Around the City in One Day – Niigata City Bus Tour
Niigata City is the biggest city in Niigata prefecture. The city is bordered by the Sea of Japan and is an exciting place to visit. 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.
It is accessible by rail (Shinkansen), by air (Niigata Airport), and by road. Travelers first stop will be Niigata Station. Once there, they will find plenty of tour information available at the tourist information desk in a variety of languages including English and Russian. The part I went on was the Niigata City loop bus ride for an all day pass of 500 yen that includes free Wi-fi. The ticket is purchased at the bus stand and there are helpful staff to guide how to go about using the ticket and explain what bus to board.
The tour bus leaves the train station and goes through the major axis of the town, you will also be in awe riding through the city enjoying the scenes of the city from the bus, its first stop is at Bandai City.
Bandai City one of the biggest commercial hubs of Niigata; a great place to go shopping. The holiday seasons are a good time to go as there are huge discounts on offer.
The next stop is one of my favorite sightseeing spots in Niigata, it is the Shinano River water shuttle depot. The Shinano River is the longest and widest river in Japan. You get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Niigata while riding on the water shuttle down the river. The cruise can also be chartered for sightseeing, excursions, weddings and grill parties.
The next stop is at the Hakusan Shrine which is the biggest and most visited shrine in Niigata, the temple is an architectural masterpiece with beautiful and spacious green gardens.
The bus rides continue through to one of the most popular spots, The Niigata City Aquarium.
Niigata City Aquarium
The Niigata City Aquarium "Marinepia Nihonkai". It is situated close to the Sea of Japan on the west coast of the city. If you ride the city tour bus, you get an entrance ticket discount upon showing the bus pass at the aquarium.
The Niigata City Aquarium is home to a diverse species of marine life, with about 200,000 species of marine life on display. It is home to sea life ranging from numerous species of fish, sea plants, otters, jellyfish, penguins, dolphins, etc.
The highlight event at the aquarium was the dolphin show. It involves the dolphins dancing in synchronizing movements for the public. It is a great sight to behold. There are also shows involving penguins. The aquarium's operational daily hours are from 9:00 – 17:00 daily. You can find the video of the dolphins at their very best here.
There are also penguin and seal shows. It is very interesting to see wild animals obey humans and perform a synchronized show. I recommend you to definitely visit the aquarium.
The Gokoku Shrine
The Gokoku Shrine is close to the Niigata Aquarium, it is a beautiful place of serene beauty with vast greenery. It is a shrine for relaxation and spirituality. You get to also practice the Ema writing and wish for your prayers to be granted.
The Tallest Building in Niigata
The Toki Messe is the tallest building in Niigata. It is located at the mouth of Shinano River, in the heart of Niigata City, Toki Messe opened in 2003. The facility integrates an exhibition hall, can capacitate more than 10,000 people, 13 large sized and medium sized conference rooms, a hotel, and the Niigata Bandajimma Art Museum.
The next stop on the bus is the Pia Bandai Fish Market. Conveniently located on the way to the Sado Kisen ferry terminal, Pia Bandai is the popular Niigata Fish Market and souvenir shops that stock agricultural produce and various manufactured products, as well as a BBQ zone that houses various eateries and sushi restaurants, opened daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
The bus has at this stage gone through a loop round Niigata City and returns to the train station from where all the adventure began. There is something for everyone at Niigata. If you ever think of traveling towards north of Japan, please do visit Niigata.