History / Culture / Tour Spots in Niigata Area

  • Yahiko-jinja Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nishikambaragunyahikomura Yahiko 2887-2
    Yahiko-jinja Shrine, situated at the foot of Mt. Yahiko in Yahiko Village, Nishikanbara County, Nigata Prefecture, is a shrine of the old Echigo Province and even appears in the Manyoshu (collection of Japanese poetry). The enshrined deity, Ame-no-Kaguyama-no-Mikoto, has long been widely worshipped as the god of culture and development in Echigo Province. The impressive shrine building, erected in front of the backdrop of cedar and zelkova forests and Mt. Yahiko, was rebuilt in 1916. The Shida-no-otachi long sword, designated a national important cultural property, and other weapons connected with Minamoto No Yoshiie, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, and Uesugi Kenshin, are on display in the shrine’s treasure hall.
  • Tokimesse Niigata Convention Center
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nigatashi Chuou-ku Bandaijima 6-1
    This convention center complex is about a 20-minute walk from JR Niigata Station and is comprised of two buildings: the Niigata Convention Center with exhibition halls and meeting rooms and Bandaijima Building with a hotel. From meetings to parties to lodging everything can be conveniently served by this one space. On the fifth floor of the Bandaijima Building is the Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum focusing on modern art and on the 31st floor is the Befco Bakauke Observation Room from which you can the Sea of Japan, Sado Island, and the Gozu Mountain Range.
  • Northern Culture Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nigata Pref. Nigatashi Kounan-ku Soumi 2-15-25
    The Northern Culture Museum utilizes a residence of the Ito family, which was a large scale farming family in Echigo, and its construction was completed in 1889 after some eight years. The large residence has 65 rooms in a property of 8,800 tsubo (29,040 square meters). There are many sightseeing areas such as the Sanrakutei which has a large hall with 100 tatami mats facing a beautiful garden, a tea room, which was also used an office, and a two-storey earthen gate storehouse built around 1885. In the residence, there are displays of artistic crafts and archaeological documents as well. It is also a well-known place for wisteria, and the beautiful wisteria flowers in the courtyard bloom around late April to early May.
  • Niitsu Art Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nigata Pref. Nigatashi Akiha-ku Gawakesawa 109-1
    The Niitsu Art Museum is located within the Hana to Iseki no Furusato Park, near to Niigata Prefectural Botanical Garden and the Furutsu Hachimanyama Kofun historical site. The Museum hold a wide range of exhibitions, including early-modern period Nihonga and Yoga style paintings and sculptures, photography, original drawings used in the production of picture-books, comic books, animation, etc. A child-minding service, using expert professional staff, is available for visitors with young children (over six months old but below school age), although the service must be booked at least three days before visiting the Museum. The Niitsu Art Museum is located around 20-minute drive from the Niitsu Interchange on the Ban-Etsu Expressway.
  • Site of the former Kasugayama Castle
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Jouetsushi Nakayashiki ,soy
    Kasugayama Castle was built on Mt. Kasuga, transforming the entire mountain into an important strategic position; the Castle is famous as the main residence of Uesugi Kenshin. It is ranked 32nd in the list of the Top 100 Castles of Japan. Restoration work is currently underway, and the Castle is gradually starting to regain some of its former appearance. When the castle was still intact, the Honmaru (central bailey) was located on the mountain-top, with a castle town at the foot of the mountain where the residences of important retainers and the lord’s relatives were located. Kasugayama Castle is located around 13-minute drive from Kasugayama Station on the Myoko Haneuma Line.
  • Niigata City Niitsu Railway Museum
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nigatashi Akiha-ku Nitsuhigashichou 2-5-6
    You’ll find this museum in Niigata Prefecture’s Niigata City, which used to be called the “railway town.” It opened in 1983 and was renovated in 2014. The permanent exhibits showcase materials related to the railroad history of the region and prefecture and the development of railroad technology. The second floor features a model railway and a children’s area among other things. The outdoors exhibit features a model 200 bullet train, an express train from the national railway period, a snow removal vehicle, and an actual steam locomotive.
  • Shibata Castle
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Shibatashi Otemachi 6
    Shibata Castle (also known as Ayame Castle) is a designated National Important Cultural Property. The Castle is one of only a handful of surviving castles that were built using the Namako-kabe design (characteristic of castles in Northern Japan) whereby the joints between the stone blocks that form the walls are made as neat as possible by cutting the blocks precisely to shape using the Kirikomihagi technique, for improved aesthetic effect. The three-tiered Yagura tower, which was built instead of a conventional Tenshu-kaku (central tower), was a distinctive building decorated with three Shachihoko (legendary sea-creatures) on the roof; this tower was reconstructed in 2004 and is well worth seeing.
  • Niigata Gokoku-jinja Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nigatashi Chuou-ku Nishifunamichou 5932-300
    This shrine surrounded by a pine tree forest is a 20-minute drive from Niigata Chuo Interchange. It was founded in 1868 in Tokiwaoka, Niigata City (currently the Niigata University Faculty of Medicine in Ichibancho, Asahimachi, Chuo Ward, Niigata City) as a shrine dedicated to the spirits of the war dead. A municipal promenade has been built next to the grounds of the shrine, making it a popular place for a walk. The shrine holds thrice-monthly festivals on the 1st, 8th, and 15th of each month. During the festivals, the shrine's priests make ritual prayers to calm the divine spirits and wish for renewed tranquility and health. The shrine hosts kyudo (Japanese archery), youth sumo, setsudando (a form of swordsmanship), jukendo (bayonet fighting), and kenmaido (sword dance) competitions. One of its most popular events is the kodomo mikoshi (a portable shrine carried by children), which is held on Children's Day every year.
  • Eirinji Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Uonumashi Negoya 1765
    Eirinji is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Soto School that is located in the Negoya district of Uonuma City. According to tradition, the famous woodcarver Ishikawa Uncho (Minamoto no Masateru), who was active in the Bakumatsu period and in the early years of the Meiji period, lost a bet with Abbot Enno Bensho the 22nd, and as a result stayed at the Eirinji Temple for 13 years, creating large numbers of carvings for the temple. Today, the Eirinji Temple still has over 100 carvings by Ishikawa Uncho, including ranma (openwork screens), etc., and many people visit the temple for the express purpose of viewing these masterpieces.
  • Fossa Magna Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Itoigawa City Niigata Prefecture Ichinomiya 1313
    The Fossa Magna Museum opened 1994 is a museum about rocks for learning about our natural environment and resources, as provided by the Earth across ages and geological eras. In the six-room exhibition area, you can see fossils and beautiful ores (jade) of Itoigawa River. Approximately 10 minutes by car via Itoigawa Interchange on the Hokuriku Expressway.
  • Rinsenji Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Jouetsushi Nakamonzen 1-1-1
    Rinsenji Temple is a temple of the Soto sect located in Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture. Uesugi Kenshin, a military commander during the Sengoku (Warring States) period, spent time and studied here as child between the ages of 7 and 14. The temple was founded in 1497 by Kenshin’s grandfather, Nagao Yoshikage, as a memorial to his late father, following which the temple became a family temple for both Nagao and Uesugi. The temple grounds are home to a splendid main gate, said to have been moved from the back gate of Kasugayama Castle. Visitors will also find the graves of the Uesugi family and memorial tower, and the Fureashi Kannon statue, said to make strong legs when touched with the feet.
  • Niigata City History Museum (Minatopia)
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nigata Pref. Nigatashi Chuou-ku Yanagishimachou 2-10
    At this history museum in Chuo Ward, Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture, you’ll find materials illuminating the history and folk culture of Niigata, which developed along with the sea. The main building adopts a modern Western design used by the second-generation Niigata city hall. Inside, you’ll find a permanent exhibit with the theme “The local sea and locals’ lives,” along with a theater, planned exhibitions, and more. Onsite, there’s also the Former Niigata Customhouse building in the Meiji period, a National Treasure, and the Former Daishi Bank Sumiyoshi-cho Branch, which was completed in 1927. Visitors are allowed entry.
  • Saifukuji Temple (Kaisando)
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Uonumashi Oura 174
    Sekijyozan Saifukuji Temple is a temple opened during the late Muromachi period in 1534. The Kaisando for worshipping images of Kaisan and Dogen Zenji—founder of Soto sect—is famous for its numerous wonderful sculptures, paintings, and lacquerware that can be called great works of Uncho Ishikawa, a famous craftsman from the end of the Shogunate. It is often called “Echigo Nikko” for its similarity to the collection of works at Toshogu in Nikko. About five minutes by car via Koide Interchange on the Kan-etsu Expressway.
  • Kasuga Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Jouetsushi Kasuga 18
    This shrine is located ten minutes by car from the Joetsu Interchange, at the foot of Mt. Kasuga in Joetsu City. Enshrined here is a division of the deity in the Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara. It was the first deity to be divided in Japan, according to records in Kasuga Grand Shrine. The shrine was first built on Mt Kasuga's peak in the year 958, and then relocated along with Kasugayama Castle fortifications in 1381. The cedar trees lining the steep stone steps are rather impressive. The shrine prospered under Uesugi, the Shugodai (representative) of Echigo for generations, and from the time of Kenshin Uesugi, belief in this deity became more intense and it became worshipped as the tutelary deity of the region. The Kasuga lanterns lining the grounds are said to have been made in the Edo period.
  • Hotokusan Inari Taisha Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Nagaokashi Iduka 870
    A 10-minute drive from Nagaoka-Minami-Koshiji Smart Interchange, this shrine is beloved by locals of Nagaoka City as Iwatsuka no Oinari-san (the Inari Shrine of Iwatsuka). It enshrines the Shinto deity Amaterasu-shiragiku-hotoku-okami. The shrine is said to have originated when Itete-no-Himiko ordered Mononobe-no-Minowahime-no-Mikoto to build a shrine to Amaterasu, Hi no Miya no Miyashiro, in the Village of Nuna. The stunning beauty of the large vermillion-lacquered shrine building standing on a small hill attracts a large number of visitors from across the country. The shrine also being known as the Rosoku no Oinari-san (the Inari shrine of candles). Because of this, it is said that if someone writes their wish on a candle at the shrine's shinkosai (a festival celebrating the temporary transfer of the object of worship from its main shrine) held late at night each November 2nd, it will come true.
  • Sado Island’s Ogi Folk Museum, Sengokubune Exhibition Hall
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nigata Pref. Sadoshi Shukunegi 270-2
    This museum is located in a wooden schoolhouse built in 1920 that has been preserved as-is. Inside the building which still bears the vestiges of its days as a schoolhouse are displays for a collection of over 30,000 folk materials that have been designated as important tangible folk-cultural properties, including tools and equipment for shipbuilders. During the Hakusan Maru Matsuri festival held every summer, the Hakusan Maru, Japan’s first fully-restored sengokubune (wooden freight ship) that is on display in the museum, is pulled out under human power and an impressive large white sail that is 155 tatami mats in size is raised.
  • Shiseki Sado Kinzan
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Sadoshi Shimoaikawa 1305
    As Japan’s largest gold mine this was under the Tokugawa shogunate’s direct control and was engaged in the production of koban (small former Japanese oval gold coins). Operations ceased in 1989 due to an exhaustion of its resources, which brought to a close 400 years of history. The mining and refining facilities on the grounds have been designated as National Important Cultural Properties. Currently visitors can see exhibits of model exhibits of the Sado Kinzan during the Edo period based on drawings from Sado Kinzan Emaki (picture scrolls) as well as the remains of actual tunnels that were used.
  • Sado Hangamura Art Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nigata Pref. Sadoshi Aikawakomeyamachi 38-2
    This is a private art museum on Kyomachi-dori Street that richly preserves Sado Kinzan’s history. The elegant building with its red-tiled roof occupies the old Aikawa Court House. Works by the late woodblock print artist and founder of Hangamura Shinichi Takahashi as well as by Hangamura artists are displayed. Visitors would do well to note that the museum is closed from December to February.
  • Sado Bugyosho (Magistrate's Office)
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Sadoshi Aikawahiromamachi 1-1
    The remains of the Sado Magistrate Office, built in 1603 in the early Edo period. The magistrate office was built for the purpose of managing the Sado Kinzan gold mines. It was repeatedly destroyed by fire and rebuilt. During the Meiji period, it was used as a government office and school, but in 1942 was once again destroyed by fire. It was designated again as a National Historic Site in 1994, and was restored in part in 2000.
  • Snow Country Museum
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Minamiuonumagunyuzawamachi Yuzawa 354-1
    This is a museum showing the life and history of Yuzawa, that was the backdrop for Yasunari Kawabata's novel The Snow Country. Also displayed are some of Yasunari's beloved items and writings in his own hand, as well as a Japanese-style painting gallery depicting the world from the novel. This museum is located just a 7-minute walk from the Echigo Yuzawa Station.

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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