From Kanazawa, we took the train to Shin Takaoka station. Takaoka City in Toyama prefecture is not only a great sightseeing spot, but also the hometown of Doraemon’s creator, Fujiko F. Fujio. The town is actually overflowing with Doraemon related things and spots. It’s a must-go place for Doraemon fans!
Our first spot was Takaoka Otogi Forest Park. This is a reproduction of the vacant lot made into a playground that is the meeting place of Nobita, Jaian and their friends.
From JR Shin-Takaoka station
・15 min walk
· At Shin-Takaoka station by Kaetsuno bus stop #3, 1 min walk from Sano-Shinmachi stop
・5 min drive
From Takaoka station
· At Takaoka station Kojo Park (North) exit, by all buses from stop #2, 1 min walk from Sano-Shinmachi stop
· At Takaoka station Zuiryuji Temple (South) exit, by Kaetsuno bus stop #1, 1 min walk from Sano-Shinmachi stop
This is a small walking road in Wing Wing Takaoka square, right in front of Takaoka Station. Twelve bronze statues of “Doraemon” characters can be found on both sides of the road.
We also visited momentum factory Orii, Co.,Ltd., a 50 year old company that specialises in the coloring of brass by using rice vinegar to form an oxidized layer that protects the brass from the elements but can also give it a different hue. This is a traditional technique that has been passed down three generations to the current owner. Their beautiful panels can be seen in many modern architectural settings including landmarks like Roppongi Hills. We tried our hands on making one small coaster and it took us about 2 hours, definitely not an easy process.
We had lunch at Craftan, a small and modern restaurant that focuses on local produce and artisan brew beers.
Address: 6 Konmadashimachi Takaoka Toyama
Tel: 0766-75-9013 (+81-766-75-9013)
154 meters from Kataharamachi
From Shin Takaoka station, we took the shinkansen (included in the Takayama Hokuriku JR Pass) to Toyama City. The journey took only 8 minutes! Toyama City (富山) is the largest city and capital of Toyama Prefecture in the Hokuriku Region of northern Chubu. The city is a former castle town and is historically a center of medicine. Due to its position on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, Toyama is a popular stop for tourists on the way to other attractions in the area such as the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
We had an early dinner at the popular Sushi Tama located next to Toyama Station so avoid queues.
Sushi Tama is arguably the best low-cost sushi restaurant in Toyama. Most of their ingredients are produced locally, and the fish and seafood come for the most part from the bay of Ishikawa and Toyama. Everything that we had were really good!
Sushi Tama Kitokito Market TOYAMARCHE
Address: Japan, 〒930-0001 Toyama, Meirincho, 1−220 きときと市場 とやマルシェ内
Hours: 11am–9:30pm daily
Did you know that there is a Starbucks in Toyama that is known for its breathtaking beauty? The store can be found within the Fugan Unga Kansui Park. Located alongside the Fugan Canal, this 9.6 hectare park is full of nature and is home to a bird sanctuary frequented by wild birds as well as an outdoor theater. This particular Starbucks sits on the canal’s shore, and a variety of customers spanning all ages – some with pets in tow – stop here to relax and recharge.
This year’s sakura merchandises are so gorgeous!!
Address: 富山富岩運河環水公園 5, 5 Minatoirifunecho, Toyama, 930-0805, Japan
Hours: 8am–10:30pm daily
9 minute walk from North Gate of Toyama Station on the JR Hokuriku Main Line
We stayed at Oarks Canal Park Hotel Toyama. It is a very nice hotel with great location, just a few minutes walk from the Toyama JR station.
I had a single room facing Toyama alpine, can even see the snow capped mountains on a clear day.
Day 4 is definitely the highlight of our trip! From Toyama station, we took the nohi bus to Shirakawa-go. The journey took around 1.5 hours.
For this perfect postcard view, one can take the shuttle bus from Wada House to reach this lookout point. The bus frequency is every 20 minutes and one way fare is 200 yen. Otherwise it is about 20 minutes walk.
Sometimes, the lookout point can be overly crowded and you will need to queue to wait for your turn for photos. Located just below and to the right of the lookout point, you can look for this small wooden hut. The view from this point is amazing too.
We took our own sweet time to take as many photos as we like. Remember to save the previous picture as direction.
Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, Shirakawa-go is home to several dozen well preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.
The farmhouses are quite amazing structures, designed to withstand the harsh winters while providing a place to work and live, and are best seen either covered in snow or surrounded by green fields. Many of the farmhouses are now restaurants, museums or minshuku, where you can stay overnight.
We had fun walking around the village, admiring the beautiful gassho houses.
We also visited the Wada-ke House. The Wada family was one of the wealthiest families and village leaders of Ogimachi. Their former home is the largest gassho-zukuri farmhouse in the town, and is now open to the public as a museum.
It was my third visit to Shirakawa-go but first time having lunch here. The locals told us that Irori is a famous restaurant here, the menu is created using plenty of fresh vegetables and edible wild plants picked in Hida, Shirakawa-go, and Gokayama.
I ordered the Hoba Miso Hida Beef set (1900 yen). Hoba Miso is a regional dish in Hida Takayama area of Japan. “Hoba” means a magnolia leaf in Japanese and the dried hoba leaf is soaked then used to cook the sweet miso mixture over fire. This is such a simple but satisfying dish, the hida beef just melted in my mouth.
From Shirakawa-go, it was another another hour of bus ride to Hida Furukawa town. Furukawa is known as the other old, very traditional town in the Hida region in addition to Takayama.
Hida-Furukawa is another equally pleasant, small town at Gifu prefecture, located just about 15km north of Takayama. Takayama is famous for its old town and most tourists will explore Takayama and skipping Hida Furukawa town.
I have been to the old town a few times so this time we explore the Hida Furukawa area. This area is also made famous by the anime film “Your Name”. This is the library where where some of the scenes were inspired by. You can take pictures within the library as long as you ask for permission.
With the stone walls of temples and the great white-walled storehouses in the background, the Seto River is the main highlight of the area. The canals running off the river are home to over 1,000 brilliant carp of many colors, bringing them to life and offering a very different spectacle than Hida’s other “Little Kyoto.” Every year in April, you will be able to spot those colourful carps.
Furukawa streets are so beautiful and charming!
Don’t miss out Inohiro when you are hhere. This shop , which has a long history of over 100 years , manufactures Miso-flavored rice crackers.
The Mishima Candle Shop, which has specialized in traditional Japanese candle-making since the Edo period hundreds of years ago, is one of the many elegant shops that you will find around this town that is perfect for taking a stroll.
Before checking, we managed to squeeze in a traditional performance at 5.30pm in Takayama old town. Dekonaru-za is Japanese traditional performance show stage that is unique and available only in Hida takayama. Each performance takes about 45 minutes and it is really interactive and fun. We got to experience playing Japanese instruments, learnt Japanese folk songs and so on.
Address: Japan, 〒506-0011 Gifu, Takayama, Honmachi, 3 Chome−３８
Phone: +81 577-57-5788
Hotel Associa Takayama Resort is set in the hills of Takayama, overlooking the Northern Alps. The hotel features its own hot spring facilities, including open-air baths that look out on a magnificent view of the region. Guest rooms are elegant and spacious and include Japanese-style rooms with futon bedding, Western-style rooms, and Japanese-Western rooms with a relaxing tatami mat area. WiFi is available in all rooms.
Public onsen are free for all guests, while private onsen rooms like these are available for rent.
The hotel features two restaurants, serving authentic French cuisine and traditional Japanese cuisine. We had an amazing dinner at the French restaurant and the pricing is really reasonable!
From Takayama station, it was an hour of train ride to Gero. This makes it a convenient stopover, or an attractive alternative to stay during the Takayama Festival, when lodging is difficult to find in Takayama.
Onsen (hot springs) are what make Gero famous, and there are three public bath houses available in town. Also at the south end of the Gero Bridge is a large rotenburo (open-air bath) you can bath in for free; however, it has no facilities and is exposed to the bridge above.
Also dotted around the city are free footbaths where one can sit and relax after a hard day of walking.
One can enjoy hot pudding and onsen tamago soft serve at Yuamiya. You can take your ice-cream while soaking in foot spa at the entrance of the shop – such a unique experience.
You will notice a lot of references to frogs around Gero. This is because in Japanese “gero” is the sound a frog makes, so it is a playful connection to the town. Gero even celebrates this by having a cool shrine called Kaeru Jinja or Frog Shrine. The shrine is filled with all kinds of frogs as you can see in the picture above.
Just one minute walk from Kaeru Jinja Shrine is a specialiseed store for pudding, the first in Gero Onsen, “Gero Purin (pudding)” has opened in March 2019. Love the onsen theme interior, so fun and perfect to take picture.
We had lunch at Suimeikan, an onsen resort in Gero with beautiful displays of art displays from famous artists in Japan. The Hida beef sukiyaki set is out of this world!
From Gero station, we took the train to Nagoya station.
The train took about 2 hours and this is almost the last leg of our train trip using the Takayama Hokuriku JR Pass.
We did some sightseeing around the city before some shoppings were being done.
Oasis 21 is a complex multi-level park with the theme of “Space ship Aqua” that is the symbol of the park and abundant throughout.
The “Field of Green” is on the ground level where flowers and trees are planted. The “Galaxy Platform” is basement level where many events are held. Also on the ground level, there are various shops and restaurants, and a connecting to bus terminal on the second level.
From Nagoya station, we took another train to Shin Osaka station (not included in pass) and transferred via Haruka train to Kansai International Airport (included in pass) before checking into Kansai Airport Washington Hotel (free shuttle is available).
I have to say that I love this hotel because it is located just next to Rinku Town (conneted via bridge). Rinku Premium Outlet is the largest outlet shopping center in western Japan. The 2-story building in the style of the old American port town Charleston houses over 210 shops.
I also love Rinku Pleasure Town Seacle. They have almost all my favourite stores here such as GU, Nishimatsuya, Mcdonalds, drug stores, supermarket, Seria 100 yen shop and etc.
I would highly recommend everyone to spend a night at Rinku Town to do some last minute shopping. I did shop too much in the end.