Niigata Prefecture

Niigata Prefecture (新潟県 Niigata-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region of Honshu.[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 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.

Niigata Prefecture

Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese新潟県
 • RōmajiNiigata-ken
Flag of Niigata Prefecture

Official logo of Niigata Prefecture

Location of Niigata Prefecture
RegionChūbu (Kōshinetsu) (Hokuriku)
SubdivisionsDistricts: 9, Municipalities: 30
 • GovernorHideyo Hanazumi
 • Total12,584.18 km2 (4,858.78 sq mi)
Area 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)


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 Ja
Map of Niigata Prefecture
     Government Ordinance Designated City      City      Town      Village
Nagaoka from the sky
Niigata Prefecture in winter from the sky
Oyashirazu tenkendangai
Ten-Ken cliff of Oya-Shirazu, Niigata
Niigata NCM Peasant Rice Farmers House
Reconstruction of a 19th-century peasant farmer's house and rice paddy at the Northern Culture Museum, Niigata

Niigata Prefecture stretches about 240 km 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]

Echigo plain paddy fields

Echigo Plain


Twenty cities are located in Niigata Prefecture:

Towns and villages

These are the towns and villages in each district:


List of Governor of Niigata Prefecture (from 1947)

  • Shohei Okada (岡田正平) - from 15 April, 1947 to 29 April, 1955
  • Kazuo Kitamura (北村一男) - from 30 April, 1955 to 30 November, 1961
  • Toichiro Tsukada (塚田十一郎) - from 7 December, 1966 to 28 March, 1966
  • Shiro Watari (亘四郎) - from 8 May, 1966 to 30 April, 1974
  • Takeo Kimi (君健男) - from 1 May, 1974 to 19 April, 1989
  • Kiyoshi Kaneko (金子清) - from 4 June, 1989 to 9 September, 1992
  • Ikuo Hirayama (平山征夫) - from 25 October, 1992 to 24 October, 2004
  • Hirohiko Izumida (泉田裕彦) - from 25 October, 2004 to 24 October, 2016
  • Ryuichi Yoneyama (米山隆一) - from 25 October, 2016 to 27 April, 2018
  • Hideyo Hanazumi (花角英世) - from 12 June, 2018 to present


Agriculture, forestry and fishing

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 production of cut flowers and flower bulbs. Along with Toyama Prefecture, it produces the highest volume of tulips in the country.

Mining and manufacturing

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 9 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, 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 is known for the following regional specialities:

Niigata in popular culture

  • 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 sports

Naeba ski resort in Yuzawa

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 Soccer Club, and Niigata Albirex BB, a BJ (Basketball Japan) League team.


  • 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]







National highways


  • Niigata Port – Ferry route to Sado Island, Tsuruga, Akita, Otaru and Tomakomai, with International Container hub port
  • Ryotsu Port – Ferry route to Niigata
  • Ogi Port
  • Naoetsu Port


Notable individuals

Politics and military

Arts and culture

  • 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 also


  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".


External links

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

2004 Chūetsu earthquake

The Chūetsu earthquakes (中越地震, Chūetsu jishin) occurred in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, at 17:56 local time (08:56 UTC) on Saturday, October 23, 2004. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) named it the "Heisei 16 Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake" (平成16年新潟県中越地震, Heisei ju-roku-nen Niigata-ken Chuetsu Jishin). Niigata Prefecture is located in the Hokuriku region of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The initial earthquake had a magnitude of 6.6 and caused noticeable shaking across almost half of Honshu, including parts of the Tōhoku, Hokuriku, Chūbu, and Kantō regions.

Agano River

The Agano River (阿賀野川, Agano-gawa) is a river in the Hokuriku region of Honshu, Japan. It is also called the Aga River or the Ōkawa River in Fukushima.

The source of the river is Mount Arakai on the border of Fukushima and Tochigi. It flows to the north and meets the Nippashi River from Lake Inawashiro and the Tadami River in the Aizu Basin, and then turns to the west and falls into the Sea of Japan. The Agano River flows for 210 kilometers. It has a watershed area of 7,710 square kilometers.In 1964-1965, a chemical factory at Kanose village in Niigata Prefecture released methylmercury into the river and caused Niigata Minamata disease.There are several hydroelectric power plants on the Agano River:

Inawashiro Power Plant (107.5 MW), constructed several steps in 1899-1940. It was the site of the Japan first high-voltage, long-range power transmission line.

Numazawanuma Power Plant (43.7 MW), constructed in 1952. It was the first pumped-storage power plant in Japan.

Echigo Province

Echigo Province (越後国, Echigo no kuni) was an old province in north-central Japan, on the shores of the Sea of Japan. It bordered on Uzen, Iwashiro, Kōzuke, Shinano, and Etchū Provinces. It corresponds today to Niigata Prefecture, minus the island of Sado.

Its abbreviated form name was Esshū (越州), with Echizen and Etchū Provinces. Under the Engishiki classification system, Echigo was ranked as one of the 35 "superior countries" (上国) in terms of importance, and one of the 30 "far countries" (遠国) in terms of distance from the capital.

Echigo and Kōzuke Province were known as the Jōetsu region.

Hida Mountains

The Hida Mountains (飛騨山脈, Hida Sanmyaku), or Northern Alps (北アルプス, Kita Arupusu), is a Japanese mountain range which stretches through Nagano, Toyama and Gifu prefectures. A small portion of the mountains also reach into Niigata Prefecture. William Gowland coined the phrase "Japanese Alps" during his time in Japan, but he was only referring to the Hida Mountains when he used that name. The Kiso and Akaishi mountains received the name in the ensuing years.

Hime River

The Hime River (姫川) is a river in Niigata Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Hirabayashi Station (Niigata)

Hirabayashi Station (平林駅, Hirabayashi eki) is a railway station in the city of Murakami, Niigata, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).

Iiyama Line

The Iiyama Line (飯山線, Iiyama-sen) is a railway line in Japan linking Toyono Station in Nagano, Nagano Prefecture and Echigo-Kawaguchi Station in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture. It is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).

Kashiwazaki, Niigata

Kashiwazaki (柏崎市, Kashiwazaki-shi) is a city located in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. As of February 28, 2019, the city had an estimated population of 83,944 in 34,839 households, and a population density of 195 persons per km². The total area of the city was 442.03 square kilometres (170.67 sq mi).

Kosegasawa Cave

Kosegasawa Cave (小瀬ヶ沢洞窟, Kosegasawa dōkutsu) is a Jōmon period archaeological site consisting of a cave dwelling in what is now part of the town of Aga, Niigata Prefecture in the Hokuriku region of Japan. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Japan in 1982.

Minami-Uonuma District, Niigata

Minami-Uonuma (南魚沼郡, Minami-Uonuma-gun) is a district located in Niigata Prefecture, Japan.

As of 2003, the district has an estimated population of 72,908 and a density of 77.41 persons per km². The total area is 941.82 km².

Mount Echigo-Komagatake

Mount Echigo-Komagatake or Uonuma-Komagatake (越後駒ヶ岳 or 魚沼駒ヶ岳) is a mountain located on the border of Uonuma and

Minamiuonuma, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, with an elevation of 2,002.7 m (6,571 ft) It is one of the 100 famous mountains in Japan.

Mount Echigo-Komagatake, along with Nakanodake and Mount Hakkai, is also one of the three great mountains of Echigo, the old name for this area of Niigata Prefecture.

Mount Myōkō

Mount Myōkō (妙高山, Myōkō-san) is an active stratovolcano in Honshu, Japan. It is situated at the southwest of Myōkō city, Niigata Prefecture, and a part of Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park. Mount Myōkō is listed as one of 100 Famous Japanese Mountains, and together with Mount Yahiko (弥彦山, Yahiko-yama), it is well known as the "famous mountain" of Niigata Prefecture.

Mount Naeba

Mount Naeba (苗場山, Naeba-san) is a stratovolcano on the border of Nagano and Niigata prefectures in central Honshū, Japan. It is about 200 km (124 mi) from Tokyo. It was active between 200,000 and 800,000 years ago. It is made of primarily andesite.

Muroya Cave

Muroya Cave (室谷洞窟, Muroya dōkutsu) is a Jōmon period archaeological site consisting of a cave dwelling in what is now part of the town of Aga, Niigata Prefecture in the Hokuriku region of Japan. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Japan in 1980.

Niigata Airport

Niigata Airport (新潟空港, Niigata Kūkō) (IATA: KIJ, ICAO: RJSN) is a second class airport located 6.7 km (4.2 mi) northeast of Niigata Station in Niigata, Japan.

Sado Airport

Sado Airport (Japanese: 佐渡空港) (IATA: SDS, ICAO: RJSD) is a public aerodrome located in Sado, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.

The airport opened in 1959 as a landing field (場外離着陸場) to provide air service connecting Sado Island to Niigata Airport, and was expanded in 1971 to allow more extensive general aviation service. Service to and from Sado Airport has been indefinitely suspended since April 2014. New Japan Aviation provided scheduled service until the airport's closure, although other scheduled operators have served the airport in the past. Kyokushin Air operated the Sado-Niigata route until September 2008. In November 2015, Sado Airport announced it would lengthen the runway to 2,000 meters from December 2015 to handle jet service with additional destination to Tokyo-Haneda and Osaka-Itami.

Sakamachi Station

Sakamachi Station (坂町駅, Sakamachi-eki) is a railway station in the city of Murakami, Niigata, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).

Seki River

The Seki River (関川) is a river in Niigata Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture Japan.

Tsubame, Niigata

Tsubame (燕市, Tsubame-shi) is a city located in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. As of 30 September 2018, the city had an estimated population of 79,933 in 29,406 households, and a population density of 720 persons per km². The total area of the city was 110.96 square kilometres (42.84 sq mi).

Shadow picture of Niigata PrefectureNiigata Prefecture
Wards of Niigata
Special cities
47 Prefectures


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