Travel Guide Asia Japan Honshu Chubu Niigata



Niigata is the capital of Niigata prefecture, Japan and the largest city on the Sea of Japan coast.



Sights and Activities

MINATOPIA - Niigata City History Museum (みなとぴあ新潟市歴史博物館), 2-10 Yanagishima - Chuo-ku, ☎ +81 25-225-6111, e-mail: A museum where you can learn about the history and culture of the port town of Niigata. Admission ¥300 adults, ¥200 college or vocational school students, ¥100 elementary, junior high, and high school students.

  • Northern Culture Museum (北方文化博物館), 2-15-25 Somi - Kōnan-ku, ☎ +81 25-385-2001. 9:00am-5:00pm (Dec.-Mar. 4:30pm). which was originally a wealthy family's home, built 1885-1887. The museum comprises several buildings, and a few restaurants/cafes. Documents and art collections including paintings and sculptures from former households are on display. It is worth at least a half day visit. Admission ¥800 Adult, ¥400 Children.
  • Toki Messe Observation Deck (朱鷺メッセ展望室), 6-1 Bandaijima - Chuo-ku, ☎ +81 25-240-1511. 8:00am-10:00pm (Fri. 5:00pm), last admission 30 minutes before closing. Toki Messe is a modern multi-use convention center. The observation deck on the top floor is a tourist spot where you can observe a panoramic view of Niigata City. free.
  • The Nakano Residence - Museum of Art Foundation (中野邸美術館), 598 Kanazu - Akiha-ku (From Yashiroda Station (JR Shinnetsu Line): It is approximately 3 minutes by taxi or 15 minutes by foot.), ☎ +81 250-25-1000. 9:30am-4:00pm Closed Wed. Dec.-Mar. Aug. Admission ¥700 adults, ¥500 college or vocational school students, ¥100 elementary, junior high, and high school students.
  • In Niigata, you can enjoy Shinano River Cruise. You can see the scenery of Niigata City from the waterbus that runs along the Shinano River. There is also an open-air deck where passengers can relax and enjoy the view from the river outside. There are three cruises a day.
  • Tsukioka Carillon Park is a multi-purpose park located next to Tsukioka Hot Springs. The park has a lot to offer for visitors, including the beautiful sound of chimes coming from the Carillon Tower as well as children’s play area. The Carillon Culture Hall exhibits swords created by National Living Treasure Akitsugu Amata. Visitors can enjoy bathing in hot springs at Houzuki-no-sato Onsen, located within the Park.



Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

Japan has countless traditional festivals and holidays. Then when you add the local festivals that number just grows and grows. Here is a list of the few major national traditional festivals.

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hin Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hin Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early february families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (Novermber 5) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full. There is also a major festival in the southern city of Fukuoka this week, it is called Hakata Dontaku.



Getting There

By Plane

Niigata Airport handles international Korea (Seoul daily on Korean Air), China (Shanghai three times weekly on China Eastern, Harbin (four times weekly on China Southern), and Guam (twice weekly on Continental). There are also frequent domestic flights from Osaka (Itami Airport) (¥25,100 one way), Sapporo (¥28,700 one way), Nagoya (Chubu Airport), Fukuoka (¥31,700 one way), and Sado.

Shuttle buses run on a regular schedule from the JR Niigata South Exit directly to airport approximately every 30 minutes (25 minutes, ¥400 one way).

By Train

Niigata is the terminus of the Joetsu Shinkansen line to Tokyo, costing ¥10,570 each way. Most trains take a little over 2 hours, but there is one morning run which goes from Tokyo and Ōmiya nonstop in 97 minutes. The trip is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Rail Pass.

The Shinkansen is also a fast and cost-effective way to access Niigata from Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe (5 hours from Osaka and ¥22,310, with a change of trains in Tokyo). The Japan Rail Pass is valid with the exception of Nozomi trains running on the first leg to Tokyo.

From Kanazawa and Toyama there used to be a one-seat service to Niigata, but this has changed with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The fastest way to travel between these areas is to take the Shinkansen's Hakutaka (はくたか) service to Jōetsu-myōkō (上越妙高), and change to a limited express train called the Shirayuki (しらゆき) which operates five times per day. The journey from Kanazawa using this route takes around 3 hours and costs ¥10,130 each way; from Toyama, 2 hours 45 minutes and ¥9,160. If you use a Japan Rail Pass, a small surcharge of ¥450 will have to be paid for the 10km journey between Jōetsu-myōkō and Naoetsu which operates over non-JR tracks.

Trains to and from the north are fewer and farther between. The most convenient service is the Inaho (いなほ) limited express to Sakata (2 hours, ¥5,270), with about half the journeys continuing to Akita (3.5 hours, ¥7,210). Local trains also run up and down the Japan Sea coast, but only run every two hours or so toward the northern part of the prefecture. Note that these trains are routinely subject to weather-related delays and cancellations.

By Bus

Niigata Kotsu runs highway buses to Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo (5.5 hours, ¥5,250 one way), Nagoya (7.5 hours, ¥7,800 one way), Sendai (3.8 hours, ¥4,500 one way), and overnight to Osaka and Kyoto (8 hours, ¥8,450 each way), as well as to a number of other cities.

By Boat

Sado Kisen operates frequent services to Ryotsu on Sado Island. Rapid ferries cost ¥5,960 and cover the distance in one hour, while larger car ferries cost just ¥2,060 but take 2.5 hours.

Shin-Nihonkai Ferry(06-6348-1120) operates a daily service between Otaru and Niigata (18 hours, ¥6,200+) .Service is overnight, and private cabins are available for a higher fare (the base fare buys sleeping space on the floor).



Getting Around

Niigata has a bus system that is very good, but also its very easy to walk everywhere, since most of the main attractions are within walking distance of each other.

Most major sights in Niigata can be easily accessed by bicycle. Rentals are provided by the city from several locations scattered throughout and rental fees are ¥100 for the first 3 hours and ¥100 for each additional hour. If you plan on keeping the bicycle longer than 4 hours, the trick is to return the bicycle at a nearby rental outlet and check it out again before your first 3 hours are up. In this way, your rental is charged the ¥100 rate each 3 hours. The tourist information office in the Niigata train station can supply you with the necessary maps and show you the closest rental office - about 5 minutes walk. The rental location can also supply you with maps that show you all the rental outlets. ID is needed to rent a bike. Be sure to check the brakes, tire pressure, and how to use the bike lock before you leave the rental outlet.




Like many areas in Japan, Niigata area is supposedly well known for its rice. Like many areas in Japan, some locals claim it's the best rice in Japan. It's known for the following specialties:

  • Uonuma koshihikari rice.
  • Shoyu (soy-sauce) and yofu (western-style) katsudon.
  • Shoyu sekihan.
  • Noppe stew.
  • Wappa-han (seafood and rice steamed in a bamboo basket).
  • Sasa-dango (mochi pounded rice balls filled with red bean paste, seasoned with mugwort and wrapped in bamboo leaves).
  • Po-po-yaki (steamed bread flavored with brown sugar).
  • Hegi-soba (soba from the Uonuma and Ojiya areas that uses a special kind of seaweed).
  • Tsubame-sanjo ramen (ramen made using thick udon-style noodles).
  • Tochio aburage (aburaage is called "aburage" in Tochio).
  • Kirazu (dishes using okara).
  • Kakinomoto (edible chrysanthemums).
  • Kanzuri (a special seasoning from Myōkō made by leaving chili pepper exposed on snow, then adding flour, salt and yuzu).




Along with hundreds of izakaya and other Japanese bars, there are a number of foreigner-run bars in the city. These include Rocks (70s-90s rock music bar), Hot Spot, Northern Lights Canadian bar, Shame and Immigrants Cafe, which also does great food at reasonable prices.




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Keep Connected


Manga cafes are dotted along the streets of almost every city in Japan. For a very reasonable price (about ¥100 per 15 minutes), you receive a private cubicle with a PC with internet access at blistering Japanese internet speeds. The chairs are incredibly comfortable (making them an excellent place to sleep for the cash-deprived), and you can even order snacks and drinks from the staff.

A number of business hotels have Internet access available if you have your own device, sometimes for free. It is also possible to find Wi-Fi "hot spots" around many large cities in Japan, especially near tech-related businesses and large corporate buildings with unsecured wireless networks. 3G Wireless Data and Pocket Wifi are other options.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Payphones (公衆電話 kōshū denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards. Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone.

Modern Japanese mobile phones (携帯電話 keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. For a longer trip, you can also purchase a phone, but doing this legally requires an Alien Registration Card (or an obliging Japanese friend willing to front for you).

The easier way is to get a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones are sold in most SoftBank and AU stores. If you already have a 3G phone, go with Softbank as it can sell SIMs as opposed to au whose prepaid service is phone-based like most CDMA carriers. Prepaid phones use a "card" with a pass key to "charge" a phone with minutes. These prepaid calling cards, unlike the phone itself, can be found in most convenience stores. A prepaid cell phone is available for as little as ¥5000 plus ¥3000 for a 60-90 day call time package, which will get drained at a rate of ¥100 per minute (¥10 per 6 seconds for AU's prepaid service). Both SoftBank and AU offer prepaid phones.


The Japanese postal service is excellent! Domestic and international mail service is very quick and reliable. The prices for sending letters, postcards and parcels vary depending on where you send if from and to which country you send it too, and of course depends on weight as well, so check this calculation page of Japan Post for more details. Post offices generally are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, closing at weekends and also on national holidays, though a few open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Central post offices are sometimes open until 7:00pm, open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 9:00am to 12:30pm. There are post offices in every major city and minor town. Another thing to remember is that the post office is one of the few places in Japan that is guaranteed to have ATMs that take international cards.


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This is version 3. Last edited at 12:27 on Aug 18, 17 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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