Enjoy Both Nature and History! 5 Recommended Spots in Niigata
Niigata is the 5th biggest prefecture in Japan and borders the Sea of Japan. It's long and thin, so you can enjoy various kinds of scenery there. Here are some recommended spots in Niigata to check out.
1. Yahiko Shrine
This shrine in Yahiko, in the southern part of Niigata, is often called "Oyahiko-sama" and has been beloved by locals for ages. The main shrine has been recently renovated, and among the grounds there are various smaller shrines all surrounded by dense, thick trees. You can pray in solemnity here.
2. Sado Island
This is a big island floating in the Sea of Japan that has lush nature, historical ruins, hot springs, and other enjoyable spots. It was originally a penal colony, and people who came here from the cities brought that culture with them. This island is known for Noh theatre. There are many theaters throughout the island, including some where you can watch Noh for free. Many of the theaters are within shrine grounds, so you can casually enjoy them. Please check the schedules! If you want to enjoy nature, check out the swimming beach at Akagame Kazashima Nagisa Park on the eastern side of the island. You can enjoy the sight of the clear ocean water and the site of the large rock that looks like a turtle.
3. Sasagawa Flow
This is what the coast in Murakami is called. There is close to 11km of coast, and it is dotted with rocks and caves of mysterious shapes. You can gaze at the coast from the cliff, but if you really want to enjoy the area, you should take the sightseeing steamboat for 1,000 JPY (incl. tax). The ride is about 40 minutes long, and the sight of the cliff towering over the coast is impressive. Please take the trip if you visit the area.
4. Niigata Sochinju Hakusan Shrine
This shrine's true age is unknown due to it having burned down twice, but it's said to be more than 1,000 years old. It's about a 10 minute drive away from JR Niigata Station in the center of the city of Niigata. It's known for giving blessings for relationships, but actually this shrine has 18 deities enshrined in it. The verdant grounds are studded with different shrines, so why not take your time checking them all out? The adjacent Hakusan Park has a beautiful lake surrounded by flora, so why not visit them both?
5. Hoshitoge Terraced Rice Fields
Tokamachi is famous for rice production and has many rice terraces. Hoshitoge is known for the beautiful sight of 200 rice terraces lined up. There are parking lots and public toilets because it's a popular spot for visitors, but there are also rice fields that are used for production. When you visit, please mind your manners by not entering the fields used for production and taking your trash home. In the spring (when the snow melts to June) and fall (end of October to when snow begins to fall), the fields are filled with water and become water mirrors that reflect the sky and surrounding scenery to create a breathtaking sight. If you have lucky timing, you might be able to see a sea of clouds. You can take a beautiful, mystical photo!
Please fully enjoy Niigata's nature and history body and soul.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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