Nishikan Ward is more than just the Wara Art sculptures-we have beautiful rice field landscapes, hot springs, mountains, and the sea. We will take you on a tour where a local guide will show of the various charms of Nishikan Ward. Not only is this an easy route to follow but you also get to enjoy the facts that only a local guide would know.
1. JR Maki Station
The tour starts at Maki Station which is easy to get to from Niigata Station. This cozy station is not just the hub for this tour but also for the locals, especially students as they go to and from school. In the waiting lounge of the station you will see Taiguruma, fish shaped paper lantern carts. This unique cultural aspect of Maki is sprinkled throughout the area. How many can you spot?
Maki Shopping Street
Maki's quaint shopping street is a straight shot from Maki Station. This half residential area is sprinkled with shrines, stores, and shops with local dishes like the taiguruma shaped taiyaki and "Karina" fried noodles with curry sauce.
2. Uwasekigata Park
This park is a place that can be enjoyed year-round: sakura bloom in the spring, the summer brings sunflowers, and in autumn the cosmos flowers paint the landscape pink and red. This park is also the location of the Wara Art Festival which runs from summer through fall.
Taibow! Coffee & Gelato Soft
Located right next to Uwasekigata Park, this elegant café prides itself on its specialty coffee, gelato, and soft-serve ice cream. All menu items can be ordered to go so you can enjoy them in the park.
Located a 15 minute walk from Uwasekigata Park, the vast majority of the Sasaiwai sake that is made here is consumed by locals, making it one of the area's most well-kept secrets. They do sake tastings after the brewery tour and in their shop you can buy sake kasu (sake lees) gelato that is non-alcoholic so even children can enjoy it.
3. Cave d'Occi Winery
Mt. Kakuda stretches out in front of the vineyard that is bathed in an ocean breeze. On the property are restaurants, cafés, shops, and hot springs, allowing for maximum indulgence. This region is known as the "Niigata wine coast" and including Cave d'Occi there are five independent wineries.
Located 10 minutes from Cave d'Occi Winery, this lively, oceanside community is a somewhere you can do things at your pace. You can enjoy a variety of activities such as visiting the Melhen Glass Art Museum or trying your hand at a natural dye workshop. During the spring and fall, events are held that allow you to tour around the community. Another 10 minute walk from Echizenhama is the swimming beach which gives the community its name.
4. Kakuda Beach
A prime spot for swimming, camping, and kicking off your hike up Mt. Kakuda's "Lighthouse Course."
Kakuda Misaki Lighthouse
Watching over Kakuda Beach, this lighthouse was designated as a "Lighthouse for Lovers" in 2018. The sights of the Sea of Japan coastline, the sunsets, and Sado Island across the sea are unforgettable.
Looking out over Kakuda Beach, this café only serves dishes that use locally-grown, seasonal ingredients and no preservatives. After you enjoy a sandwich and dessert, take a romantic photo with the lighthouse in the background.
5. Jonnobi-kan Bathhouse
Come here to bathe in the waters of the Fukuju "luck and longevity" hot springs. The architecture of the bathing areas mixes traditional and modern styles and the outdoor baths, surrounded in greenery, are a must see. They also serve an abundance of delicious menu items. This bathhouse is located near the entrance to one of the Mt. Kakuda hiking routes so you can take a well-deserved soak after you finish a long hike.
Fireflies in the Fukui Area
Near Jonnobi-kan bathhouse is an area called Fukui which is famous for its fireflies. It also has the Hotaru no Sato Park or "Home of the Fireflies Park" that has a clear stream running through it. Most fireflies here are "genji-botaru" fireflies that start coming out in mid-June and peak a week later. The best days to see the fireflies are those when it rains in the morning with clear skies from the afternoon.
A hub of tourism and local goods, they are your guide to the Iwamuro hot springs area which has three centuries of history. Here, you can enjoy lunch at the cozy restaurant and dip your toes in the foot baths. Iwamuroya acts as a pick up location for both the Niigata West Cost Liner. (airport rideshare taxi)
The Inns of Iwamuro Hot Springs
From 60 room hotels to tiny five room inns, from luxury estates from the Edo Period to simple lodgings, this area has the means to meet the needs of any traveler.
Iwamuro Slow Hostel
Just a five minute walk from Iwamuroya, this hostel was created on the concept of "slow travels" and has dormitory-style lodging and various sizes of private rooms.
Yu no Sato Park
Located a quick two minute walk from Iwamuro Slow Hostel, this park has a pond with many koi fish, and if you are lucky you could see water fowl close by.
7. Dairo no Yu Bathhouse
Bathe in the waters of the Taho "many treasures" hot spring. Rare amongst bathhouses, they have baths that are fed from three different parts of the hot spring. At the restaurant inside they use organic produce grown on their farm.
Osugi Rose Garden
Located just a two minute walk from Dairo no Yu, 1,350 roses of 660 varieties are grown here and can be enjoyed from the end of May into November.
Located a three minute walk from Dairo no Yu, this temple is a nationally registered important cultural property that was established in 1446. They regularly hold events where you can refresh your mind and body through Zazen meditation and Shojin Ryori, the traditional vegetarian cuisine of the monks.
8. Takarayama Brewery
Established 130 years ago, this brewery continues to make sake the old-fashioned way. Participate in a free tour and sake tasting led by the powerhouse of a woman who is the face of the brewery. If you cannot or do not drink alcohol, do not worry: there will also be non-alcoholic amazake for you to try.
Located a five minute walk from Takarayama Brewery, this temple boasts a 1,300 year long rich history.
Located a 12 minute walk from Seiryu-ji Temple, this shrine is on a holy mountain. From the moment you begin walking the path to the shrine, you are engulfed in an awe-inspiring atmosphere.
This gelato shop is run by Niigata's premiere dairy farm, Fujita Farm. Each day they have 15 of their 100 flavors of gelato for you to enjoy, made from their fresh milk that is pasteurized at low temperatures to preserve the rich flavor.
This steak restaurant, located next door to Regalo is also run by Fujita Farm which was one of Niigata's first farms to open a restaurant on farm property. They serve Fujita Farm beef that was raised on Niigata rice, as well as locally grown vegetables, Fujita Farm milk, and gelato and ice cream from Regalo.