A journey of Toyama, Kurobe and Tateyama starts at Toyama Station. Streetcars run in the city starting from Toyama Station. As they run every 5-10 minutes and the routes are easy to understand, they are quite useful. By streetcar you can go to the Iwase area, where traditional houses have been reconstructed. Toyama Light Rail, Japan’s first full-scale LRT (Light Rail Transit) began operating in 2006. Since then the system has received nationwide attention, especially among railway fans.
Toyama was ruled by strong neighboring clans or prefectures for a long time and also has long suffered from natural disasters. The Jinzu and the Joganji rivers often caused floods and strong southerly winds have frequently caused major fires. Toyama is no stranger to big earthquakes, cold weather in summer and heavy snow in winter. It was not wealthy, but the Toyama clan developed industries in the Edo period (1603-1867) suited to the environment of this region, overcoming adversities.Medicine manufacturing is the most famous industry of Toyama. Medicine peddling was promoted by the feudal lords and peddlers traveled throughout the country for 300 years. This energized exchanges with other domains and made the Toyama clan an enterprising one. Their business was based on a policy of “use now pay later.” Peddlers left medicines with each family, and collected money only for medicines that the family actually used when they visited next time. This was a very innovative business method for those days and especially welcomed by villagers who lacked cash income. The pharmaceutical industry is still Toyama’s major industry, and boasts advanced technologies. Kokando is a venerable pharmaceutical company established in 1876. Its museum exhibits drug-making tools of older days, old willow basket trunks of peddlers, current manufacturing processes and a history of Toyama’s pharmaceutical industry.
Drug-selling companies accumulated vast amount of money through their unique business method and capabilities. They invested in financial institutions, hydropower, railway and manufacturing industries, and build a foundation of modern industry during the Meiji period (1868-1912). Toyama’s first hydraulic power plant built in 1899 enabled the supply of abundant and cheap electric power. As a result, more and more modern factories were built. There are many museums in the town. Although most buildings in the town were burned down by air attacks during WWII, the town was dramatically reconstructed after the war and numerous cultural facilities and museums were built in the tidy town. The prefectural Toyama Suiboku Museum was the first ink painting museum established in Japan. Its Japanese garden is attractive?
(The photo is Toyama Castle)