- Located in almost the geographical center of the Japanese archipelago, Niigata offers four distinct seasons throughout the year, in spring, summer, autumn and winter. From outdoor fun in the mountains or the sea, to delicious dishes made from season seafood or vegetables, there’s something for everyone here. More and more people around the country have their eye on Niigata these days, whether for its traditional fireworks festivals or its richly individualistic local cooking. Why not come for a visit and experience the attraction of Niigata for yourself?
- The sakura, the cherry blossom, is a special flower that symbolizes springtime in Japan. All around Niigata Prefecture you will find parks planted with Somei-Yoshino or Shidarezakura weeping cherries, and when they bloom every year these parks are filled with people who come to admire the flowers.The Takada Castle Cherry Blossom Viewing for 1 Million People boasts ninety years of history. The castle contains some 4,000 trees and its gorgeous splendor attracts tourists from all around the country, making it one of Niigata’s biggest events. Some 3,000 lanterns decorate the area while the flowers are in bloom. The cherries illuminated by the lanterns together with the lit-up three-storied tower of Takada Castle seen reflecting in the waters of the moat create a fantastical sight–making this one of the three best nighttime cherry spectacles in all Japan. In the morning, enjoy the contrast between the cherry blossoms and the surrounding snowcapped mountains while at night the cherries create a dreamy beauty, enveloped in a myriad lights.
- Summer in Niigata means near-weekly fireworks festivals around the prefecture; it truly is the “kingdom of fireworks.” The coastal Kashiwazaki, riverside Nagaoka, and inland Katakai fireworks festivals are famous throughout Japan as the “Big Three Fireworks Festivals of Echigo”, and each year thousands of people come from all over the country to see them.The fireworks festival at the Gion Kashiwazaki Matsuri, held out over the water, is the largest fireworks festival along the Japan Sea coast. The festival is noted for its extensive use of the huge shakudama fireworks, with 300 huge shakudama set off in a row and 100 shakudama set off simultaneously. Star mines bursting up from the surface of the sea, or huge ones that scatter their radiance over 600 meters of the sky awe the spectators, and are not to be missed. The brilliant fireworks bursting in the night sky and their reflections in the sea surface, in perfect symmetry, are something you can only experience in the seaside city of Kashiwazaki.
- In Niigata Prefecture, which offers opportunities to experience the grandeur of nature, there are numerous places that are famous for their autumn leaves, which have been valued in Japanese culture for centuries. Yahiko Park covers an expansive 13 hectares. In it, the section known as Maple Valley is famed throughout Niigata as one of the best places to see autumn leaves in the prefecture. Maples have been planted here to make best use of the terrain, especially around the Kangetsu Bridge, so that visitors can enjoy different views depending on where they stand. The symphony between the vermilion bridge and the gorgeous deep scarlet leaves, almost like flames, offers a view as pretty as a picture, charming thousands of visitors. The illuminations at night also provide a completely different and glorious impression to that of day.
- Like the title of Yasunari Kawabata’s Nobel Prize-winning novel, Niigata is known in Japan as “Snow Country”.Every year, winter transforms Niigata into a snowy wonderland, full of excitement!Winter blesses Niigata with a beautiful snow cover-just perfect for all kinds of winter activities. Skiing and snow-boarding fans know that Niigata has many of the best hills in Japan, and countless visitors come to watch the unique events and festivals that celebrate Niigata’s snow-filled heritage every year!One leading theme in Kawabata’s novel was how the challenge of living through the long and snowy Niigata winters instilled warm and welcoming personalities in its people, and also how it endowed the region with a long record of wisdom and tradition. Many winter visitors come to experience the atmosphere often depicted in Japanese sumi-e hanging scroll paintings of the central human figure quietly passing through the hushed, beautiful mountain scenery.