Why is Niigata rice so delicious?

An average temperature of 24.5°C, long hours of sunlight and large temperature differences between day and night are ideal for growing delicious rice.


Why is Niigatamai called “Japan’s No1”? Here’s why:

  • Highest Rice Crop Yield in all of Japan: For 28 consecutive years now, “Uonuma Koshihikari Rice” has received an A rank in the annual taste ranking.
  • Most Recognized rice brand among women living in greater Tokyo.
  • Taste the difference in Japan’s finest rice

    Here are some tips on cooking Niigata rice without a rice cooker

    stepone1.Wash the rice gently in circular motions and discard the water. Repeat thrice.
    step22.Soak the rice for at least 30 minutes.
    step33.Drain the rice for 10 to 15 minutes.
    step44.Water used when cooking should be about 1.2 times the amount of rice.
    step55.Steam for 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat and remove from fire.
    step66.Keep lid on and let rice sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
    step77.Use a rice paddle to fluff up the rice and serve!

    Deeply rooted in Japan’s food culture

    Rice cultivation has set the rhythm of life for Japanese for over 2,400 years. During this time, Japan has produced many ingenious recipes for eating rice in the most delicious ways. Today, in fact, many traditional Japanese dishes that are popular around the world are prepared using only especially delicious rice because – of course – if the rice is bad, then the sushi will also be bad! The main star of the Japanese table has always been rice, so remember to pay particular attention to the rice quality whenever you eat Japanese food.

    onigiri 6x4
    おにぎり Onigiri
    The easiest way to enjoy the taste of rice – “Japan’s soul food”.
    和定食 Wateishoku Japanese-style set menu
    A set menu of rice, miso soup and grilled fish is the ultimate combinationto experience the deep flavor of rice.
    寿司 Sushi
    To make the fresh fish taste even better, only the best rice is used. In sushi shops, rice is called “gin shari”.


    天丼・ウナ丼 Tendon, Unadon

    “Don” is used to describe a dish consisting of a bowl of rice with a topping. Eel, tempura and cutlets are some of the examples of topping that enhance rice’s flavor, and bringing it to a new level.

    Where to find Niigata rice in Tokyo

    上越の恵 田喰 TAKU 銀座店
    Joetsu no Megumi Taku Ginzaten

    Rice and fish directly from Niigata cooked by an expert chef.
    Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm (Mon. – Sat.),Dinner 5:30pm – 11pm (Mon. – Fri.) / 5:30pm – 10pm (Sat.) (Closed Sun.)
    Address: Ginza Puzzle Ginza 5F, 2-5-19, Ginza, Chuo-ku
    上越やすだ 新橋銀座口店
    Joetsu Yasuda – Shinbashi Ginza shop

    Established 120 years ago, this restaurant specializes in Niigata’s traditional food.
    joetsu yasuda 6x4
    Hours: 5:30pm – 11:30pm (Mon. – Sat.)(Closed Sun.)
    Hulic G10 Building 8F, 1-4-5 Shinbashi, Minato-ku
    つみき 神楽坂
    Tsumiki, Kagurazaka

    Restaurant serving Niigata sake and kama-meshi (kettle rice) with Uonuma Koshihikari rice.
    Hours: 5pm – 11:30pm (Mon. – Fri.)5pm – 11pm (Sat. & National holiday) (Closed Sun.)
    Rakuzan Building 3F, 4-3 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku

    馳走 紺屋
    Chisou Konya

    Recommended Japanese kaiseki meals with Niigata wagyu beef.
    Hours: 5pm – 11:30pm (Mon. – Fri.) 5pm – 11pm (Sat. & Holidays)
    Address: Clair Kagurazaka III 1F, 3-1 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku

    豪農 五十嵐邸銀座
    Gonou Igarashitei Ginza

    Rice cooked in an earthenware pot together with carefully selected ingredients and sake.
    Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 2pm, Dinner 5pm – 11:30pm (Mon – Fri.) (Closed Sat. & Sun.) Address: Kumo Building B1, 7-16-21 Ginza, Chuo-ku
    Niigata Shokurakuen

    Enjoy a lunch set with delicious rice and seasonal fish.
    niigata shokurakouen
    Hours: Lunch 11am – 2:30pm (Mon. – Fri.) 11am – 3:30pm (Sat. & Sun.)Dinner 5pm – 10pm (Mon. – Sat.) /5pm – 9:30pm (Sun. & Holidays)
    Address: 4-11-1Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

    What kind of place is Niigata?

    4 stagioni
    Just a short two hours away from Tokyo by shinkansen, Niigata sits along the coast of the Sea of Japan. Niigata prefecture is also known for its heavy snowfall, so many people visit the skiing areas. Just as they love seeing cherry blossoms in spring, Japanese love to see rice paddy fields as a symbol of the unchanging nature of their country. In Niigata, visitors can enjoy different, beautiful rice field shapes every season. The scenery of overlapping rice paddies, know as tanada, is a marvel to behold. In addition to eating, rice-producing regions also use rice to make sake. For those who want to eat fresh fish, drink superb sake and eat the best Japanese rice, Niigata is definitely the go-to place for you!

    Niigata travel guide

    must see


    Terraced rice fields of Hoshi-toge
    These overlapping paddies are also known as senmaida (千枚田), or “thousand-fold rice fields”.
    Selected as one of Japan’s 100 best rural spots, the appearance of the fields change with the growth of rice each season and is a sight to behold during sunset.

    Takada Castle
    Constructed in 1614 as the home base of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s sixth son, the area surrounding the threetiered turret is renowned as a sakura-viewing spot. During summer, lotus flowers bloom in abundance and cover the entire outer moat.


    Toki-no-mori Park
    This park is dedicated to the toki (朱鷺, Japanese Crested Ibis), which was once an integral part of Japan’s rural landscape. Here, you can learn more about the conservation efforts made by Sado Island as well as admire the ibis in its natural habitat.

    must do


    gala yuzawa

    Try out snow activities
    Known for its high snowfall, you will be spoiled for choice when picking a resort. Gala Yuzawa has 15 different runs with varying difficulty, while Naeba offers spa treatments and is also the host of the famous Fuji Rock Festival.

    Visit a sake museum
    Found inside Echigo-Yuzawa Station, visitors can try up to 100 varieties of sake at Ponshukan (ぽんしゅ館越後湯沢店). There is even a sake onsen right next door so you can soak your worries away too.


    Make your own senbei
    At Senbei Okoku (せんべい王国), you have the rare opportunity of roasting a huge 25cm wide rice cracker, and drawing on it with shōyu to make it your very own.

    must eat

    Kiwami Sushi Platter (極み寿司)
    A luxurious platter including uni (ウニ, sea urchin), ikura (いくら, salmon roe) and white fish atop warm home-grown sushi rice. Order the extravagant Kiwami Gozen set at Tomi Sushi (Niigata) to taste the best seasonal fish, which also comes with ara-jiru (あら汁, miso soup with fish) and tempura.

    Sasadango (笹団子)
    This famous treat is made of mugwort-flavoured mochi (もち, glutinous rice) and red beans wrapped in bamboo leaves.

    tare katsu

    Tare-katsu Donburi (タレカツ丼)
    Niigata’s take on the katsudon (かつ丼, deep-fried pork cutlet over rice) comes with katsu cutlets dipped in a savoury-sweet sauce.

    Wappameshi (わっぱ飯)
    A local specialty containing seasonal vegetables and seafood over seasoned rice, which is steamed and arranged in a container made from cedar wood.

    must stay
    Matsudai Shibatoge Onsen Unkai
    This inn is found 400 metres above sea level and has an exquisite outdoor bath that overlooks the mountains of the Uonuma Range and terraced rice paddies. With the right conditions, a sea of clouds form so you feel as though you are floating on them.

    tare katsu

    Kirinzan Onsen Yukitsubaki-no-Yado Furusawaya
    Opened since 1935, this ryokan faces the Agano River and the foothills of Mt.Kirin. With only 15 rooms available, you are guaranteed a serene stay with gorgeous views of the surrounding nature.

    Osado Onsen Hotel Osado
    Situated on Cape Kasuga, the open-air baths offer panoramic views of the coastline so you can sit back and relax while taking in the scenery. The meals also feature plenty of choice seasonal produce from Sado Island.

    Sasagawa Nagare – Niigata


    Breathtaking coastline with a beautiful contrast between the clear blue sea and white sand. The strange name “Sasagawa Nagare” roughly translates to “Sasagawa Flow” and is meant to express the waves brushing the coastline and flowing back between the complex rock formations like a mountain stream. You can gaze upon the rocks towering above the coastline from a leisure cruise.

    Access: Area around Kuwagawa Station (Uetsu Main Line)
    URL: http://www.sasagawanagare.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

    Discover the warmth of Japan’s No.1 rice

    Japan’s best rice
    from Niigata


    Rice is an essential part of Japanese cuisine. The rice cultivated in Japan (also known as “Japonica rice”) has a rounded, oval shape, is very sticky and features a slight sweetness. After making the effort to come all the way to Japan, don’t you want to sample the most delicious rice available? “Japan’s rice” is said to be produced in Niigata Prefecture so, for Japanese, Niigatamai (Niigata’s rice) is a very attractive brand. If you are familiar with Niigatamai, you’re already well on your way to becoming an advanced Japanese chef!


    WAttention events

    Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Niigata Prefecture

    Niigata 1~ 6

    1Dragondola (ドラゴンドラ) in Yuzawa

    First colors: Beginning of October
    Color Peak: End of October
    Details: Long gondola that gives you a panoramic view of the mountains in full fall beauty. The ropeway connects Naeba ski resort and Tashiro ski resort, so even in the winter this is a good visit. The gondola is the longest and fastest in Japan (5,5 km, 6m/s). Also visit the nearby Prince Hotel for the 1,800 yen all-you-can-eat buffet.
    Festival: October 31st (Monday) – November 1st (Tuesday). Autumn appreciation day.
    Access: 35min bus ride from Echigo-Yuzawa Station (JR Joetsu Line; Hokuetsu Express – Hokuhoku Line)
    Admission: 2,400 yen (adults) / 1,200 yen (children) for a return ticket
    Address: 202-4 Mikuni, Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun, Niigata 949-6212
    Ranking: ★★★★☆

    2Okutainai (奥胎内) in Tainai

    First colors: Middle of October
    Color Peak: End of October
    Details: This valley in the Bandai Asahi National Park is virtually untouched by human hands.
    Special sight: One of Japan’s best photo spots for crystal clear water. Nearby hut to enjoy nature.
    Access: By car: 50min from Nihon-kai Tohoku Expressway Nakajo IC
    90min from JR Uetsu Matin Line “Nakajo Station”
    Address: Okutainai-san, Shimoarasawa, Tainai-shi, 959-2816 Niigata
    Ranking: ★★★★☆

    Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Niigata Prefecture

    3Yuzawa Kogen Panorama Park (湯沢高原パノラマパーク) in Yuzawa

    A photo posted by Kazuhisa Inui (@kazuhisa_inui) on

    First colors: Middle of October
    Color Peak: End of October
    Details: During the winter this is a beautiful skiing area, but autumn is equally beautiful. Enjoy the 7min ride and observe the twisting mountains covered in colored foliage.
    Recommended Spot: Mt. Omine
    Access: 10min walk from JR Echigo-Yuzawa Station
    Address: 490 Oaza Yuzawa, Yuzawa-machi, Minami Uonuma-gun, 949-610 Niigata
    Ranking: ★★★★☆

    4Todo no Mori Water Park (杜々の森名水公園) in Nagaoka

    First colors: Middle of October
    Color Peak: End of October
    Details: Natural spring water still comes from the ground in this park. There are onsen nearby to enjoy while watching the trees turn color.
    Access: 50min by car on the Hokuriku Nakanoshima Mitsuke IC
    Address: 3996 Nishinakanomata, Nagaoka-shi, 940-0256 Niigata
    Ranking: ★★★★☆

    Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Niigata Prefecture

    5Kiyotsu Gorge (清津峡) in Tokamachi

    First colors: mid-October
    Color Peak: end of October – beginning of November
    Details: One of Japan’s three biggest gorges
    Special sight: The panoramic area with an overview of the gorge
    Access: 30min by bus from JR Echigoyuzawa, then a 25min walk
    Address: Koide, Tokamachi, 949-8433 Niigata
    Ranking: ★★★★☆

    6Yahiko Park (弥彦公園)

    First colors: Middle of October
    Color Peak: End of October until the middle of November
    Details: Best known for its shrine, Yahiko also has a big park with lush greenery. Why not combine your autumn walk with a shrine visit and mountain hike?
    Recommended Spot: Maple Valley
    Festival: Chrystanthemum Festival at Yahiko Shrine (November 1st – November 24th)
    Access: 2min walk from JR Yahiko Station
    Address: Yahiko, Yahiko-mura, Nishikanbara-gun, 959-0323 Niigata

    Ranking: ★★★★☆

    Salmon Harvest: Delicacies Abound, Niigata Prefecture

    Murakami, dubbed “the Salmon City,” has a long history of catching and processing salmon. Over the centuries, the area has accumulated hundreds of homemade recipes that range from fermented, salted and sake-marinated salmon to salmon simmered in miso broth. When preparing fi sh, the locals make sure nothing is wasted: heads, bones and entrails are used either as main ingredients for stock or grilled to the perfect texture. During New Year’s season, many households hang rows of salmon upside down from the ceiling to dry; it’s a truly unique spectacle well worth seeing!

    “Hizu Namasu” pickled salmon head with radish and salmon roe
    “Hizu Namasu” pickled salmon head with radish and salmon roe
    “Shake no Sakebitashi” sake-marinated salmon
    “Shake no Sakebitashi” sake-marinated salmon

    Summer With A Bang! – Top 3 Fireworks Festivals in Japan 2016

    Summertime in Japan isn’t complete without watermelons, shaved ice, wind chimes, mosquito coils and last but not least, fireworks of massive proportions!

    It’s a great reason to put on a summer yukata, throng the streets and look up into the night sky for an hour or two.

    Here are some of the top few heart-stopping, jaw-dropping fireworks festivals in Japan.

    The Oomagari no Hanabi All Japan Fireworks Competition
    Daisen City, Akita Prefecture

    – Japan’s No. 1 Fireworks Competition –


    With an ideal backdrop of two mountains and a riverfront, Oomagari is where top firework technicians stage their best musical fireworks show to compete for the coveted Prime Minister’s Award for fireworks. Now into its 106th year, this offers one of the widest starmine displays.

    Event information:

    No. of fireworks: 15,000 – 20,000
    No. of spectators: 80,000
    Date: August 27, 2016
    Time: Day fireworks: 5:30pm~  Night fireworks: 6:50pm~
    Access: Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Oomagari Station, 30 minutes’ walk from the station to the venue.

    Nagaoka Matsuri Great Fireworks Festival
    Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture

    – Historic Fireworks –


    The fireworks festival here has a painful past – August 1 was when Nagaoka City was practically razed to the ground during a World War II air-raid 71 years ago. These shells are launched in commemoration of the lives lost then, and a celebration of recovery.

    Event information:

    No. of fireworks: 20,000
    No. of spectators: 960,000
    Date: August 2 and 3, 2016
    Time: 7:20pm – 9:15pm
    Access:  Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to JR Nagaoka Station, and walk for 30 minutes, or take the shuttle bus from the station.


    Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival
    Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture

    – Fireworks Frenzy –


    The Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival boasts the most number of fireworks for such displays. Surrounded by mountains, the display is particularly dynamic in terms of sound. The 2km-long water starmine here is another treat for the senses.

    Event information:

    No. of fireworks: 40,000
    No. of spectators: 500,000
    Date: August 15, 2016
    Time: 7pm onwards
    Access: Take the JR Chuo Main Line to Kami Suwa Station then walk for 8 minutes from the Kami Suwako West Exit

    For more festivals in & around Tokyo: July 2016 Fireworks Festivals Schedule – In & Around Tokyo

    Ski in Japan: Top 5 Central Japan Resorts

    Within just 3 hours of Central Japan, you can find slopes to suit any ski level, not to mention a great selection of spas. Our top four picks take you high, where trees freeze into “ice monsters” and the onsens thaw you out at the highest altitude in the country. For sliding and soaking fun in the heart of Japan, start here.

    APPI Snow Resort (Iwate Prefecture)

    English Instructors: Private and group lessons available. Advanced booking needed
    Number of courses: 21

    With the mind-boggling number of courses available, this is the place to go to ski or snowboard to your heart’s content. Slope levels varying from beginner to advanced, plus meticulously manicured slopes and dry light snow makes this the ultimate skiing and snowboarding haven no matter what your level is.

    Address: 117 Appi Kogen, Hachimantai City, Iwate Prefecture
    Access: Take the JR Hanawa Line from Morioka Station, there is a free shuttle bus available between JR APPI Kogen Station and the resort buildings.
    Web: http://www.appi.co.jp/foreign_country/english/winter/index.html

    Manza Onsen Ski Resort (Gunma Prefecture)

    photo-110 - コピー
    English Instructors: Advanced booking recommended
    Number of courses: 9

    If ski and spa is your ideal combination, Manza is your most convenient choice. At a 1,800m altitude, enjoy fresh powdered snow and choose from ten relaxing onsens – the highest in Japan – at the Prince Hotel, located right on the slopes.

    万座画像 - コピー

    Address: Manza Onsen, Tsumagoi-mura, Agatsuma-gun
    Access: Take the Seibu Kogen Bus to Manza ski area from Karuizawa Station. Guests of the Manza Prince Hotel or Manza Kogen Hotel can take a free shuttle bus through advanced booking.
    Web: http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/manzaonsen

    Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort (Niigata Prefecture)

    English Instructors: Yes
    Number of courses: 17

    With a decent amount of courses, Gala Yukawa is the ideal ski resort for skiers and snowboarders of any level, and is also conveniently connected to the Shinkansen Station. Have a hot bath at hot spring SPA Gala No Yu afterwards to get the most out of this all-in-one ski facility.


    Address: Yuzawa 1039-2, Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun
    Access: Take the Joetsu Shinkansen to GALA Yuzawa Station from Tokyo Station
    Web: http://www.galaresort.jp/winter/english

    Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort (Yamagata Prefecture)

    Juhyogen Course 6
    English Instructors: Private lessons only (advanced booking needed)
    Number of courses: 12

    Soak in one of Japan’s most famous onsens after a full day of skiing amongst the awe-inspiring juhyo (ice-frosted trees) here. From December to February, the unique weather conditions create these natural wonders – often called “ice monsters” – particularly beautiful when illuminated at night.


    Address: Zao Onsen 708-1, Yamagata
    Access: A 40-min. bus ride to Zao Onsen Bus Terminal from Yamagata Station.
    Web: http://www.zao-spa.or.jp/english

    Shizukuishi Ski Resort (Iwate Prefecture)

    English Instructors: Advanced booking recommended
    Number of courses: 13

    Experienced skiers will love the challenging slopes here at Mt. Iwate, home to the FIS ski and snowboard world cup multiple times. If you’re feeling brave, glide down its longest course, which is a good 4.5km long!


    Address: Takakura Onsen, Shizukuishi-machi, Iwate-gun
    Access: A 20-min. taxi ride from Shizukuishi Station, or take the free shuttle bus to Prince Hotel Shizukuishi through advanced booking.
    Web: http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/shizukuishi