21/02/2022

Hot Springs, Beaches, and Snow Adventures in Niigata Prefecture!

Niigata Prefecture next to the Sea of Japan is famous not just as a hot spring getaway, but also for its shining beaches and great ski slopes. Blessed by nature, it also has beautiful scenery in designated National Parks. Don’t forget to try their local specialties as well! 


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Niigata
  2. Beautiful Beaches of Niigata
  3. Winter Sports Fun in Niigata
  4. Warming Up in Niigata's Hot Springs
  5. Access to Niigata Prefecture
  6. Takeaway

Introduction to Niigata

Niigata Prefecture is part of the Chubu Region. Facing the Sea of Japan on the mainland’s west coast, it enjoys the fruits of the ocean with the freshest seafood including lobster and prawn. Nanban Ebi
Senbei
, which is prawn senbei, is one of the best Niigata souvenirs you can give friends, family, and colleagues. Lobster miso nabe is a rich delicious hotpot dish that you should definitely try as well. 

A Famous Prefecture

Niigata Prefecture is known for many things:

  • Niigata rice which is one of the best and most famous in Japan 

  • Rice by-products like sake, senbei

  • Beautiful nature like beaches, scenic mountainscapes, paddy fields 

  • Hot spring resorts

  • Snow mountains for skiing and other winter sports

  • Local delicacies like ramen, imo mochi, soba, sea bream chazuke

  • Seafood thanks to its by-the-sea location

Beautiful Beaches of Niigata

Without further ado, let’s look at some of the best beaches to visit in Niigata.

Futatsugame Beach in Sado

Futatsugame Beach in Sado, Niigata is a beautiful beach with pristine clear waters. The beach is well known and highly rated for its beauty with 2 Michelin Green stars and ranking in the Top 100 of Japan’s beaches. For those who are up for an adventure, why not explore the famous Futatsugame rock formations?

Sasagawa Beach in Murakami 

White sands and blue waters with rocky outcroppings make up the beautiful Sasagawa Beach of Murakami, Niigata. A boat cruise is the best way to enjoy the beauty of this small beach. The sunset is especially beautiful too so make sure to catch it.

Unohama Beach in Joetsu

Unohama Beach in the Unohama onsen area is a great place to enjoy sunny beaches and relaxing hot springs in one place. Other things to enjoy in the Joetsu area are delicious sake and rice, as well as cherry blossoms in spring.

Kashiwazaki’s Beaches

Kashiwazaki City in Niigata is famous for its many beautiful beaches. A quiet town, it offers a pleasant atmosphere especially suitable for a couple’s romantic getaway. Shinto shrines on rocky seaside cliffs make for a scenic blend of nature and religion. The area is also known for kayaking, on the sea

Winter Sports Fun in Niigata

Skiing, snowboarding, sledding etc. winter sports are a great way to spend winters in Niigata. There are many ski resorts in the Echigo Yuzawa area which is best reachable from Echigo Yuzawa station. Here are some ski resorts you can consider: 

Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort

For those who want a family-friendly resort, the Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort offers a wide variety of snow activities such as skiing and snowboarding, snowmobile sleigh ride, the Kanjiki Snow Fun Tour, sledding and snow play, and even snow tubing! During the winter ski season, the Jouetsu Shinkansen extends its route to Gala Yuzawa station - the nearest access to the resort. 

Prince Snow Resorts

Prince Snow Resorts operates two ski resorts in Niigata’s Mount Naeba ski area - Kagura Ski Resort and Naeba Ski Resort. Both ski resorts are accessible and connected by Dragondola, the longest ropeway in the country. Naeba Ski Resort is recognized as a world class ski resort having been nominated many times for the World Ski Award.

Iwappara Ski Resort

Iwappara Ski Resort has ski courses great for both beginners and advanced skiers. The area where the ski resort is located has several other ski resorts too if you want to try out different slopes. 

Akakura Onsen Ski Area

A combination of onsen and skiing, you can enjoy them both at Akakura Onsen ski area. There are beginner and advanced levels of ski slopes, and even a ski school for first-timers in need of guidance. 

Warming Up in Niigata’s Hot Springs

Yutagami Hot Spring

With a long history as a hot spring resort, Yutagami Onsen is well known for its healing water that is said to cure various ailments. Another interesting fact, the hot spring water is drinkable with healthy minerals. You can also enjoy the beautiful view of Tagami Town whilst soaking.

Echigo Yuzawa Onsen

The Echigo Yuzawa Onsen area, serviced by the Joetsu Shinkansen, is a popular choice to rejuvenate and relax your muscles after a skiing trip in nearby ski resorts. There are many onsen facilities and resorts to choose from including:

Senami Onsen

Near Murakami Station, Senami Onsen is known for its super hot onsen waters. One of the best experiences is enjoying the sunset view whilst soaking in the hot spring. You can also enjoy onsen boiled eggs and freshly caught seafood. 

Access to Niigata Prefecture

There are many ways to reach Niigata; by shinkansen, local train, highway bus, flight, and car. If you’re visiting from Tokyo, the best access is by shinkansen whose route is also covered by your Japan Rail Pass.

For more about Japan Rail Pass:

An essential ticket for traveling: The Japan Rail Pass

From Tokyo to Niigata Prefecture

Take the Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station or Ueno Station to Niigata Station. If you are planning to head to Echigo Yuzawa onsen and the ski resorts in the area, the shinkansen also makes a stop at Echigo Yuzawa Station. In winter months only, the shinkansen extends its route to Gala Yuzawa Station with quick access to Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort. 

※ Enjoy Niigata, “Getting to Niigata

Takeaway

One of the finest places to visit in Chubu, with easy access via shinkansen, Niigata Prefecture is a great holiday getaway with beaches, skiing, onsen and more. Other things to enjoy in Niigata are the delicious rice, sake, and local delicacies. Plan a trip to Niigata as soon as you can.

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