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Known as Etchu Province before the Meiji Restoration, Toyama is a mostly rural prefecture in Japan's Chubu Region, located roughly in the center of Honshu facing the Sea of Japan. It has a population of just over a million with 420,000 of these people residing in the capital, Toyama City, which comprises about one-third of the entire prefecture. Toyama has a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers, cool winters and abundant rainfall throughout the year, especially in July. Lying within Japan's snow belt, some areas receive tremendous amounts of snowfall, and the prefecture possesses the only glaciers in Japan.
In the first half the 20th Century, Toyoama suffered one of Japan's "Four Big Pollution Diseases" from cadmium poisoning from mining run off into the Jinzu River. The Itai-itai (It hurts, it hurts) Disease caused some local residents severe pain from bone softening and kidney failure. In the second half of the 20th Century there were large clean up efforts, which mostly removed river sediments and top soil from the affected areas.
Toyama has long been known for its leadership in the pharmaceutical industry and even today still leads Japan in production. Harnessing nearby hydroelectric power from Japan's largest dam, the Kurobe Dam, Toyama is also the leading industrial producer among prefectures facing the Sea of Japan. Its products include electronic parts and devices (industrial robots, general machinery, etc.), and metal products (aluminum, copper etc.) manufacturing, chemicals. Abundant water resources contribute to large agricultural output, particularly with rice. Then, Toyama's position along the coast provides for a significant fishing industry, and its mountains have many ski resorts and onsens in the hospitality industry. There are only about 20 English conversation schools that hire native English teachers and about half as many other types of educational institutions that may employ foreign teachers.
In addition to skiing, things to see and do in Toyama include Gokayama Historical Village in Nanto City (a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site), Zuiryu-ji Temple in Takaoka City (a National Treasure of Japan), Botanic Gardens of Toyama, Yasuda Castle ruins, Sugusaka Site (a Japanese Paleolithic period site), Kitadai Site (a Jomon period site and National Historic Site), Ozuka-Senboyama Sites (Yayoi period settlement ruins and kofun), Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Mitsui Outlet Park in Hokuriku Oyabe, Chokei-ji temple (with Gohyaku rakan - five hundred statues depicting arhats), etc. Toyama Castle is basically a reproduction that contains the Toyama Local History Museum and the Sato Memorial Art Museum, which is noted for its collection of utensils for tea ceremonies and antiques. Other museums include the Museum of Modern Art of Toyama, and the Toyama Glass Art Museum.
Some of the major festivals in Toyama City include the Mt. Ushidake Snow Festival in early February, All Japan Chindon (Street Advertising Men) Competition in mid-April, the Sassa Narimasa Sengoku Era Festival in late July, the Toyama Festival with Owara Kaze no Bon in early September, etc. Then outside the capital there is the Marumage Festival (Himi City) in May, the Nanto Toga Soba Festival in mid-Feburary
Local cuisine includes bountiful sea foods such as locally caught Toyama Port sushi, firefly squid (hotaru ika), matured yellow tail (buri), Shinminato red and white bowl (red snow crab and white shrimp and), fish paste (kamaboko). There is also a trout sushi (masu), which is thin slices of pink trout on koshihikari suchi rice and wrapped in bamboo leaves, and whelk rice or locally caught snails in rice dishes. Local soups include Toyama black soup (soy sauce based soup) with noodles and local produce and cod soup (chunks of cod stewed with miso).