Mirage or Not, Head to the City of Uozu

Originally written for the Vol.5-No.3 edition (May 13, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

One of the many unique features of Toyama Bay is the mirage, which can be seen from the city of Uozu. The mirage is a natural occurrence created by temperature differences in the atmosphere. The layers of cold and warm air cause light to refract, so that distant objects appear to change shape or size, or even create mirror images. A mirage might appear for a few minutes or for several hours. Spring mirages can be seen above the actual objects, while winter mirages are seen below the actual objects.

The spring mirage season is from late March to early June. Mirages typically appear ten to fifteen times during this period. They are most likely to occur after two to three days of good weather, when the temperature is higher than normal, and when there is a gentle north-northeast wind. As you might imagine, many people are not able to see a mirage. The Buried Forest Museum (which also houses information on the mirage) in Uozu has been passing out certificates to the lucky people who manage to witness a mirage.

However, Uozu decided that they also want to recognize and appreciate the people who visited but could not see a mirage. Through June 30th, the Uozu City Tourist Association is offering a “certificate” for those who were not able to see the mirage upon their visit to the mirage viewing areas of Uozu. The certificate proclaims “蜃気楼見られんだちゃ(Shinkirou miraren da cha),” which is “I couldn’t see the mirage” — in the local Toyama dialect. It comes with coupons for the Buried Forest Museum and the Mirage Land Ferris Wheel, as well as a voucher for a gift from the Uozu Aquarium.

A travel agency has even begun offering 2-day bus tour packages from the Tokyo area to Toyama, combining mirage-viewing with the firefly squid museum (Namerikawa City) and the World Heritage Site Gokayama Gassho-Zukuri Village (Nanto City). This tour package will only be available for select days this month, as the dates were chosen based on historical data of days the mirage has appeared in past years.

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now

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