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Fun Times at Niigata and Nagano


Recently, I had an awesome time uncovering some amazing experiences at Niigata and Nagano


I started my journey at Sado Island (Sadogashima), which lies off the coast of Niigata Prefecture and is the largest island in the Sea of Japan.  


Famous for its historical sites and agricultural heritage, it’s noted for its old streets, traditional culture, and ancient landscapes. But the highlight of my trip was definitely a unique ride called tarai-bune, literally “tub-turned boat.”  I first saw tarai-bune in the famous Ghibli anime, Spirited Away, and I was so thrilled to finally experience it in real life!


The tarai-bune, literally “tub-turned boat,” was featured in the movie Spirited Away.


When in Niigata, don’t miss the delicious local rice. Due to the combination of great natural resources, weather, and craftsmen, the Niigata Prefecture is able to produce a premium variety of Japonica rice called Koshihikari and high-quality sake, which have both become popular global brands. I was surprised to learn that I can sample and compare different types of rice and sake in Niigata Prefecture. It was amazing to enjoy them together with fresh local seafood!


Niigata Prefecture is renowned for producing a premium variety of Japonica rice called Koshihikari.


You must check out the renowned Ponshukan Sake Museum, which also doubles as a sake specialist store in Niigata. It offers approximately 100 types of sake from Niigata’s 90 breweries! I love this place because you only need to pay an entry fee of ¥500 to receive a sake cup and five tasting coins to sample a variety of premium sake. There’s even a ranking board that lists the most popular sake among customers. If you don’t know which sake to begin with, I suggest you start from the top of the list.


As for Nagano Prefecture, it’s home to my favorite spot on the whole trip: Lake Suwa. As the largest lake in Nagano Prefecture, it’s a fantastic place to view spectacular scenery throughout the seasons. You can see people walking, cycling, and taking part in lake activities like fishing, pleasure cruises, and duck tours (amphibious bus tours), with the lake providing a relaxing backdrop. The Lake Suwa Fireworks Festival is also another attraction at Lake Suwa during summer!


Lake Suwa is the site of a popular fireworks festival in the summer.


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