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Population (approx.): 2.365 million (2012)
Area: 4,858 sq miles
Area Rank: 5
Niigata Prefecture is located in the Chubu region and stretches approximately 250 km along the Sea of Japan. A well known island just off the coast of Niigata is Sado Island. Sado Island is one of Japan’s largest islands and originally served as a destination for political exiles. Its remote location signified a serious punishment and exiles were expected to spend the rest of their lives on the island. In 1601 gold was found on Sado Island which caused an economic boom on the island. Sado Island no longer serves as an exile island or gold mine and instead attracts tourists with its rich history.
Niigata rice and sake are particularly well known from this area
The Major Ski Resort & Sake Museum
Remote Island famous for Gold Mine and Home to the Japanese Ibis
Water Oasis with nature harmony
Niigata is best known for its production of high quality rice. Uonuma City of Niigata produces Koshihikari rice, which is believed to be the best rice in Japan. Due to its high production of rice, Niigata is also known for its production of rice-related products such as sake and mochi. Niigata’s sake is known for its pristine, dry taste. Its flavor is said to be thanks to the snow Niigata receives. Niigata’s Echigo Sake Museum even offers the chance to bathe in a sake spa. Mochi is most commonly served in Niigata as “sasa dango”, mochi with a red bean filling wrapped in bamboo leaves, or “sasa”. The sasa is believed to preserve the mochi and was popular for its portability.
Noppe is a local Niigata dish eaten commonly at festivals, New Years, and Buddhist ceremonies. Various vegetables such as carrots, burdock, taro, shiitake, konnyaku, and more are cooked in a soy sauce based broth with chicken and served as a soup. Noppe is more often served cold rather than hot, though it can be enjoyed either way.
Popular Rice Cracker Snack of Japan
Mix between Italian meat sauce and Japanese yakisoba
Fried buri on a bowl of rice
Buckwheat noodles using seaweed
In Niigata, straw work was a common side job during the cold winters when they could not go to work due to the heavy snowfall. One type of popular straw product from Niigata is the "neko chigura". "Neko" means cat and "chigura" means basket in the Niigata dialect, thus the neko chigura is a cat basket, or home for the cat. Cats seem to love the neko chigura for its cozy, enclosed space. The neko chigura keeps cool during the hot summer months but also warm during the cold winter. There are different styles of neko chigura, with the most common types being the Pillbox shape and the pot shape. The Pillbox shape refers to the neko chigura picture above on the right and the pot shape neko chigura, the left.
Geigi also known as Geisha is a mnemonic name for sophisticated woman who are blessed with both performing arts and education.
Sado's biggest attraction today is the Earth Celebration, an annual music festival hosted by Sado's own, world renowned Kodo taiko group. The festival started in 1988 and has been held every August since. The three day festival attracts thousands of guests who gather to watch the exciting taiko festival. The first day is performed by Koda taiko performers, the second day by guest artists, and both groups collaborate on the final day of the festival, offering different types of rhythm and music every day. Although the major performances are held at night time, Earth Celebration features various kinds of events during the day. Visitors can participate in taiko drumming, flute making, and Sado dancing workshops or watch fringe concerts which are special performances by various artists held throughout town.
Japanese mansion and beautiful garden
Sake Tasting Vending Machine in Niigata
A cultural heritage site; great mansion and garden
Cruising the Japan Sea By Taraibune
The Historical Site of the greatest gold silver mine in Japan
A hub of merchant shipping in the Edo Period
Forest Park where exchange with ibises
The appreciation garden of Nishikigoi
A General Complex - Landmark of Niigata
Niigata; picking and eating fresh strawberry
Sake Tasting and Brewery Tour in Niigata