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Toyama - paradise with watermeleons

by Hiro Ishimaru, staff writer

 

If you are looking for a quiet and luxurious getaway in the countryside, Toyama, a rural paradise with historic villages and festivals, delicious watermelons, relaxing hot springs, and beautiful ski resorts, is a perfect destination for your next vacation.

Toyama is located on the Japan Sea side of the central part of Honshu, the main island of Japan. It is a small town of 1.18 million people, 43rd in population among Japan’s 45 prefectures, according to Static Population Statistics (toyama.or.jp). Equidistant from each of the island’s large metropolitan cities--Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, it gets six flights daily from Tokyo and one from Nagoya.

 

 

 

In 1995, Toyama’s historic villages Aikura and Suganuma were given World Heritage status by UNESO. The earliest houses in Aikura and Suganuma were built in the 17th century, according to the Gokayama Chamber of Commerce (toyama.or.jp). The historic villages are still active communities, with the local residents directly involved in protecting the buildings and the surrounding village setting, including both cultivated and forested land. These villagers have defied land development under the Charter of Aikura and Suganuma since World War II, according to the Taira Village Office (toyama.org.jp).

From July 7 to August 21, Toyama's town of Nyuzen ships Jumbo Watermelons all over Japan With a diameter of 11.8 or more inches and 15.7 or more inches long , these are the biggest watermelon in Japan. They were first produced in 1883 when the Nyuzen townspeople cross-bred Snake and Ice Cream Watermelons, two U.S. varieties. The Jumbo Watermelon is in rich flavor and crunchy, and has been offered to the emperor since 1909, according to the Nyuzen Town Office.

On August 7 and 8, every year, the port city of Uozu has the Uozu Tatemon Maturi, or “Gigantic Spinning Lantern Float Festival” with a 49-foot-long lantern. Floats are brought out to celebrate this festival, which commemorates Uozu citizens 400 years of fervently prayers to the gods for good hauls and safe voyages, according to the Uozu Web site. The Uozu Tatemon Maturi was shown in the Ninth Annual Honolulu Festival March 15, 2003.

Toyama is famous for hot springs in many of its towns. Around December 22, which is the winter solstice, these towns are bustling. People enjoy soaking in the hot springs scented with aromatic citrons which have medical benefits for colds.

While some of Toyama’s resorts are closed in the winter due to heavy snowfall, according to Nihonkai Travel.com, many of Toyama’s hot springs remain open all through the winter months. Unazuki has been a hot spring resort since the 1920s. Because its hot springs are believed to bring medical benefits, it is crowded with 700,000 visitors every year.

In winter, people can enjoy winter sports at 13 ski resorts and more than 100 hotels, including inns, guest houses, and pensions, near Unazuki and Tateyama. Many hotels are completely equipped with hot springs, according to (kanko-toyama.or.jp).

For avid epicures, hot spring seekers, skiers, and sightseers who just want to experience culture and history, Toyama is a rare and uncrowded hideaway.

 


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