Niigata Travel Guide   新潟

Date of publication :
The Bandai Bridge, with the cherry blossoms

The Bandai Bridge, with the cherry blossoms

Niigata's geishas

Niigata's geishas

There are also several ski resorts around Niigata, like here in Myokokogen

There are also several ski resorts around Niigata, like here in Myokokogen

Inside the Museum of the Northern Culture

Inside the Museum of the Northern Culture

The Bandai Bridge, symbol of the city of Niigata

The Bandai Bridge, symbol of the city of Niigata

A city of bridges

Located on the estuary of Shinano, the longest river in Japan, Niigata is a relatively unknown port city, about two hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen.

Long the first port on the sea of ​​Japan, Niigata is an industrial city composed of broad arteries, dotted with multiple parks and gardens that make it a pleasant city to live in. Its inhabitants like to stroll along the green banks of the Shinano and Agano rivers, or cross the bridges of the Bandai Bridge, a 300-meter long structure rebuilt in 1929. Its six elegant arches have become the symbol of the city.

A preserved history

In the seventeenth century, the city was housed on the island between the price of Shinano and Agano rivers. Niigata has preserved some jewels in this historic center or district of Furumachi. Built in 1918, the Saito family's summer villa, one of the three most prosperous merchant families of the Meiji era, is a magnificent wooden mansion surrounded by gardens, where you can see Furumachi Geigei's shows, the Niigata Geishas. Hakusan shrine is at the heart of a vast park, the first public green space of Japan, opened in 1873.

A room of one hundred tatamis

Further on, the Museum of Northern Cultures is the former property of the Ito clan, the largest landowners in the region. The estate, built in 1882, has 65 rooms, including one with 100 tatami mats overlooking a beautiful garden that has been used as a backdrop for Japanese films. In the restaurant of the place, one sips the local rice cooked in a traditional Hagama (pot of cooking), placed in the middle of the table.

Tasty rice

The Niigata region is famous for the quality of its rice koshihikari (short grain), the most expensive in Japan but also considered the richest in flavor. It is also a great producer of rice crackers or senbei, whose manufacturing recipes are unveiled at Niigata Senbei Okoku. Visitors are have the chance to get involved by cooking and decorating their own senbei.

A sake distributor!

Located at the foot of the mountains and at the edge of the ocean, Niigata is famous for the quality of its waters. It has fifteen sake breweries, some of which were founded in the Edo period (1603-1868). You can visit the Imayotsukasa brewery or do a tasting at the station, thanks to the clever distributor Ponshukan.

A celebration

Around mid-September, several thousand dancers from the region and the country converge on Niigata for the So Odori Dance Festival. The event, suspended in 1868 before being relaunched in 2001, has always brought strength and courage to people who lived in this wild and snowy territory. For three days and three nights, traditional and modern dances are performed in different parts of the city.