Three Reasons to Visit Niigata
Located north of Nagano about 4 hours driving from Tokyo, Niigata is a calm, beautiful prefecture that is often overlooked by international visitors. Why visit Niigata? Here are three reasons why Niigata is a great addition to your Japan itinerary.
1. Sado Island
Sado Island, about an hour by ferry from Niigata City, is an adventure in itself. From the gold mines to the fresh food, Sado Island is a small treasure. Renting a car is a must to navigate the small circuit of Sato Island. The island is just small enough that buses are inconvenient, yet large enough that walking from site to site is not practical. For big event weekends, be sure to book far in advance as supply of rental cars is limited. Main festivals include the Earth Celebration Festival at the end of August which is a three day taiko festival, held since 1988, drawing thousands of audience members from across Japan.
With its close proximity to the water, Niigata is a great place to visit for fresh seafood. Regional dishes focus on seafood from fried shrimp to sushi and sashimi. High in quality, seafood dishes are surprisingly affordable in the area. In Nagaoka, Teradomari Beach area is known for its fish market, which is made up of several shops selling fresh seafood from morning to late afternoon. It is a great place to try a new fish by recommendation of a shopkeeper.
3. Remote charm
While Niigata City is a sizable metropolitan area, the majority of Niigata is comprised of small towns and communities. Driving through Niigata is a calming experience which allows travelers to understand the daily lifestyle of those who reside there permanently. Some of the most interesting and beautiful places to explore are the communities located along the seaside. Try renting a car and stopping through towns to get a sense for the local community.
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