Walk around a Hot Spring District and a City of Water
15 minutes on foot
Sasagawa Nagare Coastline
Sasagawa Nagare is an 11-kilometre stretch of coastline near the city of Murakami, with beautifully contrasting clear blue water and white sandy beaches. Along this stretch of coast the rough waters of the Sea of Japan have created uniquely eroded rocks with submerged peaks and caves, scenery that takes visitors’ breath away. The magnificent view has been designated a place of scenic beauty and a national natural treasure.
A ride on one of the pleasure boats to enjoy the wonderful views of Sasagawa Nagare from the water is a must. Be overwhelmed by the magically shaped rocks resembling objects as varied as spectacles and dinosaurs. Boat rides take 40 minutes and include seagull feeding, the flocks of gulls flying towards the boat are a particular highlight!
Beat the crowds with a morning ride, or enjoy an evening ride for fantastic sunset views. Guarantee a place with the best view by getting in the queue early!
You can also enjoy a stunning sunset view from the Sasagawa Nagare Yuhi Kaikan, a roadside station offering a viewing terrace along with a local produce shop and restaurant.
70 minutes by train from JR Kuwagawa Station: Get off at Shibata Station
25 minutes on foot
Shibata Castle Ruins Park
Affectionately called the Iris Castle, Shibata Castle is considered one of Japan's 100 Best Castles and holds the status of a National Important Cultural Property. The three-story turret, viewed as the main castle tower, flaunts a one-of-a-kind T-shaped roof adorned with three mythical “shachihoko” animal statues, who have the head of a tiger and the body of a fish. The interior is inaccessible, but the exterior is worth seeing alone, with its stunning black and white “namako” patterned walls adding an additional layer of beauty.
The accompanying park promises year-round scenery, including cherry blossoms in spring, irises in early summer, autumn foliage, and snow in winter. The cherry blossom season is particularly enchanting, featuring “bonbori” lanterns and nighttime illuminations, creating a spectacular scene as the blossoms reflect on the moat water.
●Cherry Blossoms: Somei Yoshino: approx. 260, yaezakura: approx. 60
●Light-up Period: Early to mid-April, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm (tentative)
●Food Stalls: Set up only during the Spring Festival
10 minutes by train from JR Shibata Station: Get off at Tsukioka Station
5 minutes by bus
Founded in 1915, the hot springs of Tsukioka Onsen are renowned for having one of the highest sulfur concentrations in Japan. The mild yet stimulating water leaves the skin moisturized after bathing. While typically a bright emerald green, its color changes with the seasons, weather, and conditions of the day, sometimes even appearing milky white.
A twilight stroll through the hot spring town, immersed in the scent of sulfur, is highly recommended. Amidst flickering lights, “geiko” (Niigata geisha) dressed in elegant kimono may occasionally be spotted. You can extend your bliss by staying overnight in one of the accommodations, ranging from grand “ryokan” inns to cozy hideaway hotels.
Beckoning exploration, Tsukioka Onsen has all manner of shops, including those with sake tastings, workshops to make rice crackers by hand, and confectioners. Be sure to also check out Gensen no Mori, where you can sample the self-proclaimed "worst-tasting hot spring water in Japan" and soak your hands in hot spring waters.
Hot Spring Features:
●Spring quality: Sulfur sodium chloride spring
●Main benefits: Skin diseases, women's diseases, nerve pain, burns, etc.
5 minutes by bus
30 minutes by train from JR Tsukioka Station: Get off at Toyosaka Station
10 minutes by train
Fukushimagata Lagoon, situated in the eastern part of Niigata City, is a picturesque lake and marsh covering approximately 260 hectares. It stands as the largest lake referred to as a "lagoon" in Niigata Prefecture. The lake's serene surface mirrors the majestic Gozu mountain range, creating a harmonious tapestry with birds, flowers, and people, preserving the original seasonal beauty of Niigata.
This natural haven has earned recognition as one of the "100 Best Natural Views in Japan" and "100 Best Scenic Spots in Niigata." Fukushima Lagoon stands as one of Japan's most biodiverse areas, hosting a plethora of precious plants and animals, including the bean goose and the "onibasu" water lily.
Fukushimagata Lagoon unfolds as a treasure trove of nature, with over 220 species of wild birds and more than 450 species of plants identified. It serves as the northern limit of the native habitat for onibasu, a "herabuna" Japanese crucian carp fishing spot, and a wildlife sanctuary. During winter, it transforms into Japan's premier bird paradise, welcoming the bean goose, a protected species, along with swans, as part of their migratory journey.
From early April to early May, the lagoon is adorned with vibrant fields of rape blossoms.
Nestled on the lakeside is "View Fukushimagata," a facility offering insights into the nature and culture of Fukushimagata Lagoon. From its 29-meter-high rooftop, visitors can savor a panoramic view of the lagoon and the Echigo Plain. Inside the facility, exhibits on the flora, fauna, and history of Fukushimagata Lagoon await, complemented by live video footage capturing the lagoon's interior.
●Swan Species: tundra swans and whooper swans
●Maximum Swan Count: Approx. 8,000
●Feeding: Not allowed
●Area: Approx. 260 hectares
Northern Culture Museum and Ito Estate
The Northern Culture Museum and Ito Estate is a private museum in the suburbs of Niigata City, the first of its kind in post-war Japan, which preserves the former residence of the Ito family, who were once wealthy landlords.
Spanning 3 hectares and taking 8 years to build, the site captivates visitors with its main house, great hall, tea ceremony room, storehouse, and other structures, along with its pond garden and museum of treasures collected by the Ito family.
Within the courtyard stands a 150-year-old giant wisteria tree, boasting a trunk circumference of over 1.6 meters. Its many sprawling branches blossom with purple flowers emitting a sweet fragrance between late April to early May, illuminated at night during peak bloom.
The garden also becomes a spectacle in November, adorned with autumn leaves reminiscent of a colorful mountain. This vibrant tapestry is visible from the 100-mat tatami hall, and the interplay between the red and yellow maple trees and green pines creates a breathtaking contrast. The garden is also illuminated at night when the foliage is at its best, adding a sense of depth.
There’s also a souvenir shop, café, restaurant (reservations required), and accommodation (reservations required). Take your time to explore and immerse yourself in the history and beauty of Niigata. While most famous for wisteria and autumn leaves, the garden presents year-round charm with cherry blossoms in spring, lotuses in summer, snow in winter, and other seasonal expressions.
The Bandai Bridge is a solid stone arch bridge crossing over the Shinano River. Decorations within the granite give the bridge a majestic appearance.
The current bridge is the third incarnation that was reconstructed in 1929 for the city’s modernisation. The Bandai Bridge was designated an Important Cultural Property in July 2004. Following Tokyo’s Nihonbashi Bridge, this was the second bridge on the national highway designated as an Important Cultural Property. The bridge is 306.9 metres long and 22 metres wide and survived the 1964 Niigata Earthquake. It provides an important transportation link for the local citizens.
The bridge has a broad pedestrian walkway and is best viewed from the promenades along the Shinano River. Take a stroll along one of the promenades or board the waterbus to really enjoy the view of this grand bridge!
Toki Messe (Niigata Convention Centre)
Toki Messe is a convention centre located at the mouth of the Shinano River meeting the Sea of Japan. Architecturally resembling an ocean liner, the urban building is a highlight of Niigata’s waterfront.
The convention centre consists of a large, well-equipped exhibition hall, a variety of 13 conference rooms and an on-site hotel. It offers the perfect facilities to host conferences and parties including accommodation for guests and attendees.
On the 31st floor of the Bandaijima Building, the Befco Bakauke Observatory Room rises 125 metres above ground level and is the highest building along the Sea of Japan. Visitors can enjoy a 360° panoramic view of Niigata City, along with the Sea of Japan, Sado Island and the Gozu Mountains. Admission to the observatory is free.
The information desk at the convention centre has a wide range of brochures available and is the perfect place to plan your journey around Niigata.