Nigata is a prefecture located on Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It is a beautiful port area surrounded by the Sea of Japan. From the picturesque scenery to the delicious seafood, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Check out these 20 things you should do in Niigata.
1. See the cherry blossoms during springtime
Cherry blossoms are planted in parks all around Niigata. The colorful blossoms attract visitors from all over the place. Come to Niigata when they are in full bloom and take in the vibrant environment the flowers create.
2. Summer fireworks
During the summer, there are almost weekly fireworks festivals. It is known as the “kingdom of fireworks.” Every year, people from all over the country come out to see the night sky being lit up by fireworks. The biggest festival is held out near the water along the sea coast. It occurs on July 26th this year at Central Kashiwazaki seaside.
3. Autumn Leaves
If you visit Niigata in the fall, be ready for a visual feast. There are many places in Niigata that are well known for their autumn leaves. The trees turn bright gold and red, providing beautiful backdrops for some great family photos! The best way to see it is to take the Dragondola, which is a cable car that takes you up into the trees. It links the Naeba and Tashiro fields and allows you the best aerial view of the leaves.
4. Go on a tour of Takarayama Sake Brewery
For those of you who are of drinking age, this lovely sake brewery is located in the Iawmuro hot spring resort. It has been around for more than a century. Come here to see the facility and learn all about the process of making sake. Of course you can have a tasting of all the sake they make here!
- Name:Takarayama Sake Brewery
- Address:1383 Ishize, Nishikan-ku, Niigata city
- Opening hour: 9:00am-11:30am, 1:00pm-4:30pm
5. Roast rice crackers at Niigata Senbei Okoku
Niigata is also one of the largest producers of senbei, or rice crackers. Come here for a delicious afternoon as you learn to pound rice, knead the powder, and grill your own rice crackers.
- Name: Niigata Senbei Okoku
- Address:2661, Niizaki, Niigata Kita-ku, Niigata 950-3134
- Price: 600 – 1500 yen
- Opening hour: Sun- Sat 9:30am-5pm
- Website: http://senbei-oukoku.jp/
6. Shirone Gaigonashi Nakamura Tourist Orchard
This orchard is Niigata’s largest pear orchard. Come here with the whole family to enjoy a day of picking nashi (Japanese pears) or Le Lectier pears. They are sure to be delicious, fresh, and sweet!
- Name: Shirone Gaigonashi Nakamura Tourist Orchard
- Address:1736 Daigo, Minami-ku, Niigata City
- Price: 500 yen
- Opening hour: Sun-Sat 8AM-5PM
- Website: http://www.nashigari.com/
7. Visit the Saito Family Summer Villa
The Saito clan was one of the most successful merchant families in Niigata during the Meiji era. They built this beautiful villa with an extravagant garden as their residence. This magical home is now open to the public. Come here to take in the wonderful scenery and the intricate design of the house. You will also have a chance to see a performance for a geisha of Niigata.
- Name: Saito Summer Villa
- Address: 576 Nishi Ohatacho, Chuo-ku, Niigata 951-8104, Niigata Prefecture
- Price: 300 yen
- Opening hour: Sun-Sat 9:30AM -5PM or 6PM depending on season
- Website: http://saitouke.jp/rekishi/#_=_
8. Visit the Bandai Bridge
The Bandai bridge is one of the “symbols of the city” in Niigata. It spans the longest river in Japan, the Shinanogawa. This is a great place to see the cherry blossoms in the spring time and take some adorable photos. Enjoy some coffee at some of the nearby cafes while strolling along this picturesque bridge.
- Name: Bandai Bridge
- Address: Bandai, Chuo-ku, Niigata 950-0088, Niigata Prefecture
9. Furumachi Geisha District
10. Take the Shinagawa Water Shuttle
To get a great view of the city, make sure you take the water shuttle. It goes along the mouth of the river to Furusato Mura. Cruises are also available for those who want to spend a more relaxing boat ride on the water.
11. Get some sushi
Niigata is a port city and therefore is well known for its tasty sushi options. Most restaurants offer a 10 piece kiwami (the best) platter which has a selection of all the seasonal fish along with uni. The city has the option of getting fish from the Japan sea all year round resulting in delicious sushi all the time!
12. Minato Inari Shrine
This shrine is famous for its rotating guardian dog statues. An old superstition is that women used turn these statues towards the water and pray for bad weather to keep their husbands home. This is a whimsical statue that is sure to delight those who visit.
- Name: Minato Inari Shrine
- Address: 3482 Inarimachi, Chuo Ward, Niigata
- Price: 300 yen
- Website: http://www.niigata-u.com/files/ngtphoto/minato.html#_=_
13. See the city at the Befco Observation Deck
The Befco tower is the tallest building on the Japan Sea Coast. Come here to get a 360 panoramic view of the city. This is especially enchanting at nighttime when all the city lights are on. It allows for amazing views of the Japan sea, Sado Island, and the Gozu mountains. The best part is that admission is free!
- Name: Befco Tower
- Address:5-1 Bandaijima Chuoku | 31F Bandaijima Building, Niigata 950-0078 , Niigata Prefecture
- Price: free
- Website: http://www.nikkoniigata.com/observatory/#_=_
14. Northern Culture Museum
This museum used to belong to the Ito clan, a powerful landowner family in the Niigata region. The museum is distinctly Japanese based on its traditional architecture. The main attraction is the reception hall that allows for a gorgeous view of the surrounding area.
- Name: Northern Culture Museum
- Address: 2-15-25 Somi Konan-ku, Niigata 950-0205,Niigata Prefecture
- Price: 500 yen
- Opening hour: Sat-Sun: 9AM-5PM
- Website: http://hoppou-bunka.com/top.html#_=_
15. Marinepia Nihonkai
For marine animal enthusiasts, this aquarium in Niigata is one of the largest aquariums on the Japanese sea coast. Come here to see over 6000 different types of fish from the Japan sea. There is also a dolphin show that occurs everyday.
- Name: Marinepia Nihonkai
- Address: 951-8101 Niigata Prefecture, Niigata, Chuo Ward, Nishifunamicho, 5932−445
- Price: 1500 yen
- Opening hour: Sun-Sat 9AM-5PM
- Website: http://www.marinepia.or.jp/mlg/en
16. Niigata Manga and Animation Museum
Niigata is home to many popular manga and anime illustrators. For those interested in art and cartoons, this museum shows all the famous artist profiles and some of their famous works. The museum also shows the process of how manga and anime are created. You can also play with your favorite characters and try out voice-acting.
- Name: Niigata Manga and Animation Museum
- Address: 2-5-7, Yachiyo, Chuo-ku, Niigata City
- Price: 200 yen
- Opening hour: Sun-Sat 11AM-7PM
- Website: http://museum.nmam.jp/
17. Shirone Giant Kite Battle
During the springtime, a unique festival is held at the Echigo Plan’s Nankuchi River. Teams come together to have battles with enormous kites. It is an exciting event that occurs every year and should not be missed!
18. Niigata Pageant of Lights
19. Niigata Festival
A summer festival that happens ever year, this festival started in 1955. It is a three day celebration where a folk dancing team dressed in yukatas star in a parade. There are multiple parades throughout the three days with people dressed in traditional clothing. The festival ends with a large fireworks show above the Shinanogawa River.
20. Niigata So Odori Festival
This is the largest dance festival on the Japan sea. It brings over 200 dancing groups from all over the country and the world. Everyone dances together and a traditional 300 year old Niigata dance is shown. It is a once in a lifetime experience to participate!
Niigata is a beautiful area with a rich culture and amazingly fun festivals. Don’t miss out on this place! Have a good trip and travel.