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Secrets of Niigata in Spring

Rice, sake, soba, salmon, fascinating culture and traditions, serene countryside, intoxicating hot springs and probably Japan’s finest ski slopes fully encapsulate the incredible land that is Niigata Prefecture. In the season of Spring, Niigata comes to life from the long winter months in a full expression of colours, festivities and celebration of the land’s incredible produce. Journey in depth into one of the most underrated Spring destinations in Japan where you are invited to a quintessential exploration of what Niigata can offer.

This journey outline is by no means fixed. As the traveller takes centre stage in our planning – from the type of lodging to daily activities – your journey will be crafted to suit you.

Day by Day Highlights

Day 1
Arrive Tokyo / Niigata / Tsukioka Onsen

Arrive at Tokyo Haneda Airport where you are met and transferred to Tokyo Station. Hop onboard Joetsu Shinkansen (Shinkansen Toki) bullet train where you will enjoy a comfortable 2 hours journey in style in the Gran Class equipped with ample space, delightful meal service, beverages and even sake.

Day 2
Tsukioka Onsen (Excursion to Shibata & Murakami)

Admire the spectacular Fukushimagata Lagoon, spanning over 193 hectares and home to endangered species of animals and plants that has got it listed as one of “Japan’s 100 Greatest Natural Environments”. In Spring, witness a never-ending sea of rapeseed flowers in a blanket of vivid yellow set in contrast against the moody lagoon and marshes. Visit the award-winning Ichishima Shuzo sake brewery in Shibata, founded by one of the largest landlords in Japan, the Ichishima family, with more than 200 years of sake brewing tradition.

Journey to Murakami – The Salmon Capital of Japan and enjoy the company of a Murakami fisherman, to discover the ancestral fishing tradition known as “iguriamiryo”. Visit the Iyoboya Kaikan Salmon Museum learning about the life in Murakami and the importance of salmon. Visit Kikkawa, a traditional salmon shop with thousands of dried hanging salmon. This drying process is known as the “Sake-no-sakabitashi” where salmon is soaked in Japanese sake which are then hanged to dry and preserved for up to twelve months.

Day 3
Tsukioka Onsen / Niigata / Sado

Visit the historic and emblematic Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery, originally an inn and sake shop from the late Edo Period to the early Meiji Period. Learn about the traditional method of producing sake using cedar and bamboo tanks. Amongst its most popular sakes is the Nishikikoi Daiginjo, inspired by the classic sake-making process and the colors of a Koi fish. Board the Sado Kisen Ferry to Sado across the Sea of Japan on the 38thParallel, the imaginary dividing line between cold temperate and warm temperate plant life and home to the Earth Celebration, hosted by the renowned Kodo Taiko performing troupe.

Visit the historic Sado Kinzan Gold Mine, revealing the 400-year history of Sado’s gold and silver mines where we will journey underground to explore the mining tunnels and witness the fascinating relics. Witness the Kitazawa Flotation Plant, built as an ore beneficiation plant facility for the Sado mines which once boasted the greatest manufacturing capacity in East Asia with advance Western technology.

Day 4

Visit the Iwakubi Shoryu Rice Terrace, where we learn about the importance and quality of Koshihikari rice grown in Sado that are used in the production of sake. Experience a “tarai bune” tub boat ride steered by the skillful “Ama” lady skippers, reliving the scenes of Ghibli Studio’s “Spirited Away”. Take a walk through the charming inlet of Shukunegi, established as a port town since the prosperous 17th Century brought about by the Sado Kinzan Gold Mine, and developed as a “kitamaebune” port of call for the merchant shipping industry. Witness the stunning crowded rows of over 100 houses built with plate walls made from ship planks that earns its unique identity anywhere in Japan.

Experience a Taiko drum learning experience at the Taiko Centre where you will be led by members of the renowned taiko performing troupe, Kodo in a fun-filled and interactive experience. Optional: Visit the Obata Sake Brewery, where the world-famous Manotsuru Sake is produced.

Day 5
Sado / Niigata / Tsubame / Ojiya/ Minamiuonuma

Reembark on the Sado Kisen to Niigata. Witness the incredible cherry blossom spectacles at the foothills of Mt Kakuda where you witness one of the best Sakura spots in Niigata Prefecture.

Journey to Tsubame with a front row spectacle for the unique Tsubame Oiran Dochu Festival, where women are dressed in different gorgeous roles of Geisha and attendants through a walkway of more than 2,600 cherry blossom trees. Visit the Dainichi Koi Farm, recognized as the founder of Japanese Nishikigoi for the breeding quality of champion Japanese Koi fish.

Day 6
Minamiuonuma (The Snow Country)

Visit to the Kiyotsu Gorge, one of the three great gorges of Japan dramatized by gigantic stone cliffs straddling the Kiyotsu River that forms a unique V-shape gorge. Not to be missed is the “Tunnel of Light”, where MAD Architects renovated the last tunnel’s lookout as part of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale Festival in 2018. The tunnel is covered with stainless steel panels and the spring water on the floor reflects the gorge and the surrounding forest’s colors with the changing seasons.

Take a walk on the Hoshitoge Rice Terraces covered in remnant snow from winter andthe Gimyo Rice Terraces dazzling with reflections of cherry blossoms. Enjoy a tour of the Hakkai Jozo Uonuma Village – home to the Hakkaisan Sake Brewery and a series of beautiful buildings surrounded by the nostalgic rural setting. The Hakkaisan Snow Room allows an introspective look into its spectacular snow cellar facilities that holds 1,000 tons of snow for the unique purpose of sake ageing, resulting in snow-aged sake produced with mellow taste as well as a eco-friendly approach to maintain an indoor environment of 4 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

Day 7
Departure Minamiuonuma

Our journey comes to an end today where you may continue your onward journey in Japan or transfer to the Echigo Yuzawa Station for a train ride on the Joetsu Shinkansen Toki to Tokyo.

Let’s plan your perfect escape. To start the conversation, contact us via our interactive form or drop us an email at


Practical Information

Locations covered

Niigata-shi, Tsukioka Onsen, Shibata, Murakami, Sado, Tsubame, Ojiya, Minamiuonuma

Recommended months to travel

Mid-April (for Cherry Blossom Season & Tsubame Oiran Dochu Festival – 3rd Sunday of April)

Level of difficulty


Indicative price

SGD$8,500 - $9,500/pax based on twin-sharing, on a private basis. Excludes international flights.

As we’ll customise your journey based on your preferences and needs, please note that this indicative price is just a rough estimate. Prices can fluctuate depending on season, type of accommodation and activities/experiences chosen (private vs. shared) etc.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

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