Welcome to Niigata.
In this voyage, you visit Niigata prefecture which is famous for its huge amount of snow.
To tell the truth, this heavy snow ensures clear water which makes rice more and more delicious.
That is why this area is well known for its high quality fermented food using rice oriented Koji.
Let’s touch and taste Miso, Saké, Senbei and find a true voyage to Niigata.
Below is the contents of this page.
Day 1 : Yahiko
Firstly, let’s go to Yahiko shinto shrine.
Established around 1200 years ago, it is the oldest and the most venerable shrine in the region.
As the shrine also includes sacred Mt. Yahiko which has incidentally the same height as Tokyo Sky Tree (the highest tower in the world; 634m), you can enjoy a magnificent view of Sado island (the final destination of this tour) over the Japan Sea, as well as the vast and fertile Echigo plain.
Next, let’s visit Sake brewery.
Firstly, you see the actual process of making Sake and learning its quintessence.
Then, you actually taste freshly made Sake.
Sweet or dry?
Let’s check what type is your favourite, because you will drink it out later to your heart’s content at Izakaya.
Finally, Izakaya, a Japanese style pub.
Thankfully, here you can enjoy not only Saké but also various drinks such as beer, wine, whisky, cocktails, and of course soft drinks.
Together with drinks, you can enjoy various foods, not only Japanese food but also arranged western style food.
Notably, Niigata is famous for its quality fish.
Because it faces the Japan sea and Sado island where a warm current and a cold current run together.
By the way, some Izakaya adopt special seats with a large opening underfoot called “Hori-Kotatsu”. Therefore, you can freely stretch your legs even in a Japanese style tatami room.
In addition, in winter, it also serves as a heater called Kotatsu.
Day 2 : Miso and Senbei
Today, let’s experience Miso making under the guidance of distinguished artisans.
See, touch and smell the high quality rice –Koji and soybeans.
Probably, you will feel vigorous and relaxed.
It’s exactly Miso power.
Let’s bring baby Miso as a souvenir.
After fermentation of 5-6 months (The required fermentation period is different depending on the season and the climate of your country), you can get the authentic Miso only for yourself.
Next, let’s go to a unique restaurant called “Shidashi-ya”.
Although “Shidashi” means catering, some authentic “Shidashi-ya” possess facilities more gorgeous than ordinary restaurants and offer special menu according to each request.
Therefore, let’s try many dishes using Miso.
Since Miso is a magic seasoning, it matches with various dishes not only in Japanese style but also Chinese, Korean or western, with meat, fish or vegetables. It matches even with sweets.
Rice cracker making
After lunch, we head for Niigata city to visit rice cracker (Senbei) museum where you can see rice crackers are actually made.
Firstly, let’s learn about its history and important roles it has played in Japanese food culture.
Then, we actually make them: baking, drawing pictures, flavoring etc.
Don’t forget to enjoy the fragrant aroma caused by amino-carbonyl reaction.
Undoubtedly, the finished Senbei make a memorable souvenir.
Of course, you can taste it soon after you make it.
to Sado island
Then we go to Sado island which is famous for its goldmine and pervasive influence of Noh culture.
Incidentally, Sado is the 6th largest island in Japan.
Day 3 : Sado
To tell the truth, Sado used to be an island of exile.
Especially, those high in social status such as Emperor Jyuntoku, Nichiren, a founder of a Buddhist sect and Zeami, a consummator of Noh were banished to this island for rebelling or not obeying government policies.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the government widely developed the Sado goldmine and the whole island vigorously prospered.
As a result, paddy fields were newly cultivated and forests were protected to ensure the fuels for smelting gold.
That is why the island has been proud of high level cultural standard.
Even now farmers chant Noh music while working in the fields.
You spend all day in Sado.
Please enjoy this unique place where art and daily living are closely connected. Surely, you can experience cheerful, friendly, but a little bit mysterious atmosphere surrounding the island.