Sightseeing Spot Spots in Niigata Area

  • Okozu Bunsui Levee
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Tsubame-shi Gosengoku
    The Shinano River is a large, class A river which has caused flood disasters since ancient times. This levee was built in order to divert a portion of rising waters to the Sea of Japan, thus preventing catastrophic flood damage on the Echigo Plain. This levee was completed in 1922 on a section of the river closest to the Sea of Japan where it makes a drastic turn to the east. Cherry tree planting began in the area even before the levee was complete, and today it has become known as one of the top cherry blossom viewing destinations in Niigata. When the flowers are in full bloom, the trees are also lit up at night, enabling visitors to enjoy their beautiful blossoms in the evening as well. From October through March, over 1,000 swans also migrate and overwinter here.
  • Oritate Shakado Skin Healing Spring
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Uonuma-shi Shimoritate 93
    This clear hot spring bubbles out of Shakado in the highland overlooking Mt. Echigo-Komagatake near Oritate Hot Spring. Legend has it that the nun who was plagued by numerous warts on her body was completely healed after bathing in this spring. It is still widely known as “The Magic Wart Healing Spring” or “The Beautiful Skin Water.” Many people visit this spring as a sort of side trip while walking around at Oritate Hot Spring.
  • Ippon-sugi Tulip Fields
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Gosen-shi Ipponsugi
    Gosen city, spreading over the eastern side of the Echigo Plain, is the top tulip producing area in the prefecture. But they don't just ship these brilliant tulips, they also hold a special Tulip Festival in the Sumoto area so that people can visit to see the beauty of the tulip fields for themselves. Tulips are a type of plant that can't be raised in the same area year after year due to illness spread in the soil. Because of this there are multiple locations chosen throughout the Sumoto Ippon-sugi area and the venue rotates on a five-year cycle. The best time to visit is usually between mid to late April. The view of 1. 5 million tulips spread out across the fields is truly spectacular.
  • Sado Aikawa Sunflower Field
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Sado-shi Ogawa 2066-1
    A sunflower field that spreads along Prefectural Route 45 past downtown Aikawa City on the way to Senkaku Bay. The golden sunflowers continue on against the blue backdrop of the Sea of Japan. It's a relaxing area with a pleasant sea breeze. The contrast produces different atmospheres throughout the day. The best time to visit is from late July to mid-August. The villagers plant seeds so that they come into full bloom during the Obon festival to please tourists as well as locals who have moved away but come back for the holiday (very common in Japan). Lots of people stop by the side of the road to take in summer scenery you can only see in Sado.
  • Niibo Dam Lake Shore
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Sado-shi Kaminiibo
    Niibo Dam was built to hold back the upper reaches of the Kokufu River, Sado’s largest river, resulting in an accompanying lake and sprawling lakeshore area. An agricultural dam, it provides water for Niibo, an area which is committed to the conservation and recovery of the Japanese crested ibis; scenic lookouts and campgrounds veritably encircle the dam. Some 1,500 cherry trees spanning around 20 varieties have been planted on the lakeshore, and it is famous as one of Sado’s top cherry blossom viewing destinations. In spring, the area bustles with amateur photographers and people come to enjoy the flowers. The area is also known for its seasonal beauty, including azaleas in early summer and fall foliage in autumn, and year-round many people come here to take walks and go jogging.
  • Himesayuri Path
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Niigata Sanjo-shi Morimachi
    Maiden lilies, a flower known as “himesayuri” in the local dialect and a designated near-threatened species on the Ministry of the Environment’s Red List, have grown an masse amidst the hills and fields of the Shitada area since ancient times. Takajo Castle Ruins in Mori-machi is particularly famous for its groups of maiden lilies. A hiking course connects the mountain climbing trailhead in Mori-machi with the Takajo Castle Ruins, and many maiden lilies grow throughout this area. The trail bustles with mountain climbers during the peak blooming period from mid-May to early June. The Takajo Castle Ruins can be reached in about an hour, and visitors appreciate the ease with which one can get here when the mood strikes.
  • Matsugamine Cherry Trees
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Joetsu-shi Nakago-ku Eguchi 846-1
    This picturesque area in Joetsu was selected for inclusion in a list of Niigata’s 100 most scenic places. Some 1,500 cherry trees have been planted around Matsugamine Pond, an artificial pond dug for agricultural purposes. When the trees bloom in spring, visitors can enjoy the contrast between the pink blossoms and the lingering snows which are a distinctive trait of this region which experiences heavy snowfalls. The sight of the so-called “bucking horse” created by the reflection of the trees in full bloom together with the snows is extremely beautiful, and visitors rave it’s like something out of a painting. In most years, amateur photographers from across the prefecture and beyond flock to the area during this time. From mid- to late April while the trees are flowering, a portion of them are lit up at night, making it possible to enjoy different but equally beautiful scenery in the day and evening.
  • Natsui Hazagi Trees
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Niigata-shi Nishikan-ku Natsui 1406
    “Hazagi” are trees planted between rice paddies in order to hang and sun-dry harvested rice plants. In the fall, the ears of rice hanging on poles between the trees create golden fences on the rice paddy ridges, a traditional sight in the abundant rice-producing area that is the Echigo Plain. Once, such a sight could be seen across the Echigo Plan, but now the number of places where hazagi may be found has been reduced dramatically in line with the introduction of various modern labor-saving farm techniques. Today, just a few places still engage in the practice of hazagi. Here in the Natsui area, some 600 hazagi trees have been preserved, and the beautiful sight they make has been selected for inclusion in a list of the 100 selections of Beautiful Japanese Village Landscape.
  • Ruins of Tenjinzan Castle
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Niigata-shi Nishikan-ku Iwamuro Onsen
    The ruins of a mountain castle standing on the border between Iwamuro Onsen and the Ishize area. The castle’s vast grounds encompassed the entirety of 234-meter high Mt. Tenjin. Just when the castle was built is not clear, but records state the Oguni clan, presumed descendants of the samurai Minamoto no Yoriyuki, lived in it during the distant Muromachi period. A scenic lookout on the mountain can be reached in about 30 minutes walking the mountain trail starting in Marukoyama Park. Beyond that stands the medieval ruins of the castle’s embankment, stone base, and mushadamari soldier stations, preserved largely intact. Walk a further 10 minutes onward and you can get a sweeping view of the Iwamuro Onsen hot spring district. Today, the site is known as a habitat for dogtooth violets, and from late March through early April, the mountain bustles with climbers come to enjoy their beauty.
  • Iwamuro Onsen Hiyotsuma Fireflies
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Niigata-shi Nishikan-ku Iwamuro Onsen
    Iwamuro Onsen, also called Reigan no Yu, is one of the prefecture's leading firefly-watching spots. The fireflies seen here crowd around the clean, delicious waters of Iwamuro Onsen's Hiyotsuma spring, and so have come to be called Hiyotsuma fireflies. During the watching season, the area holds floating lamp ceremonies and outdoor concerts. Most years, the fireflies are best seeing from mid-June into July. On days when the humidity is high, you might be able to see a dancing cloud of lights around 20:00. One very nice feature is that on Saturdays during the season, there is a free shuttle bus between the tourist facility Iwamuroya and IwamuroKokaido public hall.
  • Mt.Omine Tochidaira CherryForest
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Shibata-shi Kaiya 393
    Mt. Omine is a 399 meter high peak in the Kushigata mountain range, the smallest range in Japan. It's a famous spot for hill cherry blossoms, and in 1934 the Tochidaira Sakura Jurin cherry forest was designated a National Natural Monument. There are over 40 varieties of cherry tree here, including North Japanese hill cherry, Kasumi-zakura cherry, and Okuchoji cherry, which can be differentiated as they spread up from midmountain to the peak. Some trees are naturally produced hybrids, and in spring they paint the mountain surface in a snowy blanket of petals. There is a well maintained trail up to the observation deck, and it's a popular hiking course from early spring into autumn.
  • Hachiman
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Murakami-shi Gatsugi 1099
    A community center operating out of the main building and gymnasium of the former Sanpoku-machi Minami Junior High School, which was closed in 1996. The center is used for training camps, education, seminars, and other activities. Here visitors can try old-fashioned shinaori weaving, and covered button making using tatami mat end fabric, and watch soba noodle making and traditional salt making. A former craft room has been turned into a rock bath free flowing “kakenagashi” style from a source spring, and visitors can also stay in guest rooms which were once classrooms. Although the structure has been altered significantly, there is a classroom which still has its lockers and blackboard, and sometimes you can find former graduates of the school taking a trip down memory lane here.
  • Okutainai
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Tainai Shimoarasawa Tainai Mountain 1202-49
    This is the general area around the Mt. Iide climbing trailhead. It's a popular leisure spot with a flower park, restaurants serving craft beer, fishing parks with stocked streams, and more. There are still large stretches of untouched wilderness here, so it's perfect to spend a few quiet moments away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. I autumn, the beech, maple, and other broadleaf trees along the Tainai river turn this into a famous fall foliage spot.
  • Todo no Mori Water Park
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Niigata Nagaoka-shi Nishinakanomata 3996
    A park encompassing a famous spring located 50 minutes from the Nagaoka Interchange on the Kan-Etsu Expressway. The park’s spacious, 12-hectare grounds are outfitted with a restaurant, hall, teahouse, and campground. The Todo no Mori spring, which wells up on the park’s grounds, once supported village life, being used for drinking water and irrigation. The spring was selected for inclusion in the Ministry of the Environment’s Top 100 Famous Water list in 1985, and since that time its clear, quality waters have won it much popularity, with an unending stream of visitors making their way here from across the prefecture and beyond. The soft water spring continues to flow regardless of the season, and visitors can take home a bottle filled from the spring year round.
  • Koshij Hotaru no Sato
    Travel / Tourism
    Niigata Nagaoka-shi Tsukanoyama
    Located in the naturally lush Tsukanoyama-Ushinokubi area, this firefly habitat is one of the best in the prefecture. Around 20 years ago, the area began conducting activities to preserve and conserve the fireflies that live here. In most years, the fireflies can be seen from late June to early July. During the season, Genji and Heike fireflies can be seeing flying throughout the area. Refreshment stands open up and stage events are held during this time, as well, in addition to firefly watching bus tours conducted by the local firefly society in various places.
  • Sasagawa Nagare
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Murakamishi Hamashimbo - Samukawa
    The Sasagawa Nagare coast, which takes its name from Sasagawa village, is an 11-kilometer stretch of beautiful coastline that features clear blue seas and white sandy beaches. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of scenery, including reefs and caves featuring unusual rock formations created by erosion from the battering that they receive from the powerful waves of the Sea of Japan. The Sasagawa Nagare coast was designated a National Site of Scenic Beauty and a Special Natural Monument in 1927. The coast is about five-minute walk from either JR Kuwagawa Station, JR Imagawa Station or JR Echigo-Kanagawa Station.
  • Tsunan Himawari Plaza
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nakauonumaguntsunanmachi Ashigasaki
    Starting with some young famers, the Tsunan Himawari Plaza is filled with about 500,000 himawari (dandelions) across a four-hectare area from late July to late August. A number of exciting events are held during this time, including local street stall events, dandelion mazes, a temporary lookout, and a photo contest. The dandelion was designated as the town flower through vote of residents during the 50-year anniversary of Tsunan town. Approximately 15 minutes by car from JR Tsunan Station.
  • Yahiko Park (Maple Valley)
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nishikambaragunyahikomura Yahiko
    This park is a one-minute walk from JR Yahiko Station. Maple Valley is famous for its autumn colors and the vivid colors of the fallen leaves give the appearance of a classic scarlet bridge (Kangetsukyo). From late-October to mid-November the park is lit up at night, giving it a fantastical appearance much different than in the day. Also planted in the park are azaleas and Japanese irises so you can enjoy the sight of beautiful flowers throughout the seasons.
  • Ryugakubo
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nakauonumaguntsunanmachi Yachi
    Ryugakubo spring, located in Yachi, Tsunan-machi, gushes forth from the Tsunan valley and has been selected as one of Japan's top 100 springs. The spring comes up from the Naeba volcanic layer at the rate of 30tons per minute. This incredible rate of turnover means that the water never muddies or clouds and the spring has become an intrinsic part of everyday life as a source of water for local residents. The Japanese beech trees and Mongolian oaks that surround the spring give it a mystical quality and there are many legends of dragons associated with the pond. The pond is an easy one-minute walk from the parking lot but as you continue around to the rear you'll find the Ryugakubo-jinja Shrine. The shrine draws lots of visitors and there you can ladle some of the spring water for yourself.
  • Nagaoka City Yamakoshi Bullfighting Arena
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nagaokashi Yamakoshinampei Party 986
    This arena is about a 25-minute drive from the Nagaokaminami-Koshiji Smart Interchange. Here you can see bull's wrestling with their horns which has been designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Japan. As one of Honshu's unique traditions this bull wrestling is said to have 1,000 years of history. The sight of the one ton fighting bulls clashing together draws numerous spectators cheering, hand's clenched tight, for these brave warriors. Events are held from May to early-November. As this bull wrestling is part of a Shinto ritual the outcome of the bouts is less important, and the strength and skills of 15 handlers separating the strong willed bulls is a sight to see.

Niigata Areas

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Found along the northwestern coast of Japan, Niigata prefecture is celebrated for its high-quality rice and breathtaking nature, most notably its spectacular mountains, whose white peaks draw in snow sports lovers from far and wide over the winter months. Hit the slopes at Yuzawa, pick out your favourite modern artist at Echigo Tsumari, or take a ferry over to Sado Island for an extra adventure.

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