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Niigata, known for its fabulous natural scenery and sake production, can be reached in about two hours from Tokyo. We introduce four towns that are easily accessible from Niigata City. Discover amazing sake culture, hot springs, ancient shrines, and the home town of nishikigoi carps.
For the adventurous traveler looking to fill their Japan holiday with fascinating day-trips, Niigata City is the perfect destination! The areas surrounding the city are renowned for their lush nature, deep histories, and unique cultures.
We’ve chosen four regions, all reachable by local trains, that show why you should add Niigata to your next Japan itinerary. These places are all rarely visited by international travelers, so if you’re desperate to get off the beaten track and find a fresh face of Japan, Niigata City is where to start!
Directly up the coast from Niigata City, the ancient town of Murakami is one of Japan’s most alluring hidden destinations. During mid-autumn, the city’s network of rivers and streams is taken over by the ‘salmon run.’ Many of these salmon returning to their birthplace are caught, hand-salted, and strung up around the town to ferment.
The image of Murakami’s hanging salmon makes for a surreal spectacle and is a sight unique even to the Japanese. Head to Kikkawa for the largest collection along with free salmon tasting and the chance to buy some for yourself.
Topping off Murakami’s charm is mouthwatering wagyu beef, premium green tea, intricate lacquerware, and two ancient sake breweries.
Yahiko is a sacred district of Niigata brimming with impeccable parkland, sprawling natural forests, and elegant hot springs. Its main gem is the central Yahiko Shrine, an ancient spiritual center with over two thousand years of history. For the extra adventurous, an additional hidden shrine on the summit of Mt. Yahiko can be reached via the Yahikoyama ropeway.
The area is also a hotspot for cherry blossoms in spring and autumn foliage. It can get quite busy during these times, so be prepared to face crowds. After your tiring day of exploring Yahiko’s intricate shrine grounds, you can refresh your feet in free foot baths on your way back to the station!
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