Located just northeast of Toyama City, Uozu is an old fishing town that allows you to experience the elements in an unprecedented way.
Tricks of Nature
Mirages are not unique to Uozu, but it is one of the few places in Japan where you can see them year-round. For residents, though, “mirage” is synonymous with “spring.” Head to Uozu’s coast, where you can witness a fascinating trompe-l’œil, or trick of the eye, over Toyama Bay.
At the nearby Uozu Buried Forest Museum, you can see the remains of an ancient forest from 2,000 years ago. While learning about how the forest stayed intact for centuries, visitors can view its underwater roots and even touch the protruding stumps. The museum is also home to a café that offers instagrammable desserts made with whole fruits.
Last but not least, there is a beautiful local delicacy lurking in the waters: the hotaru ika, or firefly squid in English. Firefly squids are famous for their unique bioluminescence, which makes them appear to glow in the dark. You can spot them in other areas of Japan, but one of the largest schools of firefly squids in the country come to shore to lay their eggs in Uozu. Enjoy eating this unique fare in a variety of forms around town — including sashimi.
The Shape of Water
Blessed with both abundant ocean and freshwater resources, Uozu has a plethora of delicacies on offer. From seafood to leafy greens, what appears on your plate will change drastically with the seasons. Some nationally-celebrated exports from Uozu include apples, Japanese pears, grapes and snow crab.
Uozu manages to grow a range of produce thanks to stellar management of water sources, which travelers can see in action. Measuring 9 meters tall and 12 centimeters in diameter, the Higashiyama Cylinder Cistern is a true engineering wonder. It was built out of stone over 50 years ago and still stands strong. Thanks to manmade marvel, water from the mountains evenly distributed between three surrounding municipalities, each home to a slew of farmers. It might not look like it, but this simple yet effective water tank resolved several centuries’ worth of debates on local water rights in one swift flush.
Wishing for a Good Catch
After a three-year hiatus, Uozu’s estival festivities took the streets by storm this summer. Numerous celebrations around this season fall under the Jantokoi Uozu Festival umbrella, but the main event is the 300-year-old Tatemon Festival, which takes place on the first weekend of August.
The Tatemon Festival features a float with 16-meter-tall pillars with 90 paper lanterns hanging from them, forming a pyramid shape. The float is then pulled by 80 people in traditional festival garb. Traditionally, the float made its way from downtown Uozu to the coast. Its thought that the pyramid shape replicates that of an altar with offerings to the Gods, which in turn, will bring the local fisherman a good catch.
How to Get Here
Tokyo Station -> approx. 2.5 hrs (Hokuriku Shinkansen) -> Toyama Station -> approx. 25 mins (Ainokaze Toyama Railway) -> Uozu Station
If you don’t have your own car, rent one at Toyama Station and take the scenic route along the coast until you reach Uozu.