From Tokyo, we took the “Toki” or “Max Toki” shinkansen (bullet prepare) of the JR East’s Joetsu Shinkansen line within the morning.
You may simply entry this prepare from Tokyo Station, Ueno Station, or Ōmiya Station (you may examine Google Maps to map out your route to be able to attain certainly one of these 3 stations relying on the place you might be positioned in Tokyo).
◘◘ Eat hegisoba for lunch
That is certainly one of Niigata’s native dishes and it’s mainly a soba (Japanese buckwheat skinny noodles) that’s product of funori (seaweed) which is not like the standard soba that makes use of wheat. Due to this, hegisoba has a clean but ‘al dente‘ texture that’s well-known among the many Japanese.
That is sometimes served on an oblong picket plate wherein the noodles are already sectioned into particular person mouthful parts, thereby making it very simple to eat. Tips on how to greatest eat hegisoba? You can both eat it as is, or dip it within the mentsuyu (black-colored soup base that shall be offered to you) which you’ll additional taste with sesame seeds, radish, wasabi, or inexperienced onions.
Beneficial: Kojimaya CoCoLo Niigata (one department is positioned in Niigata station)
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◘◘ Go to Saitou Villa (features a geisha present and snacks)
This can be a summer season villa that was constructed again in 1920 by a rich service provider in Niigata. Immediately, it’s a place used to welcome honored friends within the metropolis reminiscent of public figures, and celebrities; however extra generally, it’s a place that’s preserved and revered as a valued cultural constructing.
And for nearly $26, you may discover Saitou Villa’s room and gardens, style some Japanese sweets and matcha (inexperienced tea), AND be entertained by Furumachi geigi (geisha of Niigata). This can be a steal after all, particularly when you examine it to the costly price that it is advisable pay simply to fulfill an actual geisha in a dinner banquet program (which can nearly be just like what you’ll expertise right here!).
So I say, it is a MUST to do in your Niigata itinerary!
Transport & Journey Information: Niigata Hanamachi Chaya
The Furumachi district of Niigata is taken into account one of many three most prestigious areas in Japan for geisha, together with Gion in Kyoto and Shinbashi in Tokyo. Therefore, witnessing Niigata’s geisha is a must-do!
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◘◘ Drop by Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery
Niigata is well-known for producing the best sake or nihonshu (Japanese liquor). Why so? Merely due to the snow. With the prefecture’s bountiful snowfall on its mountains, it has always yielded circumstances which might be excellent for making sake: purified air from fixed snowing and snow-melted waters (nice for rising rice paddies and brewing sake).
To greatest take pleasure in this, head on ever to Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery as a result of you may then go on a FREE tour of their institution as you study extra concerning the making of sake. What’s extra, you may even style a few of their merchandise! (My favourite sake bottles are: Moto, Karyu-kai, and Junmai).
Transport & Journey Information: Imayotsukasa Web site
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◘◘ Seize dinner at an izakaya
Extend your enjoyment of Niigata’s high-quality sake by visiting a typical Japanese gastropub that’s referred to as an ‘izakaya‘.
Different Drinks to Strive: umeshu (plum wine), biiru (Japanese beers), shōchū (distilled beverage) Dishes to Strive: yakitori (grilled hen skewers), karaage (Japanese fried hen), sashimi (uncooked fish)
TRIVIA: Apparently, the Japanese sometimes wish to seize ramen (noodle dish) after a protracted night time of ingesting since it’s stated to assist them deal with the alcohol, in addition to assist them take care of a hangover in a while!
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◘◘ Test in to a resort within the metropolis
To cap off your first day on this Niigata itinerary, select from…
Luxurious: Lodge Nikko Niigata
Mid-Vary: Artwork Lodge Niigata Station or AirBnB
Funds: APA Lodge Niigata Higashinakadori
On this present day of my Niigata itinerary, we headed over to Sado Island which is part of the prefecture. In an effort to get right here, we took the Jetfoil jet boat with the route Niigata – Ryotsu and it departs each hour at a price of ¥6,520 yen. It takes about an hour to get to Sado Island from Niigata port with a quick boat like this.
In order for you cheaper choices, there are the opposite ferry routes:
- Naoetsu–Ogi: ¥2,720 yen, 2.5 hours, 4-5 instances day by day
- Teradomari–Akadomari: ¥2,960 yen, 2 hours, 2-3 instances day by day
When you arrive at Sado…
◘◘ Play at Sado Island’s Taiko Centre
A ‘taiko‘ is a conventional Japanese percussion instrument, and certainly one of Japan’s hottest taiko teams which might be additionally identified internationally is known as Kodo. Hailing from Sado Island, they’ve constructed this enjoyable Tatakokan (Taiko Centre) in order that guests can have a hands-on expertise with Kodo instructors on play the taiko.
This was an expertise that I really loved and it’ll certainly be an much more enjoyable exercise when you include quite a few associates or household!
Transport & Journey Information: Kodo Taiko
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◘◘ Strive a tarai-bune (tub boat)
YES, you learn that proper! As seen within the lower-left photograph above, these cut-off barrels are a form of tub boat that was sensible to make use of within the olden instances to be able to accumulate shellfish and seaweed from rocky coastal waters. Immediately, nevertheless, they’re primarily used to amuse vacationers on Sado Island.
Driving this boat really made me anxious (properly sure, it’s a ‘tub boat’ in any case); relaxation assured, it’s completely protected and a completely enjoyable and fascinating factor to do!
Transport & Journey Information: You may purchase this service on your Niigata itinerary from Ogi port or at Yajima-Kyojima space (which has extra scenic environment). They’re open day by day all year long (8:30AM to five:00PM), spans for 10 minutes, can maintain 3 individuals on one tub boat, and prices ¥500 for adults and ¥300 for kids.
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◘◘ Choose up and convey dwelling some gold mud at Nishi-Mikawa gold park
In case you head over to this hands-on museum on your Niigata itinerary, you’ll not solely study extra about Sado’s famed gold actions but in addition concerning the technique of mining and refining it. The particular factor about this museum although is its epic gold-picking exercise!
For less than ¥800 yen, you may attempt gold panning for half-hour within the freshmen’ course space. Moreover, you may hold the gold mud that you’ll find inside that timeframe! YES, you actually can take it dwelling.
Transport & Journey Information: Nishi-Mikawa Web site
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◘◘ Stroll round Senkakuwan Ageshima Yuen-Park
This can be a park that gives wonderful coastal sights over Senkaku-wan Bay. For the perfect 360 views, go to the neighborhood’s Ageshima Observatory and Yusenkyo Bridge.
Transport & Journey Information: Ageshima
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◘◘ Tour Sado Kinzan (Sado Gold Mine)
Financed by the Tokugawa shogunate for 388 years from 1601 to 1989, that is the island’s most necessary historic website — in truth, due to its wealthy historical past (being Japan’s largest gold mine in that period) it’s now actively promoted for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Website.
As soon as contained in the tunnels, you’ll see a number of exhibitions of robots that painting the miners through the Edo interval (as a method of recreating the previous ambiance or look).
Transport & Journey Information: Sado Kinzan Web site
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◘◘ Test in to a resort or ryokan on the island
A quintessential journey to Japan is NOT full with out a journey to a ryokan (Japanese conventional inn).
Among the bucket checklist issues to do as soon as booked inside one: sleep in a tatami-matted room, attempt the onsen (sizzling spring baths), put on a yukata, and eat kaiseki (conventional multi-course Japanese dinner)!
Different decisions are…
Luxurious: Lodge Azuma
Mid-Vary: Kohan no Yado Yoshidaya or AirBnB
Funds: Sado Bellemer Youth Hostel
On the third day of this Niigata itinerary, I rode a jet boat to get again to Niigata port and metropolis.
◘◘ Go see the Hoppō Bunka Hakubutsukan (Northern Tradition Museum)
That is an open-air museum that options the well-known mansion of Ito Bunkichi who was one of many best landowners in Niigata through the Edo Interval. Aside from the mansion, it additionally homes a picturesque backyard, art work, calligraphy works, ceramics, and a lot extra.
You can additionally eat lunch right here within the former kitchen of the Ito household in order that you could possibly style typical native dishes that have been served again in these instances!
Transport & Journey Information: Northern Cultural Museum Web site
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◘◘ Welcome your self into Niigata’s Senbei Okoku (Kingdom)
Rice is made throughout Japan, however it’s in Niigata the place you will discover the BEST-tasting rice that there can ever be within the nation. Naturally, senbei (rice cracker) manufacturing is successful in Niigata with Kuriyama Beika Group as one of the standard manufacturers.
It’s right here in Senbei Okoku the place they then provide its guests the possibility to style freshly-baked crackers, purchase a number of souvenirs, and see the precise cooking course of up shut. They even provide the possibility for individuals to make, roast, and design their very own rice crackers! It’s an satisfying exercise for certain, particularly for households.
Transport & Journey Information: Senbei Web site
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◘◘ Make sasadango at Tanakaya Minato Kobo
Dango (sticky rice cake) is a well-liked conventional snack in Japan and in Niigata, they’ve their very own distinctive model referred to as ‘sasa dango’. Mainly, these are created from steamed and pounded glutinous rice with pink bean paste filling which is then wrapped and tied utilizing sasa (bamboo leaf).
As a last contact, will probably be steamed altogether.
In case you head over to Tanakaya Minato Kobo, other than tasting and taking it dwelling as a memento, you could possibly additionally undergo a mini cooking class to be able to learn to make sasadango!
Transport & Journey Information: Koubou Web site
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◘◘ Stroll round Minatopia
In case you’re within the historical past of Niigata’s metropolis, visiting Minatopia is a should. Aside from the museum and constructing buildings (such because the Niigata Customs Home) within the space that explains the previous of the town, this spot can also be an amazing place for admiring the Shinano River.
Handle: 2-10 Yanagishima
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◘◘ Stroll by the town’s primary buying avenue
Make your method in direction of the Bandai and/or Furumachi space to take your time in selecting the locations you’ll eat and store in — in addition to, they’ve an array of fantastic alternatives so that you can select from!
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◘◘ Test in to Lodge Nikko
I like to recommend Lodge Nikko as a result of it has an excellent 360 view over Niigata’s cityscape which will be simply seen not solely from inside your room but in addition from its topmost ground!
We made our method out of the town for this present day of my Niigata itinerary to do the next:
◘◘ Discover and choose fruits at Shirone Grape Backyard
This institution is filled with greenhouses that organically develop a number of forms of fruits reminiscent of kiwis, persimmons (a should to attempt as a result of it was soooo good!), grapes, peaches, strawberries, and extra. And relying on the time of your go to, you may choose fruits for FREE!
To cap off your go to, be sure that to attempt their standard gelatos that are all created from pure substances.
Transport & Journey Information: Kudamonogari
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◘◘ Cease by Yahiko Shrine
Smacked in the midst of a lush forest and on the foot of a mountain, Yahiko Shrine in Yahiko Village is extensively adored and worshipped by the Japanese.
Expertise and observe the totally different shrines or Shinto practices right here! One fascinating factor you too can do is purchase an omikuji which is a randomly written divination about your close to future. These are ignored on a picket field close to the shrine with a worth label on it (it’s sometimes self-serving like this). Pay the worth, choose a folded paper from the field and see your fortune!
For the primary time, I drew a daikichi which meant ‘wonderful luck’. My information stated that I ought to make full use of it and do issues like shopping for lottery tickets, and many others. haha!
Journey Instructions Information: Go over to Niigata station, take the Echigo Line that goes to the route of Yoshida (各停). Cease at Yoshida station (14 stops whole) and alter to a unique line, Yahiko Line that heads to Yahiko (各停). Cease at Yahiko Station (2 stops whole).
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◘◘ Dine at Cave D’Occi Vineyard
Set within the plains of Kakudahama, Cave d’Occi Vinespa is a multipurpose vineyard resort that features not solely a restaurant however a spa, an onsen (sizzling spring tub), and a visitor home (for guests who need to spend extra time exploring the vineyards).
Make certain to purchase or attempt their wines since they style actually good!
Transport & Journey Information: Docci Web site
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◘◘ Look by TsubameSanjo Regional Industries Promotion Centre
If you wish to purchase extra souvenirs from Niigata to take dwelling, making a cease by this middle needs to be up in your journey itinerary.
Mainly, Tsubame-Sanjo is among the most sought-after Japanese manufacturers in terms of metalworks or gadgets because of their top quality and craftsmanship; so, it’s undoubtedly price your time to take a peek right here.
Transport & Journey Information: TsubameSanjo Web site
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◘◘ Stroll round Minamiuonuma
This metropolis is a well-liked winter vacation spot because of its very good location. As soon as there, you’ll have a selection of over 10 ski and snowboard resorts that are a mixture of giant and small institutions which might be appropriate for all ranges of skiers and snowboarders.
Relaxation assured, when you’re approaching a month with no snow on your Niigata itinerary, there are numerous issues to do right here nonetheless, and certainly one of my favorites is exploring Bokushi Dori (avenue) which can also be referred to as Shiozawajuku. Strolling by this space is like stepping again in time given how it’s speckled with Edo Interval homes and outlets.
Transport & Journey Information: Minamiuonuma Web site
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◘◘ Test right into a ryokan reminiscent of Lodge Futaba
In order for you the perfect ryokan (Japanese inn) keep that you may ever expertise, try Lodge Futaba!
In case you’ve bought some extra additional time for you Niigata itinerary, I extremely advocate the next:
◘◘ Go to Ponshukan
Ponshukan will be discovered at Echigo-Yuzawa station and it’s a corridor that options a number of sights:
- Sake merchandising machines: it’s precisely what the title implies! With over 96 totally different manufacturers out there, you simply have to purchase a cup price ¥500 solely, put a plastic token within the machine’s coin slot, slip in your cup, after which will probably be stuffed to the brim with sake. If unsure, there are employees individuals who would gladly help you!
- Sake store: are you quite on the lookout for bottles of sake? Subsequent door is a sake store that has over 96 varieties.
- Buying space: there are numerous small stalls across the Ponshukan corridor that provide numerous items from sweets to souvenirs.
- Onsen: if you would like a novel form of onsen expertise, subsequent door can also be an onsen however what units it other than typical onsens is that you may dip right here in sake!!
- Guinness World Report: In case you go deep inside Ponshukan, you’ll find a store that has the biggest show of handmade stuffed toys (11,655) which might be tied by strings. This was achieved by Integrated Non-Revenue Group Japan Tsurushi-bina Affiliation and Akira Kitano final 2012.
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◘◘ Drop by Niigata Furusato Village
That is technically NOT a village as it’s extra of a tourism facility that homes a HUGE array of merchandise which might be excellent for souvenirs: soba, crafts, items, dairy, sake — you’ll discover all of it right here. You’ll even discover some reveals right here that depict Niigata’s historical past, and once you need some nature, simply step out and also you’ll see an enormous discipline filled with 60,000 tulips!
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◘◘ Take Instagram-worthy photographs at Hoshi-Toge Rice Subject
Dubbed “Japan’s 100 greatest rural spots”, these rice-terraced fields have their very own distinctive look that’s greatest visited both throughout dawn or sundown. I guarantee you that the view from this space will take your breath away!
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◘◘ Go to Yahiko Park (Maple Valley)
Finest to do in Autumn. When within the Yahiko Village space, be sure that to drop by Yahiko Park. Right here, you’ll find nice sceneries that fantastically specific each 4 seasons. Autumn season is definitely the perfect time to return right here as a result of the vermillion-lacquered Kan-tsuki Bridge completely blends in with the entire sizzling colours.
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◘◘ Ski at one of many prefecture’s ski resorts reminiscent of Akakura Kanko Resort and Spa
Finest to do in Winter (December to Could). This resort is alleged to be the primary in Japan to be designated as a world ski resort. You are able to do lots of actions right here: snowboarding and 11 trails (longest at 4km amongst many others. There’s even a particular space referred to as the Chibikko Hiroba which is for kids who’re too younger to hit the slopes.
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◘◘ Attend a minimum of one (1) Niigata occasion or competition
Among the most fascinating ones are…
- Sake no Jin (Niigata Sake Competition): Held mid-March, because the land of sake, that is certainly one of Niigata’s main occasions. At this competition, you may pattern over 500 types of sake from roughly 90 native brewers! Simply buy a tasting ticket and also you’re certain to have a good time by and thru!
- Tokamachi Snow Competition: Sapporo could be probably the most well-known snow competition, however Niigata’s is definitely the oldest and possibly probably the most laid-back and genuine snow celebration as properly. Moreover, with the heavy snowfall within the space, there isn’t a scarcity of sculptures which might be dispersed throughout city! In case you’re focused on witnessing this spectacle, it is best to come on the third Saturday of February.
- Oiran Dochu Courtesan Procession: Oirans not exist in Japan, however as a method of commemorating their distinctive magnificence and tradition as high-rank courtesans and entertainers, processions like this are sometimes held in Japan. Niigata has its personal and it’s often held in the midst of April in Jizoudouhonchoudoori, Tsubame (Ookouzu banks, close to Bunsui station).
- Niigata Hanae Mission: Since Niigata is certainly one of Japan’s main tulip producers, this occasion that’s held from April 29 to Could 2 is the place individuals will create big “flower work” utilizing tulips that have been discarded within the technique of bulb cultivation.
- Nagaoka Competition: As per common, you’ll count on float parades and folks dance processions in festivals like this; BUT the principle spotlight of this affair held on August 1 to three is its large-scale fireworks show that occurs over the Shinano River. Useful to notice is that it’s thought of one of many prime 3 fireworks exhibits in Japan since you’ll usually witness insane stuff like 650-meter big sanshakudama fireworks, waterfall shapes, volcano-like formations, and 20,000 smaller shakudama fireworks.
- Niigata Competition: Lasting for 3 days beginning on August 7, you will note lots of float parades, firework shows, and dance processions (that typically contain round 20,000 individuals)!
- Earth Competition: Held on Sado Island in August, the spotlight of this competition is the efficiency of the world-famous taiko drummer group, Kado. This competition lasts for 3 days and contains numerous occasions in an open-air live performance model.