Sado, the largest island in Japan, is usually a quiet, peaceful island. But every year for the three-day Earth Celebration (EC) in August, the island transforms into a lively, international hub. Presented by world-renowned taiko drumming ensemble Kodo, EC is a music festival that brings performing art talents together from within and outside of Japan.
In summer, in central Japan, such temperatures are normal. Perhaps even more stifling than the heat, however, is the humidity. Even a simple walk to the local convenience store can leave you drenched in sweat and gasping for breath. Or, maybe I just need to work out more!
Niigata City is the biggest city in Niigata prefecture, an extremely underrated part of Japan with a mixture of the old and modern parts of Japanese history. This blend makes it a sight to behold with much to see and do. I decided to see for myself what was on offer in Niigata by taking a bus tour.
To this day the area still produces a vast number of kimono, coming in second only to Japan’s cultural hub of Kyoto. The people of Tokamachi are extremely proud of their home grown artisanship, and host a number of events in May showing their deep connection to Japan’s traditional dress.
As Niigata is one of Japan’s top producers for rice and rice wine (sake), one of the best ways to connect to the local community is of course, getting on the rice fields!
As a “theme park” for Japanese rice wine (sake), Ponshukan is located inside three major JR stations in Niigata — Niigata, Nagaoka, and Echigo Yuzawa. In each of them, you will be able to fill your heart with not only rice wine, but also rice-related products, pickled foods, and interesting take-home items.
Located in the mountains of Myoko City, southern Niigata Prefecture, Naena Waterfall provides a more-than-average waterfall experience. The drive to the waterfall is especially spectacular: you will be surrounded by dense trees and boundless rice paddies along the way.
Located at the trailhead of Mount Myoko, the highest mountain in the Hokushin area, Tsubame Onsen is surrounded by forest and gives its visitors a private bathing time with abundant nature around.
Sunsets alone along the Sea of Japan, or Nihonkai as it’s called in Japanese, make getting there well worth the effort, and the cycling and camping it offers make it more than well worth it.
The park’s roses come in packs; a big patch of red here and a big patch of white there. The petals of the roses are made up of so many layers and visitors are welcome to get close with the roses and take as many pictures as they fancy.
Easily accessible from Tokyo via the Joetsu Shinkansen, there are plenty of reasons to pay this part of the country a visit - and not just for the bucketloads of winter activities! Wondering what Niigata has to offer? Here are 15 of the best things to see and do in this part of Japan.
With an endless view of the Sea of Japan below, this spot is easily your next stop to vow for eternal love.