Niigata Prefecture is located along the coast of the Sea of Japan in the Chubu Region. Located on the island of Honshu, which is the largest of Japan’s four main islands, Niigata is a long prefecture on the coast of the Sea of Japan.
Niigata prospered as a port on the Sea of Japan during the Edo period in the 17th and 18th centuries, and sometime after the 19th century was developed into a base for trade with Russia and South Korea.
Famous for its high quality rice, beautiful coastal and mountainous sceneries, the prefecture of Niigata also boasts seasonal attractions and events like; spectacular firework displays in summer, skiing in winter and hot spring bathing around the year.
The prefectural capital is Niigata City, with which it shares the same name.
It is also the largest agricultural city in Japan with vast nature and fertile soil.
Around the fertile land, called the Niigata Plains where great success in rice farming and scenic rice terraces are stacked beautifully on top of each other, lies the Shinano River basin.
The Shinano River, flowing from the mountains to the Sea of Japan, boasts of being the longest river in Japan.
It is here where the city branches into two districts; the new part of town near Niigata Station on the south side of the Shinano River and the old part of town on the north side of the river where the government and municipal offices lie.
Bandai Bridge, which is designated as an Important National Cultural Asset, links the two districts together.
In the new district there is an international convention facility called Toki Messe.
That’s where we are currently and from its observatory, the highest spot in the city, you can see the Shinano River, the Sea of Japan, and Sado Island in the distance.
Where in the old district is the Niigata City History Museum, called Minatopia, which exhibits the history of Niigata.
Also on the premises is the former Niigata Customs House, which among the five customs houses opened for trade with foreign countries in 1858; Niigata, Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, and Hakodate, is the only one that exists as it was at the time.
Also located there is the Niigata Prefectural Government Memorial Hall, which has a veranda modeled after the Houses of Parliament in England, with a Renaissance-style octagonal spire.
However, the reason we’re here is because we’re heading to Yuzawa Town! We only just decided to stop by Niigata to catch a breath of fresh air before we continue on.
Although Yuzawa itself is only around 80 minutes by Bullet Trains from Tokyo, it feels like another country altogether. Situated just 200km away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis of Tokyo; located in Minamiuonuma District in the mountains of the Chuetsu region of Niigata Prefecture.
Yuzawa is perfectly nestled in the Japan alps, offers fresh, clean air and extremely beautiful mountainous surroundings. Yuzawa is well known in Japan for being an Onsen Town of Hot Springs.
In winter, Yuzawa is a ski and snowboarders’ wet dream come true!
The town is famous throughout Japan as the setting for 16 ski fields. With the Echigo Mountain Range in the southeastern part of the prefecture as its core, 2,000-meter-high mountains stand one after another to form an impressive stretch of highlands.
The areas between these mountains, abound with beautiful nature, are dotted with the aforementioned Hot Springs and Ski Resorts.
Yuzawa is conveniently served by the Echigo-Yuzawa and Gala-Yuzawa stations on the Joetsu Shinkansen line, thereby making it one of the most easily accessible winter sports areas, from Tokyo. The town’s economy is reliant principally on skiing and snowboarding.
Especially for Tokyoites, Yuzawa is the perfect, (and most convenient place) to get some snow in your hair. As they usually say; during winter, if it doesn’t snow in Tokyo, head for Yuzawa where you’ll definitely get to see some!
Yuzawa is nicknamed the “Snow Country” in Japan. Together with Hokkaido, where snowfall is often heavy, Yuzawa boasts plentiful, soft snowfall; over here, it can snow for at least six to seven months of a year. That’s at least a year of winter fun!
We’ll continue with the staycation at a Ski Resort, which is a modern cum traditional Ryokan (with our own private Onsen) up in the mountains – in the next Niigata entry, so check back for more updates!
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