Visit Niigata Japan: Rice Paddies, Toki Birds and Noh Experience

Niigata Presents Experiences Quite Different From Other Parts of Japan.

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Whether you are interested in nature, or the arts, Niigata offers a wide variety of things to see and do. With the Japan sea to the west and mountains to the east, north and south, the beauty of Niigata presents experiences quite different other parts of Japan.

If interested in the tastes of Japan, one must take time to savor Koshihikari rice from Niigata. The prefecture is a major producer of rice well-known for its purity and flavor. Besides being a meal staple, this rice is also used to make sake, Japanese rice wine, and senbei, or Japanese rice crackers. Sake sommeliers relish the distinct high quality sakes made from Niigata rice.

One of the classic images many have of Japan is the terraced rice paddies on green hills and many such gorgeous views can be seen throughout Niigata. Terraced rice farming methods were originally designed by those with limited flat land in order to increase production. The multi-layered farms go on for many kilometers. Those interested in taking in such wondrous views under different conditions, are advised to see them in the afternoon sunshine and morning fog to appreciate the full beauty of this exquisite, rural landscape.

Sado Island Offers Visitors a Noh Experience

Sado Island is located in the western part of the prefecture and offers experiences limited to the island. The two main forms of traditional Japanese theatre in Japan, kabuki and Noh, each offer a different yet rich experience and Noh is well integrated into daily life on Sado. Close to a one-third of all Noh stages in Japan are located in Niigata, mostly in Sado. Noh is very stylized and performances are formed around songs and movements which are very slow and concentrated. Noh is performed by actors wearing elaborate, heavy costumes and masks. All performances take place on simple stage in front of a wall with a painted image of a Japanese pine.

On Sado Island puppet theatre also has a rich cultural history. Puppeteers perform with elaborately clothed puppets which are close to human size. Like Noh and kabuki, all roles are performed by men and storylines often revolve myths, ancient stories and sometimes recent events. A theater performance is an integral part of any visit to Sado Island in Niigata.

Access Niigata via the Joetsu Shinkansen

A visit to the Toki-no-mori Park and Toki Preservation Center on Sado is advised for anyone interested in wildlife and nature preservation. Toki, the Japanese crested ibis, are an endangered bird species which were nearly wiped out due to overhunting and rapid development in the 20th century. Since the 1960’s these elegant creatures have been protected and the Japanese government has attempted to bring back the species through controlled breeding. At the center, visitors can find an exhibit hall and observation deck where to view these delicate creatures in their natural habitat.

Niigata is easily accessed from Tokyo by Joetsu Shinkansen and from there one can make it to other areas in Niigata. The Sado Tourism Association website has information on access options to Sado Island: www.visitsado.com/en/

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