A beautiful "City of Water" facing the Sea of Japan, Niigata City prospers both as a port town and Japan's largest agricultural city.
Niigata City is the largest among the cities situated on the Sea of Japan side of Honshu, the largest of Japan's four main islands. It is a beautiful "city of water" whose northwest part faces the Sea of Japan, with the Shinano River, Japan's longest, running through its center. Niigata City is a port city with a population of 810,000 that has been thriving on trade with foreign countries for a very long time. It is also the largest agricultural city in Japan with vast nature and fertile soil. The city incorporates one of the major grain-growing regions in Japan with sophisticated city functions, being the first government ordinance-designated city on the Sea of Japan coast. It also serves as a transportation hub with a seaport, an airport, Shinkansen stations, and highways.
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, designated as an Important National Cultural Asset, connects the two districts.
In the new district is an international convention facility called Toki Messe. 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.
In the old district is the Niigata City History Museum, called Minatopia, which exhibits the history of Niigata. On the premises is the former Niigata Customs House (an Important National Cultural Asset), which is the only customs house that exists as it was among those built in the five port cities which opened for trade with foreign countries in 1858, namely: Niigata; Yokohama; Kobe; Nagasaki; and Hakodate. Also located there is the Niigata Prefectural Government Memorial Hall (an Important National Cultural Asset), which has a veranda modeled after the Houses of Parliament in England, with a Renaissance-style octagonal spire.
Outside the city area, there is a city aquarium, called Marinepia Nihonkai, the largest aquarium found on the Sea of Japan coast, where you can see approximately 20,000 sea creatures of 450 varieties, including dolphins and sea otters.
Various sightseeing spots are scattered throughout the suburbs, such as the Northern Culture Museum. This building used to be the mansion of a wealthy landowner whose properties were the greatest in Niigata. Also located there is Iwamuro Hot Spring, a hot spring resort with a long history and charming atmosphere.
Niigata is proud of its rich variety of wonderful foods, such as the plentiful seafood nurtured by the Sea of Japan and freshwater fish from the large river, and vegetables and fruit gown in the fertile soil. Niigata rice, sake and seafood are particularly well known. The finest tastes of Japan are available in Niigata.
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 2h to Niigata Station by JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line.
From Osaka :
[Air] 1h 5 min from Itami to Niigata Airport.