Picturesque Toyama Canal Rewards Casual ExplorersCulture
The Hokuriku Shinkansen service, which went into operation in March, has made it easier than ever to access tourist destinations in Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures. The Ishikawa capital of Kanazawa, in particular, has seen rising numbers of visitors eager to see sights including Kenrokuen, considered to be one of Japan’s “Three Famous Gardens.” At the same time, it is now easier to get to less well-known destinations in the region, where international tourists are relatively thin on the ground.
The area along the Uchikawa canal in Imizu, to the west of the city of Toyama, is not undiscovered territory. It has featured as a scenic location in Japanese films including the final film appearance by Takakura Ken, Anata e (To You). Yet it remains peaceful and visitors may find that they can enjoy the lines of boats moored to each side and artistically styled bridges almost to themselves.
The bridges vary greatly in design. One of the most striking is Sannōbashi, with four giant hand sculptures, one at each corner. A little further up the canal, the distinctive Azumabashi is a covered pedestrian bridge with rest areas at either end. Some designs reference the surrounding Shinminato port area’s history, such as its role as a stopping place for merchant ships that plied the route between Hokkaidō and Osaka, while other, simpler bridges are themselves long established.
The area is liveliest each October 1, when 13 wheeled floats are hauled around the town in the Shinminato Hikiyama Festival. Whatever the time of year, visitors should also take the chance to visit the Kaiwomaru sailing ship in Kaiwomaru Park, a short tram ride away.
The Burikani Bus travels directly between Toyama Station, on the Shinkansen route, and Kawanoeki Shinminato (the River Station) twice a day on weekdays and three times daily on weekends. Alternatively, the Man’yōsen tram line runs every 15 minutes from Takaoka Station (itself a short shuttle bus ride from Shin-Takaoka on the Hokuriku Shinkansen) to the Shinminato area.
(Banner photo: The Azumabashi bridge in Shinminato, Imizu.)