The sake cup in the picture may look pretty shallow, but for two very special days in March, it’s as deep as the sea. That’s right, Sake no Jin is back, and on March 9th and 10th (Sat & Sun) anyone with an official cup can drown themselves in unlimited samples from nearly all 90 of Niigata’s sake breweries. Sake no Jin is the ultimate sake lover’s event, and busloads of sake drinkers come from around the nation to drink their fill.

Nakano House Museum

The spotlight this time is on the Nakano House Museum-an absolutely gorgeous place that I am surprised even NEEDS the spotlight in the first place. Not only is it a photographer’s paradise (especially in the fall), but it holds so much history and art that it is definitely worth a visit (or three).



Niigata City has a super easy to use rent-a-cycle system that is definitely worth a try!KIMG0794.JPG


Regretfully, all of the information about this system can only be found in Japanese here (until this post! ) so I will try to explain the system in such a way that it makes sense but you will need at least basic Japanese- better yet bring a friend who can speak/read Japanese if you can’t (useful Japanese phrases can be found throughout this post)


Look for the above lettering!


Niitsu Railway Museum


It was November 20th, 1897 (Meiji 30) when the first train graced the rails of the newly opened Niitsu Station. At the time, Niitsu was nothing more than a small way-station on the line connecting Nuttari and Ichinokido. But with the opening of the eastward running Gan’etsu Line and the Uetsu Honsen Line, Niitsu Station became an important crossroad for trains traveling to and from Fukushima prefecture in the east and Yamagata prefecture in the north. In time, Niitsu came to be compared with Maibara (a predominant station located in the Kansai area) as a vital railway node.

At the height of business, as many as 1 in 4 of Niitsu’s working population made their living working for the rails.

This month, the Niigata English Journal introduces the Niigata City Niitsu Railway Museum, a museum organized in honor of the bright triumph, quiet decline, and current contributions of Niitsu’s railway enterprise.



Every year on the first night of the Niigata Matsuri thousands of citizens gather to dance in what is known as the “Minyo Nagashi.” Companies, organizations, and neighborhood associations make floats and organize themselves into groups along the length of Masaya-koji, stretching across the Bandai Bridge and extending toward Niigata Station.



Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery Tour

Winter in Niigata, the land of sake, or Japanese “rice wine,” as the brew is often incorrectly termed. With over 90 sake breweries in the prefecture, and 15 located within the Niigata City limits, Niigata is not only the country’s largest per capita consumer of sake, but a well respected producer.

The bottle may be the most typical guide to the unadulterated world of sake, but the journey doesn’t need to stop there. This entry is about the Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery (est. 1767) free brewery tour, and some of what goes into the crystalline brew before it finds its way to your cup. (For details on how to participate in a tour, see the end of the post)

(A hand made glass bottle in an empty room at the Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery)