Niigata is the most famous prefecture for producing tasty rice. Along a beautiful setting of Niigata, the promotional movie shows us how this delicious rice is made.
The setting of the movie is like a letter that tells the viewer how the rice grows throughout the year. After watching the movie, the viewer can’t help but feel thankful to the enthusiastic rice farmers who try their best to have as many people as possible taste their products.
What kind of place is Niigata Prefecture?
Niigata Prefecture is located on the Japan Sea side of the Chubu region. The Capital city of Niigata is the biggest city on the Japan Sea side of the Honshu (main) island filled with great nature and hot springs. Niigata Prefecture is a blessed place with both marine products and vegetables. Niigata Prefecture is surrounded by the Japan Sea, Shinano River and Agano River. For this reason, the marine transportation has been highly developed for a long time leaving many historical sites that are now popular tourist spots.
Niigata is located in a heavy snow fall area making it a popular skiing place from winter to early spring. Fall offers beautiful views of autumn leaves, summer is filled with activities in nature.
Access to the city of Niigata
Arriving by airplane:
Approximately 1h 5min from Narita Airport to Niigata Airport
Arriving by train:
Approximately 2 hours by a bullet train.
Arriving by bus:
Approximately 5h to 7h by taking the highway bus.
Three must-see places in Niigata Prefecture
Kiyotsukyo Gorge has a dynamic reef and a clear stream, also known as the top three gorges in Japan. The scenery is amazing with a 12.5km long gorge and is designated as the natural monument and a place of national scenic beauty.
Yahiko Shrine is located at the foot of Mt. Yahiko at the western part of the Echigo Plain and is the shrine that worships Mt. Yahiko. It’s a famous shrine with many visitors nationwide. Although its establishment is not clear, there are records on Kojiki, Japan’s oldest historical record. The area is well known for good hot springs with many hotels and accommodations. A hot spring day trip is also highly recommended.
Sado is a beautiful island located in the west of Niigata Prefecture on the Japan Sea side. It takes 65min with the express ferry from Niigata port. Sado island used to be famous for gold mines during the Edo period and the Kitazawa Floatation Plant, which now is a ruined gold industry facility, is said to be like the world of the movie “Laputa: Castle in the Sky Castle” and is drawing attention as a sightseeing spot.
Three must-eat in Niigata Prefecture
You can’t miss rice when visiting Niigata. Why don’t you try traditional foods such as Harako-don (rice bowl with salmon and salmon roe on top), Tai-chazuke (Rice soup with Sea Bream), Kaisendon (rice bowl with sashimi on top), Sushi and more! Some dishes come with Niigata’s traditional soup called “Noppei-jiru” as well.
Uonuma region of Niigata Prefecture is the birthplace of Hegi Soba. It has Funori seaweed and is served on a plate called “Hegi”. The soba noodles are smooth but chewy and popular for souvenirs as well.
It’s a deep fried Tofu but much bigger and thicker than the usual Aburaage. It’s been loved by locals for over 250 years. It goes well with Sake made in Niigata and every store has different recipes. Highly recommended souvenir as well.
Three must-buy souvenirs in Niigata Prefecture
Famous for rice production, Niigata Prefecture is also notorious for Sake brewery. There are many Sake brewers in Niigata Prefecture and it’s one of the most popular souvenirs those who like to drink. There are Sake stores called “Ponshu-kan” both in Niigata and Echigo-yuzawa station and they offer 5 different kinds sake tasting for 500 yen. Why not taste various Sake before deciding on the one to take back home?
Top rice producing prefecture Niigata is also famous for Senbei or rice crackers. Every Japanese person loves Senbei. Zuika Usuage and Kakino-tane are most popular ones. The city of Nagaoka is the birthplace of Kakino-tane and there are many different flavors. You can make your original Senbei at the Senbei Kingdom.
Sasa Dango is Niigata’s traditional treat which is made of mugwort-flavored rice cake with red bean paste, wrapped with bamboo leaves. Try Sasa Dango with Kinpira (Japanese traditional stirfried vegetable) instead of red bean paste for a different experience.
Dialect of Niigata
Niigata is basically classified into 2 different dialects: Echigo dialect and Sado-ben. Those 2 dialects are collectively called Niigata-ben. Echigo dialect is spoken mostly all over Niigata Prefecture except Sado with some differences depending on the region. The characteristic of the dialect is that there is no difference between the “i” sound and “e” sound. Sado-ben is more like the dialect of Kyoto.
Kiromi … Yolk of eggs
Najirane? … How are you? How’s it going?
Gochisosamadesu … Thank you very much.
Kanbene … Sorry.
Najomo najomo … No problem
Why don’t you visit Niigata prefecture and discover unknown attractions of Japan?
Niigata Prefecture Tourism Information Site「Niigata Kanko Navi」
- Issaki Hoto Festival, the biggest lantern float festival in the Noto Peninsula – Nanao City, Ishikawa Prefecture
- The City that makes us feel like travelling back in time to the Edo Period – Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture