around one hour by airplane from Tokyo (Narita Airport), Nagoya, and Osaka. Also, Hokuriku Shinkansen stops at Joetsumyoko Station and Itoigawa Station, so it is a prefecture that can easily be visited from the big cities.
The air and water is clear, and the food is delicious, to say the least! Here, we would like to introduce even more recommended places to visit and souvenirs to buy.
Niigata tourism by season
Niigata Prefecture has sea and mountains, and plenty of nature to enjoy by the season.
When snow melts and it gets warm, the spring flowers start to bloom all at once. The time to see cherry blossoms is usually from around mid-April.
One of Japan’s top 3 places to view night cherry blossom is Takada Park, where 4000 cherry blossom trees are illuminated with 3000 paper lanterns. A three-story turret was reconstructed in 1993, at the park that is located at the site of Takada Castle. It is fun to view cherry blossoms while experiencing history.
At the 9th station of Mt. Yahiko, near the summit, there is a 170-year-old cherry tree called Yahikozakura, which is a sight to behold. You can climb to the top of the mountain in 5 minutes via a ropeway.
Many tourists come to Niigata in summer to swim in the sea. The sea water is clean and clear, and it is popular among tourists from other prefectures, as well.
In spring, many places like Yuzawa Kogen, Myoko, and Mt. Hakkai have ropeways which allow you to view autumn foliage from above! Viewing autumn foliage on flatland is of course also amazing, but you should try viewing them also from above.
In winter, Niigata gets covered in snow, and in every area, there is a festival that is related to snow.
Two snow festivals held in Niigata that deserve to be mentioned are “Minami Uonuma Snow Festival” (old “Muikamachi Snow Festival”) and “Tokamachi Snow Festival”, both have been selected as one of the three greatest snow festivals in Japan. Tokamachi Snow Festival, which is also known as the festival of white love, a very lively live concert by wonderful guests is held every year on a huge stage that is made of snow.
Places that even kids can enjoy
Fruit picking is popular among tourists with children, and Niigata is packed with various kinds of fruits, like strawberries, cherries, grapes, Japanese pears, apples, and figs, that you can pick starting from spring!
Just look for a plantation close to the place you are staying at, and go pick some fruits.
At Niigata Senbei Okoku (Niigata rice cracker kingdom) in Niizaki, Kita-ku, you can watch up close as artisans make rice crackers, and you can even try making a rice cracker yourself.
At Niigata City Manga House, you can enter the world of gag manga artists. There is a place where you can take photos while making a pose of your favorite character, and there is also a manga section for beginners.
Souvenirs you should definitely try in Niigata
Niigata is known for Sasa Dango (bamboo leaf dumplings). When you tear off the bamboo leaf, there is a mochi rice cake that has red bean paste inside. The mochi rice used in this famous confection has a gentle aroma of bamboo grass, and it is something you should try once if you are coming to Niigata. They can also be bought as souvenirs in individual packages.
The company Naniwaya Seika is said to be the creator of the spicy Kaki no Tane (a mixture of soy-flavored rice crisps and peanuts) that makes your tongue tingle. Canned Kaki no Tane is a popular souvenir, that has been available for a long time.
Hakugin Santa (Silver Santa) that is made of rice flour, is a soft confection that is sold in a cute snowman package. It is a great souvenir to give to women to delight them.
Speaking of famous products that use rice, of course there is sake! There are 11 special zones for Doburoku (a type of unfiltered sake) within the prefecture where Doburoku is made. It has a combination of a sweet taste that comes from rice, and a fresh sour taste.
There are plenty of different types of sake, so we recommend buying seasonal limited sake or sake you can only buy in the area!
You can enjoy nature regardless of the season in Niigata Prefecture. Why not visit Niigata to pamper yourself with some beautiful scenery and delicious food?