The journey between Tokyo and the mountain town of Takayama is one that is often made by tourists, with numerous routes available which incorporate various modes of transport including train, bus and airplane.

For this trip, I was to focus on the route via the city of Toyama, which is located on the Sea of Japan coast and offers much to visitors who decide to explore it on their way between Tokyo and Takayama. The plan was to spend the morning in Takayama before making the picturesque journey north through the Toyama Prefecture countryside to Toyama City. I'd then experience some of the delights of this city by the sea, before continuing on towards Tokyo.

I started early in Takayama, one of Japan's premier tourist destinations well-known for its excellently preserved old town with centuries-old buildings as well as its array of shops, museums and famed morning markets. The town rose to prominence during the Edo Period (1603-1868) as a source of high quality timber and expert woodworkers and today hosts its spectacular twice-yearly festival in which floats are paraded through the beautiful old streets.

Takayama's old town

I headed over to the famous Takayama morning markets, one of which stretches along the road adjacent to the Miyagawa River. The markets are comprised of various stalls with vendors selling everything from local produce to crafts to street food.

Walking up and down the street whilst taking in the bustling atmosphere was thoroughly enjoyable, and in the spirit of exploration and with the autumn chill creeping in under my jacket, I was happy to try coffee in a way I'd never experienced before, in an edible cookie cup! The delicious flavor and warmth topped off a pleasant morning of exploration and set me up for the rest of my travels in this region.

Arriving at Takayama's Miyagawa morning market
Plenty of crafts on sale here
Cookie cup coffee

It was now time to head north, so I made my way to Takayama Station from where I took the Wide View Hida train to Toyama City. As the name suggests, this train boasts large windows and offers passengers relatively uninterrupted views of the verdant Toyama Prefecture countryside, including rolling hills and winding rivers. Sitting back and enjoying the view, I found that the Wide View Hida made for a relaxing way to travel and recommend it for those making the journey between Takayama and Toyama. The Wide View Hida makes multiple round trips per day between Takayama and Toyama.

Takayama Station
About to board the Wide View Hida train
The Wide View Hida affords great views
The picturesque countryside rolls past

I arrived at Toyama Station in central Toyama City and, having worked up an appetite from the morning's adventure, went in search of one of the city's most revered delicacies, Toyama Bay Sushi. Sourced from the cold waters of the nearby Toyama Bay, this sushi is renowned nationwide for its freshness and flavor. Following a short walk from Toyama Station, I found myself at Mikizushi, a popular sushi restaurant with a traditional atmosphere.

I sat down at the restaurant's counter and observed the chef and owner Yokoshima san, who is the third generation owner of the restaurant, as he sliced his fish and prepared the sushi to perfection. As part of the traditional course sushi set, I was served such delights as broad velvet shrimp, Japanese ivory shell, sea bream and crab to name but a few.

The meal was thoroughly delicious and rekindled my love for this special brand of sushi that I hadn't had the pleasure of indulging in in a little while. With a full stomach it was time to move on, so I made my way back towards Toyama Station and boarded the Portram to Iwasehama Station by the waterfront in north of the city.

Toyama Station
Sitting down and observing at Mikizushi
The fish looked wonderfully fresh
Lunch is served
Taking the Portram towards the boat cruise

It was now time to take the Fugan Suijo Line, a 70-minute boat cruise that takes visitors along a canal to eventually arrive at Fugan Canal Kansui Park back in central Toyama City. Along the route, visitors are afforded nice views out to sea, and of the peaceful, tree-lined banks. Also along the way is the Nakajima Lock, a lock built in 1934 based on European technology, in which the water level is risen by around 2.5 meters. The boat cruise was a pleasant way to spend the early afternoon, offering relaxation with a bit of history thrown in for good measure.

Beautiful scenes before boarding
A relaxing way to spend the day
I spotted some impressive vessels along the way
Enjoying the journey's relaxed pace
Entering the Nakajima Lock

After putting my feet back on dry land at the picturesque Fugan Canal Kansui Park, I took a few steps to arrive at the final destination on my tour of Toyama City, the Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design. Opened in the summer of 2017, this modern and spacious museum bridges art and design with various spaces showcasing an impressive selection of rotating and permanent modern art.

Docked and back on dry land at Fugan Canal Kansui Park
The park is a pretty place for a stroll
Looking on from Fugan Canal Kansui Park's bridge at the art museum with the water before it

In addition, the Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design also boasts interactive exhibits, including a section dedicated to chair design where visitors can try out various chairs, and the Onomatopoeia Rooftop area which boasts various fun exhibits on which kids can play while the adults take in the stunning views of the nearby city center and mountains.

Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design
Inside the modern and spacious complex
Various impressive pieces of art (Atsuhiko Misawa, Animal 2017-01)
Special exhibition, "MISAWA ATSUHIKO ANIMALS IN TOYAMA" in the temporary exhibition room
Chairs and more chairs
Some of the fun-loving installations in the Onomatopoeia Rooftop area
Great views of the city and surrounding mountains

It was now time to leave and continue on to Tokyo, so I made my way to Toyama Station from where I boarded the Hokuriku Shinkansen and bade farewell to this special part of Japan. Another way to travel between Toyama and Tokyo is via Toyama Airport, which is located a few kilometers south of the city. From here there are multiple direct flights per day to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, with the airport accessible by bus from Toyama Station.

A Tokyo-bound flight leaves Toyama Airport

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