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Places noted in connection with Toyama literature

1. Toyama

Fura Maeda, Shūzō Takiguchi, Gen’yoshi Kadokawa

Located at the center of Toyama City, Toyama Castle Park is the home of a stone tablet engraved with a haiku by poet Fura Maeda, one of the four major disciples of the great poet Kyoshi Takahama. It is said that Maeda decided to settle in Toyama after looking up and admiring the majestic Tateyama Peaks. The magnificently beautiful yet harsh natural features of Toyama have been the birthplace of a colorful array of talented individuals, such as Shūzō Takiguchi, a renowned Japanese art critic and poet, and Gen’yoshi Kadokawa, a haiku poet and later the founder of Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co., Ltd.


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2. Itachi River

Teru Miyamoto, Keita Genji

Running through the urban district of Toyama City, the Itachi River is blessed with an abundant flow of underground water that can be seen springing up from various locations along its banks. One of these places is the Enmei Jizōson spring, whose waters have been reputed from ancient times to cure all kinds of sickness. Having spent some time in Toyama during his childhood, the celebrated writer Teru Miyamoto set his Akutagawa Prize-winning novel Hotarugawa around the Itachi River and other areas. The work was made into a film in 1986, and a monument can be found where the filming was carried out in Tatsumi-chō.

By a bridge over the Itachi River in Izumi-chō one can see a literature memorial to Ippon No Denchū, an essay by local writer and Naoki Prize winner Keita Genji, whose businessman-themed stories took the country by storm.


Itachi River / Enmei Jizōson spring

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3. Yatsuo

Isamu Yoshii, Osamu Takahashi, Hiroyuki Itsuki

Along with the brisk breeze of autumn comes the Owara Kaze no Bon festival, which is observed from September 1 to 3 in the town of Yatsuo. Men and women wearing amigasa (half-moon shaped straw hats) parade in a procession through the town as they dance to melancholic music and the sound of the kokyū, a traditional Japanese string instrument. The festival was featured in Osamu Takahashi’s Kaze no Bon Koiuta and Hiroyuki Itsuki’s Kaze no Hitsugi. The district is also the home of a monument inscribed with a tanka poem by Isamu Yoshii.


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4. Tateyama

Jūji Tanabe, Jirō Nitta, Jun Henmi

One of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains,” Mt. Tateyama has been important not only as an object of religious worship, but also as a source of literary inspiration. A Toyama-born expert in English literature, Jūji Tanabe recorded with exquisite feeling his climb up Mt. Tateyama in Yama to Keikoku, thus establishing himself as a leading writer of mountain-related literature in Japan. In Tsurugidake: Ten no Ki, Jirō Nitta depicted the men who set out to climb and map the unconquered peak of Mt. Tsurugi. The novel was adapted into a film (Mt. Tsurugidake) in 2009.

Spending her childhood in Toyama, the poet and writer Jun Henmi described the religious fascination of Mt. Tateyama and set down her feelings about the peak in her essay Tateyama no Shōryō-ichi.


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5. Kurobe Gorge

Matsujirō Kanmuri, Fuyuji Tanaka, etc.

Formed by erosion from the Kurobe River, the Kurobe Gorge is the deepest V-shaped valley in Japan. Meandering through it is Kurobe Kyōkoku Tetsudō Railway, popularly known as the “torokko train.” In 1925, alpinist Matsujirō Kanmuri became the first to travel the gorge all the way upstream, an experience that he later described in his book, Kurobe Kyōkoku.

Kurobe Gorge is also home to many hot springs. A poet from the Shōwa period (1926 – 1989) with a deep connection to Toyama, Fuyuji Tanaka frequently visited a secluded hot spring in Kuronagi and composed a body of poems, including Kuzu no Hana. At the entrance of Kurobe Gorge, Unazuki Hot Spring has long been a favorite spot for many writers and artists ever since it first opened. The place is featured in Naoya Shiga’s Sōshun no Tabi, and its list of past guests includes the great poets Hiroshi and Akiko Yosano, Shūji and Hideko Miya, and Junzaburō Nishiwaki.



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6. Nyūzen

Hyōzō Kashiwabara

Where Uehara Elementary School once stood in the town of Nyūzen, one can now find a memorial to Nagai Michi, a novel by Akutagawa Prize winner Hyōzō Kashiwabara. During World War II, the writer evacuated to a place called Yoshiwara in the town of Nyūzen, and he later wrote a story centering on the long straight road that ran from Yoshiwara to what was once Uehara Elementary School. Later, Fujiko Fujio (A) penned the story as a comic titled Shōnen Jidai, a film version of which was subsequently created by director Masahiro Shinoda.


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7. Takaoka

Fujiko F. Fujio

Originally developed by Toshinaga Maeda, the second head of the Kaga Domain, Takaoka has achieved prosperity as a core city in the western part of Toyama Prefecture. There, at a complex facility by Takaoka Station called Wing Wing Takaoka and at Takaoka Otogi no Mori Park in Sano, one can greet statues of Doraemon, a popular cartoon character created by Takaoka-born Fujiko F. Fujio.


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8. Zuiryūji Temple

Satoko Kizaki

Located in Sekihon-machi, Takaoka City, Zuiryūji is a famous temple of the Sōtō sect, and once served as the family temple of Toshinaga Maeda, who ruled as the second head of the Kaga Domain and established the district of Takaoka. Erected by the third head Toshitsune Maeda, the temple never fails to impress visitors with the elegant beauty of its magnificent temple compound. Its 'San-mon' main gate, 'Butsuden' Buddha hall and 'Hattō' main hall became the first National Treasures in the prefecture. The temple also serves as a key setting in Rōmon by novelist Satoko Kizaki, who spent her girlhood in Takaoka.

Zuiryūji Temple

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9. Fushiki

Saisei Murou, Yoshie Hotta

Once prospering as a key port of call along the Kitamaebune northern-bound shipping route, Fushiki is the home of the former Akimoto Family Residence, which has now been converted into a history museum that retains the only remaining tower in Takaoka City that was used to watch ships coming in and out of the port. Local Akutagawa Prize winner Yoshie Hotta depicted the life of shipping agents in those days in his work Tsuru no Ita Niwa. Saisei Murou’s Utsukushiki Hyōga also tells a story set in the Fushiki district, depicting the time when it was flourishing as a Kitamaebune hub port.


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10. Himi

Fujiko Fujio (A)

The first home of comic artist Fujiko Fujio (A), Kōzenji Temple houses stone images of Kaibutsu-kun and other characters of his creation. On the Nijinohashi Bridge across the Minato River that flows through the center of Himi City, a clock with characters from Ninja Hattori-kun announces the time, while Shiokaze-dōri street leading up to the bridge is lined with sculptures of the artist’s characters.


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11. Jōhana

P. A. Works Co., Ltd., True Tears

Often hailed as "Etchū's little Kyoto," the Jōhana district in the city of Nanto observes two annual festivals – the Jōhana Mugiya Festival in early autumn and the Jōhana Hikiyama Festival in spring - that paint the townscape in seasonal colors. These two festivals provided the model for a fictional event called the Mugihana Festival appearing in True Tears, an animated television series produced by Jōhana-based animation studio P. A. Works. Featuring actual landscapes and buildings in Jōhana and many other places in Toyama Prefecture, True Tears is a tale of youthful romance. Consequently, the district of Jōhana has become a Mecca for anime fans.

the Jōhana Mugiya Festival

Jōhana Hikiyama Festival

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12. Gokayama

Masaji Iwakura, Ryōtarō Shiba

Known for its UNESCO World Heritage traditional Gassho-style houses, the village of Gokayama maintains traditional culture from the good old days of Japan. In his travelogue Kaidō wo Yuku, Ryōtarō Shiba accurately recorded the history of this village and the Murakami Family Residence with its steeply pitched thatch roof, while Masaji Iwakura depicted in his novel Gyōja Dōshū the life of Dōshū Akao, the religious figure who formed the nucleus of spiritual culture in Gokayama.

Reportedly founded by Dōshū, Gyōtokuji Temple maintains a Dōshū Memorial Hall, where treasures related to Dōshū are on display along with folk craft items associated with Muneyoshi Yanagi and Shikō Munakata.



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