The capital city of Niigata prefecture, in the northern coast of Japan may not be amongst the most popular destinations for tourists. The summer breeze, the seafood, the scenery, the crafts and sake breweries, just 2 hours shinkansen ride from Tokyo. Not enough reasons to make you change and consider visiting? Check the list of some of things to do in Niigata in this article.
Ponshukan (sake museum)
Inside the facilities of Echigo-Yuzawa station, this hard to find museum will satisfy any sake aficionado. The main shop, where one can buy local products, sake and souvenirs, are the main part. The treasure lies in the sake tasting corner, where one can try for ¥500 5 different types of sake, from the 117 local breeweries and recommendations from the museum sommelier. Check the sake brewery tours in Niigata, an experience to learn all about the Japanese rice liquor.
Niigata nippo media ship
The offices skyscraper is located in the center of the city, and in the 20th floor there’s a 360 degree observatory. From here, the views of Niigata, the mountains and the Sea of Japan are stunning. Plus, is free entrance.
Bandai Bridge Sunset Cafe
From early June to October the Sunset Cafe offers the best views to the Shinano River, alongside the Bandai Bridge, one of the main arteries of the city. One of the main symbols of the city and a scenic spot, specially after sunset. A romantic walk along the river on sunset and a drink on the Cafe, perfect.
Hakusan park and shrine
The first open public park in Japan, Hakusan park was built in 1873. Along with the park, the grounds of Niigata’s main shrine, Hakusan Shrine, with over 1000 years of history in Japan. Dedicated to the gods of marriage, people comes here to be blessed and pray for their relations. Also, the lucky tree in the Shrine grounds, it is said that by touching it, people is blessed with a safe birth (for pregnant women)
Mizushima Shinji Manga street
Niigata is also known for manga connoisseurs as one of the cities to reach for the manga schools and museums, as for their most famous author, Mizushima Shinji. In the area of Furusato streets, one is dedicated to this author with human sized bronze statues from his baseball manga series.
Saito family summer villa
The villa was built over 4 years and completed in 1920, by the Saito family, one of the wealthiest merchants from Niigata. Depending on the day, volunteers offer guided tours around the villa and the garden, and the regular entrance is ¥300.
Pia Bandai market
Near the ferries port, the connection point to Sado Island, there’s the local fish market, and restaurants. A local experience to enjoy, and nearby, the best Kaiten sushi restaurant I’ve ever eaten in, the Benkei kaiten sushi.
There are lot more things to do in Niigata, like brewery tours, museums, the city aquarium Marinepia. The best way to explore the whole city is by using the one day pass loop bus, for ¥500. And consider this, the hotels here are lot cheaper than in Tokyo, so you might prefer to stay here a couple of nights. Use this link from Booking.com and get a €10 discount if you make a reservation.