Immersing in Niigata, The Snow Country

Specially curated by our travel specialists, every itinerary can be customised to your needs and interests. Through our personal relationships with the local communities and businesses, we provide authentic, one-of-a-kind experiences found exclusively in the locality.

Here is a snapshot of our most beloved winter voyage 2022, Niigata Prefecture.

Whether it is a 3-day gate-away or a full week vacation, be sure to create fond memories with Michi & Co.


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Email us at info@michiandco.com or call us at +65 8218 2769

Say hi to Niigata!

Niigata Prefecture is located in the Shin’etsu (信越) part of Chubu Region (中部地方 Chūbu- chihō), and is reachable from Tokyo by bullet train. With thick snow blanketing the terrain, Niigata’s breathtaking view has become the setting of a literature masterpiece by Yasunari Kawabata – a Nobel Prize winning novelist.

Capture the beauty of Snow Country through the lenses of locals, whose wisdoms have produced food and cultures unique to the area due to its high snowfall.

 

Niigata Prefecture or so called The Snow Country (Credit: JNTO)

This deluxe itinerary includes a 3 days experience in Niigata's must see destinations. 

Day 1: Explore Bijin-bayasahi

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The name Bijin-bayasahi translates to “Forest of Beauties”. Here, slender and tall Beech trees thrive. During winter time, the landscape is covered in snow. On sunny days, wander into the forest and feel the sun’s ray touches you as it passes through thousands of trees. The glistening snow creates a picturesque scene that will last a lifetime.

Bijin Forest (Credit: Yoshiki Takashi, Instagram @yoshiki810)

Day 2: Relax and Unwind in Echigo Yuzawa

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Blessed with natural onsen (hot-spring), the town Echigo Yuzawa offers plenty of resort and ryokan (Japanese traditional inn) to choose from. Soaking in onsen is the ultimate way of warming up in the icy season. The contrast between warm bath and cold breeze is certainly an experience! 

Onsen in Echigo Yuzawa (Credit: Cheesie, Instagram @cheeserland)

Stroll around in the charming town, visit souvenir shops and and taste the various types of Japanese sake. Each prefecture offers different sake, and as such, sake has become a way of the locals to communicate their distinctive heritage. What makes Niigata's sake different though? The key is: snow. Are you intrigued? 

Another gem not to be missed is to taste Niigata’s specialty: sasa dangoSasa translates to broad-leaf bamboo, and dango is rice cake. Hence, it is a rice cake with sweet red bean filling, wrapped in bamboo leaves. The practice of wrapping can be traced back to Edo era when it was utilised as a way of preserving food.

Sake selection (Credit: Enjoy Niigata Official Travel Guide) and Sasa Dango (Credit: Taste Atlas)                                    

Day 3: Understanding Niigata’s Way of Life 

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Japanese Sake

Rooted in local life, our predecessors’ wisdoms of living in the snow have been passed on from generation to generation.

Hakkaisan Brewery is Japan’s leading sake brewery which was born in an area rich in spring water and heavy snowing. Sake in Niigata area is known to be matured in a yukimuro – an insulated facility filled with a thousand tons of snow. This technique of storing at low temperature, without electricity, has been used by the locals for centuries. It is essentially a natural and environmentally-friendly refrigerator. Within the yukimuro, temperature is stable all year round, and humidity is at approximately 90% – both are paramount in creating a round and smooth taste of sake.

Are you ready for a first-hand experience of entering the yukimoro? Will you be joining us for a sake tasting as well?

Hakkaisan Brewery (Credit: Toki & Sorakami, Instagram @sorakami_uk)

Woven Textile

Visiting Orimoto Sakaiorimono in Shiozawa Minamiuonuma City, a textile manufacturer with more than 80 years of history. The hemp and silk combining weaving in this area has been sustained for more than 1200 years. Long and wet winter are especially ideal for weaving as fabrics stay moist and thus not breaking.

Their special pattern is called Shiozawa Kasuri. The threads of Kasuri are partially dyed beforehand and when woven together, the undyed segments of the thread appear as patterns on the fabric. Shiozawa fabric itself takes more than 30 steps to be produced hence the name Shiozawa Tsumugi or “Fabric of Patience”. Only the most skilled craftsmen can yield exquisite pieces.

Commercial Street in Shiozawa Minamiuonuma City (Credit: Enjoy Niiigata Official Travel Site)
Weaving Craftsmanship (Credit: Sakai Orimono & Niigata Wagen)

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Email us at info@michiandco.com or call us at +65 8218 2769
 

Recommended Additional Activities

High Up in the Elevation

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Put on your winter gear and visit one of most famous the ski resorts in the area. Take your seat in the gondola and enjoy the ride up-up-up the mountain. Whether you are a winter sports enthusiast, a family with small children, or a newly-wed couple, everyone will be delighted to have fun in the snow. 

Many resorts are interconnected to one and each other, so skier and snowboarder can go about in their adventure to ride the snow powder. Niigata's area is specifically known for its snow powder - the fluffiest and freshest snow you can imagine. How about the rest of us who can't ride the snow? Don't worry! Sit back and sip your hot cocoa in these private transparent igloos that overlook the whole mountainous area. Be sure to take lots of pictures because the view doesn't get better than this.

 (Credit: YouTube Ishiuchi Maruyama)

Savour the Taste of Ryuzushi (Michelin Guide 2020)

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Ryuzushi is located in a rural area at the foot of Mount Hakkai, the nearest town is more than 10 kilometers away. Food connoisseurs come not only from Tokyo, but all over Japan to savour the alluring taste of Ryuzushi.

Enjoy a well-balanced mix of regional flavours, high-quality toppings, creative toppings, special ingredients, and various other elements. You can also pair the course with Niigata’s finest sake. Chef Masayuki Sato, owner of Ryuzushi, marries the freshest seasonal fish with local specialties; creating an intricate yet delicate dish. “We want you to be excited by the taste of Ryuzushi. A new taste experience that can only be tasted here.”


(Credit: Ryuzushi)

Taste the History: Yukimi Gozen

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Enjoy a hearty meal prepared by local women. Yukimi gozen means set of meal that is served only in winter.

Imagine winter before all of the advancement. Niigata region has always had heavy snowfall, and as the snow piled higher, communities were disconnected.

During this period, men had to go to big cities to earn a living because farming could not take place, thus making women the primary care-taker of the household. Women had to nurture distinctive culinary culture in order to survive the harsh season.

Ingredients for yukimi gozen are preserved food other spring vegetables which have been dried or pickled.

 (Credit: Echigo Tsumari & Japan Ski Guide)

Natural Treasure: Kiyotsu Gorge

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Kiyotsu gorge is regarded as one of Japan’s Top 3 gorges with natural columnar rocks line along the riverside. These rocks were formed after an underwater volcano erupted around 16 million years ago; and now its captivating beauty can be enjoyed through a walk inside the tunnel.

Kiyotsu Gorge existing tunnel was revitalised in 2018 by MAD Architects, one of the world’s most exciting design studios. Led by MAD’s founder, Ma Yansong, the 750-meter tunnel was transformed from an ordinary and dark passageway into a work of art that connects visitors with the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Please note that during heavy snowfall, the tunnel is closed down due to safety reason.

(Credit: Trips)

Hoshitoge Rice Terraces

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Hoshitoge’s rice fields were built on sloping ground. Composed of plots varying in size, the terraces freeze over in winter and the surroundings are covered in silvery powder. Truly an enchanting and surreal view.

There are a total of 29 farm houses, and each cultivates an area of around two hectares. These paddies are private and productive land. Therefore, it is advised to observe the area with proper manner.

Winter at Hoshitoge Rice Terraces (Credit: Niigata Prefectural Tourist Association)

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Email us at info@michiandco.com or call us at +65 8218 2769