10 Things to Do in Niigata That You Shouldn't Miss

February 27, 2018 Randal Brittian

Discover the best top things to do in Niigata, Japan including Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery, Ponshukan Niigata-station South, Befco Bakauke Observatory Room, Marinepia Nihonkai, Pia Bandai, The Old Saito Residence, Hakusan Shrine, Toki Messe, Niigata Nippo Media Ship, Hakusan Park.
Restaurants in Niigata

1. Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery

1-1 Kagamigaoka, Chuo-ku, Niigata 950-0074, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-245-0325
Excellent
66%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
3%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 100 reviews

Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery

Reviewed By semanticvision - Los Angeles, California

Imayotsukasa offers a rare chance to tour a sake production facility every step of the process. The tour was led by the brewmaster himself, however, it is in Japanese only. However, do some online research of the sake production process, it would be kind of self explanatory when you see each part of the facility. Niigata is famed for its rice production and great source of tasty water, both are factors to make great sake. The brewery is very generous in offering almost their complete lineup for guests to try, pour yourself style, which is even rare in Japan consider how much alcohol the country consumes yearly. Their high end offerings are fantastic, even the mid range and entry level sakes are excellent, great bang for the buck and excellent price at the spot. The only downside is you want to buy everything. Their sakes have great packaging, the brewery is inviting and friendly, a great place to visit and discover top notch sakes.

2. Ponshukan Niigata-station South

1-96-47 Hanazono, Chuo-ku, Niigata 950-0086, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-240-7090
Excellent
42%
Good
50%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 232 reviews

Ponshukan Niigata-station South

Reviewed By freeamac - San Jose

Even with 5 or 10 tastings, there is still an overwhelming number of choices at Ponshukan. The first mistake you can make is to randomly choose sakes to try. Unless you are very knowledgable about the brands or how the tasting scale relates to your palate, you should go by the posted top ten lists. A little off list experimentation does not hurt but after a while they will all start to taste the same, or you will pass out drunk. In either case, it is time to quit and come back another day. If you really want to dive in deep, plan for a pair of visits over two days.
A must for anyone interested in sake tasting.

3. Befco Bakauke Observatory Room

5-1 Bandaijima Chuoku | 31F Bandaijima Building, Niigata 950-0078, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-240-1511
Excellent
30%
Good
53%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 259 reviews

Befco Bakauke Observatory Room

Reviewed By Rumples - Tucson, Arizona

This Observatory room covers the top floor of the 454-foot-high tower in the Toki Messe (Niigata convention center) complex. I went here at night for a conference reception and then during the day on a solo visit and cannot decide which 360-degree view I prefer. At night, I had no sense of what sprawled below but I thought the myriad lights were magical. During the day, I could clearly see the Sea of Japan; Shinano River, the longest in Japan; water traffic; Niigata's cityscape; the countryside; and distant Mountains. Perhaps sunset would have been the winner but I never had free time to visit the room then.
There is no admission fee charged for the Observatory room and it has a designated elevator for visitors with directional signs posted in English and Japanese. During the day, I noted a long line at the top, waiting to descend. But as a guest at the Hotel Nikko Niigata, I could use the elevator for guests and was the only passenger.
A cafe is located at one end of the Observatory room with a nearby gift shop. That seems to feature mostly food-related items, such as rice crackers.
It is about a 15-minute walk to the tower from the city center. The Niigata City Loop Bus has a stop by the tower at Toki Messe.

4. Marinepia Nihonkai

5932-445 Nishifunami-cho, Chuo-ku, Niigata 951-8101, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-222-7500
Excellent
27%
Good
56%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 130 reviews

Marinepia Nihonkai

Reviewed By Rumples - Tucson, Arizona

I've been to some pretty spectacular Aquariums worldwide and never intended to spend any time at this relatively small one in Niigata. But I became extremely thirsty while riding the Niigata City Loop bus and decided to get off here, just to get something to drink. I left two hours later, totally enchanted with the presentation of some 500 varieties of marine life with thousands of specimens.
Though the aquarium focuses on the Sea of Japan, which is just outside the door, it includes other aquatic examples, such as the endangered Humboldt penguins that breed in coastal Chile and Peru. I especially liked the Sea of Japan main tank, with its sharks and schools of damselfish and sardines, and the tunnel walk, which is a popular feature in many modern Aquariums. Visitors get to walk with fish swimming behind glass above and on both sides of them.
Twenty-minute dolphin shows take place on the aquarium's upper level daily. My arrival failed to coincide with any, but I got to watch trainers working with the big water mammals. The animals gracefully jumped completely out of the water to get fed.
During my visit, I saw myriad small children accompanied by adults. The kids seemed to be enjoying looking in tanks and getting involved with interactive exhibits.I think this would definitely be a worthwhile stop for families on vacation in Niigata with children of any age.
I thought the aquarium was sparkling clean and beautifully maintained. Later, I learned that the entire complex was renovated three years ago. It has a lovely cafe, where visitors can take a break. That's where I bought the cold drink that I needed and ate delicious noodles.
An admission charge is required for entry. Those with a daily pass for the Niigata City Loop bus receive a discount. Vehicles can be left in a large free parking lot next to the complex.

5. Pia Bandai

Bandaijima, Chuo-ku, Niigata 950-0078, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-249-2560
Excellent
23%
Good
54%
Satisfactory
21%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 186 reviews

Pia Bandai

Reviewed By Rumples - Tucson, Arizona

I think this sprawling marketplace is a fun place to wander through in early morning just to see the myriad fresh fish. But I also enjoy looking at the produce, stopping in the bakery and checking out the coffee shop later in the day. A big supermarket-type store offers items, such as saki, rice and sweets. I found this to be a small market, compared to many I have visted in Asia, but it still oozes local color. Located near the ferry terminal, Pia Bandei was just a 5-minute walk from the Hotel Nikko, where I stayed.
Restaurants here also beckon with opportunities to eat inside or outside. I ate an outstanding lunch at Benkei, a conveyor-belt restaurant, where customers select dishes of sushi as the food passes by on the belt. I considered the sushi I ate at Benkei to be extraordinary in taste and freshness -- clearly in the top 5 percent of the sushi I have eaten in Japan during the past 33 years.
Pia Bandai is one of the stops on the Niigata city bus loop route. Those holding a daily bus loop pass do not receive any discounts here. But the bus map indicates that pass holders will receive a special gift at the information booth.

6. The Old Saito Residence

576 Nishi Ohatacho, Chuo-ku, Niigata 951-8104, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-210-8350
Excellent
59%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 76 reviews

The Old Saito Residence

Reviewed By BryanBaier - Nara, Japan

The Saito family founded what would become either Daishi Ginko or Hokuetsu Bank. Work kept them in Tokyo much of the year, but they spent their summers at their estate in Niigata. The Taisho-era mansion and garden were built in 1918. The house and the grounds took advantage of the sand dunes and pine Forests in the area giving the house and grounds shade from the summer heat and a windbreak from weather coming off the Sea of Japan. It also gives the garden natural elevation changes created by the dunes. The ponds, walking paths and seasonal flowers and plants present in the garden make it one of the finest and most relaxing Gardens I've visited in Japan. The tea house in the garden is perfect for enjoying a traditional tea ceremony.
The wooden construction and Taisho-era architecture of the mansion give it a warm, relaxing and luxurious feel. The halls and balconies on the first and second floors that can be opened up for an unobstructed view of the garden aroused in me the childhood imaginings of being King in a castle. One can't help but want to call the Saito Residence their own.

7. Hakusan Shrine

Ichibanboridori-cho, Chuo-ku, Niigata 951-8132, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-228-2963
Excellent
18%
Good
61%
Satisfactory
21%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 128 reviews

Hakusan Shrine

Reviewed By DAVID V - Bangkok, Thailand

Its a simple, neat, compact, predominantly wooden and quite plainly decorated but nonetheless beautiful shrine at the back of Hakusan Park. The shrine is impressive in its simplicity and seems very well visited by locals, especially during Sakura time. The stunning small formal Gardens around the shrine are equally compact, neat, and beautiful. So, all in all... very nice!

8. Toki Messe

6-1 Bandaijima Chuo-ku, Niigata 950-0078, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-246-8400
Excellent
22%
Good
46%
Satisfactory
30%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 194 reviews

Toki Messe

Reviewed By Rumples - Tucson, Arizona

Sleek, modern Toki Messe offers convention facilities and is part of a complex that has become a landmark in Niigata since opening in 2003 at the mouth of the Shinano River. Architecturally, it is the horizontal part of a giant "L," with a 34-story tower forming the vertical portion. We spent six days here, attending a conference, which was well served by good-sized meeting rooms in pristine condition and a beautiful location. A long, wide corridor runs the length of the complex with a wall of windows that looks out on the water. Doors here allow easy access to the waterside setting. I sometimes sat at one of the many tables along this wall, enjoying the view and natural illumination.
We stayed at the Hotel Nikko Niigata, which is within the tower. Its reception area is on the third floor with rooms located on the 22nd through 29th floors. This building also holds offices and the Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum. I found the tower's piece de resistance to be the observation room on the top floor, which is open to the public with no admission charge. Both day and night views of the city, river, Sea of Japan and surrounding area are worth seeing, but I thought the night scene was especially stunning because of the sparkling lights.
The complex holds both casual eateries and upscale restaurants. For those who want a more authentic local dining experience, the closest possibilities can be found at sprawling Pia Bandal market, a 5-minute walk away. I highly recommend Benkei Niigata, a conveyor-belt restaurant, for its superb sushi and fun atmosphere.
Initially, I thought we would be isolated at Toki Messe, because it is away from the town center. But I quickly learned that it is only a 15-to-20 minute walk to the railway station and that the hotel offers a regularly scheduled shuttle to and from Downtown for guests. A water shuttle docks at Toki Messe and it is one of the stops for the Niigata City Loop bus.

9. Niigata Nippo Media Ship

3-1-1 Mandai, Chuo-ku, Niigata 950-8535, Niigata Prefecture +81 25-385-7447
Excellent
30%
Good
47%
Satisfactory
22%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 108 reviews

Niigata Nippo Media Ship

Reviewed By mat_mak - Tokyo Prefecture, Japan

This is the headquarters of the newspaper company in Niigata prefecture, with conference rooms, exhibition rooms, event spaces and an observation room. The observation room is admission free. From the observation room I saw the Panorama of Niigata City, Sea of Japan and Sado Island.

10. Hakusan Park

1-2 Ichibanboridori-cho, Chuo-ku, Niigata 951-8132, Niigata Prefecture
Excellent
32%
Good
53%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 76 reviews

Hakusan Park

Reviewed By BryanBaier - Nara, Japan

Nestled right next to Niigata's busy Furumachi shopping district, Hakusan Park offers residents and visitors a chance to slow down, go for a stroll, or sit down and enjoy the scenery. The sakura fill Hakusan Park with pink flowers in April and food vendors set up their stalls making everything from games to food available to park goers. It's one of the most popular places for hanami in the city. During the fall, the sakura leaves turn orange, the ginko trees to yellow, and a collection of maple trees near one of the ponds turn to red. Few places can match this explosion of autumn fire.
During the summer, the ponds fill with the umbrella sized leaves and soccer ball sized pink hadzu flowers. During the winter snow supports are installed to prevent many of the trees and bushes from collapsing under the weight of snow. Made of wooden posts and ropes, the snow supports look like some form of post modern pyramid. This casual observer did not realize their purpose at first and thought them some piece of artwork. Hakusan Park is a garden for all seasons.

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