The Lure of Niigata Prefecture and the Shonai Area

ATT.JAPAN × JapanUp! magazine

September 2021 (vol. 167)

Great cuisine and great sake are the draws of Niigata Prefecture and the Shonai area of Yamagata Prefecture. Why not explore the rich food culture and the history that cultivated that culture?

The secret behind their delectable taste

Rice

As the nation’s foremost rice grower, the area takes pride in its tradition of producing quality rice. Enjoy comparing the flavors of the different growers.

Sake

As the nation’s foremost rice grower, the area takes pride in its tradition of producing quality rice. Enjoy comparing the flavors of the different growers.

“Nishikigoi” by Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery

Soba Culture and Noodle Culture

The Niigata and Shonai areas are well known for their delicious soba and ramen noodles, which are deeply rooted in their history, climate and cultures.

Hegi-soba is a Niigata specialty. Al dente and smooth, the noodles are substantially filling.
Hegi-soba is a Niigata specialty. Al dente and smooth, the noodles are substantially filling.


A foodie traveler’s dream, click here for more gourmet information.

SAKE TRIP

The panoramic windows of the sightseeing train, “Echigo TOKImeki Resort SETSUGEKKA,” look out to the mountains and ocean at the same time.

(Route: Joetsu-Myoko Sta. on the Myoko Haneuma Line (via Myoko-Kogen) – Itoigawa Sta. on the Nihonkai Hisui Line)“Koshino Shu*Kura” is a sake-themed train with a tasting corner devoted to local Niigata sake (charged).

“KAIRI” is a new type of tourist train which offers local Niigata and Shonai dishes amid unfolding scenes of the Japan Sea. (Service begins in October between Niigata and Sakata)

Ride on the “Echigo TOKImeki Resort SETSUGEKKA”!

Ponshukan Echigo Yuzawa Station Shop

This tasting shop offers almost 100 varieties of local sake. Fill your cup from the innovative vending machines! (5 cups for 500 yen)

Access:  Inside Echigo-Yuzawa Sta.

Sake Bar Ayatsuru at Tsuruoka Food Culture Market FOODEVER

Explore Tsuruoka, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, and discover the taste of the 18 varieties of sake from the Shonai region.

Access:  Tsuruoka Sta. → 2 min on foot

ACTIVITIES

Sado City: Tarai-bune Boat Ride

Tarai-bune, wooden washtub boats, were devised to collect seaweed, abalone, and turban shells from the rocky and narrow coves along the Ogi coast. These boats are safe enough for novices to steer. 

*Prices vary depending on boat operators.

Jiko-ji Temple in Gosen City

The temple serves shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine), including sesame tofu with gingko nuts and a clear soup with lotus root dumplings. Visitors can try zazen (zen meditation) and shakyo (hand-copying of sutras) before the meal.

Access:  Gosen Sta. on the Ban-etsu West Line → 10 min by bus → old Muramatsu Sta. → 15 min by taxi

In Tsuruoka City, Yamagata, walk along the cedar-lined path of Mt. Haguro in pilgrim’s robes

Stroll around in the traditional white garb of an ascetic and absorb the power of nature. Clothing rental, 5,000 yen per person (tax included).

Access:  Tsuruoka Sta. → 50 min by bus → Mt. Haguro-sancho (peak)

ART

Kiyotsu Gorge

One of the three major gorges in Japan. Pieces of art are displayed inside the walking tunnel that runs alongside the gorge. At Panoramic Station, the last viewpoint, the walk culminates into a mesmerizing reflection of the gorge on water surface. The best season for viewing the autumn foliage is from the end of October to early November.

Access:  Echigo-Yuzawa Sta. → 25 min by express bus bound for Morimiyanohara → Kiyotsu Gorge Entrance bus stop → 30 min on foot

Gift for Frozen Village / Echigo Tsumari Art Field

The multi colors of the “Snow fireworks” light up the night sky while dotting their glows on the snow white fields below. Access:  Tokamachi Sta.

I went to see the snow fireworks!

https://att-japan.net/en/archives/7284

I visited Kiyotsu Gorge!

https://att-japan.net/en/archives/7305

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