Niigata

Niigata City

Niigata (新潟) is the capital of Niigata prefecture, Japan and the largest city on the Sea of Japan coast.

Understand

Niigata is a harbor city with a population of 810,000 facing the Sea of Japan. It is situated approximately 250km directly north of Tokyo, and is connected with Tokyo via the Shinkansen and an expressway. Niigata is a rice-growing region famed for the high quality of its rice and sake.

History

The Port of Niigata was established in the 16th Century, and the town prospered. In 1858, when the Japan-U.S.A. Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed, Niigata was designated as one of five ports in Japan to conduct trade with the outside world. Niigata's international port was subsequently opened in 1868. In 1889, Niigata was formally incorporated as a city.

Get in

By train

Niigata is the terminus of the Joetsu Shinkansen line to Tokyo, costing ¥10,570 each way. Most trains take a little over 2 hours, but there is one morning run which goes from Tokyo and Ōmiya nonstop in 97 minutes. The trip is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Rail Pass.

The Shinkansen is also a fast and cost-effective way to access Niigata from Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe (5 hours from Osaka and ¥22,310, with a change of trains in Tokyo). The Japan Rail Pass is valid with the exception of Nozomi trains running on the first leg to Tokyo.

From Kanazawa and Toyama there used to be a one-seat service to Niigata, but this has changed with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The fastest way to travel between these areas is to take the Shinkansen's Hakutaka (はくたか) service to Jōetsu-myōkō (上越妙高), and change to a limited express train called the Shirayuki (しらゆき) which operates five times per day. The journey from Kanazawa using this route takes around 3 hours and costs ¥10,130 each way; from Toyama, 2 hours 45 minutes and ¥9,160. If you use a Japan Rail Pass, a small surcharge of ¥450 will have to be paid for the 10km journey between Jōetsu-myōkō and Naoetsu which operates over non-JR tracks.

Trains to and from the north are fewer and farther between. The most convenient service is the Inaho (いなほ) limited express to Sakata (2 hours, ¥5,270), with about half the journeys continuing to Akita (3.5 hours, ¥7,210). Local trains also run up and down the Japan Sea coast, but only run every two hours or so toward the northern part of the prefecture. Note that these trains are routinely subject to weather-related delays and cancellations.

Another way of reaching Niigata from Tokyo is the seasonal Moonlight Echigo (ムーンライトえちご) from Shinjuku, which makes a 6-hour run leaving Tokyo at night and arriving in Niigata very early in the morning. The train costs ¥5,910 each way, but is more popular during Seishun 18 Ticket seasons when the price can be as low as ¥2,000.

By plane

Niigata Airport handles international Korea (Seoul daily on Korean Air), China (Shanghai three times weekly on China Eastern, Harbin (four times weekly on China Southern), and Guam (twice weekly on Continental). There are also frequent domestic flights from Osaka (Itami Airport) (¥25,100 one way), Sapporo (¥28,700 one way), Nagoya (Chubu Airport), Fukuoka (¥31,700 one way), and Sado.

Shuttle buses run on a regular schedule from the JR Niigata South Exit directly to airport approximately every 30 minutes (25 minutes, ¥400 one way).

By bus

Niigata Kotsu runs highway buses to Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo (5.5 hours, ¥5,250 one way), Nagoya (7.5 hours, ¥7,800 one way), Sendai (3.8 hours, ¥4,500 one way), and overnight to Osaka and Kyoto (8 hours, ¥8,450 each way), as well as to a number of other cities.

Bandai City Bus Center

Ticket office windows: 8:30AM - 7PM

Tohoku - Sendai, Yamagata, Koriyama, Aizu-Wakamatsu
Kanto - Tokyo, Takasaki
Chubu - Nagoya, Kanazawa, Nagano, Toyama
Kansai - Osaka, Kyoto

Niigata Station South Exit, Bus Terminal

Kanto - Tokyo, Yokohama, Tokyo Disney Land
Kansai - Osaka, Kyoto

By boat

Sado Kisen operates frequent services to Ryotsu on Sado Island. Rapid ferries cost ¥5,960 and cover the distance in one hour, while larger car ferries cost just ¥2,060 but take 2.5 hours.

Shin-Nihonkai Ferry(06-6348-1120) operates a daily service between Otaru and Niigata (18 hours, ¥6,200+) .Service is overnight, and private cabins are available for a higher fare (the base fare buys sleeping space on the floor).

Ferries to Vladivostok appear to be discontinued until further notice, but as of 2005 there are still regular services from Toyama.

Get around

Niigata has a bus system that is very good, but also its very easy to walk everywhere, since most of the main attractions are within walking distance of each other.

Most major sights in Niigata can be easily accessed by bicycle. Rentals are provided by the city from several locations scattered throughout and rental fees are ¥100 for the first 3 hours and ¥100 for each additional hour. If you plan on keeping the bicycle longer than 4 hours, the trick is to return the bicycle at a nearby rental outlet and check it out again before your first 3 hours are up. In this way, your rental is charged the ¥100 rate each 3 hours. The tourist information office in the Niigata train station can supply you with the necessary maps and show you the closest rental office about 5 minutes walk. The rental location can also supply you with maps that show you all the rental outlets. ID is needed to rent a bike. Be sure to check the brakes, tire pressure, and how to use the bike lock before you leave the rental outlet.

See

Do

Niigata has a wonderful shopping area. The Rainbow Tower and ocean are nearby. There is a beautiful theater, ferry rides on the river, several museums, and in winter you can watch the swans come in.

Buy

Currency exchange

You can exchange foreign currency, and sell and buy traveler's check at airport, bic hotel, local bank branches, Japan Post Bank branches and post offices.Some post offices do not provide this service. Even if they provide it, the kinds of currency that they can exchange vary between offices.

Eat

Like many areas in Japan, Niigata area is supposedly well known for its rice. Like many areas in Japan, some locals claim it's the best rice in Japan. It's known for the following specialties:

Drink

Along with hundreds of izakaya and other Japanese bars, there are a number of foreigner-run bars in the city. These include Rocks (70s-90s rock music bar), Hot Spot, Northern Lights Canadian bar, Shame and Immigrants Cafe, which also does great food at reasonable prices.

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Cope

Healthcare centres

Consulates

Go next

Niigata prefecture is an area rich in natural resources and its natural park area ranks second in the nation. Niigata-ken also has the second most bathing beaches in Japan, the third most ski resorts and the fourth most hot springs in the country.

Routes through Niigata

END  N  S  Tsubame-Sanjo Tokyo
END  N  S  Sanjo Nagano
Akita Shibata  N  S  END
END  W  E  Yasuda → Aizu-Wakamatsu Koriyama
END  N  S  Sanjo-TsubameNagaoka Toyama
Murakami Shibata  N  S  END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, September 19, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.