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Itoigawa (糸魚川市, Itoigawa-shi) is a city located in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 September 2018, the city had an estimated population of 43,192, and a population density of 58 persons per km². The total area of the city is 746.24 square kilometres (288.12 sq mi).[1]


Itoigawa City Hall
Itoigawa City Hall
Flag of Itoigawa
Official seal of Itoigawa
Location of Itoigawa in Niigata
Location of Itoigawa in Niigata
Itoigawa is located in Japan
Coordinates: 37°2′20.5″N 137°51′45.6″E / 37.039028°N 137.862667°E / 37.039028; 137.862667Coordinates: 37°2′20.5″N 137°51′45.6″E / 37.039028°N 137.862667°E / 37.039028; 137.862667
RegionChūbu (Kōshin'etsu) (Hokuriku)
 • Total746.24 km2 (288.12 sq mi)
 (September 1 2018)
 • Total43,192
 • Density58/km2 (150/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)
• TreeSiebold's beech
• FlowerLilium japonicum
• BirdCommon kingfisher
• StoneJade
Phone number025-552-1511
Address1-2-5 Ichinomiya, Itoigawa-shi, Niigata-ken 941-8501
WebsiteOfficial website
Hokuriku Expressway and Route 8 Oyashirazu coast



Itoigawa is located in the far southwestern corner of Niigata Prefecture, bordered by the Sea of Japan to the north, Nagano Prefecture to the south, and Toyama Prefecture to the west. Parts of the city are within the borders of the Chūbu-Sangaku National Park or the Myōkō-Togakushi Renzan National Park. Itoigawa is also famous for its jade which can be found on local beaches. Itoigawa also lends its name to the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line, a major fault that runs from Itoigawa, through Lake Suwa to the city of Shizuoka in Shizuoka Prefecture, forming the western border of the Fossa Magna.

Surrounding municipalitiesEdit


Itoigawa has a Humid climate (Köppen Cfa) characterized by warm, wet summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall. The average annual temperature in Itoigawa is 13.5 °C. The average annual rainfall is 2173 mm with September as the wettest month.The temperatures are highest on average in August, at around 26.2 °C, and lowest in January, at around 2.2 °C.[2]


Per Japanese census data,[3] the population of Itoigawa has declined steadily over the past 40 years.

Census Year Population
1970 67,785
1980 61,488
1990 56,803
2000 53,021
2010 47,702


The area of present-day Itoigawa was part of ancient Echigo Province. Historically, Itoigawa lies at the end of the shio no michi (salt road) that supplied salt to from the Sea of Japan to Edo via Shinano Province. During the Edo period, Itoigawa was the castle town for Itoigawa Domain. After the Meiji restoration, with the establishment of the modern municipalities system on April 1, 1889, Itoigawa became a town within Nishikubiki District, Niigata.

The modern city was created on June 1, 1954. On April 1, 2005, the towns of and Ōmi (both from Nishikubiki District) were merged into Itoigawa.

Oldest known jadeite-using cultureEdit

A great many jadeite beads and axe heads as well as the remains of jadeite workshops from the Neolithic era have been uncovered in Itoigawa. These beads and axes were traded throughout Japan and the Korean Peninsula and were produced by the world's oldest known jadeite-using culture, centered on the Itoigawa region.[4][5]


Itoigawa has a mayor-council form of government with a directly elected mayor and a unicameral city legislature of 20 members.


Commercial fishing and the production of limestone and cement are the mainstays of the local economy.


Itoigawa has seventeen public elementary schools and four public middle schools. There are three public high schools, and also two special education schools.


Local attractionsEdit

  • The entire territory of Itoigawa is "Itoigawa Global Geopark" which is a member of the Japanese Geoparks Network and Global Geoparks Network on account of its outstanding geological heritage, educational programs and projects, and promotion of geotourism.[6]
  • The city is known for its distinctive black-colored yakisoba.[7]
  • Itoigawa is also known for its unique bugaku, a variety of traditional Japanese performance art. Itoigawa Bugaku can be seen at festivals taking place at Hakusan Shrine and Amatsu Shrine, and has been nationally designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset.

National Historic SitesEdit

Notable people from ItoigawaEdit

  • The poet Ryōkan (1758-1831) writes that Itoigawa is his former village.[8]


  1. ^ "Itoigawa official statistics". Itoigawa City. 29 September 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  2. ^ Itoigawa climate data
  3. ^ Itoigawa population statistics
  4. ^ Kijima, Tsutomu. 翡翠製大珠の加工と流通 (in Japanese).
  5. ^ "International Jomon Culture Conference Bulletin 1 2004 (English version)". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  6. ^ Itoigawa Global Geopark
  7. ^ Trautlein, Steve, "The chow-down tour of Kanto's local dishes", Japan Times, 24 August 2012, p. 15
  8. ^ One Robe, One Bowl; the Zen poetry of Ryokan. transl. John Stevens. 9th Ed. John Weatherhill, Inc., Tokyo. 1988.

External linksEdit