If you have been to Toyama, you may have already visited such wonderful tourist spots as Kansui Canal Park, Toyama Castle park and Toyama Glass Art Museum. I’m sure you’re satisfied with the trip to all those locations.
But actually, there are more to offer in Toyama.
In this article, I would like to recommend you to visit a port town called Iwase.
Iwase is a part of bay area located north of Toyama city.
In the early 17th century, the town flourished as a center of maritime trade for trade ship merchants.
In fact, there are many traditional Japanese buildings which used to be owned by wealthy business persons.
Please take a city tram from Toyama station heading to Iwasehama station and walk 10 minutes from there. And you will be able to indulge yourself in the traditional street of Iwase.
Access to Iwase | 35 minutes travel to quiet port town
In order to visit Iwase, please take a city tram at platform 5 or 8 in Toyama station. The fare of the tram is 210 yen for one ride.
If you spend 1 day to visit both Iwase and central Toyama by tram, you should buy 1-day free pass for the unlimited ride of city trams and buses (within 280 yen zone).
The fee of the pass is 650 yen. If you take a city tram more than 3 times, the free pass will be more reasonable than paying the fare everytime.
The reason Iwase flourished as a port town
In 17th century when Tokugawa military government controled the nation, maritime trade with trade ship was brisk across Japan Sea; The ship transported rice grain to such a big market as Osaka, export kombu (kelp) to China via Kagoshima; import medicine to Toyama, etc.
Therefore, Japan Sea functioned as an important sea route at that time.
Toyama bay was one of the important trade base located in the middle of Japan Sea.
As the trade increased between the 17th and 19th century, the medical industry grew remarkably with good import clients from Satsuma (old Kagoshima) and China. Furthermore, Japan exported seaweed like kombu to China via Iwase, Satsuma and Ryukyu (old Okinawa).
In this way, the trade routes made the sea ports like Iwase prosperous and the ship owners wealthy.
What to see in Iwase
There remains a lot of mansions in Iwase which used to be owned by trade agents like the Mori family.
The houses of the Mori family and Baba family can be visited by tourists. They are worth visiting if you would like to see the elegance of traditional Japanese architecture.
Unique food culture the trade ship brought
Hokkaido was blessed with quality sea products like kombu(kelp). The merchants from Toyama, who had a strong pioneer spirit, explored dangerous sea area to collect kombu and brought them back to Iwase and other places in Toyama prefecture.
As a result, kombu was distributed across the prefecture and commonly used as a way to preserve food like sashimi and vegetables.
Today, the food preserved with kombu is known as kobu-jime and available in most supermarkets in Toyama prefecture.
Kobu-jime litterally means being tightened with kombu. The food like sashimi and vegetables are cured between layers of kombu. It enables the food fresh longer than those not cured and infused them with umami(savory taste).
If you are looking for a place where you can walk in a quiet mood, Iwase would be one of your great choice.
It would be great if you add Iwase to your itinerary of your Toyama trip.