Nature Spots in Niigata Area

  • Kiyotsu Gorge
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Tokamachishi Koide
    In 1862, local people built a hot springs bath at Kiyotsu Gorge; in 1941, the Gorge was officially designated a Natural Monument, and in 1949 it was included as part of the newly-established Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park. It is well worth seeing, both for the beauty of the Gorge and for the spectacular columnar joint rock formations. Kiyotsu Gorge is beautiful at any time of year, but visitors should note that the tunnel that gives access to the Gorge is closed between mid-January and late March.
  • Kiyotsu Valley Tunnel
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Tokamachishi Koide
    This walking tunnel is in Joshinetsu Kogen National Park in Tokamachi. It opened as a tourist location in October of 1996 as a place where you can safely see Kiyotsu Gorge, one of Japan's three largest gorges. There are three viewing platforms along the 750-meter long tunnel with a panorama station at the deepest part. Here you can appreciate the country's beautiful natural gorges and columnar jointing topography designated as a National Natural Monument. No matter the season, be it the new sprouting leaves of spring, the verdant greens of summer, the crimson colors of fall, or the fresh snow of winter, lots of tourists come to enjoy the ever-changing beauty of the gorge. The tunnel is closed from mid-January to late March.
  • Hoshitoge terraced rice fields
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Tokamachishi Touge
    At Hoshitoge, around 200 tanada (terraced rice fields) of different sizes dot the slopes; the appearance of the landscape changes with the seasons and with the time of day. During the period when the “Sea of Clouds” effect and the “Mizukagami” phenomenon (whereby the surface of the flooded rice fields shines like a mirror) are most common, the Hoshitoge area receives large numbers of tourists from throughout Japan. However, the fields are located on working farms, so visitors are asked to be respectful and considerate. The Hoshitoge terraced rice fields are located around 20-minute walk from Matsudai Station on the Hokuetsu Express Hokuhoku Line.
  • Bijin-bayashi Forest
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Tokamachishi Matsunoyamamatsuguchi Near the 1712-2
    Bijin-bayashi Forest in Tokamachi, which has a different but equally beautiful appearance in every season of the year, is a forest of beech trees that were planted around 90 years ago, located on hilly ground in Matsuguchi; the elegant form of the beech trees led to the Forest being given the name “Bijin-bayashi” (“Forest of Beauties”). In winter, snowshoes can be rented from the nearby Echigo-Matsunoyama Museum of Natural Science. Bijin-bayashi Forest is located around 15minute bus ride from Matsudai Station on the Hokuetsu Express Hokuhoku Line.
  • Mt. Naeba
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Minamiuonumagunyuzawamachi Mikuni
    This volcano stands 2,145 meters tall at the boundary between Niigata and Nagano Prefectures. Located in Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park at its summit is Ime-jinja Shrine which has long drawn those looking to befriend the god of rice cultivation. Near the summit spreads a wetland where you can see all sorts of beautiful alpine plants including the Miyama-bulrush. This beauty has led to the area being selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of Japan's 500 important wetlands. During the winter the ski-slope at the foot of the mountain draws lots of visitors. Different mountain climbing routes are being developed and between late-June and mid-October lots of mountain climbing visitors flock to the mountain.
  • Lake Hyoko
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Aganoshi Suibara
    Lake Hyoko is located in the Suibara district of Agano City. This was the first lake in Japan where wild swans were successfully fed, and today it is a famous as a spot that swans visit on migration. Lake Hyoko is also a registered Ramsar Site (Wetland of International Importance). The swans arrive each year in early October, and stay until late March; late November is the peak season, when there can be over 5,000 swans on the Lake. Visitors are not allowed to feed the swans, but they can watch the swans from bird observation hides built on the shore of the Lake.
  • Lake Okutadami
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Uonumashi Yunotanimogawa Big birds
    This lake is in Uonuma, Niigata. It's a man-made lake created by the Okutadami Dam which sits between Hinoemata, Minamiauzu, Fukushima, and Uonuma, Niigata on the Tadami River, a tributary of the Class A Agano River. Also called Ginzan Lake (Silver Mountain Lake) it's known for its superb water quality from the snow melt of neighboring valleys and picturesque autumn scenery. From late July to early November it's famous as a great place to catch smelt, char, and cherry-trout.
  • Jade Coast
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Itoigawashi Oshiage 1
    Approximately a ten-minute walk from the Echigo Tokimeki Railway's Itoigawa Station, the incredible variety of stones on this shingle beach are brought downstream by the river. The flowing water smooths the edges of the stones, and occasionally, Jade can be found mixed in with the rounded stones, being carried through the city by the Himekawa River. If a person is lucky enough to find some, they are allowed to take it with them. In addition to Jade, other beautiful stones and precious stones can sometimes be found in the river, and you can ask for the stones to be appraised at the Fossa Magna Museum in Miyama Park in the city.
  • Okutadami Dam
    Travel / Tourism
    Fukushima Prefecture Minamiaizu-gun, Kinoki-mura, Niigata ken Uonuma-shi
    A dam located on the upper reaches of the Tadami River straddling Hinoemata Village in Minamiaizu County, Fukushima Prefecture and Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture. The dam is the greatest source of hydroelectric power in the country. Visitors can also board the paid Lake Okutadami Pleasure Boat and enjoy seasonal scenery such as fresh verdure in summer and fall foliage in autumn. Bus tours also operate in the area in autumn, and many tourists come here to enjoy the colorful leaves.
  • Imori Pond
    Travel / Tourism
    Ikehyaira Myoko City Niigata Prefecture
    This is a lake of about 500 meters in circumference located in Ikenodaira Hot Spring adjacent to “Myoko Kogen Visitor Center” in Myoko City in Niigata Prefecture. It is a superb scenic spot and on a sunny day the famous peak, “Mt. Myoko,” is reflected on the surface of the lake. There are about 100 thousand Arum lilies bulbs in the area and the lilies start flowering in late April. It is famous for a sightseeing spot for the changing colors of the leaves in autumn. Visitors can see various plants and birds throughout the four seasons, and there is a footpath around the lake.
  • Toki Forest Park
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Sadoshi Nibonagaune 383-2
    The Toki Forest Park is situated next to the Sado Toki Conservation Center in Sado City, Niigata Prefecture. There are a number of different facilities dotted about the place relating to the crested ibis, or “toki”, designated a National Natural Monument. The Toki Rapport Plaza, complete with large breeding cages, enables visitors to see the toki up close. The Toki Materials Exhibition Hall highlights the conservation work surrounding toki through the use of panels, audio-visual materials and specimens, and the Observation Gallery enables visitors to observe the crested ibises in the Sado Toki Conservation Center through the windows.
  • Cape Koibito
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Kashiwazakishi Oumigawa 133-1 Yoneyama Fukuura Hakkei prefectural natural park
    Cape Koibito is the fisher’s cape of the Sea of Japan, and it features tremendous views of the entire Fuku-ura Coast, even some of the best in Sado-Yahiko-Yoneyama Quasi National Park. You can see all the way to Sado on a clear day, and the evening sun is beautiful. It is also famous as a spot for fulfilling love, so many couples come here to wish for continued happiness. a minute by car via Yoneyama Interchange on the Hokuriku Expressway.
  • Yajima and Kyojima
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Sadoshi Ogi
    Two islands floating on the south side of Sadogashima Island. They sit in the bay admits the calm waves and can be reached from the mainland via a bridge. The picturesque view of the classical arched red bridge connecting the two islands makes for a beautiful photo. Here you can see people fishing with boxes with glass bottoms from taraibune (tub shaped boats) and you even have the chance to go out in a tub boat yourself. Yajima is also known to produce fine quality bamboo arrow shafts and The Tale of the Heike claims that when Minamoto Yorimasa vanquished the monstrous nue (chimera type creature) he used Yajima arrows. There is also legend that Nichiro, disciple of the monk Nichiren, was shipwrecked and washed ashore on Kyojima Island where he would then spend the night reciting sutra.
  • Ono-kame
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Sadoshi Negai
    This is a megalithic 167 meter high monolith in Negai, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture, which looks like a small mountain protruding into the sea. From the side it looks like the shape of a tortoise, and is a scenic spot which has earned two stars in the “Michelin Green Guide Japon.” Visitors can climb up onto the top of the rock on foot and it has a great viewpoint of the sea and landscape. The surrounding area is the habitat of Tobishima Kanzo Lilies, and from the end of May to early June about 500 thousand flowers bloom. The “Sado Kanzo Lily Festival” is held on the second Sunday in June.
  • Mt. Yahiko
    Travel / Tourism
    Yahiko village Nishikanbara gun Niigata ken
    This is the highest peak of the Yahiko Mountain Range which sits on the Echigo Basin alongside the Sea of Japan. It stands 634 meters above sea level, the same height as the Tokyo Sky Tree, and the silhouette of its peak is one of its key features. In the afterwards of Fukada Kyuya's book 100 Famous Japanese Mountains he states that while the height of the mountain might be lacking it has to be included. The ropeway on the Mt. Yahiko Skyline is both great ways to access the summit. The mountain is used for excursions by the local elementary and middle schools and is recommended for beginner mountain climbers. From the summit you have a great view of everything from the Sea of Japan to the Echigo Basin and the site of the sunset over Sadogashima Island is highly regarded.
  • Shioritoge Pass
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Uonumashi
    This mountain pass is along National Route 352 in Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture. At its highest point you'll find the start of the trailhead to climb Mt Echigo-Komagatake, one of Japan's 100 most famous mountains. Every October the Uonuma City Tourist Association offers a shuttle bus called Unkai and Takigumo, a prime spot for photography. Also, from mid-October to early-November take time to enjoy the various autumn colors painting the scenery as you travel along this beautiful mountain pass. The pass is open to traffic from mid-June through early-November. During the winter the pass is closed due to snow and you will be unable to use it to access Fukushima.
  • Ginzandaira Basin
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Uonumashi Utsuno
    Ginzandaira is a basin in the Shimo-oritate district of Uonuma City that is ringed by mountains, including peaks such as Mt. Arasawa-dake and Mt. Echigo Komaga-dake that rise to over 2,000 meters. It lies within the boundaries of the Echigo Sanzan-Tadami Quasi-National Park. Visitors can enjoy marvelous views of the imposing mountains and Lake Okutadami; there are campsites and hotel accommodation in the vicinity, along with hot springs, a multi-purpose activity center, boat trips, etc., making this a place where visitors can relax and enjoy nature.
  • Sasagamine
    Travel / Tourism
    Sasagamine in Myoko City Niigata Prefecture
    Mt. Sasagamine stands 1,545 meters above sea level to the south west of Mt. Myoko. From the Myokokogen Interchange on the Joshin-Etsu Expressway take Prefectural Route 39 west until you finally arrive at the Sasagamine highlands at nearly 1,300 meters of elevation. You'll be surrounded by the calm of nature with ranches and promenades. The path that leads to Shimizugaike Pond passes through a German spruce forest reminiscent of Europe and is said to have a forest therapy effect, healing both mind and body. There are plenty of other landmarks to see as well including the Udana-no-Shimizu Spring selected as one of the 100 famous springs of Heisei, or the panorama of Mt. Yakeyama which you can glimpse from Sasagamine Dam.
  • Lavender Beach
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Itoigawashi Teraji
    Lavender Beach is part of Omi Coast Geosite, about a 14-minute walk from Itoigawa Station in the city of Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture. The beach gets its name from the lavender-colored jade that can be found there. The open area near the beach contains the statue of Nunakawa-Hime, a ruler in Jomon Period, and the relief that portray the processing steps of jade. Beachcombers can find all kinds of stones other than jade, and it is a great place to find a unique stone for one's self.
  • Hayade River Valley
    Travel / Tourism
    Nigata Pref. Gosenshi Kotsuradani
    This gorge is located in the upper reaches of the Hayadegawa River in Gosen City. Drivers can enjoy great views of its natural splendor as they head towards the Hayadegawa Dam. The dam itself offers sweeping views of the mountains carpeted in fresh greenery or fall foliage depending on the season. Visitors can also enjoy viewing the beautiful scenic sights of the gorge including Koromo Rock, Meoto Falls, Fudo Falls, and more.

Niigata Areas

around-area-map

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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