Enjoy local gourmets and superb views in Niigata!

Enjoy local gourmets and superb views in Niigata!
When we talk about Niigata, we know that the place is famous for the largest production area of the branded rice represented by Koshihikari. But, Niigata is also known as "the treasure box of gourmets", where surrounded by seas and mountains are abundant of fresh fruits of the sea and of the mountains.
Moreover, the nature in Niigata brought not just gourmets. Did you know that there actually are many splendid superb view spots in Niigata?
This time, I like to introduce to the recommended gourmets and superb views that you definitely want to enjoy in such Niigata.

1.Unique flavor and texture, "Hegi-soba", specialty of Niigata


|What is the Hegi-soba?

Good quality of water is mandatorily required for making a delicious soba. Abundant of good quality water in Niigata, among other specialities such as delicious rice and sake wines, there is a soba speciality, called "Hegi-soba", with unique flavor, chewy, and distinctively smooth texture.
Funori is used as a glue for a hegi-soba and that makes it chewy, and it is said that as the soba is served on a dish called a hegi, it named after. ("Hegi" means a piece of wood in Japanese.)
The design of how to serve on the hegi dish, with reeling a mouth size soba and lining them called "reeling by hands", is very beautiful. It is also called as "a soba reeling by hands" from such design of serving.
  • Funori
  • Hegi-soba
It is said that "Funori" used as a glue for the soba was originally used as a glue for fabrics in Echigo-Tsumari area (areas consist of Tookamachi City and Tsunan Town, Niigata Prefecture), where is famous for fabrics production.
Originally a wheat is not cultivated in this area, and a Japanese yam and an egg were generally used as a glue for soba. It is said that what made a hegi-soba born was they tried using the funori, which were abundant nearby, thinking that it can be used as a glue for a soba.
Funori makes smooth and uniquely chewy texture, and you cannot taste this deliciousness with other sobas.

* Funori is a marine alga.
▲Photo courtesy of Kojimaya General Main Store

|To taste hegi-soba is here! Famous "Kojimaya General Main Store"

If you go to Niigata, you definitely want to eat a hegi-soba. Although there are many famous restaurans of a hegi-soba in the prefecture, "Kojimaya General Main Store" is recommended and is so famous that there is nobody who does not know about in Niigata prefecture. Having its main store in Tokamachi city, where is a hometown of a hegi-soba, it is the long standing restaurant established in 1922.
  • Hegi-soba
  • Hegi-soba
▲Photo courtesy of Kojimaya General Main Store
A hegi-soba of Kojimaya General Main Store is made completely of buckwheat flours only and only exception is funori as a glue. It is a soba of historical and honorable origin as it was presented to the imperial family. It is also distinctive that the toppings are not wasabi but karashi mustard.
For the one who will eat a hegi-soba for the first time, please by all means fully enjoy the taste of a hegi-soba, while enjoying authentic atmosphere, in the main store of a long standing restaurant, which is located in Tokamachi city, a hometown of a hegi-soba.
《Kojimaya main store》
【Address】(Main store) 758-1 Nakayashiki, Tokamachi city, Niigata prefecture
【Business hours】11AM to 9PM (Last order at 8:30PM)
【Holiday】Open everyday
【Access】About 7 minutes by car from Tokamachi station
【Web site】http://www.kojimaya.co.jp/index.html

2.Happy to make and eat! "Sasa Dango", Niigata’s sweet

Sasa Dango
  • Sasa Dango
  • Sasa Dango
Sasa Dango (Bamboo leaf rice cake) is one of the classic souvenirs of Niigata. A yomogi (Japanese mugwort) dango with red bean pastes wrapped with savory sasa is a local sweet beloved by the Niigata prefectural people since long before.
Once you bite a dango, scent of sasa and just right sweetness are spreading in your mouth, and you may almost be unconsciously addicted to such simple deliciousness.
Even if you do not like sweets, you can easily eat it. And thanks to a sterilizing composition of the sasa, you can store it for a short period. It is a perfect item for a souvenir of Niigata trip.
Sasa Dango

|Can enjoy just made taste at an experience of making sasa dango

Recently, although there are few people who make a sasa dango at home, it is said that it was a custom that usual families make and eat a sasa dango in celebration of kids (early May) and during a period of rice planting (during May).
A sasa dango of souvenir shops is also delicious, but you like to try tasting a sasa dango that was used to be made at home, don't you?
  • Sasa Dango
  • Sasa Dango
"Experience Workshop Daigenta", located at a foot of Daigentasan mountain of Echigo Yuzawa, offers an experience of making a sasa dango, and you can enjoy the simple and nostalgic taste of a sasa dango. Please challenge making a sasa dango during your trip and experience enjoying the just made taste of a sasa dango!
《Experience Workshop Daigenta》
【Address】6399-1 Tsuchidaru, Ooaza, Yuzawa town, Minami Uonuma district, Niigata prefecture
【Experience hours】9AM to 4PM
【Fee for experience】Making sasa dango: 4,720 Yen (about one hour)
【Holiday】Every Wednesday and the new year’s day. If Wednesday is the National holiday and is in August, opens even on Wednesday.
【Access】17 minutes by bus from JR Echigo Yuzawa station
【Web site】http://daigenta-kobo.jp/sasadango/

3.Fresh and low price seafoods! Teradomari Fish Market Street

Teradomari Fish Market Street
Fresh catch seafoods from Teradomari port and Izumozaki port in Niigata prefecture are gathered to Teradomari fish market street. As seafood stores stand in a row and abundant seafoods are lined up in a store, it is also called as "a fish heaven".
On the storefront, various kinds of fresh seafoods, such as red snow crabs that are the speciality of Teradomari, and processed marine products, such as shiokara salted squid, are sold at low price. It is therefore a popular spot for many tourists to visit for finding and buying fresh seafoods at low price.
Teradomari Fish Market Street
As you can see, a store is so crowded with many tourists came from other prefectures on holidays.
Lined up on the storefront are the specialty red snow crabs and fresh local fish and shells. All the customers seem willing to buy a lot because of the abundant variety and low price.
Teradomari Fish Market Street
All the seafoods are freshly caught from the sea and are lined up abundantly. There sell also some fish that you cannot usually see in a supermarket, so it is fun even just to see them.
Teradomari Fish Market Street
Eating around is the best way to enjoy the Teradomari fish market street. In each store, there are plenty of ready-to-eat seafood gourmets, such as broiled seafoods, deep fried, fresh oysters, crab soup, grilled sazae (turban shells), etc!
Teradomari Fish Market Street
Surely, you will feel like eating this and that and all when you see various kinds of appetizing seafood gourmets in the storefront!
Teradomari Fish Market Street
  • Teradomari Fish Market Street
  • Teradomari Fish Market Street
There is a restaurant on the second floor of each store, and as you can eat some seafood rice bowl abundantly used fresh seafoods, please try indulging fruits of the sea by all means in the restaurant on the second floor for lunch.
But, because you were so eager for eating around, you may say that "I am already full, so cannot eat any..." at lunch time. Please pay your attention to allocate some spaces just not to be like that!
《Teradomari Fish Market Street》
【Address】Teradomari Shimoara town, Nagaoka city, Niigata prefecture
【Business hours】8:30AM to 5PM (8AM to 5PM on Sunday)
【Holiday】Open everyday
【Access】About 60 minutes by Echigo Kotsu bus from JR “Nagaoka station” of Shinetsu main lines
【Web site】http://enjoyniigata.com/en/detail/page/detail/5113

4."Shiobikisake" in a castle town. Local dish of Murakami.

Sennensake Kikkawa
▲Photo courtesy of Sennensake Kikkawa
Murakami city is located in the farthest north of Niigata prefecture. Known as a castle town, Murakami is a popular spot for its townscape with full of elegance, with lined up historical townhouses Although the specialty of Murakami is a local sake made of tasty water and rice, "Shiobikisake" is also very famous, a specialty of Murakami, where processing salmons from long before. Murakami is therefore known also as "a town of salmon".
Shiobikisake salmon
  • Shiobikisake salmon
  • Shiobikisake salmon

|What is Shiobikisake salmon?

Shiobikisake is a salmon dish cooked with traditional process from the past in Murakami. Ingredients are only a salmon and salt. A salmon salted and laid for three days to one week is hung in cold winter wind for about three weeks, and dried and fermented. Umami or taste and flavor of a salmon will then be concentrated. It is said that this special dish can be made only in the climate and the natural features of Murakami.
From November through late December every year, the sightscape of shiobikisake salmons lined up and hung under the eaves of stores for drying and fermenting is winter features of Murakami.
Shiobikisake salmon

|"Sennensake Kikkawa" keeping salmon cultures of Murakami

There is one thousand years history of salmon dish in Murakami, and salmon dishes of some 100 kinds, nurtured during such long history, have been inherited until today.
Salmon special store "Sennensake Kikkawa", which produces and sells various kinds of processed products of salmon dish, does not use additives such as chemical seasoning or preservative. It makes various processed products of salmon dish by Japanese traditional process scheme, using only natural ingredients, spending time and effort.
  • Shiobikisake salmon
  • Shiobikisake salmon
The store in a townhouse built 130 years ago can be observed (free). Listening to explanation from a shop clerk, you can see the landscape that salmons hanging inside of the townhouse just in front of eyes.
Under the ceiling of an earthen floor, massive numbers of salmons are hanging, and the numbers are surprisingly about 1,000 salmons! You will be overwhelmed by the massive landscape.
You can buy various processed products of salmon in the store, such as shiobikisake salmon, marinated salmons in sake, dry-cured salmon ham, marinated salmon eggs in shoyu (Japanese soy source). If you wish to buy souvenirs in Murakami, please try stopping by the store for sure.
《Sennensake Kikkawa》
【Address】1-20 Omachi, Murakami city, Niigata prefecture
【Business hours】9AM to 6PM
【Observation】No reservation is required for a private or a small group. Reservation is required only for large groups. Fee for observation: Free.
【Holiday】only on New Year’s day
【Access】About 20 minutes by walk from “Murakami station” of JR Uetsu main lines
【Web site】https://www.murakamisake.com/
Sennensake Izutsuya

|Indulge for lunch at "Sennensake Izutsuya". Taste various salmon dishes.

About three minutes walk from "Sennensake Kikkawa", there is "Sennensake Izutsuya", which is the special restaurant of salmon dish, directly operated by "Sennensake Kikkawa".
The design of restaurant, which has been renovated from a townhouse that was originally an inn, is an elegant and beautiful posture that you may like to shoot photos.
Sennensake Izutsuya
▲Photo courtesy of Sennensake Kikkawa
After enjoyed strolling in Murakami, anyway you like to taste delicious salmon dishes there, don't you?
As in this restaurant, you can enjoy tasting Murakami's traditional salmon dish, which is said with 1,000 years of history, why don't you fully enjoy your lunch here after you satisfied strolling in Murakami.
《Sennensake Izutsuya》
【Address】1-12 Komachi, Murakami city, Niigata prefecture
【Business hours】9:30AM to 4PM (* Lunch will be served from 11AM. Last order at 4PM)
【Holiday】The year-end and New Year holidays
【Access】About 20 minutes by walk from “Murakami station” of JR Uetsu main lines
【Web site】https://www.murakamiidutsuya.com/

5.Restaurant "Murangozzo" with rich food culture of Niigata

A hot spring inn "HATAGO Isen" is an inn attached with a restaurant, a cafe, and a souvenir shop, very close to Echigo Yuzawa station. The restaurant "Murangozzo" located on the second floor welcomes guests even not stayed in the inn, and where you can enjoy lunch and dinner used abundantly ingredients from local Uonuma.
"Murangozzo" of the name of restaurant means "a feast of a village". (* Mura means a village in Japanese, and gozzo is a dialect of gochisou meaning a feast.) The restaurant puts its importance that you will experience the food culture particular to the snow country Niigata, existing behind dishes, through delicious dishes using local ingredients.
  • Murangozzo
  • Murangozzo
Any of all the delicious dish, which you can taste only in a land called Uonuma, such as Koshihikari rice, vegetables of the season, and river fish, has been made use of the real umami of the ingredients, and you will feel sensitive and delicate works of a chef.
Also, steamed in an iron pot in a kitchen, served in a wooden container, Koshihikari rice are shiny and very delicious. It is completely understandable why so many people say the same thing as "if you wish to taste delicious rice, it must be this restaurant!".
The restaurant is definitely recommended to those who like to experience delicious dishes extracted fully real taste of ingredients, and rich food culture of snow country Niigata.
【Address】2455 Yuzawa Yuzawa town, Minami Uonuma district, Niigata prefecture
【Hours for reservation】9AM to 6PM
【Accommodation fee】Please refer to the official site for details.
【Access】Just in front of the west gate roundabout of JR Echigo Yuzawa station
【Web site】http://hatago-isen.jp/OLD/en/index.html

* Please refer to the official site for details of the restaurant “Moorangozzo”
【Web site】http://hatago-isen.jp/murangozzo

6."Kiyotsukyo gorge Tunnel", a superb view popular in SNS

Kiyotsukyo gorge Tunnel
After fully enjoyed gourmets in Niigata, please do not forget by all means to trip around superb view spots!
Firstly, I introduce to "Kiyotsukyo Gorge Tunnel".
Kiyotsukyo Gorge in Tokamachi of Niigata prefecture is the one of Japan's three big gorges, including Kurobe keikoku gorge and Osugidani gorge. It is also designated as the National natural monument.
A must-see point of Kiyotsukyo gorge is "Kiyotsukyo gorge Tunnel" that recently draws attention in SNS. At "Panorama station", which was newly established at the far end of tunnel when the renewal opening in 2018, there is a floor filled with spring water. The landscape of Kiyotsukyo gorge reflected on the water surface is definitely an instagrammable mystic superb view.

7.A superb view "Cloud in the form of fall in Shiori Toge Pass"

Shiori Toge Pass
When talking about Uonuma city, Niigata prefecture, we know that it is known as the one of the best rice production regions in Japan. Actually in a place called Shiori Toge Pass in Uonuma City, there is a once-in-a-lifetime superb view of unusual in the world, and it is called as "Taki-gumo or cloud in the form of fall".
Taki-gumo or cloud in the form of fall is a natural phenomena that large volume of clouds born become the sea of clouds and stay in the gorge of mountains, and at last go beyond mountains fall down like a waterfall. Early in the morning during summer through autumn, the sightscape can be seen when the weather condition meets, and it is said that around dawn and sunrise is the best timing to see.
As the shapes of taki-gumo are different by the weather at the time, it is indeed a-once-in-a-lifetime superb view. It is definitely a must-see mystic sightscape.
《Shiori Toge Pass》
【Address】Around Hainomata through Ginzan Daira, Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture
【Access】About 50 minutes drive by a car from “Koide Interchange” of Kanetsu Expressway
【Web site】https://niigata-kankou.or.jp/spot/10638

8.500,000 sunflowers in "Sunflower square" of Tsunan town

Sunflower square
  • Sunflower square
  • Sunflower square
Located around the prefectural border of Niigata and Nagano prefectures, there is a sunflower field where about 500 thousand sunflowers profoundly bloom all over the field. It is said that local residents have planted sunflowers in idle farmlands for the purpose of enjoying, and that was how this superb view was born. And now it became a popular sightseeing spot of Tsunan town, where about some 70 thousand tourists visit every year.
  • 津南町 ひまわり広場
  • 津南町 ひまわり広場
There made a maze in the field, and you can stroll among flourishing sunflowers. Walking among sunflowers that reach a height of an adult, you may unintentionally be crazy like a kid for searching the way back!
The sunflower square will open from late July through late August every year. For the one who plans for a Niigata trip in summer, please visit to experience this superb view of sunflowers!

9."Bijin bayashi Forest", a beech forest superb view

Bijin bayashi Forest
  • Bijin bayashi Forest
  • Bijin bayashi Forest
"Bijin bayashi Forest" is a beech forest located in a place of Matsunoyama, Tokamachi city, Niigata prefecture. As beech trees of beautiful straight posture grow thick, it became called as "Bijin bayashi Forest" among local people, and it is said that that was the origin of the name.
During early Showa period, all the trees of the mountain were cut for making charcoal, and it is said that the mountain became naked. Miraculously, however, beech trees have sprung up again and transformed to a forest where beautiful beech trees grown thick, enough to be named as "Bijin bayashi forest".
It is now a Tokamachi's pride popular sightseeing spot, where some 100 thousand tourists visit every year.

10.20 thousand fireworks at "Nagaoka festival big fireworks"

Nagaoka festival big fireworks
  • Nagaoka festival big fireworks
  • Nagaoka festival big fireworks
Held on August 2nd and 3rd every year, Nagaoka Festival Big fireworks is counted as one of three largest Japan's fireworks festivals, and the numbers of fireworks to be launched in two days are about 20 thousand fireworks! It is proudly one of the Japan's most popular fireworks festivals where more than one million tourists gather in two days to the city of Nagaoka that is about 270 thousand population.
You can fully enjoy large-scale fireworks that you cannot hardly find in other fireworks festivals, such as "Wide starmine" to be launched from five places simultaneously, and "Phoenix" appearing a light that looks like a phoenix in the center of fireworks.

11.About 4,000 "Night cherry blossoms in Takada park"

Night cherry blossoms in Takada park
  • Night cherry blossoms in Takada park
  • Night cherry blossoms in Takada park
Takada Park of Joetsu city, Niigata prefecture, is a park developed on remains of Takada jo Castle that is built during the Edo period. The park is known nationwide as a famous spot for night cherry blossoms. Because night cherry blossoms are so beautiful, the park is counted as the one of "Japan's three best night cherry blossoms", including "Ueno park" in Tokyo and "Hirosaki park" in Aomori. It is one of the best popular cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan.
"Takada Cherry Blossom Festival" held according to blooming every year is crowded with many people, who celebrate coming of spring, with more than one million tourists visiting.
At night Takada jo Castle and cherry blossoms are reflected on the surface of moat water, and such a mystic sightscape is really breathtaking beauty.

The best part of your trip is a meeting with delicious dishes, and with beautiful superb views that will make you stare unconsciously, isn't it?
Why don't you indulge yourself to the best part of your trip in Niigata, where you will enjoy superb views and rich food culture that rich nature nurtured?

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