Enjoy Both Niigata's Port and Sado Island!
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.
1 hour and 5 minutes by jetfoil from Niigata Port: Get off at Ryotsu Port
1 hour by car
Sado Gold Mine
The Sado Gold Mine served as Japan's largest gold and silver mine from 1601 to 1989. Remnants of its 400-year history, like tunnel ruins and mining facilities, have earned prestigious designations as National Important Cultural Properties, Historic Sites, and Heritages of Industrial Modernization. The site is also a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status.
The Sado Gold Mine offers two routes accessible without reservation, each taking around 30-40 minutes. For larger groups or those with a keen interest in history, guided tours are also recommended, which run from April to November and take 70-100 minutes (reservations required). One tour is for groups of 10 or more from elementary school and above, while the other is for smaller groups of up to 10, junior high school-aged or older.
Afterwards, head down to the Kitazawa Floatation Plant, a vital part of the Sado Gold Mine operations, and a popular photo spot reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki's film Laputa: Castle in the Sky. It was the first location in Japan where copper production technology was successfully adapted for the extraction of gold and silver.
Tobishima Liquorice Flowers at Onogame
Onogame is a giant, turtle-shaped monolith standing 167 metres above ground level plunging into the Sea of Japan at the north-western tip of Sado Island. This massive rock has been awarded two stars in the Michelin Green Guide.
Onogame is also known for its landscape of Tobishima liquorices with the surrounding area covered with a carpet of yellow liquorice flowers from late May to early June.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and suitable clothes and follow the walking path to the top of Onogame rock. (The path is subject to closure for safety reasons depending on the weather.)
Enjoy the magnificent view from the top of Onogame and don’t miss the wonderful sight of the rock itself from further along the coastal road.