Niigata / Sado
Bordered by the great Shinanogawa and Agano rivers, Niigata was a key location along the Kitamaebune route, and as such thrived both as a major maritime transportation hub as well as a center of cultural and gourmet growth. Niigata is famed for its abundance of seafood provided by the Sea of Japan and for its superb sake, brewed from locally grown rice. The natural beauty of Sado Island, brimming with traditional culture, is around 60 minutes from Niigata Bay on jetfoil. Around two hours from Tokyo by bullet train, Niigata is a one-of-a-kind destination.
This museum is housed in a resplendent Japanese-style mansion, the former family residence of the preeminent landowner in the region. Take a peek at the more than 65 rooms where this gono* once lived and stroll around the beautiful Japanese garden. From the cherry blossoms of spring to the richly colored leaves of autumn, you can enjoy nature's splendor year-round.
(10 minutes from Niitsu Station by taxi)
*A gono was the home of a wealthy farming family, which lived at the Edo Period. With large landholdings and financial power, such families held great influence over the local area.
When it comes to Niigata sushi, these shops serve the best of the best. From tuna to salmon roe to sea urchin, the menu is chosen daily from only the freshest locally caught fish by the discerning eye of a sushi master. Try ten of the highest quality selections for only 3000 yen (tax not included). If you're looking for the very best seafood that the Sea of Japan offers, then this is the place to be.
(Many locations in the Niigata Station area)
Have your fill of Niigata's own rice and sake at this museum located inside Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata Stations. The highlight is a well-stocked tasting room featuring more than 90 kinds of sake from which to sample (a fee applies). At Echigo-Yuzawa Station you can even take a dip in a sake hot spring bath for the full experience!
(Get off at Echigo-Yuzawa or Niigata Stations)
Takada Castle, constructed in 1614 for Matsudaira Tadateru, the sixth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The park is counted as one of the three great locations for viewing cherry blossoms at night in spring, and is even certified as an illuminated night view cultural treasure of Japan. In summer, the Toyo lotuses come into bloom, filling the 19-hectare outer moat with their beauty.
When visiting, make sure to stop by the restored Sanju Yagura (castle keep) to see the sweeping view of the park it provides.
Home to a traditional culture, this verdant island on the Sea of Japan is just about 60 minutes from Niigata on the Sado Kisen Jetfoil. Named after an offshore crag resembling two turtles, nearby Futatsugame beach is a great place for a dip in the sea. At Ogi Port you can take a ride in a taraibune, a tub-shaped wooden fishing boat still used to this day. The Sado Gold Mine, once the leading producer of gold and silver in Japan, is a great field trip destination. And every year from April to October, especially in June, locals from around the island perform nighttime Noh theater by firelight, a tradition that peaks in June. It takes about 60 minutes to Sado Island on the Sado Kisen Jet Foil.
(About 60 minutes to Sado Island on the Sado Kisen Jet Foil. Departs from the Niigata Port Sado Kisen Ferry Terminal accessible by bus from Niigata Station.)
The world's fastest art appreciation! While zooming along at Shinkansen speed, enjoy modern art for a unique experience.
Service interval: Echigo-Yuzawa to Niigata
This train was created around the concept of sake, the pride of Niigata Prefecture, which is the king of locally brewed sakes. Sample carefully selected sakes and foods produced locally in Niigata. With live jazz performances and other entertainment, this sake and food trip is complemented by the beautiful view from the train windows.
Service interval: Joetsumyoko to Tokamachi
Note: The Yuzawa Shu*Kura provides service to Echigo-Yuzawa Station, and the Ryuto Shu*Kura provides service to Niigata.
Features of the train include a Green Car with an interior that has a nostalgic feel of the Taisho period, and the Okojo Observation Car where kids can play. Enjoy the majesty of nature's beauty while traveling on the Ban-etsu-West Line.
Service interval: Niigata to Aizu-Wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture
The Kirakira Projection system located on the train provides an introduction to sightseeing places along the train route. While enjoying sake or pleasant conversation, the powerful panoramas of the Sea of Japan make for a memorable trip.
Service interval: Niigata to Sakata in Yamagata Prefecture
As of August 2016.
Prices, business hours, transportation and other details are subject to change.