4 Days or Extra in Japan’s off the Overwhelmed Path

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From Tokyo, we took the “Toki” or “Max Tokishinkansen (bullet practice) of the JR East’s Joetsu Shinkansen line within the morning.

You’ll be able to simply entry this practice from Tokyo Station, Ueno Station, or Ōmiya Station (you possibly can examine Google Maps to map out your route with the intention to attain one in every of these 3 stations relying on the place you might be positioned in Tokyo).

Upon arrival…

◘◘ Eat hegisoba for lunch

That is one in every of Niigata’s native dishes and it’s mainly a soba (Japanese buckwheat skinny noodles) that’s fabricated from funori (seaweed) which is not like the everyday soba that makes use of wheat. Due to this, hegisoba has a easy but ‘al dente‘ texture that’s well-known among the many Japanese.

That is usually served on an oblong wood plate by which the noodles are already sectioned into particular person mouthful parts, thereby making it very straightforward to eat. Learn how to greatest eat hegisoba? You could possibly both eat it as is, or dip it within the mentsuyu (black-colored soup base that can be supplied 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 time villa that was constructed again in 1920 by a rich service provider in Niigata. Immediately, it’s a place used to welcome honored company within the metropolis corresponding to public figures, and celebrities; however extra generally, it’s a place that’s preserved and revered as a valued cultural constructing.

And for almost $26, you possibly can 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 in fact, particularly in the event you examine it to the costly payment that it’s essential to pay simply to fulfill an actual geisha in a dinner banquet program (which can virtually be much like what you’ll expertise right here!).

So I say, this can be 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 continuously yielded situations 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 get pleasure from this, head on ever to Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery as a result of you possibly can then go on a FREE tour of their institution as you be taught extra in regards to the making of sake. What’s extra, you possibly can 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 Attempt: umeshu (plum wine), biiru (Japanese beers), shōchū (distilled beverage) Dishes to Attempt: yakitori (grilled rooster skewers), karaage (Japanese fried rooster), sashimi (uncooked fish)

TRIVIA: Apparently, the Japanese usually wish to seize ramen (noodle dish) after an extended night time of consuming since it’s mentioned to assist them deal with the alcohol, in addition to assist them take care of a hangover afterward!

– – –

◘◘ Verify in to a lodge within the metropolis

To cap off your first day on this Niigata itinerary, select from…
Luxurious: Resort Nikko Niigata
Mid-Vary: Artwork Resort Niigata Station or AirBnB
Funds: APA Resort Niigata Higashinakadori

On today of my Niigata itinerary, we headed over to Sado Island which is part of the prefecture. So as 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.

If you would like cheaper choices, there are the opposite ferry routes:

  • Naoetsu–Ogi: ¥2,720 yen, 2.5 hours, 4-5 occasions day by day
  • Teradomari–Akadomari: ¥2,960 yen, 2 hours, 2-3 occasions day by day

When you arrive at Sado…

◘◘ Play at Sado Island’s Taiko Centre

A ‘taiko‘ is a conventional Japanese percussion instrument, and one in every of Japan’s hottest taiko teams which might be additionally recognized 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 methods to play the taiko.

This was an expertise that I really loved and it’ll absolutely be an much more enjoyable exercise in the event you include plenty of mates or household!

Transport & Journey Information: Kodo Taiko

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◘◘ Attempt 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 occasions with the intention to acquire shellfish and seaweed from rocky coastal waters. Immediately, nonetheless, they’re primarily used to amuse vacationers on Sado Island.

Using this boat really made me anxious (nicely sure, it’s a ‘tub boat’ in spite of everything); relaxation assured, it’s completely secure and a very enjoyable and attention-grabbing factor to do!

Transport & Journey Information: You’ll be able to 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 youngsters.

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◘◘ Choose up and convey dwelling some gold mud at Nishi-Mikawa gold park

When you head over to this hands-on museum on your Niigata itinerary, you’ll not solely be taught extra about Sado’s famed gold actions but additionally in regards to 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 possibly can attempt gold panning for half-hour within the inexperienced persons’ course space. Moreover, you possibly can maintain the gold mud that you’ll discover 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 very best 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 reality, 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 approach of recreating the previous ambiance or look).

Transport & Journey Information: Sado Kinzan Web site

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◘◘ Verify in to a lodge or ryokan on the island

A quintessential journey to Japan is NOT full and not using a journey to a ryokan (Japanese conventional inn).

A few of the bucket listing 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 selections are…
Luxurious: Resort 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 biggest landowners in Niigata through the Edo Interval. Aside from the mansion, it additionally homes a picturesque backyard, paintings, calligraphy works, ceramics, and a lot extra.

You could possibly additionally eat lunch right here within the former kitchen of the Ito household in order that you may style typical native dishes that had been served again in these occasions!

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 could find the BEST-tasting rice that there can ever be within the nation. Naturally, senbei (rice cracker) manufacturing is a success in Niigata with Kuriyama Beika Group as some of the widespread manufacturers.

It’s right here in Senbei Okoku the place they then supply its guests the prospect to style freshly-baked crackers, purchase a number of souvenirs, and see the precise cooking course of up shut. They even supply the prospect for individuals to make, roast, and design their very own rice crackers! It’s an pleasing exercise for positive, 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’. Principally, these are made out of steamed and pounded glutinous rice with pink bean paste filling which is then wrapped and tied utilizing sasa (bamboo leaf).

As a ultimate contact, it will likely be steamed altogether.

When you head over to Tanakaya Minato Kobo, other than tasting and taking it dwelling as a memento, you may additionally undergo a mini cooking class with the intention to learn to make sasadango!

Transport & Journey Information: Koubou Web site

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◘◘ Stroll round Minatopia

When you’re within the historical past of Niigata’s metropolis, visiting Minatopia is a should. Other than 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 a terrific place for admiring the Shinano River.

Handle: 2-10 Yanagishima

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◘◘ Stroll via the town’s primary procuring avenue

Make your approach in direction of the Bandai and/or Furumachi space to take your time in choosing the locations you’ll eat and store in — in addition to, they’ve an array of great picks so that you can select from!

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◘◘ Verify in to Resort Nikko

I like to recommend Resort Nikko as a result of it has an outstanding 360 view over Niigata’s cityscape which could be simply seen not solely from inside your room but additionally from its topmost flooring!

We made our approach out of the town for today of my Niigata itinerary to do the next:

◘◘ Discover and choose fruits at Shirone Grape Backyard

This institution is stuffed with greenhouses that organically develop a number of varieties of fruits corresponding to 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 possibly can choose fruits for FREE!

To cap off your go to, ensure to attempt their widespread gelatos that are all made out of pure components.

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 broadly adored and worshipped by the Japanese.

Expertise and observe the completely different shrines or Shinto practices right here! One attention-grabbing factor it’s also possible to do is purchase an omikuji which is a randomly written divination about your close to future. These are disregarded on a wood field close to the shrine with a worth label on it (it’s usually self-serving like this). Pay the value, 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 mentioned 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 course of Yoshida (各停). Cease at Yoshida station (14 stops complete) and alter to a unique line, Yahiko Line that heads to Yahiko (各停). Cease at Yahiko Station (2 stops complete).

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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).

Ensure that to purchase or attempt their wines since they style actually good!

Transport & Journey Information: Docci Web site

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◘◘ Look via TsubameSanjo Regional Industries Promotion Centre

If you wish to purchase extra souvenirs from Niigata to take dwelling, making a cease by this middle ought to be up in your journey itinerary.

Principally, Tsubame-Sanjo is likely one of the most sought-after Japanese manufacturers relating to metalworks or gadgets as a result of their top quality and craftsmanship; so, it’s positively 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 as a result of its excellent location. As soon as there, you’ll have a alternative of over 10 ski and snowboard resorts that are a mixture of massive and small institutions which might be appropriate for all ranges of skiers and snowboarders.

Relaxation assured, in the event you’re approaching a month with no snow on your Niigata itinerary, there are numerous issues to do right here nonetheless, and one in every of my favorites is exploring Bokushi Dori (avenue) which can also be referred to as Shiozawajuku. Strolling via 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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◘◘ Verify right into a ryokan corresponding to Resort Futaba

If you would like the very best ryokan (Japanese inn) keep which you could ever expertise, try Resort Futaba!

When you’ve obtained some extra further time for you Niigata itinerary, I extremely advocate the next:

◘◘ Go to Ponshukan

Ponshukan could be discovered at Echigo-Yuzawa station and it’s a corridor that options a number of points of interest:

  • Sake merchandising machines: it’s precisely what the title implies! With over 96 completely different manufacturers accessible, 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 it will likely be stuffed to the brim with sake. If unsure, there are employees individuals who would gladly help you!
  • Sake store: are you slightly searching for bottles of sake? Subsequent door is a sake store that has over 96 varieties.
  • Purchasing space: there are numerous small stalls across the Ponshukan corridor that provide numerous items from sweets to souvenirs.
  • Onsen: if you’d like a novel form of onsen expertise, subsequent door can also be an onsen however what units it other than typical onsens is which you could dip right here in sake!!
  • Guinness World File: When you go deep inside Ponshukan, you’ll discover a store that has the most important show of handmade stuffed toys (11,655) which might be tied via 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 displays right here that depict Niigata’s historical past, and while you need some nature, simply step out and also you’ll see an enormous subject stuffed with 60,000 tulips!

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◘◘ Take Instagram-worthy images at Hoshi-Toge Rice Discipline

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, ensure to drop by Yahiko Park. Right here, you’ll discover nice sceneries that fantastically categorical each 4 seasons. Autumn season is definitely the very best time to return right here as a result of the vermillion-lacquered Kan-tsuki Bridge completely blends in with all the sizzling colours.

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◘◘ Ski at one of many prefecture’s ski resorts corresponding to Akakura Kanko Resort and Spa

Finest to do in Winter (December to Might). This resort is claimed to be the primary in Japan to be designated as a world ski resort. You are able to do numerous actions right here: snowboarding and 11 trails (longest at 4km amongst many others. There may be even a particular space referred to as the Chibikko Hiroba which is for youngsters who’re too younger to hit the slopes.

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◘◘ Attend no less than one (1) Niigata occasion or competition

A few of the most attention-grabbing ones are…

  • Sake no Jin (Niigata Sake Competition): Held mid-March, because the land of sake, that is one in every of Niigata’s main occasions. At this competition, you possibly can pattern over 500 sorts of sake from roughly 90 native brewers! Simply buy a tasting ticket and also you’re positive to have a good time via and thru!
  • Tokamachi Snow Competition: Sapporo may be probably the most well-known snow competition, however Niigata’s is definitely the oldest and doubtless probably the most laid-back and genuine snow celebration as nicely. Moreover, with the heavy snowfall within the space, there isn’t any scarcity of sculptures which might be dispersed throughout city! When you’re all in favour of witnessing this spectacle, you must come on the third Saturday of February.
  • Oiran Dochu Courtesan Procession: Oirans now not exist in Japan, however as a approach 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 Challenge: Since Niigata is one in every of Japan’s main tulip producers, this occasion that’s held from April 29 to Might 2 is the place contributors will create large “flower work” utilizing tulips that had been discarded within the technique of bulb cultivation.
  • Nagaoka Competition: As per common, you’ll anticipate float parades and folks dance processions in festivals like this; BUT the primary 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-about one of many prime 3 fireworks reveals in Japan since you’ll usually witness insane stuff like 650-meter large 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 notice numerous float parades, firework shows, and dance processions (that usually 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.


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