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
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.
The easiest way to enjoy the taste of rice – “Japan’s soul food”.
A set menu of rice, miso soup, and grilled fish is the ultimate combination to experience the deep flavor of the rice.
To make the fresh fish taste even better, only the best rice is used. In sushi shops, rice is called “gin shari”.
Where to find Niigata rice in Tokyo
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
Joetsu Yasuda – Shinbashi Ginza shop
Established 120 years ago, this restaurant specializes in Niigata’s traditional food.
Hours: 5:30pm – 11:30pm (Mon. – Sat.)(Closed Sun.)
Address: Hulic G10 Building 8F, 1-4-5 Shinbashi, Minato-ku
Tsumiki, KagurazakaRestaurant 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.)
Address: Rakuzan Building 3F, 4-3 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku
Chisou KonyaRecommended 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
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 ShokurakuenEnjoy a lunch set with delicious rice and seasonal fish.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This famous treat is made of mugwort-flavoured mochi (もち, glutinous rice) and red beans wrapped in bamboo leaves.
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.
A local specialty containing seasonal vegetables and seafood over seasoned rice, which is steamed and arranged in a container made from cedar wood.
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.
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.