Niigata Prefecture

Coordinates: 37°37′N 138°52′E / 37.617°N 138.867°E / 37.617; 138.867

Niigata Prefecture (新潟県, Niigata-ken) is a prefecture in the Chūbu region of Honshu of Japan.[1] Niigata Prefecture has a population of 2,227,496 (1 July 2019) and is the fifth-largest prefecture of Japan by geographic area at 12,584.18 km2 (4,858.78 sq mi). Niigata Prefecture borders Toyama Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture to the southwest, Gunma Prefecture to the south, Fukushima Prefecture to the east, and Yamagata Prefecture to the northeast.

Niigata Prefecture
Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese新潟県
 • RōmajiNiigata-ken
Flag of Niigata Prefecture
Official logo of Niigata Prefecture
Anthem: Niigata Prefecture's Piano Concerta No. 2
Location of Niigata Prefecture
Country Japan
RegionChūbu (Kōshinetsu) (Hokuriku)
SubdivisionsDistricts: 9, Municipalities: 30
 • GovernorHideyo Hanazumi
 • Total12,584.18 km2 (4,858.78 sq mi)
 • Rank5th
 (July 1, 2019)
 • Total2,227,496
 • Rank14th
 • Density180/km2 (460/sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeJP-15
BirdCrested ibis (Nipponia nippon)
FlowerTulip (Tulipa gesneriana)
TreeCamellia (Camellia japonica)

Niigata is the capital and largest city of Niigata Prefecture, with other major cities including Nagaoka, Jōetsu, and Sanjō.[2] Niigata Prefecture contains the Niigata Major Metropolitan Area centered on Niigata with a population of 1,395,612, the largest metropolitan area on the Sea of Japan coast and the twelfth-largest in Japan. Niigata Prefecture is part of the historic Hokuriku region and features Sado Island, the sixth largest island of Japan in area following the four main islands and Okinawa Island.


Rinsenji Temple, the family temple of Uesugi

Until after the Meiji Restoration, the area that is now Niigata Prefecture was divided into Echigo Province (on the mainland) and Sado Province.[3] During the Sengoku period, the Nagao clan, who were at times vassals to the Uesugi, ruled a fief in the western part of modern Niigata from Kasugayama Castle. The most notable member of the Nagao clan was Nagao Kagetora, later and better known as Uesugi Kenshin. He unified the leaders of Echigo Province and became its sole ruler. By taking the surname Uesugi, he also became the head of the Uesugi clan and effectively brought their realm under his control.

The city of Niigata is now the third largest Japanese city facing the Sea of Japan, after Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. It was the first Japanese port on the Sea of Japan to be opened to foreign trade following the opening of Japan by Matthew Perry. It has since played an important role in trade with Russia and Korea. A freighter from North Korea visits Niigata once a month, in one of the few forms of direct contact between Japan and that country.

The Etsuzankai organization, led by the politician Kakuei Tanaka, was highly influential in bringing infrastructure improvements to Niigata Prefecture in the 1960s and 1970s. These included the Jōetsu Shinkansen high-speed rail line and the Kanetsu Expressway to Tokyo.

On October 23, 2004, the Chūetsu earthquake struck Niigata Prefecture and was measured at Shindo 6+ at Ojiya.

On January 9, 2006, a heavy winter storm struck the prefecture and its neighbors. At least 71 people died and more than 1,000 were injured. Also in 2006, a massive tsunami and earthquake damaged homes and caused casualties in the maritime areas of Niigata Prefecture, especially near Sado Island.

On July 16, 2007, another earthquake hit the area.

Niigata Prefecture hosts the Fuji Rock Festival, an annual event held at the Naeba ski resort. The three-day event, organized by Smash Japan, features more than 200 Japanese and international musicians. It is one of the largest outdoor music events in Japan, with more than 100,000 people attending in 2005.


Map of Niigata Prefecture
     Government Ordinance Designated City      City      Town      Village
Niigata Prefecture in winter from the sky
Ten-Ken cliff of Oya-Shirazu, Itoigawa

Niigata Prefecture stretches about 240 km (149 mi) along the Sea of Japan, from the southwest to the northeast, with a coastal plain between the mountains and the sea. It also includes Sado Island. Niigata Prefecture could be placed in either the Hokuriku or the Kōshinetsu, both of which are considered parts of the Chūbu region. The prefecture is generally divided into four geographical areas: Jōetsu region (上越) in the south, Chūetsu (中越) in the center, Kaetsu (下越) in the north, and Sado Island. The mouth of the Shinano River, the longest river in Japan, is located in Niigata Prefecture.

As of 1 April 2014, 25% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely Bandai-Asahi, Chūbu-Sangaku, Nikkō, and Oze National Parks; Echigo Sanzan-Tadami and Sado-Yahiko-Yoneyama Quasi-National Parks; and thirteen Prefectural Natural Parks.[4]


Twenty cities are located in Niigata Prefecture:

Name Area (km2) Population Map
Rōmaji Kanji
  Agano 阿賀野市 192.74 41,204  
  Gosen 五泉市 351.91 48,458  
  Itoigawa 糸魚川市 746.24 41,333  
  Jōetsu 上越市 973.81 189,430  
  Kamo 加茂市 133.72 25,971  
  Kashiwazaki 柏崎市 442.03 81,836  
  Minamiuonuma 南魚沼市 584.55 55,354  
  Mitsuke 見附市 77.91 39,908  
  Murakami 村上市 1,174.26 58,300  
  Myōkō 妙高市 445.63 31,374  
  Nagaoka 長岡市 891.06 266,539  
  Niigata (capital) 新潟市 726.45 797,591  
  Ojiya 小千谷市 155.19 34,704  
  Sado 佐渡市 855.26 55,474  
  Sanjō 三条市 431.97 95,706  
  Shibata 新発田市 533.1 96,236  
  Tainai 胎内市 264.89 28,495  
  Tōkamachi 十日町市 590.39 53,333  
  Tsubame 燕市 110.96 77,382  
  Uonuma 魚沼市 946.76 35,027  

Towns and villagesEdit

These are the towns and villages in each district:

Name Area (km2) Population District Type Map
Rōmaji Kanji
  Aga 阿賀町 952.89 10,386 Higashikanbara District Town  
  Awashimaura 粟島浦村 9.78 353 Iwafune District Village  
  Izumozaki 出雲崎町 44.38 4,190 Santō District Town  
  Kariwa 刈羽村 26.27 4,578 Kariwa District Village  
  Seirō 聖籠町 37.58 14,025 Kitakanbara District Town  
  Sekikawa 関川村 299.61 5,291 Iwafune District Village  
  Tagami 田上町 31.71 11,481 Minamikanbara District Town  
  Tsunan 津南町 170.21 9,349 Nakauonuma District Town  
  Yahiko 弥彦村 25.17 7,824 Nishikanbara District Village  
  Yuzawa 湯沢町 357.29 7,926 Nishikanbara District Town  


List of Governor of Niigata Prefecture (from 1947)Edit


Agriculture, forestry and fishingEdit

Paddy fields in Minamiuonuma

The major industry in Niigata Prefecture is agriculture. Rice is the principal product, and among the prefectures of Japan Niigata is second only to Hokkaidō in rice output. The area around Uonuma is known for producing the Koshihikari variety, widely considered to be the highest-quality rice produced in Japan.

Rice-related industries are also very important to the prefectural economy. Niigata Prefecture is known throughout Japan for its high-quality sake, senbei, mochi, and arare. In sake production, the prefecture comes third after Gunma and Kyoto prefectures.

The prefecture was also the place of origin of the ornamental carp known as koi.

Niigata Prefecture produces the highest volume of azaleas and cut lilies in Japan, and is increasing the production of cut flowers and flower bulbs. Along with Toyama Prefecture, it produces the highest volume of tulips in the country.

Mining and manufacturingEdit

Ruins of Kitazawa Flotation Plant, Sado gold mine

Crude oil is produced in Niigata Prefecture, although Japan relies heavily on petroleum imported from other countries. Kerosene heaters are also produced for use in the cold Niigata winters.

Kinzan, on Sado Island, was an active gold mine until it was closed in 1989.

Sanjō and Tsubame produce 90 percent of all the silverware made in Japan. The two cities are second after Osaka in the production of scissors, kitchen knives, and wrenches.

Niigata Prefecture may have been the first area in Japan to produce knitted textiles, although the earliest products may have been imported from China. A nuclear power plant, which formerly had the highest energy output in the world,[citation needed] is located in the tiny village of Kariwa. It has been closed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.[5]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.

In the Census of 2003, Niigata ranked as the 14th most populous.


Niigata Geishas



Niigata is known for the following regional specialities:

Niigata in popular cultureEdit

  • Snow Country (1947): a novel by Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata set in Yuzawa
  • "Niigata Snow": a track on the LP Aida, released by Derek Bailey in 1980
  • Kura: a film and TV series (1995) based on the 1993 book by Tomiko Miyao, an award-winning period piece about a Niigata family and its sake brewery
  • Blue (1996): a manga about high school girls, set in Niigata City, adapted as a film in 2001
  • Whiteout: an action film based on a novel published in 1995
  • United States of Tara (2011): a comedy-drama series on Showtime; Kate is about to embark on a trip to teach English in Niigata when a flight attendant tells her that the only thing she will hopefully find in Niigata is "a life lesson and a bullet train back to Tokyo."

Tourism and sportsEdit

Much of the tourism in Niigata centers around skiing, especially in the alpine areas of Myōkō and Yuzawa, and going to onsen. Sado Island off the west coast of Niigata is accessible via ferry (taking one to two and a half hours) from Naoetsu or Niigata City.

Professional sports clubs include Albirex Niigata, a J-League Division 1 Football Club, and Niigata Albirex BB, a BJ (Basketball Japan) League team.


Nagaoka Festival (with fireworks)
Night cherry blossoms and Takada castle
  • Tokamachi Snow Festival- February
  • Murakami Taisai – July 6–7
  • Iwafune Taisai – October 18–19, in Murakami
  • Niigata Festival – August
  • Niigata General Dancing Event -September 21–25
  • Shirone Kite Festival – June
  • Sanjo Kite Festival – June
  • Nagaoka Festival (with fireworks) – August
  • Niigata Tanrei Sake-no-Jin - March
  • Echigo-Tsumari Festival - August and September (every third year)[7]



Transport Map of Niigata Prefecture Red = Expressway, Green=Shinkansen, Black= Railway





National highwaysEdit


  • Niigata Port – Ferry route to Sado Island (Ryotsu),[8] Tsuruga, Akita, Otaru and Tomakomai, with International Container hub port
  • Ryotsu Port – Ferry route to Niigata
  • Ogi Port - Ferry route to Naoetsu
  • Naoetsu Port in Joetsu - Ferry route to Ogi
  • Iwafune Port in Murakami- Ferry route to Awashima


Notable individualsEdit

Politics and militaryEdit

Arts and cultureEdit

  • Zeami Motokiyo (1363– 1443), aesthetician, actor, and playwright, exile to Sado Island
  • Ryōkan (1758–1831), Zen Buddhist monk and poet, from Izumozaki
  • Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto, (1874–1950), autobiographer and novelist, Professor of literature and taught Japanese language, culture and history at Columbia University, from Nagaoka
  • Yaichi Aizu (1881–1956), poet, calligrapher and historian, from Niigata City
  • Kokei Kobayashi (1883–1957), Nihonga painter, from Joetsu
  • Mimei Ogawa (1882–1961), author of short stories, children's stories, and fairy tales, from Joetsu
  • Koganei Yoshikiyo (1859–1944), anatomist and anthropologist, from Nagaoka
  • Kyusaku Ogino (1882-1975), doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, Niigata Takeyama Hospital
  • Kinichiro Sakaguchi(1897 – 1994), agricultural chemist and microbiologist, from Joetsu
  • Takashi Amano(1954-2015), photographer and aquarist, from Niigata
  • Tetsuji Morohashi(1883– 1982) chief editor of the Dai Kan-Wa jiten, a comprehensive dictionary of Chinese characters, from Sanjo
  • Tetsuo Harada (born 1949 Niitsu-shi), sculptor working in Paris France
  • Tsuchida Bakusen (1887–1936), Japanese painter, from Sado
  • Fubō Hayashi (1900–1935), novelist from Sado Island
  • Inoue Enryō (1858–1919), Buddhist philosopher, from Nagaoka
  • Junzaburō Nishiwaki (1894–1982), Japanese poet and literary critic, from Ojiya
  • Daigaku Horiguchi (1892-1981), poet and translator of French literature, from Nagaoka
  • Makoto Aida (born 1965), Artist, from Niigata City
  • Donald Keene (born 1922), Japanese scholar, historian, teacher, writer and translator of Japanese literature, Honorary Citizen of Kashiwazaki
  • Kodo (taiko group), Based in Sado

Actors, Actresses, Singers

Pop culture, manga, voice actors


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Niigata-ken" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 711, p. 711, at Google Books
  2. ^ Nussbaum, "Niigata" at p. 711, p. 711, at Google Books
  3. ^ Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" at p. 780, p. 780, at Google Books
  4. ^ "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Japanese Anti-nuclear Candidate Wins Election at Site of World's Biggest Atomic Power Station". The Guardian. Reuters. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  6. ^ Statistics Bureau of Japan
  7. ^ "Triennale 2015 - Echigo-Tsumari Art Field".
  8. ^ "Access Map | 佐渡汽船公式サイト" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2021-09-03.


External linksEdit