marine life, and nutrient-rich water washed out to sea from the 3,000m-high Tateyama Ranges makes for plump seafood. And with only a short distance between the fishing grounds and the port, the fish have no time to lose their freshness – it’s just like taking a fish from a tank! Those are the secrets behind Toyama’s delicious fish!
Both warm currents and cold currents are washed into Toyama Bay, creating a seafood paradise where a wide variety of seafood can be caught. Some, like broad velvet shrimp and firefly squid, can only be caught here. The beautiful, clear-fleshed broad velvet shrimp is known as “the jewel of Toyama Bay”, with an exquisite sweetness that makes for superb sashimi. It is also popular in kombu-jime, a local dish consisting of seafood wrapped in kelp, and is extremely popular dried or in kaki-age, a kind of tempura in which different ingredients are mixed together in tempura batter before deep-frying.
Firefly squid is known as a “mystery of the sea”, and is an iconic spring dish in Toyama. Try fresh firefly squid boiled and served with vinegared miso, the perennial favourite way of serving it in Toyama. Lightly steamed firefly squid served with ginger and soy sauce is also highly recommended, and ryugu-somen, cold somen noodles served with firefly squid leg sashimi, is a local delicacy. Firefly squid is well-known for its deliciousness, with tourists flocking to Toyama in spring to enjoy it.
Warm ocean current
Cold ocean current
The most iconic of Toyama Bay’s fish is indisputably yellowtail. A particularly prized type is “cold yellowtail”, the name given to yellowtail caught in winter when the fish is at its oiliest, from Himi. Yellowtail is given various names according to its size, such as kozukura, fukuragi and gando. Buri, the general name for yellowtail, is technically only given when the fish reaches a weight of around 10kg. Yellowtails have been considered lucky since ancient times.
Also popular are red snow crab and Alaskan pink shrimp, which dwell in deep waters. Red snow crab, named for the bright red colour it turns when boiled, is succulent and flavourful. You won’t be able to get enough of it when served with a rich miso seasoning. Toyama’s outstandingly fresh Alaskan pink shrimp, meanwhile, has a tenderness and a rich sweetness that makes it delicious in dishes such as sashimi. Make sure to try Toyama Bay sushi, made from superb Toyama Bay seafood like this with delicious Toyama rice. Toyama Bay sushi can be found at around 60 restaurants, which prepare first-rate seasonal sushi for you to enjoy.
Love Toyama’s seafood so much that you want to take some home with you? Here are some great places where you can buy seafood as a souvenir. The best place to buy fresh fish and other seafood in Himi is Himi Banya-gai, a market outside Himi Fishing Port with rows of stalls in a building resembling a fisherman’s hut. There is even a hot spring for you to enjoy. Recommended places in Imizu are Kamon Park Shinminato by Route 8 or Shinminato Kitokito Market next to Kaiwomaru Park. Umi-no-Eki Shinkiro near Uozu Port is a must for those visiting eastern Toyama. It is hugely popular for its hama-yaki, freshly caught fish grilled for you to enjoy right there on the beach. Kurobe’s best spot is Sakana-no-Eki Ikuji, where you can enjoy a variety of delicious seafood such as ichiya-boshi, a local specialty consisting of fish that is salted and dried overnight. Toyama’s wide variety of delicious fresh seafood is a great way to remember your trip.
Shinminato Kitokito Market