The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and the Kurobe Gorge have reopened!


The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which had closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has finally reopened. Additionally, the Kurobe Gorge Railway, which travels through Japan’s deepest V-shaped gorge, is now open for the year. Many measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of the disease, including disinfecting the stations and the vehicles as well as limited the maximum number of people on vehicles in order to welcome tourists with the utmost care. Come and refresh your mind and senses in these grandiose natural sites once international travel to Japan resumes!


Toyama Hot News Update

Here is a quick update about the Toyama Hot News Blog!

In addition to information about international exchange and relations with Oregon, I will also be posting very short articles about hidden places to see and things to do in Toyama Prefecture! This blog will be updated minimum twice a month. Feel free to leave comments about what you would like to see posted in the future!


Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Toyama Prefecture with 200 confirmed cases and 9 deaths so far as of April 30th. The growth rate here has been the fastest in Hokuriku and some steps have been taken to curtail this spread. The Tonami Tulip Fair was cancelled this year, along with the Snow Walls Walk in the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. The Alpine Route itself is planned to reopen on May 11th. All international flights to and from Toyama Airport have been suspended. Furthermore, the 24th Toyama Cup has been postponed until further notice. More information here: 

We look forward to welcoming Oregonians back to Toyama Prefecture and furthering exchange with the state of Oregon once this global crisis fades away.


The Fastest Way to get to the Gokayama World Heritage Site (Suganuma Village) and Takayama!

The people of Toyama pride themselves on the region’s beautiful natural environment, but sometimes accessing such beauty can be difficult. One of the charms of the Gokayama World Heritage Site is its isolation, which came to shape the villages and their iconic houses. Takayama is another famous sightseeing spot, just south of Toyama Prefecture in the center of historical and mountainous Hida Province. Toyama Airport is the closest airport to both the Gokayama World Heritage site and the historical city of Takayama. I was able to participate in a tour using a direct bus and visited both sites!

The Historic Village of Suganuma, a World Heritage Site (courtesy of Nouhi Bus)

The bus picked us up right outside of the international arrival gates which made it easy to find. A smooth one-hour ride later, I found myself in the mountains in the historical village of Suganuma. While the people who live there have cars and an old man was using a machine to harvest the rice while I was there, everything else looked like I had just time travelled back to the past. This beautiful mountain village shows what rural Japan used to look like in previous centuries!

Suganuma during Harvest Season

I then hopped on the next bus for Takayama, a historical town that has a much different feel. I strolled around the historic district before visiting Takayama Jinya, a historical building that used to be the regional headquarters of the Shogunate, the Japanese government during the Edo period (1603-1868). My visit to Takayama showed me another side of historical Japan.

Takayama’s Old Town

The direct bus from Toyama Airport made it easy to access these two destinations and made my trip a breeze!


For more information:

The winner of the 23rd Toyama Cup visited Toyama!

Every year, in cooperation with the Japan-America Society of Oregon, Toyama Prefecture holds the Toyama Cup, a speech contest for university students studying Japanese in Oregon and SW Washington. The winner of the highest level contest is awarded a week-long visit in Toyama by the prefectural government.


Lewis and Clark College’s Ronan Hall won this year’s Toyama Cup and stayed in Toyama Prefecture for a week in early July. She paid a courtesy visit to the Director-General before embarking on a trip that showed her some of the beautiful sites of our prefecture.


She visited the Kurobe Gorge and Gokayama, but also got to interact with students at Toyama Prefectural University, and even participated in a summer festival in the neighborhood where she was staying with her host family.


We hope that Ronan’s experience will drive exchange between Toyama and Oregon, and we look forward to welcoming the next speech contest winner!


For more information, please visit:

Nyuzen’s Sister City, Forest Grove, OR, sent a delegation to Toyama Prefecture

Nyuzen Town and Forest Grove, OR became sister cities in 1989, 2 years before Toyama Prefecture and Oregon signed their friendship agreement. Warm relations between the two cities and their inhabitants have continued for 30 years, and a delegation from Forest Grove visited Toyama as part of their customary exchange activities.


The Forest Grove delegation led by the mayor, Peter Truax, included public servants from the city and Pacific University staff as well as a university student and the mayor’s own granddaughter. They paid a courtesy visit to Executive-Director Kakizawa from Toyama Prefecture where warm words and presents were exchanged.


The delegation spent a few days in Toyama Prefecture before heading back to Oregon with memories of experiences and connections that will last a lifetime. In the fall, junior high school and high school students from Nyuzen will head to Forest Grove, proof that this friendship across the oceans and continents is still alive and well after 30 years. Here’s to 30 more!



The Oregon Booth at the JET World Festival 2019 and the 23rd Toyama Cup

Originally written for the Vol.12-No.5 edition (March 22, 2019) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The Oregon Booth at the JET World Festival 2019

Every year, Toyama Prefecture Coordinators for International Relations organize the JET World Festival, a festival focusing on international exchange and multicultural understanding, with the help of Assistant Language Teachers working in the prefecture. For its 24th edition, this year’s festival was held on February 17th at the Toyama International Conference Center.

The festival featured a stage with cultural performances, and international café with tea and snacks, a kids’ corner, a multicultural experience workshop area, and most of all, the international booths, where volunteers introduced the diverse places they are from. This year’s international booths once again featured the Oregon booth, where Corvallis-native and 4th year ALT Anthony proudly showcased his home state to the over 700 visitors. This was the perfect opportunity to introduce Oregon, Toyama Prefecture’s sister state, to residents here.


The families and students who came to the booth learned about how Toyama and Oregon both have active outdoor scenes and magnificent natural environments, with Anthony introducing many of the beautiful sights through pamphlets, maps, and the “Only Slightly Exaggerated” video from Travel Oregon. He also talked about the thriving craft beer industry in Oregon, and contrasted it with how that industry is growing here in Toyama.


Anthony is one of the 5 ALTs from Oregon who are currently working in Toyama Prefecture through the JET Programme. Friendly relations with Oregon began in 1991 and since 1997, 42 JET Programme participants from Oregon have worked in schools and government around the prefecture.

Learn more about the Toyama JET World Festival here:

The 23rd Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest

Every year, in cooperation with the Japan-America Society of Oregon, Toyama Prefecture holds the Toyama Cup, a speech contest for university students studying Japanese in Oregon and SW Washington. The winner of the highest level contest is awarded a week-long visit in Toyama by the prefectural government. Every year, Toyama Hot News publishes an issue about the winner’s stay in Toyama, and we will do the same this year! For more information about the Toyama Cup, please visit:

The Kurobe Gorge, Splendid in the Fall

There are many beautiful fall sights to enjoy in Toyama, but none may be as thrilling as a train ride through one of Japan’s deepest gorges while surrounded in shades of green, yellow, and red. The Kurobe Gorge Railway was originally created to bring materials up the Kurobe River to create dams for hydroelectric power generation, including the Kurobe Dam , but it now remains open to everyone as a popular tourist attraction. The operation dates change every year depending on the amount of snow, but the railway is usually fully opened from the end of April to the end of November.

Shin Yamabiko Bridge

The Kurobe Gorge Railway starts at Unazuki Onsen, a hot springs town tucked in the valley at the beginning of the gorge, and runs 20 kilometers to Keyakidaira, the final stop in the gorge where the Babadani River meets the Kurobe River.

Train Window

In the fall, the train passes through four stations, each with their own spectacular views, hiking trails, and amazing colors. At its deepest point, the gorge is 2000 meters deep, flanked by mountains reaching over 3000 meters above sea level, making it the deepest V-shaped gorge in Japan.

Atobiki Bridge

The Kurobe Gorge is one of Toyama’s most popular sightseeing spots in the fall. To get there, take the Toyama Chiho Railway line to Unazuki Onsen station from Dentetsu Toyama Station, near Toyama Station, or from Shin-Kurobe Station, near Kurobe-Unazuki Onsen Station. Both Toyama Station and Kurobe-Unazuki Onsen stations can be reached from Tokyo using the Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train which opened in 2015.

Meiken Onsen

You can find more information about the Kurobe Gorge and visiting Toyama at the websites below.

Toyama Tourism Information

Graham Morris, Executive-Director of the Japan-America Society of Oregon, Visited Toyama Prefecture

Graham Morris, executive-director of the Japan-America Society of Oregon, paid a visit to Toyama on November 12th. In the morning, he gave a presentation about Oregon to the group of students from Kosugi High School who will be visiting their sister school, the International School of Beaverton. After that, he tasted some of the best sushi Japan has to offer: Toyama Bay Sushi.


Following this amazing lunch, he had a meeting with Yasunori Yamazaki, the vice-governor of Toyama Prefecture, in presence of Mr. Yoneda, the chairman of the Japan-America Society of Toyama. All three reaffirmed the friendly ties that bind Toyama and Oregon and will work towards more cooperation and exchange in a multitude of fields, including education and industry between our two regions in the future.


Later, Mr. Morris visited Hokusei Products, one of the companies from Toyama that is currently implanted in Oregon. The company brings Japanese lifestyle products to Oregon and is part of the many links between Oregon State and Toyama Prefecture. He finally took off using the Shinkansen bullet train for a smooth ride back to Tokyo in just over two hours. This completed a full day of exchange and friendship between Toyama and Oregon.

A word from JASO:

The Japan-America Society of Oregon is a Portland-based non-profit that works to strengthen the US-Japan relationship. As Oregon’s Sister State, working together with Toyama Prefecture is especially important to us. If you’d like to join us in our efforts to make a fuller, stronger friendship between Toyama and Oregon, please let us know at Thank you!


The winner of the 2018 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest visited Toyama Prefecture!

Originally written for the Vol.12-No.3 edition (October 9, 2018) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The Toyama Cup is a Japanese speech contest held every year in Portland in cooperation with JASO (the Japan-America Society of Oregon) to recognize the fruits of Oregon students’ Japanese studies. It first began in 1996, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Toyama and Oregon. Jack Glenn from Willamette University won the Grand Prize for this year’s 22nd Toyama Cup, held on April 22nd. His prize included a week-long trip to Toyama where he visited the many sites that make our beautiful prefecture famous.


Jack’s stay in Toyama lasted from July 22nd to July 29th and he visited the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, the Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design, as well as the Historic Villages of Gokayama World Heritage Site.

Courtesy Call

On July 23rd, Jack visited the Prefectural Government Office and paid a courtesy visit to Mr. Kurahori, Director-General of the General Policy Bureau. We hope that he will use his experience here in Toyama to become a bridge between Toyama and Oregon, as well as between Japan and the United States. As a symbol of this hope, Director-General Kurahori conferred Jack the title of “Toyama Honorary Friendly Envoy.”

Kurobe Dam

After his stay in Toyama, Jack said that he would never forget the spectacular scenery of the Tateyama mountain range and the Kurobe Dam, and that the Toyama Bay Sushi was the best tasting seafood he had ever had in his life. According to him, Toyama has many experiences that simply cannot be had in Tokyo or Osaka, and since it is packed with all of the things that make Japan great, everyone should visit Toyama at least once in their lifetime.

Gokayama Washi

We hope that Jack’s experience will drive exchange between Toyama and Oregon, and we look forward to welcoming the next speech contest winner!

For more information, please visit

Photo Source: Toyama Speech Contest Winners