Once I’d experienced a couple of sights at Echigo-Yuzawa (including the 110 sake vending machines), I travelled north-west for about two and a half hours to my accomodation in Niigata Prefecture. The tatami room at Yado Bar Cafe Tatsuji was basic but did the job of giving me a place to rest at the end of a long day of travel. The owner seemed like a very nice guy but we didn’t chat too much as I arrived late and checked out early.
The unstaffed Minami Takada station was my first stop very early the following morning but I didn’t take a train from there as I wanted to see a sight a little to the east whilst in the area.
Takada was initially just a convenient place to stay and I was never planning to do anything there but when I discovered there was a castle in the vicinity I couldn’t resist checking it out. Despite being underwhelmed so often by castles in Japan I can rarely ever ignore one if it’s in the place I’m in. Takada Castle was originally built in 1614 and remained in use till the end of the 19th century.
It was pleasant enough and the setting within a big park was nice. A more interesting sight for me was Takada station itself which is a rather eccentric design supposedly based on the nearby castle.
It originally opened way back in August 1886 and was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu’s sixth son, Matsudaira Tadateru.
From Takada it was about a 40 minute ride north-west to the wonderfully named Nō station via a short transit in Naoetsu. Have you ever been to this station?!
To be honest, I did only go to Nō for the sake of amusement but as I had a fair bit of time to kill in the area I looked at the map outside the station and saw that there was a scenic spot nearby.
It was called Benten-iwa so I headed off there knowing fully well that I’d only have a few minutes there. It was a sweltering hot morning too and I certainly worked up a sweat heading the short distance north to the coastline. A load of heart shaped wooden plaques (known as ema in Japanese) could be seen prior to crossing the wooden bridge leading to the remote island and it’s torii gate and lighthouse.
When I got back on the train at Nō, I boarded at the back of the one-carriage and as I was only riding for one stop I decided to head on down to the front ready to get off. As I was walking down the aisle I could see a lady looking at me intently. As I took a few more steps I soon realised it was a former student of mine who had actually come to mind the previous day as I remembered her talking about her hometown from time to time. I certainly didn’t expect her to be in Niigata at this time though, and to be on the same train in such a remote part at the same time as me really was miraculous!
Sadly we only had five minutes to chat as the dystopian underground station of Tsutsuishi was the very next stop.
Less than ten minutes later I was at my next station on this train trip which was equally interesting but in a very different way to the one in Tsutsuishi!
Click here to read ‘Going Underground To Explore One Of Japan’s Most Dystopian Stations’
Click here to read ‘Cheap Alcohol Vending Machines Aplenty Inside A Train Station!’
Click here to read ‘Watching Football In Niigata At The Stadium Used In The 2002 FIFA World Cup’