Niigata Travel Guide, Japan
Niigata Travel Guide - An oasis in the country of snow
Niigata prefecture is located in the middle of Japan’s snow country, a picturesque region on the island of Honshu, famous for its heavy and long-lasting snowfalls. The city of Niigata, the prefecture’s capital, lies on the coast of the Sea of Japan, and it is a delightful destination. Don’t be intimidated by the ‘snow-country’ label, Niigata city has only a few days of heavy snow each year. However, the surrounding area lives up to its fame, and there are some great spots for winter sports in the vicinity of Niigata. If anything, Niigata can be called the ‘city of waters’, not snow, because the city is right next to the sea, and it is crossed by the rivers Agano and Shinano.
Niigata Travel Guide - Transport
Transport is never a problem in Japan. Even the most remote destinations such as Sapporo can be reached by Shinkasen, Japan’s bullet trains. Niigata is only a two-hour Shinkasen ride away from Tokyo. A cheaper option is to take a regular train for a quarter of the price of the bullet-train ticket, but the ride is significantly longer. You an also get to Niigata by bus from Tokyo, Nagoya, and a few smaller cities. Niigata airport, only half an hour distance from the city centre, handles incoming international flights from Russia, Korea, China and Guam, in addition to frequent domestic flights from Sapporo and Osaka.
Niigata Travel Guide - Accommodation
Niigata is a popular tourist destination, so there is a plethora of hotels in every price range. But if you want to experience Japanese culture in its purest form, this Niigata Travel Guide recommends that you try one of the traditional Japanese guest-houses, called ryokan. These charming little inns are usually family businesses, and they provide friendly atmosphere, delicious home-made food, beautiful Japanese-style rooms, as well as traditional yukatas, cotton robes which are always worn in this kind of establishment. The 'Japanese Guest Houses' website provides a list of major ryokans and has a useful online reservation system.
Niigata Travel Guide - Unusual things to do
Niigata prefecture is peppered with numerous hot water springs or onsen. While there are none in the city of Niigata, many of the small neighbouring towns have one. Onsen are famous for their health benefits, and are a perfect cure for that aching back or knee. They can be either indoors or outdoors. In winter, outdoor onsens are quite an experience: imagine relaxing in soothing hot water and watching the snow covered landscape.
A tip from this Niigata Travel Guide: if you're in Niigata for the summer, don't miss the Matsuri Festival, a folk celebration that draws over 30.000 participants every year. Festival activities include folk dancing, singing, taiko drum recitals, and fireworks on the Shinano River. Even if Japanese folk traditions are not your cup of tea, the festival gathers a larger number of booths that sell anything from traditional fast-food to handcrafted objects. Either way, the colourful crowd of locals dressed in kimono is quite a sight to behold.