Toyama Bay (Toyama-wan, 富山湾), nestled between Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures in the Hokuriku region of Japan, was formally inducted into the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club on October 19. The bay is only the second place in Japan following Miyagi Prefecture’s Matsushima to be officially recognized by the global association. After doing some digging, we’ve discovered the incredible charms that the bay has to offer. Love mountains? Check. Love seafood? Double check. Keep reading after the jump to fall in love with Toyama Bay for yourself!

Until now, we’d never even heard of the UNESCO-endorsed NGO called The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, which was originally established in 1997 in Berlin, Germany, and is now headquartered in Vannes, France. The ever-growing club currently boasts 38 bays across 26 countries, but nations are encouraged to submit their eligible bays for review at any time.

▼A current list of all countries with at least one bay in the club

1 The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club

▼A map visual of all the bays in the club

2 The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club

Although the club includes a number of bays from countries in East and Southeast Asia, the only previous Japanese ‘representative’ on the list was Miyagi Prefecture’s Matsushima Bay, a choice which no one can really argue with since Matsushima has historically been regarded as one of the three most scenic views in all Japan (nihon sankei). Furthermore, the inclusion of Toyama Bay comes at a particularly exciting time, as the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) from Nagano to Kanazawa, which will include stops in Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures, is set to begin service on March 14, 2015!

▼Matsushima Bay in Miyagi Prefecture is famous for its hundreds of pine-dotted islets.

4Wikipedia (Chensiyuan)

But hold on a minute–what exactly is the purpose of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club in the first place? Here are five objectives taken from the association’s official website:

Objectives of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World

  • To join together to make ourselves better known
  • To promote the areas and obtain national and international recognition enabling the use of public forums from which to operate
  • To consider together the problems linked to the regulation of tourism flows, the preservation and valorisation of the landscapes and the local economic development
  • To be an example of a reasoned approach to tourism in the third millennium
  • To encourage the exchange of experience, knowledge and expertise

Next, let’s take a closer look at the club’s newest addition of Toyama Bay! 

3Google Maps

First of all, from the bay you can see the 3,015 meter (9,892 ft.) tall Mount Tate, one of Japan’s ‘Three Holy Mountains,’ in the distance. The peak is within the Hida Mountain Range, which are also known as the Northern Alps of Japan. In addition, one of only three glaciers found within Japan is located on Mount Tate; the other two are also located in Toyama Prefecture.

▼The sprawling mountain range is home to the sacred Mount Tate.

5Tourism Info in Toyama

▼Summer or winter, the snow-capped mountains lend breathtaking scenery to Toyama Bay.

6Tourism Info in Toyama

▼Many people come to the coast to see the first sunrise of the new year.

amaharashi01_sToyama-wan Dotto Komu

In addition, the topography of Toyama Bay has given it the nickname a ‘natural fish preserve.’ Nutrient-dense waters trickle down from the nearby mountains to sustain an abundance of marine life in the bay, which is a veritable treasury of over 500 species of fish and other creatures. Furthermore, the harbor is only a short trip away from the fishing grounds–good news for anyone with a penchant for seafood!

8Tourism Info in Toyama

Toyama Bay is particularly famous for being the breeding grounds of two local delicacies, the firefly squid (hotaruika) and the white shrimp (shiroebi).

▼From March through June, the firefly squid flock to the surrounding waters in great numbers to lay their eggs…

9Tourism Info in Toyama

▼…and are subsequently harvested to make some of the best sushi you’ve ever tasted (on the right)!

12Toyama Bay Sushi

▼White shrimp, or shiroebi

14Tourism Info in Toyama

▼In sushi form on the right

13Toyama Bay Sushi

▼Similarly, the winter months see a huge influx of king buri (Japanese amberjack, which is a variety of yellowtail).

15Tourism Info in Toyama

▼That slab of fatty buri is enough to make your mouth water!

16Toyama Bay Sushi

Finally, as if that seafood wasn’t incentive enough, why not pair up your visit to one of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World with a stop at the Most Beautiful Starbucks in the World? It just so happens that Toyama City’s Kansui Park Starbucks received the top prize in the 2008 Starbucks Store Design Award, so now you can sip your coffee in style and contemplate the beauties of the bay all at once.

▼The Toyama Kansui Park branch of Starbucks, aka the Most Beautiful Starbucks in the World


1Saitoshika West

▼It’s beautiful at night, too! Here are some views of Tenmon Bridge from the shop.



 If any Rocketeers venture over to Toyama Bay and taste that sushi, be sure to let us know how it is!

Sources: Naver Matome, The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club
Top image: FC2 Blog (Maple Roll)